So this just happened…  :)

At cooking class tonight (rustic Spanish cuisine…recipes coming soon!), I thought I recognized the blond in the awesome fedora at the other end of the table.  It was one of those try-not-to-be-obvious-I’m-staring-as-I-try-to-figure-out-if-I-really-know-this-person things.  Turns out I was right!

Emily Ellyn was in the house!  For those Food Network fans out there, you might remember Emily from season 8 of The Next Food Network Star.  She was the Retro Rad girl whose culinary POV was turning classics into modern masterpieces.  She’s also appeared (and won!) on Chopped and also (won!) on Cupcake Wars.  

It was definitely like meeting an idol.  I *love* TNFNS and she was the one I’d been rooting for that season.  Unfortunately she did not win, but her dreams are still alive and she’s actively pursuing them.

Best of all was how nice and genuine she was.  What you saw in front of the cameras was definitely not an act.  She’s funny and quirky, and I just adore her urban hippie/hipster vibe.  Plus, she openly and freely shared cooking tips and ideas, without ever “putting on airs.”  She was just a fun gal who had some culinary experience and wanted to share it with folks because that was what made her happy–sharing food and sharing knowledge.

Totally an amazing night.  Fantastic food, lots of learnings, and a chance to meet an idol.  Doesn’t get much better in my book.