Former Westborough resident competes on Netflix cooking show

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Former Westborough resident competes on Netflix cooking show
Sue Keating competes on “Cook at All Costs.” (Photo/Katia Taylor/Netflix)

WESTBOROUGH – Susan Macdougall Keating is a New Englander at heart.

Although she lives in Miami now, Keating prefers the snow and cold.

She also prefers the heat of a kitchen to the weather and lifestyle of southern Florida.

“It’s a party town,” said the former Westborough resident.

Her own lifestyle comprises of gardening, amateur painting and cooking. It’s her passion for cooking that landed her on a new competition show, “Cook at All Costs,” that’s streaming worldwide via Netflix.

In this kitchen contest, home cooks bid on ingredients to create dishes that will impress celebrity guest judges — and win the cash left in their bank.

“It’s like ‘Chopped,’ where you get mystery ingredients, but it’s only for home cooks,” said Keating.

She loves using a slow cooker to make roasts and stews.

“I like the rhythm of cooking,” she said.

A native of Canada and a Westborough High School alumnus, Keating has been cooking, canning and pickling since childhood.

“I’m very frugal. I’m always making things,” she said. “I love it, I just enjoy it. It’s nurturing and very connecting.”

Getting on ‘Cook at All Costs’

After operating her own flower and lifestyle business, Sweet Pea Gardens, out of Surry, Maine, for 20 years, Keating sold her business and moved to New York City, where she freelanced with florists for a few years.

Keating made a name for herself as a floral and lifestyle maven over the years; she has been featured in Martha Stewart Living, Garden Design, Country Living, Flower and many other magazines.

She has now added painting to her skill set. Keating credited her late mother, Maggie Macdougall, who was a nurse at UMass Memorial and was known for her paintings. 

Keating’s college roommate sent her a casting ad for the new Netflix program featuring home cooks.

“She said, ‘You should apply,’” said Keating. “I rolled from the gut and sent 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 one where you cook and present a dish,” said Keating. “It took a long time.”

She was among 24 chosen out of a pool of several thousand. In April 2022, she learned that she would be competing in the “American Diner” episode 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.

Former Westborough resident competes on Netflix cooking show
Sue Keating, Beth Fuller and Stephaughn Patterson compete. (Photo/Katia Taylor/Netflix)

It turned out one of her castmates, Beth Fuller, lives in MetroWest.

“We’re now really good friends,” said Keating.

“We met in the lobby of the hotel; our dressing rooms were across from each, so we had our doors open a little so we could talk,” said Fuller, who is a professional food photographer. “I found out she grew up in Westborough … I knew there was a kindred spirit.”

Fuller is a New Hampshire native who’s lived in Southern California and the North End before settling in MetroWest. Her photos may be seen in the Cook’s Illustrated cookbooks.

“It was such a fun opportunity,” she said. “Being in front of the camera was incredible.”

Fuller’s biggest thrill was meeting Blais.

“I’m a food nerd from way back,” said Fuller. “When I found out who the celebrity judge was going to be, I was going, ‘He’s going to taste my food? No way!’”

If you want to catch Keating and Fuller in action, they’re in episode two, which features “American Diner” specialties.

Keating’s family, including her father and sister, still live in Westborough and held a watch party when the series aired on Netflix.

Although Keating remains mum on the outcome of the competition, she said, “The entire experience energized my passion for food and cooking. I felt like I had won before even filming and competing as I got to spend months pouring through cookbooks, learning and practicing cooking techniques all day.

“I despise the term ‘retiring’ and prefer ‘evolving.’ I am in love with my new day job. I am beyond grateful for the opportunity I was selected for. I have a couple of new ideas for cooking shows where I see a need. Producers … call me!”

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