Click photo to enlarge
Gillian Espinoza of Oakley is a featured cook on the new TV show "House of Food" premiering March 31 on MTV. (MTV)

By Karen Rarey

Correspondent

Prop up your TV stands and get ready for a new-age Peyton Place as Oakley resident Gillian Espinosa makes her prime time debut as one of the newest reality stars on MTV's first-ever culinary show, "House of Food."

The show features eight 20-somethings, all aspiring chefs. It tosses them together into one house, then turns up the temperature and watches to see who rises, who falls and what comes to a sizzle, all for the feted prize -- the chance-of-a-lifetime apprenticeship with a later-to-be-named top chef.

Espinosa said she applied for the show on a whim, along with a bunch of other friends from her Diablo Valley College culinary class.

"Then all of a sudden I got a call. I asked all my friends, 'Did any of you ever get a call?'" And they were like, 'No.' And I was like, 'OK, then,'" she said with a giggle of satisfaction.

From there it was a Skype interview, a videotape of her culinary skills and, boom, a star was born.

"She (the interviewer) thought I was funny. She thought I was outgoing and really personable," the 21-year-old said. "I think that's what got my foot in the door to do a little cooking segment."

The reality series features chefs Brooke Williamson (Hudson House Executive Chef), Casey Lane (Tasting Kitchen and Waterloo) and Brendan Collins (City's).

By day, the three chefs guide "the eight novice cooks through a series of lessons and corresponding challenges."

Espinosa said, "I learned something new every day, every week, every minute I was there."

By night, the group of 20-somethings (four men and four women), with a goulash of personalities, try to blend and live together harmoniously for the next couple of months.

"Some people were from really big cities, so I kind of felt that I had that small town vibe," said Espinosa. "So yes, I guess it was kind of a shock."

While Espinosa is sworn to secrecy, the trailer does show some highlights at the home, which include a little hanky-panky, a night on the town and even some chairs that took flight.

But not all the action ended when the octet donned their aprons -- in fact that is when the heat was really turned up.

"Some competitors will rise to the occasion; others will get tripped up and chewed out for missteps," Espinosa said.

In one clip of the trailer, Collins gets hot and heavy with one of his aspiring chefs, "Are you going to season those tortellinis with the sweat dripping off you? Wipe your (expletive) face."

In another clip, Lane chastises the food prepared by one of the 20-somethings, "There's no possible way I could eat this."

Despite the flaming attitudes of the top chefs, Espinosa said she wouldn't have traded her time on the show for anything.

"As much as you want to give up, you've got to do it to the best of your abilities," she said. "So being so stressed out, it did help me it just pushed me that much further to get to the end and want to win."

To watch these aspiring chefs rise and fall, tune in to "House of Food," premiering at 10 p.m. on March 31 on MTV.