From the Catwalk to the Kitchen

Like many fans of the show, we’re enjoying the current season of Food Network Star! With the delicious food, the fun on-airs and the built-up drama, it’s the perfect way to spend a Sunday night.  Speaking of the drama on the show, it didn’t take long for this season’s contestants to earn reputations for themselves. Whether you love her or hate her, Danushka Lysek was certainly one of the first to gain a notable status of her own. After her elimination last week, we reached out to learn about her cooking background and future plans. Read on—those future plans might not be exactly what you expect!

Danushka Lysek,
Danushka Lysek

FP: How did you get your start with cooking?

DL: I got into cooking because I grew up in a European household where all the food we ate was home made. I learned the basics from my Mom but wanted to branch out into eating more than just meat and potatoes so the experimenting began.  There were more disasters than I care to remember, lol.

FP: When did you decide you wanted to be a chef?

DL: Modeling doesn’t last forever so after years of my friends telling me I should be a Chef, I looked into it.  The idea of trading a white-collar job for a blue one didn’t appeal to me at all. Half way through school I got hired to be an on camera Chef for a show on VH1 called Supergroup. My job was to cook for rock stars like Ted Nugent, Sebastian Bach and other big names. Not only was I supposed to cook for them, I was supposed to break their balls, NO PROBLEM!

I finished top of my class at a culinary school that will remain anonymous (and I would never recommend going there) and started a career as a Private/Personal Chef. First in Los Angeles (where I was living at the time) and then NYC (I moved back). Soon after returning to NY, I was approached by some producers that knew me and asked to do 24 Hour Restaurant Battle on the Food Network.  I WON that show, did Chopped and was selected as a finalist on Food Network Star.

FP: Seems like cooking and you were meant to be!  

Name some chefs that have inspired you.

DL: The Chefs that inspire me are people’s grandmothers, European home cooks and people with a passion for eating and cooking.

FP: What are some of your favorite meals to cook for yourself and guests?

DL: My favorite things to cook for guests are my Cabernet braised short ribs on a bed of celery root puree, lamb shank with a mushroom and taleggio polenta, venison, bison (any and every way). Basically simple and good food that makes you feel warm and happy!

FP: Mmm that sounds good! We would be happy to be your guests!

If you go out to eat, name some of your favorite places in NY or other cities you’ve visited.

DL: My favorite restaurants are Blue Hill at Stone Barn in Tarrytown, NY, Scalinatella, Milos, Standard Grill and some hole in the wall Mexican joints downtown. I LOVE IT ALL!!

FP: We’ll add those to our growing list of places to try especially Blue Hill!

Name three individuals you would want to invite over for dinner and what you would prepare for them.

DL: The only individuals I want to invite to dinner and cook for are my closest friends that are scattered all over the United States and Canada (I am Canadian with Czech parents). They have all had my food although my new favorite thing to make is vegetarian pizza. They MUST have broccoli and goat cheese as well as pesto and than all the normal other veggies and cheese they usually have. To DIE for!!

FP: In three words, how would your friends and family describe you?

DL: Loyal, honest and very blunt (also a total sweetheart but I can’t ruin my TV image).

FP: If you hadn’t become a chef, what would you be doing?  

DL: If I wasn’t a Chef…well, I always wanted to be a fighter pilot or racecar driver. Thankfully I have driven almost every amazing sports car out there so the racecar thing has passed. My ex-boyfriend was a fighter pilot and instructor at Top Gun, so I guess I kind of did that too.

What’s left you ask?  I’m on the prowl for a husband and going to make a tribe of little Danushkas, WATCH OUT WORLD!!

FP: Thank you Danushka for your time! We know you will succeed in all your future endeavors! Maybe we’ll see you on another cooking show!

For more information on Danushka Lysek, visit

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