It was just last week that we here at Star Talk broke the news about the upcoming season of Food Network Star, which kicks off on Sunday, June 4 at 9|8c. Among a crop of talented hopefuls judge-mentors extraordinaire Bobby Flay and Giada De Laurentiis will search for that one contender who has the coveted combo of culinary chops and on-camera charm. Each of the 12 finalists comes to the Star stage with unique personalities and kitchen experiences, and in the coming days, we'll introduce you to all of them. Today we'd like you to meet Amy Pottinger.
As a mom to two young children and two dogs, Amy, 32, is used to life being hectic. But besides keeping her house in order, Amy also loves to cook gourmet meals, along with running a culinary blog. Being self-trained, Amy has worked in restaurants since she was a teenager and has previously worked at a catering company. She specializes in elevating everyday foods.
Describe your culinary POV in one sentence.
Amy Pottinger: Exploring new culinary worlds and growth is within anybody’s grasp.
What would you most like to learn from Bobby and Giada, be it something in the kitchen or on camera?
AP: Anything they want to teach me I would willingly take to heart. Obviously culinary skills are one of those things.
What do you think is the most-valuable thing you could teach a Food Network viewer?
AP: I have a lot of ingenuity when it comes to trying new things. I know what flavors go well together. And since I am probably one of the few at-home chefs, I’m kind of like the viewers, but I know what I’m doing with food.
How did you prepare for this competition?
AP: I kind of went through a list of things all chefs need to know, cause I’m not actually a professional chef, and I made some flashcards, only half of which I got around to memorizing. And I did a couple timed culinary sessions for myself as well as cooked dishes that I’ve never cooked before. So, I tried. We’ll see.
Which part of this contest — the cooking or the camera work — intimidates you the most? Please explain.
AP: So, I think reporting to the camera is not my forte. ... And I think the other factor is going to be time. Obviously the time being finite and short is going to be a challenge that I’m going to have to overcome.
Win or lose, what do you want to take away from this experience?
AP: Just this experience in and of itself is a big deal for me, because I have two kids, I’m a stay-at-home mom and I have a food blog. So the fact that I’m even here is just insane. But the end goal to take away would be a career — an actual career that runs forever and ever and ever and ever and [gets me] selling pots and pans or something like that at Walmart.
What does the term "Food Network Star" represent to you?
AP: It's kind of somebody who does it all. You talk about old movies and they say, "You know, triple threats are acting, singing and dancing." If you’re the Food Network Star, you’re going to have to — you probably don’t need to know how to dance — but you probably need to know how to cook and have an on-screen presence and know how to brand yourself.
What's your greatest strength in the kitchen?
AP: I think pretty quickly on my feet. I’m also super competitive, so I think that will kick in when the time comes. And I’ve made a lot of different — I’m sure most people have — but I've done every realm of food, so hopefully that helps.
What is the strangest thing we'd find in your refrigerator right now?
AP: I don’t think anything in my fridge is strange. Fish sauce — that’s in my pantry. Gochujang. Anything pickled. Those all are really normal things to have in the fridge for me. I don’t have, like, pickled pigs feet or anything, so I guess that’s one pickled thing I don’t have.
Let's say it's a regular Tuesday night and you're at home. What are you having for dinner?
AP: That varies greatly. It can be something from a really, really delicious, hearty chili to something like rosemary herb-crusted lamb chops with gnocchi on them. It just depends on the day.
What do you consider to be your signature dish?
AP: There are a couple of things I cook well. I do really good braised short ribs with a creamy polenta. I know it’s been done a lot, but I also have a really good shrimp and grits. But then I also do a lot with tacos — a pomegranate and pineapple pico with arugula and a poblano crema and grilled shrimp over a little tostada or a taco.
What dish or ingredient will you simply not eat?
AP: It’s so ridiculous, I can’t even say it out loud. I hate onions. ... I put onions in my chili, and I cook with onions, but I won’t eat onions if other people cook with them. And I know that’s the most-ridiculous thing in the entire world, but I have to control how I eat my onions. It’s the weirdest thing.
What's your favorite guilty pleasure food?
AP: Jalapeno chips. I know that’s not decadent, but if there’s something I could grab that I probably shouldn’t eat that I would eat a lot of, it’d probably be jalapeno chips.
What's one dish you have to have at your last supper?
AP: A butter-basted fillet would be really good. Or, I really, really love the whole gauntlet of Asian food. Anything Thai, Vietnamese, Korean, Japanese — I could eat sushi every day. I can’t cook it, but I can eat it.
What do you want to say about yourself to fans watching at home?
AP: I kind of have a weird, off-beat, morbid sense of humor, so if that gets amplified on TV, [know that] I’m secretly nice. I’m really, really nice — I do volunteer work. I’m nice, I promise! ... I’m not as crazy as I seem.
What's the first dish aspiring cooks should master?
AP: Something that’s like vaguely reminiscent of something you’re comfortable cooking, but just a couple steps beyond that. Whatever that is.
Mark your calendar for the premiere of Food Network Star on Sunday, June 4 at 9|8c.