MERRILLVILLE | For Pamela Ward, auditioning for a spot on a food-themed reality television show was like throwing cooked noodles against a wall.
One finally stuck.
The Gary-raised and Le Cordon Bleu-trained sous chef was tapped as a contestant for "Guy's Grocery Games." The Food Network game show, hosted by celebrity chef Guy Fieri, challenges contestants in a grocery store setting.
Games in past episodes include preparing meals solely out of canned foods, preparing a taco feast without tortillas and pulling together dinner for $10 or less.
Ward, a Merrillville resident, said thinking on the fly is one of her strengths.
"You just have to be quick on your toes," she said.
She said being a mom of three picky eaters helped hone creative meal planning, and her upbringing helped fashion her culinary skills.
"Growing up, we didn't have a lot, so we made meals using fresh herbs and vegetables by going and picking in the garden," she said.
Ward spends her days as a sous chef at Methodist Hospitals, where she has worked for more than 2 1/2 years, floating between the Gary and Merrillville campuses.
She plans menus for hospital executives and doctors and oversees cooks who cook for patients and the cafeteria.
Ward, who interned at the well-known but now-shuttered Charlie Trotter's restaurant in Chicago, operated a catering company called Twice As Nice Catering before taking the job at Methodist.
Dr. Michael Davenport, president and interim CEO of Methodist Hospitals, said Methodist is thrilled and honored Ward will compete on the show.
"Her selection is a testament to her commitment and dedication to her field, and Methodist is proud to have her as one of our employees," he said. "The entire Methodist family wishes Pam the best as she embarks on this competition.”
Ward is a faithful watcher of the Food Network.
"I've auditioned for 'Next Food Network Star,' 'Master Chef' ... I finally landed one," she said.
She said the Food Network links the auditions to see where a person might best fit. A producer contacted her about appearing on "Guy's Grocery Games," which is heading into its second season.
Ward does not know when the episode will air and or even which day she will fly to California for the three-day taping, although it will be this month.
"They don't tell you anything," she said.
To prepare, Ward has reviewed the first season, although it was not much help because the game show components and grocery store aisles are different.
“I've watched every episode 20 times,” she said. “Neither one of them is the same.”
Ward said the Methodist staff is supportive of her game show appearance.
“That's the foundation that I have here — that family-oriented atmosphere,” she said. “I appreciate it.”
She was even born at the Gary hospital.