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Winning Comeback Kitchen!!! (and back to Food Network Star)

Okay guys. So I am a bit late with this post... like 5 days late. So who knows if you even want to read any of this. But, you clicked the link, so I am going to press forward and assume that for some reason you care about my thoughts/feelings on this subject. :) It is completely lost on me as to how I am interesting. Let me rephrase. I am super interesting. I just don't know if my reflections on the topic are of any value. But in the sake of milking national exposure for all it is worth, I might as well put thought to "paper" and blog about it. I mean, I don't pay for this domain for nothing. (Insert "lol", "haha" or happy face to emphasize the depth of my perpetual sarcasm.)

For real though! I won Comeback Kitchen. They called Adam's name and I was sad naturally. No one particularly enjoys losing. And it is even worse when it is with something you want. I will say, I am a good loser though. I genuinely am happy for people when things work out for them. I am not a competitor who likes to boast when they win or pout when they lose. Adam is rock solid at what he does and is super deserving of the win. So when they called his name, I knew I could walk away proud of how I represented myself.

This is my sad face apparently. But then they announced we were BOTH winning and my face started to look a little different.

So not everything that happens makes it to camera. Think about all the talking that goes on the the rooms where we recap stuff, and the fact that cameras are on multiple people throughout the competition. One of the things the network has to do is decide what makes it and what doesn't. Sometimes I am grateful for this. I do or say something stupid and am like "awww, shucks, guess that didn't make it." (Insert happy dance) Other times I get a huge compliment and it doesn't make it to air. Of course I want the whole world to hear that Giada says I cook how she likes to eat, or Bobby saying I am the most talented home chef they have ever had on the show, Tyler Florence says he wants to be Instagram friends with me. Those are cool moments.

One of the big moments that didn't make it to camera is that Tyler and Valerie asked Adam and I both why we deserved to win before they began their deliberations.

When it came to me, all I could think is that I built it. I don't have this wildly impressive empire or anything grand at all really. But being back here, standing in front of them, hoping to prove myself all started from so little. I began the blog about three and a half years ago from my home wanting to share my love of food with people. But I had young children and my husband is in the military. So everything that I had was built in these nooks and crannies in my life; secondary to my husband’s job and my children. I work hard, and I don't stop. I might not have the pedigree or resume as the other finalists, but I work hard for my little mole hill. I was plucked from food blog obscurity and brought to the national platform of food network star. I made it pretty far. I am back here for a reason. And when I am home I am doing catering and private chef things. I made something from nothing. And I love this. I love food, and the art of creating. I want to share that with people. And I am damn good at it. I was actually trying to suppress tears thinking about it.

Anyway, none of that made it to camera. But if you're still reading this post, now you know.

The final dish I made for Comeback Kitchen was a poke dish. I actually shot a video for it, but the file got corrupted. So you will just have to take my "old" poke recipe, which is a poke bowl, and then make some cucumber mango salsa to go on top of it. Is this the perfect solution. No. But its all I have for you at this point in time. And today is my birthday. I am 34. So cut me some slack. :)

It is basically :

1 mango (cubed, 1/4")

1 avocado (cubed, 1/4")

1/2 an English or Japanese cucmber (cubed, 1/4"

1 jalapeno, finely diced

1/2 tsp rice wine vinegar

1/2 tsp lime juice

1 tsp olive oil

1/2 tsp soy sauce

1/2 tsp sriracha

salt to taste

Then I topped it with some radish sprouts and sesame seeds. :)

I also just cut up some flour tortillas and fried them in peanut oil until golden brown and finished them with salt.


So the Comeback Kitchen saga has come to an end. But before we move onto Food Network Star, I am going to be nostalgic for a moment. I honestly loved Comeback Kitchen. It was so much fun. I loved, loved, loved being reuinited with Trace. And the other people (Yaku, Debbie, Jernard, Sarah and Monterey) were all awesome. We laughed a shit ton. If the Food Network pics up any of these people for anything, they are getting some quality people.

I also want to take one last chance to talk about how highly I think of Tyler and Valerie. No, we don't know each other well enough to get matching tattoos, or anywhere near that actually. But they just both project such warm vibes.

They looked us all in the eye and said "you don’t have to listen to us or internalize our advice, but not a lot of people get to stand here and hear what you will hear from us. We will be honest, good and bad. So glean everything you can from your time here." You could really tell that they cared and were invested in the process.

I will say one thing for the Food Network, they really are great at capturing all of the odd faces that I make.

There is even this article they published about the fact that there were TWO winners. The picture they used looks like I am a trying to hold a fart in. Or maybe I am laughing and pooping. Why I would be doing that on national television is beyond me. But thats what it looks like. Yaku and I were joking about peeing in stew one time we had to go so bad. So maybe they were commemorating that moment. I was seriously like "Yaku. I am probably going to pee my pants mid presentation. I am just gonna own it and do it on purpose. Do my demo, pee, and walk away and leave a puddle like nothing happened." So maybe they are trying to commemorate that? Or maybe not. Haha.

So... pee pants and poop pics aside, Comeback Kitchen has concluded and we are moving on to Food Network Star!

We show up at the park... there are new a shiny finalists. We all cook. I have to make Octopus portable (blog post to follow this week)

Real dish

Turned into a taco

Real dish again

The first episode of Food Network Star is always kind of a blur because there are still so many people. And just as in Comeback Kitchen, this was a really cool group of people. Not only did we have some real heavy hitters in the culinary space, but everyone was oh so sweet and kind. There really wasn't any drama in this group at all. Which, was a refreshing change from last year. :)

Above I mention things I wish they would have aired, and things I am glad they didn't. Bobby and Giada were thrilled with my presentation (neither was I, honestly). But they did love my food. And this is when Giada told me I cook like she likes to eat. What a compliment! :)

The more awkward moment that didn't make it to air was a little strange. So you heard me talking about cooking with my daughter... but then the audio from my presentation faded out. Bobby and Giada always want us to tell personal stories. So I am trying to connect this dish to my rich family life. When I cook with Emelia (my now six year old), she frequently asks me about the animals from which the meat comes from. And she always kind of pauses and is like "yeah, but not the cute ones, right?" (Ex: hot dogs. "But not the cute pink piggies, right?" No sweetie, the mean warty ones with snarly teeth, haha.)

So I am sitting here telling this 20 something dude about my kid and her animal questions. And I say "But don't worry, there aren't any cute animals in your taco." I have no idea why!!! Sometimes I wonder about myself. Lol. So at this point Adam and I are the only finalists that have heard me say this odd story choice. And the whole time we are watching the other videos, I am trying to suppress laughter about "no cute baby animals in your taco".

Maybe it was sleep deprivation, or maybe it really was just that funny (probably not), but I couldn't stop.

Week one is in the books, and on to week two.

See you this coming Sunday when we team up for podcasts and go to The Proud Bird cafe for some on sight food reporting. :)

And thanks everyone for all of the really sweet messages and supportive sentiments. It really does mean a lot to me.

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