Food Network Star Exit Interview: Orchid Paulmeier

Well, we are finally at the halfway point on Food Network Star.  We’ve seen a lot of talented people go home but none more beloved than Orchid Paulmeier, Mama Orchid to her friends.  Orchid’s warm smile and bubbly personality will be missed.  Also to be missed is the calming effect she had on Chris.  When they worked together it was fun.

Orchid Paulmeier Food Network StarOrchid is the chef/owner of One Hot Mama’s American Grille in Hilton Head, SC which features her one-of-kind take on Carolina BBQ.  Her innovative approach has made One Hot Mama’s one of the most popular eateries in Hilton Head.  With dishes like Chocolate BBQ Baby Back Ribs and Pulled Chicken Nachos it’s easy to see why.  But the real secret to the restaurant’s success is Orchid.

As we all saw on the show, Orchid is a walking, talking breath of fresh air.  She provided a nice repose from the reign of insanity on this season’s show.  I for one will miss her and I can’t wait to see what the future holds for her.  She is a perfect example of Ronald Reagan’s notion of America being the shining city on the hill.

And Orchid is not content to sit still.  She acknowledges the exposure that the show has given her and she is ready to take the ball and run with it.  Orchid said that Guy Fieri gave all of the contestants some advice, It’s up to you to do whatever is going to happen for the next year.  She has pledged to keep going for it by employing the connections she has made, “I’m going to keep putting myself out there until they put me on a show.”

Who on the show are you still good friends with?

I’m still good friends with Jyll.  I’m also friends with Susie and Vic and I actually talk a lot.  And actually Chris Nirschel [laughs].  We actually Facebook back and forth a lot which is crazy.  I’ve really been able to keep in touch.  Alicia and I are still good friends, Justin B.  I probably talk to at least one person from the show once a day whether its via texting or Facebooking.  I’ve really been able to stay friends with lots of people.

How has your appearance on Star effected business at One Hot Mama’s?

Oh my gosh, to say doubled is probably a low ball.  It’s been crazy.  I think the main thing is we’ve created probably like 20 new jobs just since June 5th.  It’s just been so busy.  It’s just great for our area to be able to put more jobs out there and just getting these people a great experience.  It’s been huge, huge.

What did you learn about yourself by competing on Star?

I learned that my family and the support of my friends has been such a huge factor in my success to this day.  And when it was kind of like, taking away from me you know because we were on our own, I realized, “Wow, I really need that support system.”  By that week five I was really missing home.

I have three kids.  My husband and I were high school sweethearts so we’ve been in each other’s lives for a long time.  It really effected me and I couldn’t believe it.  I thought I was a lot stronger than this, that I can do this on my own and I found out that I really need my family’s support around me.  I think given an opportunity in another setting where I could have my family around I could just. . . the sky’s the limit.  And I think that’s where I’m at now.  I think the future is what I’m going to make of it.

It seems a shame to be in LA and not get to visit some of the great eateries in town.  Were cast members allowed to eat out?

We weren’t unfortunately.  Not while we were filming.  Once we got eliminated then we got to go out.

Which place was your favorite?

One of our favorite places the we went to was A Frame, it’s the gentleman who did the Kogi Taco Trucks.  Which I thought was so fitting after being eliminated because of a taco truck.  I thought I gotta try this.  A Frame in Culver City was absolutely fantastic.

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Be sure to stop by each Monday for my exclusive mourning after exit interviews with each exiled foodie (HERE). This year I have also added the WTVC (WannabeTVchef) Food Network Star Polls – six categories for contestants who best embody the spirit of former Food Network Star competitors. Be sure to check them out HERE. Click HERE to get all the news, gossip and snark on Food Network Star season 7.

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Stuart in 80 Words or Less
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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