WESTBOROUGH – Susan Macdougall Keating is a New Englander at heart.
Although he now lives in Miami, Keating prefers the snow and the cold.
He also prefers the warmth of a kitchen to the South Florida climate and lifestyle.
“It’s a party town,” said the former Westborough resident.
Her own lifestyle consists of gardening, amateur painting, and cooking. It’s her passion for her cooking that led her to a new competition show, “Cook at All Cost,” streaming worldwide on Netflix.
In this cooking contest, home cooks bid on ingredients to create dishes that will impress celebrity guest judges and win whatever money is left in the bank.
“It’s like ‘Chopped,’ where you get mystery ingredients, but it’s only for home cooks,” Keating said.
He loves using a slow cooker to make roasts and stews.
“I like the rhythm of the kitchen,” he said.
Originally from Canada and a Westborough High School alumnus, Keating has been cooking, canning and pickling since childhood.
“I am very frugal. I’m always doing stuff,” she said. “I love it, I just enjoy it. He is nurturing and very connected.”
Get on ‘Cook at all costs’
After operating her own flower and lifestyle business, Sweet Pea Gardens, in Surry, Maine, for 20 years, Keating sold her business and moved to New York City, where she worked as a freelance florist for a few years.
Keating made a name for herself as a floral and lifestyle expert over the years; she has been featured in Martha Stewart Living, Garden Design, Country Living, Flower and many other magazines.
You have now added painting to your skill set. Keating credited his late mother, Maggie Macdougall, who was a nurse at UMass Memorial and was known for her paintings.
Keating’s college roommate sent him a casting ad for the new Netflix show featuring home cooks.
“She said, ‘You have to apply,’” Keating said. “I rolled from the guts and submitted the application.”
Keating was accepted after a process that lasted several months.
“I had to answer 60 questions, do a video interview, a screen test, and then two more videos: a five-minute video and a longer video where you cook and present a dish,” Keating said. “I have a long time.”
She was among 24 chosen from a group of several thousand. In April 2022, she learned that she would compete in the episode “American Diner” with celebrity chef and restaurateur Richard Blais as the judge and celebrity chef and restaurateur Jordan Andino as the host. Filming took place over several days in Toronto.
It turned out that one of her co-stars, Beth Fuller, lives in MetroWest.
“Now we are very good friends,” Keating said.
“We met in the hotel lobby; our dressing rooms were across from each other, so we opened the doors a bit so we could talk,” said Fuller, who is a professional food photographer. “I found out that he grew up in Westborough…I knew there was a kindred spirit.”
Fuller is a New Hampshire native who has lived in Southern California and the North End before settling in MetroWest. Photos of him can be seen in Cook’s Illustrated Cookbooks.
“It was a really fun opportunity,” he said. “Being in front of the camera was amazing.”
Fuller’s biggest thrill was meeting Blais.
“I’m a long-time food nerd,” Fuller said. “When I found out who the celebrity judge was going to be, I thought, ‘Is he going to taste my food? No way!'”
If you want to see Keating and Fuller in action, they’re on episode two, which features “American Diner” specials.
Keating’s family, including his father and sister, still live in Westborough and held a party to watch the series when it aired on Netflix.
Although Keating remains silent on the outcome of the competition, he said: “The whole experience energized my passion for food and cooking. I felt like I had won even before filming and competing, as I spent months reading cookbooks, learning and practicing cooking techniques all day.
“I despise the term ‘retire’ and prefer ‘evolve’. I am in love with my new day job. I am beyond grateful for the opportunity for which I was selected. I have a couple of new ideas for cooking shows where I see a need. Producers… call me!”
Former Northborough resident to compete on ‘Tough as Nails’