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    Season 13 Contestants

    • Aaron Lhamon

      Aaron Lhamon

      1.  When did you start becoming serious about cooking and why? 
      I've always loved to cook, but I really got into it when I got my first job in New Hampshire. Chef David Moorehead really helped me decide to stay with cooking.  

      2.  Describe your favorite meal to eat. 
      My favorite meals to eat are cooked with love and passion. There's nothing else like it when your mom cooks anything with love. 

      3.  Describe your favorite meal to cook.
      My favorite meal to cook has got to be Beefy Mac, it reminds me of when I was young and I didn't have a care in the world. Good times then. 

      4.  Who is your inspiration (cooking or otherwise) and why? 
      My mom is my inspiration. She is the most caring, hardest working person I know. She is my inspiration every day. 

      5.  Use five words to describe yourself.
      Five words to describe myself are passionate, driven, understanding, louder than life and shorter in real life.

    • Ashley Sherman

      Ashley Sherman

      1.  When did you start becoming serious about cooking and why?
      I became serious about cooking when I was 16. There is no feeling like wowing someone with something you created from scratch! It's all on you from the breakdown of the protein to the plate up.

      2.  Describe your favorite meal to eat.
      I love an amazing burger to make my day perfect! 

      3.  Describe your favorite meal to cook.
      I love to cook comfort food! One of my go-to meals is chicken thighs, sweet potato mash and grilled asparagus.

      4.  Who is your inspiration (cooking or otherwise) and why?
      My dad and my grandmother are my inspirations in culinary. My grandmother was always cooking and everyone loved her. My dad teaches culinary and making the industry more passionate about food one student at a time (including me).

      5.  Use five words to describe yourself.
      driven, goofy, smartass, ambitious and culinary student for life 
    • Brian Santos

      Brian Santos

      1.  When did you start becoming serious about cooking and why?
      I started becoming serious about cooking in 2009 when I finished my externship at the TD Garden. That is when the Boston Celtics won their 18th championship. I realized that sports could become cooking and I can achieve being a great chef from practice and execution.

      2.  Describe your favorite meal to eat.
      I love upscale pub food.  Burgers, wings, pizza ... fresh with a twist.

      3.  Describe your favorite meal to cook.
      At home, I am big grill guy. It could be 5 degrees out and you will still find me out grilling everything and anything.

      4.  Who is your inspiration (cooking or otherwise) and why?
      My Nana who made the best Italian family meals and who's been diagnosed with Alzheimer's Disease and my wife are my inspiration.  My wife earned her Pre-Med from UNE and has recently finished her Master's in engineering at Harvard University. Seeing her staying up all night studying pushing herself to limits was inspiring. 

      5.  Use five words to describe yourself.
      confident, stubborn, cocky, leader, Sagittarius
    • Bryant Gallaher

      Bryant Gallaher

      1.  When did you start becoming serious about cooking and why?
      I started cooking when I was 16 years old and was working 3 cooking jobs to support my family.

      2.  Describe your favorite meal to eat.
      My favorite meal to eat, is my yaya's Fried Bone-in pork chops, with Angel hair pasta and homemade tomato sauce.

      3.  Describe your favorite meal to cook.
      My favorite meal to cook is fresh lobster and collard ravioli, with tomato bacon foam.

      4.  Who is your inspiration (cooking or otherwise) and why?
      My inspiration for cooking is my mother and my grandfather. My grandfather would always experiment in the kitchen and have us taste his creations.

      5.  Use five words to describe yourself.
      Bold, Assertive, Interesting, Compassionate, Creative.
    • Denine Giodarno

      Denine Giodarno

      1.  When did you start becoming serious about cooking and why?
      I became serious about cooking in October of 2011, when I fell in love with culinary school. I loved all it had to offer me. 

      2.  Describe your favorite meal to eat.
      I can never get tired of surf and turf -  a nice medium rare steak & lobster tail! 

      3.  Describe your favorite meal to cook.
      I love creating anything but I always lean more towards Italian Cuisine! 

      4.  Who is your inspiration (cooking or otherwise) and why?
      My inspiration is my family, friends and my boyfriend. They are my biggest supporters. I just want to live this life to the fullest and I think doing that through culinary is how.  

      5.  Use five words to describe yourself.
      Dedicated 
      Determined
      Stubborn
      Artistic
      Animated 

    • Fernando Cruz

      Fernando Cruz

      1.  When did you start becoming serious about cooking and why? 
      Once I got accepted to the CIA and did my internship at a Michelin Star restaurant, I knew that this was the career I wanted to pursue. It gave me the opportunity to express myself and use food creatively as the vehicle of delivery. 

       2.  Describe your favorite meal to eat.
      Rice, Beans, Steak, Plantains and Avocado

      3.  Describe your favorite meal to cook.
      Pasta- Blackened Shrimp with Alfredo Sauce, Spinach and Tomatoes 

       4.  Who is your inspiration (cooking or otherwise) and why?
      As a chef, I truly admire Chef Pedro Subijana (Akelarre Restaurant in the Basque region of Spain). I started working in his restaurant when I was young and didn't have much respect for my profession. He changed my perception for my profession and the way I wanted to project myself as a chef. 

      5. Use five words to describe yourself.
      Passionate, Goal Oriented, Dedicated, Creative, Loyal

    • Frank Bilotti

      Frank Bilotti

      1.  When did you start becoming serious about cooking and why?
      I was about 14 when I really decided to begin my dreams in the food industry. I liked that with food, I was able to put a smile on strangers' faces.
       
      2.  Describe your favorite meal to eat.
      My favorite meal is whatever my mother makes.

      3.  Describe your favorite meal to cook.
      My favorite meal to cook is that whatever you desire, I make it the best you've ever had. 

      4.  Who is your inspiration (cooking or otherwise) and why?
      My biggest inspiration was and still is my parents because they introduced me to my passion for food. My little sister's ambition is also inspiring. 

      5.  Use five words to describe yourself.
      F-R-A-N-K
      F-earless
      R-espectful
      A-mbitous
      N-octurnal
      K-een
    • Janai Simpson

      Janai Simpson

      1.  When did you start becoming serious about cooking and why?
      I first became serious about cooking when I was 19 years old and in college. I worked for the catering service on our campus and I loved every bit of it. I majored in sociology; however, the more time I spent there, the more passionate I became in truly learning how to serve others. 

      2.  Describe your favorite meal to eat.
      My favorite meal to eat is definitely mac n cheese. This is one dish that takes me back to some of my best memories spent with my grandmother. She would always make her famous macaroni and cheese and the aroma would surround the neighborhood. It takes me to my happy place.

      3.  Describe your favorite meal to cook.
      I absolutely love proteins! There's nothing better than going to your local meat market and choosing the best cut of meat.

      4.  Who is your inspiration (cooking or otherwise) and why?
      I have a lot of inspirations for my cooking. Each person in my life has touched me in terms of cooking – when I was little, my mom and I would make chicken and dumplings after my dad and sister fell asleep. It was our little secret; my dad gave me an open mind to try new things, he was always trying our new cuisines. Monday we may tour Italy and then by Friday touring Texas. My aunt has such a country soul, she would cook all of the true southern delights. And my grandmother – sweet, sweet maw maw. Her food would heal any broken heart. It's the love and passion that she had behind her food that really made me want to share my gift with others. She would take so much time and care to make a meal for you and you would know that this was something special and made especially for you.

      5.  Use five words to describe yourself.
      Eccentric, Tenacious, Dreamer, Hilarious, 100% Real!
    • Jennifer Salhoff

      Jennifer Salhoff

      1.  When did you start becoming serious about cooking and why?
      I worked at a family owned restaurant in the town I grew up in and started off as a cashier and server and decided I need to try something different so I asked to move into the kitchen. I saw how everyone else worked in the kitchen and told myself that I could do that better and faster than they can. So they gave a chance and here I am today.

      2.  Describe your favorite meal to eat.
      I don't have one specific favorite meal I love, but love anything Italian or with pasta. Or a perfectly cooked medium rare steak. 

      3.  Describe your favorite meal to cook.
      I absolutely love making French macaroons. They are one of the most difficult pastries to master since they are time consuming and anything can affect the outcome and not many people can do them.  I have mastered the macaroon.

      4.  Who is your inspiration (cooking or otherwise) and why?
      My surroundings and environment are my inspiration. I love going into a garden and picking the fresh produce and immediately cooking it. It doesn't get any better than that.

      5.  Use five words to describe yourself.
      creative, beast, dedicated, hard ass technique driven
    • JP DeDominicis

      JP DeDominicis

      1.  When did you start becoming serious about cooking and why?
      I started getting serious about cooking when I was 14 years old. 

      2.  Describe your favorite meal to eat.
      My favorite meal to eat is chicken parmesan. 

      3.  Describe your favorite meal to cook.
      My favorite meal to make is homemade pasta and gravy with meatballs. 

      4.  Who is your inspiration (cooking or otherwise) and why?
      My inspirations are Gordon Ramsay, Rachael Ray, Emeril Lagasse and Wolfgang Puck.

      5.  Use five words to describe yourself.
      passionate, hardworking, loyal, driven, and determined
    • JR Robinson

      JR Robinson

      1.  When did you start becoming serious about cooking and why?
      I remember my grandmother always saying, “You're eating me out of house and home. Come in this kitchen so I can show you how to cook!” I loved her food and cooking was fun. I was 18 and it kept me out of trouble, plus I was good.

      2.  Describe your favorite meal to eat.
      I love to eat oxtails that are “falling off the bone” good with gravy and rice and peas.  The gravy has to be just right and the peas have to be red beans.

      3.  Describe your favorite meal to cook.
      Favorites are hard and I like quite a few, but one of my all-time favorites is a big ole bowl of grilled or sautéed shrimp with southern style grits. I eat my grits with cheese.

      4.  Who is your inspiration (cooking or otherwise) and why?
      I thank my grandmother who is my inspiration. She taught me how to cook all types of food, so I wouldn't be sitting around waiting for someone to do it for me.

      5.  Use five words to describe yourself.
      Confident, Passionate, Loyal, Funny and Blessed
    • Kalen Morgensterm

      Kalen Morgensterm

      1.  When did you start becoming serious about cooking and why?
      I started becoming serious about cooking about 8 years ago.  I had always watched cooking shows and cooked for my family on a daily basis because my mother was not very good at it.  I moved to Nashville on a whim to be by my sister, enrolled in culinary school there and never looked back.

      2.  Describe your favorite meal to eat.
      My favorite meal to eat is tacos. Hands down.  I could eat tacos all day every day for every meal.  There are so many different ways to make a taco interesting and I love the endless possibilities.  Meat, cheese, veg, tortilla, herb and sauce… you can't go wrong.

      3.  Describe your favorite meal to cook.
      My favorite meal to cook for me personally is anything I can braise.  The low and slow journey of cooking something fascinates me. 

      4.  Who is your inspiration (cooking or otherwise) and why?
      My inspiration in life is my parents.  They are amazing people and are best friends with each other.  They support me and my sisters through anything we decide to do and stand by us unconditionally. 

      5.  Use five words to describe yourself.
      Loyal, honest, leader, passionate, humorous
    • Katie McKeown

      Katie McKeown

      1. When did you start becoming serious about cooking and why? 
      I was very young, around 7 or 8 years old, when I developed a passion for cooking. My parents owned restaurants so I grew up learning every aspect of it. 

      2. Describe your favorite meal to eat. 
      Tough question! If I had to choose, I would say Fettuccine Alfredo. Fresh, handmade pasta tossed with a smooth and creamy Alfredo sauce.

      3. Describe your favorite meal to cook.
      I was taught how to make my first pot of gumbo when I was 8 years old. I love everything about it like the smell and process of making a roux. I enjoy building and creating flavors in a pot for hours! Learning how to make gumbo is one of my favorite childhood memories.

      4. Who is your inspiration (cooking or otherwise) and why? 
      My mother, Katherine Fertitta, or as I like to call her, Momma Kat! My mom has been my motivation, best friend and my role model for as long as I can remember. I strive to be a better person every day because of her.

      5. Use five words to describe yourself.
      Humble, Bright, Driven, Organized, Kind.
    • La Tasha McCutchen

      La Tasha McCutchen

      1.  When did you start becoming serious about cooking and why?
      I became serious about cooking while waiting tables at a local fine dining restaurant when I was 20 and in my second year of college.  I was unsure about what I wanted to do but discovered that I was very passionate about the service of food and fell in love with wanting to be the hands behind the food itself. In my family, food brought joy to any of life's moments and I wanted to be a part of bringing that joy to people, like my Grandmother was.

      2.  Describe your favorite meal to eat.
      My favorite foods are comfort foods like Shepard's Pie and braised chicken and rice. 

      3.  Describe your favorite meal to cook.
      I enjoy cooking comfort food as well but in a new more upscale fashion. I love to braise! There's just so much love in a good braise. Braised short-rib is my absolute favorite!

      4.  Who is your inspiration (cooking or otherwise) and why?
      I'm inspired by strong, influential women, such as my mother, grandmothers, sisters, and any woman that takes control of her life situations and grows from them. Chef Paula Dasilva and Adrienne Grenier are my two female chef inspirations. They all inspire me to be the best me I can be.

      5.  Use five words to describe yourself.
      Humble, Passionate, Respectful, Loving, and Entertaining. 
    • Roe Dileo

      Roe Dileo

      1.  When did you start becoming serious about cooking and why?
      I first became serious about cooking when I was in my 20's and decided to leave college with only 1 year left. I realized that if being a great chef was something I wanted to accomplish, I had to dedicate myself to it and gain as much experience as I could.

      2.  Describe your favorite meal to eat.
      My favorite meal to eat is a traditional Sunday afternoon, Italian family spread because not only is the food phenomenal, but I really love sitting around the table with family and friends to catch up with each other. One of my earliest cooking memories is helping my grandmother prepare this meal.

      3.  Describe your favorite meal to cook.
      My favorite meal to cook is a good old fashioned steak! I know it's not as flashy as some things chef's would say, but grilling or perfectly searing a good cut of meat to a divine mid rare is definitely a skill. Then pairing that steak with a great potato, marrow butter and some greens?! Best meal ever.

      4.  Who is your inspiration (cooking or otherwise) and why?
      My mom is my inspiration, both in and out of the kitchen. Her work ethic and attitude make her the role model for the woman I try to be. Before meeting my amazing step-father, she was a single mother for a very long time and opened her own business and never took “no” for an answer. She approaches challenges in her life with a positive attitude and has taught me to do the same. Her tenacity inspires me every day to try harder and make her proud!

      5.  Use five words to describe yourself.
      Stubborn, Loyal, Tough, Perfectionist, Goofy
    • Sade Dancy

      Sade Dancy

      1.  When did you start becoming serious about cooking and why?
      Cooking has always been near to my heart. It was a way I bonded with my grandmother. One of the last conversations we had before she passed away was about my finding my purpose in life. Shortly thereafter I enrolled in culinary school. 

      2.  Describe your favorite meal to eat.
      I LOVE Asian food, specifically Szechuan!  My favorite meal to eat is double cooked fish with chili oil, leeks, fermented black beans and chili peppers. Yum! 

      3.  Describe your favorite meal to cook.
      I love cooking EVERYTHING! I love cooking and creating new things! The act of cooking is my favorite thing to do. 

      4.  Who is your inspiration (cooking or otherwise) and why? 
      All female chefs around the world inspire me. I believe that it is very challenging to be a female in the culinary industry. We deal with adversity on a daily basis and knowing that there are other people pushing forward every day motivates me tremendously. 

      5.  Use five words to describe yourself.
      Passionate, ambitious, unique, motivational, brave. 
    • Sterling Wright

      Sterling Wright

      1.  When did you start becoming serious about cooking and why? 
      I was 15 years old when my dad came home and said, “boy, you need to learn how to cook.”

      2.  Describe your favorite meal to eat.
      My favorite meal to eat is chicken and dressing.

      3.  Describe your favorite meal to cook.
      Breakfast is my favorite meal to cook because it's the start to your day!

      4.  Who is your inspiration (cooking or otherwise) and why?
      The picture of the last supper is very inspirational to me. 

      5.  Use five words to describe yourself.
      100
      Happy
      Exciting
      Energetic
      Positive
    • Steve Rosenthal

      Steve Rosenthal

      1.  When did you start becoming serious about cooking and why?
      I became serious about food when I was a young child on a cruise ship and saw many styles of food and whenever I went camping with my parents we would do cook outs from a pig roast to a chili cook off.

      2.  Describe your favorite meal to eat.
      One of my favorite things to eat is a rib eye just seasoned with salt and pepper and garlic mash and the meat cook perfectly rare.

      3.  Describe your favorite meal to cook.
      One of my favorite things to cook is octopus. I like to serve butter beans and tomatoes with grilled frisée and tomatoes garnished with lemon zest.

      4.  Who is your inspiration (cooking or otherwise) and why?
      My influence in food is my family. I always remember cooking various types of food with my family.

      5.  Use five words to describe yourself.
      passionate, intense, creative, bold, control-freak