Westchester Woman Enters Top 19 On FOX's 'Master Chef'

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YONKERS, N.Y. -- If you've tuned into FOX's cooking reality TV show, "Master Chef," you may have noticed one of your neighbors.

Christine Silverstein of Yonkers is competing in the show, where she has made it into the Top 19.

Season five of "Master Chef" features 30 home cooks, who compete for the top spot while being judged by culinary legends, including 'Hell's Kitchen' star Gordon Ramsay.

The last chef standing wins $250,000 and publication of their own cookbook.

The 31-year-old financial director advocates what she calls, "food therapy," which involves using cooking healthy meals as a way to process emotions.

The former Bronxville resident was originally going to audition for the show in 2012 after her best friend urged her to consider it. An Italian-American, Silverstein has a long history with cooking.

"My earliest childhood memory, I was maybe three-years-old, I always wanted to be in the kitchen," she said. "My mother was pounding chicken cutlets, and she goes to get something out of the fridge, next thing you know, I've pulled up a chair and I'm standing there with a chicken cutlet in my mouth."

From that moment on, her mother knew she would love to cook. 

Before she could audition, Hurricane Sandy hit, which prompted Silverstein to move from downtown Manhattan to Yonkers.

Soon after, her best friend, Lauren (Del Vecchio) Zaleski passed away from scleroderma, leaving Silverstein in despair.

"Her passing left me completely lost and broken," said Silverstein. "I struggled to find my way in this world." 

In her last letter to Silverstein, Zaleski told her to take chances for herself, instead of spending her life living for other people.

"The way Lauren lived her life, she lived it fully and fearlessly. Although she had limitations, no one who met her would know that, because she was so full of life," she said.

After reading the letter, she knew following her friend's advice was the best way to transcend her grieving.

The next time Silverstein would think about "Master Chef" would be when she saw an ad for auditions, which were coincidentally taking place on her first birthday without Zaleski.

"That was my answer," she said. 

Now, in the thick of the competition, Silverstein has committed to pursue her passion professionally. Silverstein and Zaleski had often talked about opening their own eatery and health store, which Silverstein may pursue on her own.

"I'm hoping to combine my business acumen and my love of cooking into something I can make a career out of," she said. 

Root for Silverstein as she competes in the next episode of "Master Chef," which airs on Mondays at 8 p.m. on FOX. 

@suzannesamin

ssamin@dailyvoice.com

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