Aundrea Richardson of Arlington told no one in her family when she won the chance to compete on a nationally televised cooking show.
She was sworn to secrecy, after all. "And we have a saying that my family cannot hold water, meaning they cannot keep a secret," she says.
Richardson's plan was to invite everyone to her home Tuesday night so she could make "a big announcement." But the cat might already be out of the bag.
Fox revealed last week that Richardson is one of 50 amateur cooks competing in celebrity chef Gordon Ramsay's new reality/competition series. MasterChef premieres Tuesday night at 8.
If they don't read it in the newspaper first, family members will find out 30 minutes before the show starts.
And they'll get more good news: Richardson, a wizard in the kitchen, plans to feed her guests.
On the show, Richardson prepared a specialty dish of crawfish and shrimp étoufée with blackened catfish. But she says she can cook almost anything. "I do Italian, Mexican, creole. I cook a lot of soul food. And I like exotic: venison, rattlesnake, oxtails," she says. "When I tell people, 'Why don't you come for dinner?' they never ask what I'm cooking. They only ask what time they need to be here."
Richardson, born and raised in Waxahachie, has lived in south Arlington for almost two years. She's an explosives detection canine handler for the Department of Homeland Security. She suspects she was among the chosen 50 at least in part because of her "intriguing" job.
Although she has a close working relationship with a bomb-detecting dog, she says she was a "cat person" growing up.
Richardson is a die-hard fan of Ramsay's Hell's Kitchen, and she went on MasterChef with eyes wide open, unafraid that he might yell at her for some culinary faux pas.
"I knew he's a tyrant and that he curses and has a bad temper," she says. "But that's what I like about him: He speaks his mind. Besides, I'm no crybaby."