7 Questions with Chef Celina Tio

7 Questions is a series of interviews with the culinary movers and shakers you want or ought to know better.

This interview was done when Chef Tio was on Food Network’s The Next Iron Chef.  Recently she competed on Bravo’s Top Chef Masters.  You may continue.

This October, The Next Iron Chef returns with its fieriest season-to-date. Ten of the country’s most accomplished chefs bet on their skills and put their reputations on the line for the chance to join the industry’s most elite culinary society: the Iron Chefs.  Hosted by Alton Brown and filmed in Los Angeles, Las Vegas and New York City, season three premieres Sunday, October 3rd at 9pm ET/PT on Food Network and challenges the chefs’ culinary skills and mental toughness as they enter a clash of culinary titans.

For all the info on the new season of The Next Iron Chef, check out this link (has press release, episode descriptions, bios, video, etc).

The great thing about NIC is that all of the combatants are serious, award winning chefs.  Celina Tio is a classic example.  The Coatesville, PA native is a James Beard Award winner for her work at Kansas City’s The American where she earned a reputation for making everything from scratch.  This past summer, Tio made the move to her own restaurant, Julian and to stake her claim as The Nest Iron Chef.

Chef Celina is a 1992 graduate of Drexel University where she obtained a B.S. in hotel and restaurant management.  She is also a certified sommelier.  Prior to her heading the kitchen at The American she was the executive chef of at a Disney seafood restaurant, Narcoossee’s, which capped a rich career with the Disney corporation.

With all of the things going on for her right now, Chef Celina Tio was still kind enough to answer 7 Questions:

1. How old were you when you first started to cook?

Celine Tio of Next Iron Chef 3I was eight years old.  I asked my dad for a Holly Hobby oven.  He pointed to our oven and said, “There’s a real one, use that.”  So I learned to use the oven and range at an early age.

2. When did you decide that you could make food your career?

I wanted to go to culinary school out of high school, but it wasn’t quite as common then, so I compromised and got a B.S. in Hospitality Management with minors in Business and Psychology from Drexel University.  I’m jealous because they now have a four year culinary program!

3. Which chefs have influenced you the most?

Julia Child because I saw her on TV.  It never dawned on me that it wasn’t common for women to cook professionally.  I was watching one on TV, how much more socially acceptable is that?  Also, my father, Cesario Tio and grandfather, Julian Rodriguez – the men in my family did all the cooking.

4. If you hadn’t followed this career path, what other career could you see yourself in?

Hard to say, I’ve been doing it for so long and have always loved it!  When I was younger, I was always into math and art, so maybe something in either field.  After having filmed NIC, I love the entertainment industry – the production side, anyway. What a learning curve!  I have a much greater appreciation for everything I see that is filmed now!

5. How would you describe your cooking style?

“Feel Good Food” is the tag line for JULIAN, but mostly straight forward, simple food.

6. What motivated you to enter The Next Iron Chef competition?

I was called on a Friday night and was asked if I’d be interested in being on the show.  I said sure and we set a few more interviews then I was flown out for an on camera interview.  After they saw that, I guessed they still liked me.

7. What’s next for Chef Celina Tio?

Maintaining and always working on improving JULIAN, hopefully have my book concept that I’ve had ready for three years come to fruition and perhaps work on a new concept.  Basically stay busy!

Be sure you check back each Sunday for the NIC Recap.  If you haven’t yet, be sure to check out my recent interview with the newest Iron Chef, Marc Forgione HERE.

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Stuart is a celebrity chef, food activist and award-winning food writer. He penned the cookbooks Third Coast Cuisine: Recipes of the Gulf of Mexico, No Sides Needed: 34 Recipes To Simplify Life and Amigeauxs - Mexican/Creole Fusion Cuisine. He hosts two Internet cooking shows "Everyday Gourmet" and "Little Grill Big Flavor." His recipes have been featured in Current, Lagniappe, Southern Tailgater, The Kitchen Hotline and on the Cooking Channel.

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Stuart’s Honors & Awards
2015 1st Place Luck of the Irish Cook-off
2015 4th Place Downtown Cajun Cook-off
2015 2nd Place Fins' Wings & Chili Cook-off
2014 2015 4th Place LA Gumbo Cook-off
2012 Taste Award nominee for best chef (web)
2012 Finalist in the Safeway Next Chef Contest
2011 Taste Award Nominee for Little Grill Big Flavor
2011, 12 Member: Council of Media Tastemakers
2011 Judge: 29th Chef's of the Coast Cook-off
2011 Judge: Dauphin Island Wing Cook-off
2011 Cooking Channel Perfect 3 Recipe Finalist
2011 Judge: Dauphin Island Gumbo Cook-off
2011 Culinary Hall of Fame Member
2010 Tasty Awards Judge
2010 Judge: Bayou La Batre Gumbo Cook-off
2010 Gourmand World Cookbook Award Nominee
2010 Chef2Chef Top 10 Best Food Blogs
2010 Denay's Top 10 Best Food Blogs
2009 2nd Place Bay Area Food Bank Chef Challenge
2008 Tava: Discovery Contest Runner-up
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