Tackling a new challenge

(Greg Gayne/Fox)
By Glenn Yoder
Globe Staff / June 1, 2011

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Q. How long have you been cooking?

A. I’ve been cooking, man, since I was in college. I used to cook for my teammates and on campus I used to cook in huge pots, crockpots, because when I would cook a meal, I’d make sure it would last all week. In college, we didn’t have any money, you don’t have the luxury of going to eat out all the time. But when I was in Boston and that area, Providence, up there, there’s a lot of different cultures and different foods. That’s where I really expanded my palate, when I was in New England for eight years.

Q. Did you ever cook for your Patriots teammates?

A. I used to cook a lot of jambalaya and gumbo for some of the players and I used to bring it in. I remember one story, I cooked a huge pot of some seafood gumbo, I remember [former Patriots wide receiver] Kelley Washington taking my pot home and I never got my pot back to today. He kept saying, “The food, it’s not good. It’s not good. I don’t like this.’’ But he kept eating it and eating it. And then, I asked him for my pot and he said, “You’re not getting that pot back, boy. Get out of here.’’ But when I cooked, everybody couldn’t wait. Everybody used to say, “Hey, you ought to cook more often.’’

Q. Do you know any other players who love to cook?

A. [Current defensive lineman] Vince Wilfork. That dude can grill, that dude can cook. I’ve been to his house a few times. I had this honey-barbecue chicken that he cooked. I ate probably 12 to 15 pieces that day. He can cook. Him and his wife. They can go.

Q. Besides okra gumbo, what else do you cook?

A. I cook about anything. I’m a big spaghetti and meatballs guy, red sauce. I do my jambalaya, I do my gumbo, I do my etouffee, I do my crawfish. I really cook about anything, it just depends how I’m feeling.

Q. Your publicist convinced you to audition for a show that’s open to everyone. Of the 100 amateur cooks on “MasterChef,’’ were you the only celebrity?

A. When I was there, I didn’t really talk to a lot of people because they told us not to talk to anybody. I was telling people different names, I wasn’t telling people my real name. I was telling guys my name is John, my name is Michael, my name’s Tony. I was lying to everybody pretty much. They told us not to get personal. But some of the guys knew who I was. I talked to one guy, I said, “My name is John Mitchell.’’ He looked at me and said, “Yeah right. OK, John.’’ And that was it. Toward the end of the show, the guy came up to me and said, “Yo, man, I know your name is Jarvis. I watch football, I know who you are. We’re going to keep this a secret.’’

Q. What was it like going up in front of judges Gordon Ramsay, Joe Bastianich, and Graham Elliot?

A. I remember when I was standing there presenting my food, I was nervous. And I’ve been to three Super Bowls, won twice, and I said, “Right now, in front of ya’ll, I’m nervous.’’ Because for me, I cook in my home and it’s no pressure. But you start grabbing the knife, you got the cameras on you, and you’ve got those three guys looking down at you? Gordon Ramsay, and you don’t know what he’s gonna say? It’s a lot of pressure.

Q. What did Ramsay say?

A. He didn’t yell at me. That was cool. If he did, you know, it’s not different than [Patriots coach] Bill Belichick yelling at me. I think I’ve been through the worst as far as a coach yelling at you.

Q. Who’s more frightening, Gordon Ramsay or Bill Belichick?

A. Oh, Bill Belichick is scary, you know what I mean? Because Bill Belichick can fine you.

Glenn Yoder can be reached at

Jarvis Green
The former New England Patriots defensive end made the final cut in a field of 100 amateur chefs trying to please Gordon Ramsay on the second season of “MasterChef.’’ For his dish, the Louisiana native prepared okra gumbo — though he doesn’t think the meal was his ticket onto the show. “I think when they do these TV things, it’s not all about the food sometimes. It’s about the personality, the person, too,’’ he says. “Of course, you’ve got to cook it, make it look good, make it taste good, but still it’s about what type of personality you have.’’
“MasterChef’’ returns June 6 on Fox.