One of my favorite shows was once Food Network's The Next Food Network Star, but it hasn't aired since 2018. Maybe they hit a wall regarding qualified candidates. Maybe the relatively recent influx of OTHER competition shows on the network pushed it out. Who knows?

But it was a fun and fascinating series and I miss it.


What I have learned from watching Next Food Network Star and others like it on Food Network is that Kentucky is home to a lot of great chefs. And there will be one more heading to the small screen in December. She's Lauren Jacobs of Versailles KY, also known as the "Cheerful Baker."

Lauren will bring her Christmas cheer and delightful holiday cookies to the Food Network on December 11th as she competes on Christmas Cookie Challenge. The episode will air at 7 PM Central.

Of course, we wish Lauren all the best and hopes she brings home the title. If she does, she won't be the first Kentuckian to do great things on the Food Network.


Perhaps my all-time favorite Next Food Network Star champion is Carter County KY native Jason Smith, who won the blue ribbon in 2017. His folksy and hilarious commentary throughout the season paired well with his exceptional cooking prowess. He may even have given the network its most famous quote: "Well butter my butt and call me a biscuit!" That's NEVER not funny. A couple of years ago, he brought WKYT-Lexington some of his white chocolate cranberry whoopie pies. They sound amazing.

Jason had previously won the network's Holiday Baking Championship. At 7:42 and 34:23, you'll see a couple of his segments from the season.


When Worst Cooks in America premiered in 2010, my initial reaction was, "Are they really competing to see how BAD they are?" I quickly learned, as we all did, that the focus of the series is all about IMPROVEMENT. Earlier this year, Eddie Anderson of Leitchfield was a contestant, and although he didn't win the season, he DID finish in the top five, so I tip my chef's hat to Eddie.

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In 2015, Beaver Dam bakery owner Haley Miller landed a spot on the Holiday Baking Championship. Take a look at some samples of her amazing work:

Yes, that IS a cake...a groom's cake. I love it. And what about this? Also a groom's cake.

Incredibly impressive. And Haley performed well on Holiday Baking Championship, competing on all but one of her season's eight episodes and finishing fourth.


Lexington native and Louisville resident Damaris Phillips was the ninth season champ of Next Food Network Star.

She would later land her own series Southern at Heart, which ran from 2013 through 2016, and then co-host The Bobby and Damaris Show with Bobby Flay. And just in time for Thanksgiving, check out these Turkey Day appetizers:


You know, I grew up in Kentucky, so I'm not surprised we've turned out our fair share of great cooks. I sometimes wish there had been a Food Network when my grandmothers were alive; one died in 1971 and the other in 1980. They would have loved it. And they would have schooled everyone on their fried white corn and chicken & dumplings, respectively.

Congratulations to all our Kentucky chefs and bakers who have impressed on national television.

[SOURCE: WTVQ-Lexington]

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