It’s just six weeks away, folks. Season 8 of FNS kicks off May 13th and now we know who the fifteen wannabe TV chefs will be. Meet the latest cast vying to be a Food Network Star.
Eric Lee, 44, graduated from the Culinary Institute of America and UCLA, where he studied sociology. He currently lives in Petaluma, CA and has served as the executive chef for a winery for the past ten years. Eric loves to deconstruct and recreate classic dishes.
Kara Sigle, 31, began her catering business in Chicago while attending college, but her love for food began years earlier as she watched her mother cook. An avid fitness guru, Kara puts her healthy spin on favorite tried-and-true dishes.
Malcolm Mitchell, 41, pursued a culinary arts degree after spending four years in the Navy. He then realized that he could build a career doing what he loved. Malcolm lives in Waldorf, Md. and puts a healthy twist on his soulful recipes for private clients.
Michele Ragussis, 42, lives in Brooklyn, N.Y. but fell in love with seafood and New England cuisine when she moved to Rhode Island for college. For the past eight years, she’s worked as an executive chef in restaurants throughout the East Coast.
Nikki Martin, 31, was exposed to the restaurant world as a child attending food shows with her mom, where she sampled the food and learned about the industry. Nikki now owns a Los Angeles catering company focused on globally inspired dishes made with seasonal ingredients.
After spending years in a rock band, Josh Lyons, 42, decided to go to culinary school to fuel his other passion: food. He worked at every level of the restaurant industry including waiter, busser, bartender, manager and line cook and now owns a sushi catering business in Jupiter, Fla.
Linkie Marais, 28, immigrated with her family from South Africa when she was 16 and now lives in North Attleborough, Mass. As a teen, she worked for a cake decorator, and after culinary school, she began working as a pastry chef. Linkie uses her heritage as a launching pad for her recipes.
Martita Jara, 35, began working in her family’s restaurants at a young age and cultivated a passion for Mexican food from her mother’s home cooking. Self-taught plus two semesters at culinary school, Martita lives in San Diego and cooks with loads of Latin flavor and lots of love.
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Phillip “Ippy” Aiona, 23, is the executive chef for his family’s Italian restaurant in Hawaii. After growing up in the restaurant business, attending culinary school was a natural fit for the laid-back, yet still competitive Hawaiian native. Ippy injects Pacific ingredients into traditional European cuisine.
Yvan Lemoine, 30, moved to the U.S. from Venezuela when he was 13 years old. He started a culinary arts internship through a program at his high school and was hooked. He now cooks for the French Consulate and creates out-of-the-box cocktails at a New York hotspot.
Cristie Schoen, 35, grew up in a military family and often cooked for her brothers after school. During college, she studied abroad in Germany and discovered a love for European cooking. Now living in Marina Del Rey, Calif., Cristie loves to put a healthy spin on comfort food classics.
Emily Ellyn, 29, grew up on a farm in Ohio, graduated from the Culinary Institute of America and then moved to Paris. She is currently pursuing her Ph.D. in hospitality management in Orlando, Fla. Emily loves using fresh, local and culturally intriguing ingredients.
Judson Allen, 30, a self-taught and restaurant-trained chef, recently changed his life and eating habits and lost more than 100 pounds. His Chicago catering company is focused on healthy food and nutrition counseling. Inspired by his grandfather, Judson also loves to cook with Creole flavors.
Justin Warner, 27, a self-taught cook, is chef-owner of a hip Brooklyn, N.Y. restaurant that he built from the ground up. Justin began working in restaurants at just 13 years old and his approach to food reflects his personality: edgy, intense, passionate and witty.
Martie Duncan, “slightly over 30″, has always loved to cook and entertain, but her varied career includes stints as a police officer, wedding expert and web content developer. She eventually found her true calling and currently runs her own party-planning business in Birmingham, Ala.