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Donna 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.
What are you most looking forward to about in this experience?
Donna: All of the feedback from the mentors. I know that there's always room for improvement. I'm excited about making new friends. I'm a very social person. And I love the opportunity to spread my message and help people.
How did you prepare for the competition?
Donna: Every night, my husband ... would say: "What would you do with eggs? What would you do with almonds? What would you do with a potato?" ... He was, like, drilling me.
Which mentor are you most excited to learn from?
Donna: They're all amazing. I like the fact that Alton is like a rock at Food Network. He's created so much. ... I just feel like because he's been there for so long, I'm excited about learning from him.
Which mentor do you find to be the most intimidating?
Donna: Well, I would say Alton. It's a really weird thing. It's like ... how you have a favorite uncle who is so tough on you, but when he compliments you, it means so much more, because you know he's so tough on you.
What’s your Achilles’ heel ingredient, one that you hate to work with?
Donna: Well I'm a texture gal, so I don't enjoy chewy, texture-y, rubbery foods.
What's your guilty pleasure food?
Donna: I make truffles. ... The thing I love about my truffles is I use organic nut butter, so depending on what I'm feeling in the mood for, I'll either use peanut butter or almond butter or walnut butter or cashew butter, and then organic cocoa, coconut sugar, so it's got more fiber and more trace minerals.
What's your favorite late-night snack?
Donna: I love eating cheese.
What's one must-have dish at your last supper?
Donna: Chicken soup
Rapid fire: Think fast!
Ketchup, mustard or mayonnaise? I'm a big mayonnaise fan.
Chocolate or vanilla? Chocolate
Bagels or doughnuts? The bagel, but it's got to be with a lot of cream cheese and lots of Nova on it.
Cream cheese or butter? Butter
Coffee or tea? Both
French fries or onion rings? French fries
Burgers or hot dogs? Burgers
White meat or dark? Dark meat
Cake or pie? Fruit pies and birthday cake
Beer or wine? Wine
Waffles or pancakes? I love my pumpkin pancakes.
Click the play button on the video below to hear from more Donna.
It's going to be a summer of heated competition as Food Network Star gears up for its most-explosive season yet, a 10th year of putting hopeful rivals through the job interview of their lives. To make it to August and ultimately land a sought-after television career — Food Network show host — finalists will have to impress mentor-judges Alton Brown, Bobby Flay and Giada De Laurentiis with the coveted combination of cooking chops and on-camera charm. Season 10 kicks off Sunday, June 1 at 9|8c, but before then, FN Dish is introducing fans to all of the contestants. This year's crop of competitors boasts business owners, executive chefs, world travelers and farm-to-table enthusiasts — not to mention fiery personalities, over-the-top entertainers and undeniable competitive spirits. Check back every day to meet another finalist, then learn more about each of them by checking out their casting videos.