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Food Network Star. That's All Folks.

What can I say? I guess that train dropped me off at the train station. Then I jumped back on the crazy train! Te-he-he. But seriously, what a ride. When I first got the call for Food Network Star I was completely floored. My little food blog (you know, the one you're reading now) was relatively obscure. Then I made it through the interview process and was packing my bags to go compete. At the risk of sounding starry eyed and naive, this was a HUGE deal for me. I don't think it would be a stretch to assume that a lot of people would feel the exact same way. I hesitate to begin any sentence with "I am just"... but I am "just" a stay at home mom. A self taught chef with a love for food. Amateur chef, amateur painter, amateur everything. Except for smart ass; I practically have my doctorates in that shiz. (Feel free to reference my audition tape below. Haha. )

I know that I cook well. I am a stay at home mom, not an idiot. :) But it is incredible to think that out of the hundreds of thousands of people who are in the same boat as I am, I was the one chosen. I mean, I got to cook for Bobby Flay and Giada. Hell, I got to cook against Bobby Flay!

Before I go any further, THANK YOU!

If you are the random person who was watching me and didn't know me at all, I still mean thank you. It is a strange thing to think that strangers are cheering for you. But it is also a humbling one. I genuinely feel gratitude for each of the kind and inspiring messages that I have received over various platforms.

The Food Network and Scripps Network... clearly a GINORMOUS thank you to you. Because with out you, I wouldn't be here. Okay, actually, I think I need to give credit to my mom and dad for that one. But without you guys, I would not have had the platform to share my passion for cooking on a national level. So again, and again; thank you.

My friends. I honestly tear up thinking about you. Whether you were of assistance in an actual physical presents or just sending me messages with positive vibes, I am truly and infinitely grateful for the amazing caliber of people who are in my life. I know a lot of you helped my hubs and family hold the fort down in my absence. Thank you. And I received so many touching messages from my air force family across the globe. I don't feel worthy of your kind words, but they sure as hell made me feel like a stellar human being. I love you guys.

My family of the blood and via wedding vows variety... It seems so silly for me to even try to say thank you on a blog post like this. It wouldn't even touch how lucky I am to have you all in my life. Its that agape love that doesn't quit. From before the show started, to long after, thank you for always being my family.

I started my food blog in August of 2014. I remember downloading a few ebooks about how to start a successful blog. One of the first pieces of advice that I retained from it was it will take 2 years to even get noticed. Valid. I somehow made it onto the wildly impressive platform of Food Network Star in less than 3. I really did learn a lot on the show. It was a crash course of sorts, but still incredibly enriching. I had never cooked live, never done a demo, never presented anything I have cooked to more than family and friends (who never really asked for formal presentations anyway). If it seemed like I took some missteps, that is because I did. But each time was a new learning experience for me. During my exit interview, one of the executive producers came into the room to remind me how proud I should be of myself. He also noted that my sentiments of "I just wasn't good enough" was not something that I would want my daughter to say or feel. I would never want her to feel defeated over having overcome great obstacles. And although I didn't "win the race", I certainly thrived. I tried. I tried my very best. And ultimately I stayed true to who I was. I was weird, quirky, an excellent cook, awkward, self depreciating and occasionally charming. If you know me in real life, these all pretty much hit the mark. Haha.

The opportunity alone of being on Food Network Star, being next to people with the culinary pedigree of Giada DeLaurentis, Bobby, Alex Guarnaschelli, Anne Burrell, and more was simply amazing. But I also was gifted with the opportunity to grow and learn from those experiences. I have grown, I have learned. I may not project the full spectrum of confidence that the mentors were seeking from me. But I am certainly closer. How proud of you are yourself? I feel like I have heard that one on repeat. And I also have mixed answers to the seemingly simple question. I suppose I am proud. I made it on the show, I survived longer than 9 other people. And I had world class chefs love my food. Okay, when you put it that way Amy, you should be proud. Beaming with pride. (I am actually tearing up now at what I accomplished. Shh, don't tell.) There is so much that I am incredibly proud of. But there is always that voice in my head that says "You just didn't do good enough." It doesn't stop me from trying. It most certainly mean I am going to stop doing what I love. Creating delicious food that people want to eat is addicting. It is gratifying. It is rewarding. I was good at that before Food Network Star, and I will only continue to get better as I pursue my culinary passions.

This may seem like a long and overly sentimental post that has more fanfare than it should. But this marks the end of an era for me. I don't expect another opportunity to come around like this. But I will continue to do what I love, which is cook good food. You don't need a tv show to do that. ;) I was able to meet some incredibly and talented people, be mentored by Bobby and Giada, learn some new skills, get mocked on Twitter and grow as a person. Pretty incredible if you ask me. So thank you everyone who rooted for me, said kind things, or was a part of this journey with me. Truly, whole-heartedly, thank you.

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