Doctor in the Kitchen

Themed episodes of Chopped (grandmothers, firefighters, cafeteria workers etc.) always provide a unique twist to the show. One recent Mother’s Day episode, which featured four moms from different professions, was packed with emotion and culinary talent. We spoke with mother/doctor/chef Samantha McLerran from Tennessee to learn about her experience on the show.


FP: How did you get your start with cooking? 

SM: I got my start in cooking when my Mom was diagnosed with Systemic Lupus when I was 12. Up until that point in my life I thought the four food groups were Pepsi, pop tarts, ravioli (Chef Boyardee kind), and PB&J sandwiches. So, when my mom (a full time critical care RN) got sick, I wanted to be able to feed her better food to help her get well. Her illness was a turning point for me as I related to food. Some things I did well, like pasta, but somethings were awful, like my first attempt at pound cake when I set the oven on fire.

FP: Share with us your experience on Chopped

SM: Chopped was AMAZING! To come from such a small town (there are no stop lights in my County) and get to go to NY and meet such inspiring cooks, WOW. Ted Allen is beyond funny. Everyone at the show was amazing. I got to be called chef all day. The panel of judges was fair but accurate.

I enjoyed my time, but I still would rather work my day job any day. Meeting Lisa and Sunny was amazing too. Lisa’s story was particularly touching to me. I have had several family members in service and unfortunately I have had to be the bearer of bad news to families that have lost a love one to accidental death. The whole journey had made me a better cook and Mom.

FP: What are some of your favorite meals to cook at home for you and your family? 

SM: My family loves my spaghetti with meat sauce, burritos/tacos, my sweet and sour chicken and my steaks with Brussels sprouts. Also some favorites are my version of beef stroganoff and our grilled turkey breast (that I hunt myself).

FP: Sounds like a delicious kitchen!

What’s more intimidating? Cooking in the Chopped kitchen or working in a hospital? From the show, it sounds like your kitchen at home might be even intimidating with your kids “chopping” you 🙂

SM: I admit I was intimidated by the thought of TV and really wished the whole thing would go away. I am not used to failing. I did Chopped for my girls who think I can do no wrong. So I admit TV was worse, but trauma or ER work in general is not for the faint hearted.  I love that every day, I might get to make a difference in life and death and nothing is better than making a positive difference in people’s lives.

My biggest critics and supporters are my kids, my husband, and my mom. I am blessed to have a full wonderful life, but sometimes no matter what I cook – the three judges at home are NEVER impressed.

FP: When you go out to eat, name some of your favorite places in your town or other cities you’ve visited.

SM: NOLA‘s in New Orleans, Tom Colicchio’s many restaurants and a local pub called the Bull and Thistle. I also love The Southern in Nashville.

FP: Nashville is on our ever growing lists of cities to visit!

What are some of your guilty pleasures? We like to call them foodie pleasures, hence the name 🙂

SM: Hershey’s Chocolate, Snickers, kettle corn, Malbec red wine, a good scotch, funnel cake, chocolate soufflé, a good sushi roll and chocolate chip pancakes

FP: All are true foodie pleasures indeed! 

What are some of your non-doctor related hobbies? What do you like doing on your days off?

SM: When I am not being a doctor, I enjoy golf, cooking, working on our farm, being a Mom, and hanging out with my husband.

FP: Thank you so much for your time. We wish you continued success!

To learn more about Samantha McLerran, visit her blog, Mommy Doctor Farmer.

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