Friday, June 5
Why did you decide to apply to be on The Next Food Network Star?
I tried out the first year—my brother had seen the commercial on tv and said I should send in a tape, which I did. (I got a call back and they used my tape on the promos but it wasn't meant to be on that year). This whole show is right up my alley. I love food and I love entertaining. Each season since season 1, I have said I will be on Food Network. So this year I figured let's try one more time, so I packed my bags and went to Philly for an open call. Well it was meant to be this year. The whole idea of competing to win your own Food Network show—who wouldn't want to try out?
Who are your chef / TV cooking star idols?
LOVE Ina Garten and also Martha Stewart. I don't consider myself a chef. I'm a home cook with a culinary degree. I love to entertain and bring family and friends together over food. Ina and Martha are on my same wave length...
What does it take to be a great Food Network star?
You have to be the whole package. Of course you need some food smarts, a personality and a drive to work. I think that you also have to identify with a broad viewer base. If you can cook, make people laugh and want to watch you and make the network some money, all at the same time, it's the ideal combo.
Did you feel prepared for the types of challenges you endured on the show? Anything in particular you struggled with?
All the challenges were different and came with a whole new box of unknowns. I think the
first challenge though presented the very clear predicament, no one really knew anyone. I personally wanted to make sure I did what I needed to do and present myself the best that I could for the selection committee, but at the same time not dig a hole and jump into by stepping on people's toes and rubbing them the wrong way. There are 10 totally different people all running for the same trophy at the end of this. That means 10 different personality times and 10 different people who act and react in different ways—so I think day one was hard on everyone trying win yet play nice.
The need to have a clearly defined culinary point of view is brought up again and again by the judges. What's yours and how is it different from what we've seen before?
I have watched all four seasons of this show and I knew that coming into this I needed a strong culinary point of view. Mine is Housewife 2.0; it's kind of a lifestyle more than a point of view. I consider myself a modern version of a 1950s stay-at-home housewife. I work, yet still like to make a mean dinner for my husband. What I cook on the show and what I present represents who I really am. There is not a single Food Network talent or former Next Food Network Star contestant that represents what I represent. I live my life like a majority of 20-somethings and 30-somethings out there. Work, family time and fun. I came onto this show to win my show and show a ton of people just like me how to balance it all.
You were judged by lots of Food Network stars over the course of the show. Which star(s) were you most excited to meet and why?
From the beginning it was my wish and goal to meet Ina Garten. Why? I just love her and her show and her fabulous house and fabulous friends! I would love to just sit and have wine and cheese with her in her garden when this is all over!
Apart from winning this competition, what goals do you have for the future?
After winning the show, I want to travel and learn to cook and eat new cuisine, continue to cook for my husband and family, start a family ( maybe that is #1) and earn enough money to buy a pair of Christian Louboutin pumps—or five pairs!
Ha! Interesting and honest, Jen. Good luck!