The outgoing cowboy says he felt like an underdog in the competition from the beginning, and expected judges Giada De Laurentiis, Alton Brown and Bobby Flay would send him away immediately upon arrival at the show’s California set.
“When I left to go to Hollywood, I had a feeling that as soon as I got there, they were going to be like ‘Sir, you’re going to have to leave. We’re going to start this show with 11 people.’ I felt like I’d be the first one out of there, for some odd reason,” McNab says. “Here I am now, the last one standing and a Food Network Star. Aw, geez.”
But in a season full of personalities that didn’t exactly pop on screen, McNab says he realized he was able to shine after he got used to the surreal feeling of having cameras document his quest for a cooking show.
“As soon as we got in there and all the shock and awe of being on the show [passed] and you’re in front of the lights and in front of the cameras, I realized right then that it just felt natural,” he says. “I realized at that very first show when I walked through those doors for the first time with my lasso in hand and I swung that loop around that old apple box. I realized that hey, it’s going to be okay if I am who I am, and sure as fire it all worked out for me.”
It helps that McNab is a people person, but that meant the camera-only challenges were much harder for him.
“Working in front of a crowd is very easy for me. It’s what I do here on my ranch. I have an open kitchen, and feeding off the energy of live people is just second nature to me. I’m just hanging out with people so it’s easy. But when you’re talking to a cold box, it becomes a little bit daunting. You end up being inside yourself,” he says.
Thanks to some smart feedback from the judges, though, he was able to overcome his nerves.
“I got a lot of great feedback from the mentors, especially Giada. She just told me to pretend that camera was her, and ever since then I’ve just been more than happy to talk into a camera,” he says.