If you spend your Sunday nights glued to the TV from 9-10pm watching Next Food Network Star like we do, you must have been just as surprised, devastated, outraged (words can go on and on) as we were when the judges decided to eliminate Emily Ellyn. The Food Network must have been listening to the outpouring from disappointed fans to “Bring Emily Back” as the network recently released a poll called ‘Which Eliminated Finalist Would You Bring Back?’ (vote here http://bit.ly/PdGOef). Emily is leading the voting by a considerable margin. Does that mean she will be making a return to Star? We certainly hope so! We caught up with Emily (@Emily_Ellyn)and asked her about her Retro Rad persona among other things. Here is what she had to say:
FP: How did you get your start with cooking and teaching about cooking? What is your favorite part about teaching?
EE: I always knew I would be cooking and entertaining! My mother used to prop my sister and I up in our bassinets and we would watch her cook, can and jam. When we got older we were cooking right beside her!
At about the age of 12 I overheard the “adults’ talking about my second cousin who had gone to the Culinary Institute of America and it was perceived as THE BEST!! So, right there and then I had my sights set on the CIA.
I applied when I was 17 and on my 18th birthday I got a phone call that said I got accepted and did I want to start in July or October? I said October, moved to the CIA and started my culinary education. I was always working through school, but at the CIA I assisted the chefs with a lot of continuing education classes. After my BA program at the CIA, I stayed on and did a teaching assistantship where I taught all the baking students how to own and operate a café! Right then and there I knew I would be teaching, consulting, or mentoring people for the rest of my life! Lots of education and I am still teaching – my goal was to be on TV so I can touch a greater audience!
FP: Name some of your favorite food personalities and why.
EE: Julia Child: She was the FEMALE pioneer for all of us – she made this opportunity possible for me! Plus she was smart, beautiful and composed while keeping a great sense of humor while working in tough, awkward and stressful situations!
FP: Tell us about your experience on Star from casting to actual filming. What did you learn from the judges?
EE: It was an amazing experience. I am extremely grateful for the opportunity – I learned a lot on how these television shows are filmed, met a lot of great people from my mentor to cast members to now meeting the amazing fans.
I did not have too many interactions with the judges, but I did learn to balance cooking skills, verbalizing cooking methods and sharing all of the dish’s components while connecting with the viewers through personal stories.
FP: Well from the looks of the recent poll ‘Which Eliminated Finalist Would You Bring Back?’ it looks like there is a possibility that you will return to Star. We certainly hope so because the show needs some Retro Rad back!
Speaking of Retro Rad we love the persona! How did you get started with it? Does the concept carry over into other areas of your life?
EE: Ohhhh I started with Retro Rad at a VERY young age! My aunt made me a poodle skirt when I was in grade school and I wore it until the poodle ran off! I also would BEG my mom to draw cat-eyes on with eyeliner! At about 10 my mom said it was time to learn about the entire era, not just the cool fashion pieces!
She bought us matching pairs of saddle shoes and took me to a REAL American 1950s diner – sooooo retro rad!! I fell in love! I had a strawberry shake, cheeseburger and fried pickles… I was also allowed to feed the jukebox with quarters! It resonated with me that when I put on the glasses and the neat dresses, I took myself to times when it was easy and perfect- where perfect homes were effortless like during the times of “Leave it to Beaver!”
As a result I am embracing this Retro Rad persona and hope to give EVERYONE who tunes in for a half hour or an hour that safe, perfect space to be able to create, cook, escape or just be yourself!!
FP: Wow! We bet your aunt had no idea what an influence that skirt would have on the rest of your life! Let’s think about Retro Rad at home for a bit. When you are home, what are some of your favorite meals to cook for yourself? If you go out to eat, name some favorite places. What are some of your guilty pleasures (if any)? We like to call them foodie pleasures, hence the name 🙂
EE: Ohhhhh, I eat lots at home – never a dull moment! I make shrimp spring rolls that I roll up with fresh veggies and spicy vinegar glass noodles. My guilty pleasure at home is ice cream and I LOVE cold ribs or BBQ for breakfast.
My favorite Orlando eats include Teak Neighborhood Grill in Metrowest (the MOST AMAZING burgers and steak fries), Ravenous Pig in Winter Park (truffle fries and the Gather salad), Mikado Sushi in Metrowest (the Chirashi bowl), G & G Thai off Conroy Rd (LOVE the Thai Iced Tea, Tom Ka Gai, and pumpkin curry), Le Coq au Vin (the duck confit) and El Patron in Lake Buena Vista (the short ribs and guacamole are super).
FP: Wow, that all sounds amazing! If we visit Orlando, we’re definitely coming to check out the food scene with you!
What is the one item that everyone should have in their kitchen?
EE: A PRESSURE COOKER!! You can tear and break up food so I guess you would not need a knife or some of the little tools we heavily rely on, but a pressure cooker is a MUST! It serves the purpose of cooking pot, sauté pan, fryer, canner and it will cook a roast in 30 minutes!
FP: Name 3 individuals you would want to invite over for dinner and what you would prepare for them.
EE: My sister and my two nephews! My favorite meal with them is breakfast because the 3 year old always wakes me up in the morning and says “Ok Emmy, its brrrreeakfast time!!” After we cook something like cornbread waffles, turkey bacon and eggs and fix our fruit smoothies. He calls everyone to the table with, “Evvverrryone its breakfast! Please sit we neeeeed to eat!” Never gets old hearing his sing song voice 🙂
FP: Aww your nephew sounds precious! Speaking of youngsters or even folks who are just new to the kitchen, what tips or advice do you have?
EE: EAT!! Can’t cook if you do not know how things taste! My dad always said “cook what tastes good!” He would start cooking then taste…add a little of this and then a little of that…taste and repeat until it satisfied his taste buds!
FP: In three words, how would your friends describe you?
EE: Wow, after reading all of the posts, emails and cards I would have to say in the most positive light! They all mention how strong and confident I am, how much they love me and are glad the world is getting to meet me. I believe they all see me as a nurturer with arms wide open.
FP: Well, all the fans of Star (like us!) are definitely getting to know you and we’re all thankful! Where will we see Emily Ellyn in ten years?
EE: On top of the world! I am already blessed for the things I have accomplished, seen and experienced! I KNOW it is only getting better!
First and fore most I will have a happy, healthy family!
Second, Emily Ellyn Productions will be a happy and healthy business that supports my family and the families of all those who work with me! I will have published books, will be writing reviews and columns for various publications and will have a few successful television shows and will continually be launching new projects. I also look forward to becoming successful enough as a television personality that I am working on building multiple non-for-profits, which would include “Food for Thought” that funds research for food service research projects and providing scholarships to food service and hospitality students. Emily Ellyn Productions will also develop and support the non-for-profit “An Apple a Day” which provides food for underprivileged students K thru 5 to take home after school for themselves and their families.
FP: Emily, thanks so much for taking the time to share your thoughts with us! We have no doubt in our minds that you will succeed in all your future endeavors. Not only do we adore your Retro Rad persona, but we love your desire to give back! It’s clear that the Retro Rad movement is far from over- half of Foodie Pleasure has his motorcycle jacket out and the other half has her poodle skirt at the ready so we can enjoy and follow your success to the top with you!
For more information on Emily, make sure to check out her website especially her casting video titled “What’s Cookin’ Good Lookin’”. It’s a must watch!