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Star-a-Day: Nicole Gaffney

by , May 14th, 2014

Nicole GaffneyNicole Gaffney, 29, isn’t just another personal chef — her magnetic personality and innate culinary talent set her apart from the crowd. She grew up cooking with her Sicilian grandparents and comes from a family of commercial fishermen, and her “coastal cuisine” take on food is heavily influenced by her family and growing up in a seaside town. Read on below to hear from Nicole, and learn about her style of cooking and thoughts on the competition.

What are you most looking forward to in this experience?
Nicole: Learning. Yeah. I’m really looking forward to learning. Just with the other competitors alone, I think there’s so much each of us can take away from the other person — not just in terms of cooking knowledge, because there’s a ton of stuff to be learned there, but just about life in general and TV presence. This whole experience — the things that we can take away from the judges and the mentors … I feel like what I’m going to know when this is all said and done versus what I knew going into it is going to be monumental.

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Star-a-Day: Luca Della Casa

by , May 13th, 2014

Luca Della CasaLuca Della Casa, 38, was born in Italy and is an adventurous, rugged outdoorsman with a passion for food. He worked his way up from dishwasher to executive chef, and he is determined to bring people together around a table to share food, Italian style. Read on below to hear from Luca, and learn about his style of cooking and thoughts on the competition.

Describe your cooking style or culinary point of view — in one sentence, if you can.
Luca: My point in my culinary view is what I learned from my grandma. That means very simple recipes, a good knife and the freshest ingredients. That makes the most-amazing meal.

How did you prepare for the competition?
Luca: Well, yes. I went to see some old seasons of the show. I was aware of the show and I saw episodes of it, but I didn’t know it perfectly, so I thought I better go back and see everything they do, what they ask them to do. And so that’s what I did, and try to put my thoughts together.

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Star-a-Day: Loreal Gavin

by , May 12th, 2014

Loreal GavinLoreal Gavin, 26, is motorcycle-riding, guitar-playing chick who loves tattoos, and she’s been trained in culinary arts, baking and pastry. She was raised by her grandmother, who taught her to cook from her soul. Read on below to hear from Loreal, and learn about her style of cooking and thoughts on the competition.

Describe your cooking style or culinary point of view — in one sentence, if you can.
Loreal: I have a grandmother’s soul from the Deep South and an insatiable lust for adventure.

How did you prepare for the competition?
Loreal: I didn’t. I just knew that I had to come in here and be myself.

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Star-a-Day: Lenny McNab

by , May 11th, 2014

Lenny McNabLenny McNab, 42, is a one-of-a-kind gourmet cowboy with over-the-top confidence and culinary skills. He trained in Germany and is now the executive chef at a hunting ranch. With his signature hat, belt buckle and boots, you can’t miss Lenny in a crowd — and he is ready to bring his unique take on food to the rest of the country. Read on below to hear from Lenny, and learn about his style of cooking and thoughts on the competition.

Describe your cooking style or culinary point of view — in one sentence, if you can.
Lenny: My culinary point of view is to bring back the traditional ways of the cowboy cook.

What are you most looking forward to taking away from this experience?
Lenny: The thing I think I’m most looking forward to in taking away from this experience is the recognition of being out there in an elite association of chefs, restaurateurs, hoteliers that have made it big enough so that their name gets noticed, because I imagine anybody that does something like this has a touch of an ego.

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Star-a-Day: Kenny Lao

by , May 10th, 2014

Kenny LaoKenny Lao, 36, grew up making Chinese dumplings with his mom, and his passion for that signature dish led to the creation of his fast-casual restaurant business. He wants to take the intimidation out of cooking and share how to make food that is simple but delicious. Read on below to hear from Kenny, and learn about his style of cooking and thoughts on the competition.

Describe your cooking style or culinary point of view — in one sentence, if you can.
Kenny: Fast and casual

What are you most looking forward to in this experience?
Kenny: I love playing games, and I love puzzles, and I love competitions and sorting things out. Not even the takeaway, but just the experience itself is so awesome — just to be into this intense, totally immersive game.

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Star-a-Day: Emma Frisch

by , May 9th, 2014

Emma FrischEmma Frisch, 30, is the girl next door who has traveled the world, and she has family members on five continents. Now residing in upstate New York, Emma is a food blogger and business owner, and she believes anyone can become a good cook. Read on below to hear from Emma, and learn about her style of cooking and thoughts on the competition.

Describe your cooking style or culinary point of view — in one sentence, if you can.
Emma: My culinary point of view is that anyone can become a more natural and confident cook by learning how to make American comfort food and freshening classic recipes with their own twists. And the way they learn how to do that is simplifying their shopping and finding the best-tasting ingredients at the best prices and freshest ingredients.

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Star-a-Day: Donna Sonkin Shaw

by , May 8th, 2014

Donna Sonkin ShawDonna Sonkin Shaw, 42, is dedicated to making health and nutrition taste delicious. She believes eating properly leads to overall health inside and out. She is a certified holistic health coach who works privately with clients, and her twist on healthy comfort food delivers the flavor and satisfaction to keep anyone on track. Read on below to hear from Donna, and learn about her style of cooking and thoughts on the competition.

Describe your cooking style or culinary point of view — in one sentence, if you can.
Donna: My culinary point of view is healthy comfort food. … I like to say I put the good in the bad and the bad in the good because I feel that people always want real flavor: butter and bacon and chocolate and things like that. There are two of us that come to the table when we come to eat. There’s the part that wants pure pleasure, then the part that knows that what we eat becomes our body. So we’re also eating for our vibrancy and health, so I try to satiate both sides.

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Star-a-Day: Christopher Lynch

by , May 7th, 2014

Christopher LynchChristopher Lynch, 39, graduated from the Culinary Institute of America, spent time working with some of the country’s finest restaurateurs and has become a rock star chef in his own right. Christopher carved his own food path with a modern take on the Cajun and Creole cuisine of his adopted hometown of New Orleans. Read on below to hear from Christopher, and learn about his style of cooking and thoughts on the competition.

Describe your cooking style or culinary point of view — in one sentence, if you can.
Christopher: My culinary point of view is through my 20-plus years of cooking professionally; I’m taking all my experiences and everything I’ve done and putting it through a New Orleans lens, where I’m cooking currently.

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Star-a-Day: Chris Kyler

by , May 6th, 2014

Chris KylerChris Kyler, 32, received culinary training while in the Navy, where he was known for his charisma and slick sense of humor. After working in other’s restaurants, he opened his own catering company, which specializes in fresh and healthy foods. Read on below to hear from Chris, and learn about his style of cooking and his thoughts on the competition.

What are you most looking forward to in this experience?
Chris: I am looking to see how far I can go. … I believe my whole life is not an accident. This is not an accident. This is not a coincidence where I am today. I have a really compelling story of where I come from. … I’ve been rock bottom, and, like, [with] this opportunity I’m, like, almost back at the top from rock bottom. This, right here, I know if it’s for me, I’m going to win. This is my destiny, so I kind of have that head on my shoulders. I’m just going to give it my all. Everything I have within me — my body, mind and soul— I’m just going to leave it on the stage. And when it’s over, if I don’t win, I know this wasn’t for me but something else is. And if I do win, I know this is where I’m supposed to be.

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Star-a-Day: Aryen Moore-Alston

by , May 5th, 2014

Aryen Moore-AlstonAryen Moore-Alston, 31, is a self-taught cook who was raised abroad in Italy. She has dabbled in many careers, but food has always been her passion, and some of her fondest childhood memories involve making family meals in the kitchen with her father, who passed away when she was young. After living in Atlanta, Japan and Los Angeles, Aryen settled in Memphis to raise her daughter. Read on below to hear from Aryen, and learn about her style of cooking and her thoughts on the competition.

Describe your cooking style or culinary point of view — in one sentence, if you can.
Aryen: The experience. I feel like if you don’t enjoy the journey, it will all go so fast. … I’m really excited. I’m blessed and humbled to be here. And I know that all of this is going into making me shine. I enjoy the process.

Describe your cooking style or culinary point of view in one sentence.
Aryen: My culinary point of view is international cuisine in the comfort of your own home.

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