Culinary teacher may get network cooking show

Published: Aug. 1, 2013 at 10:07 PM EDT|Updated: Sep. 15, 2013 at 10:07 PM EDT
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Damaris Phillips
Damaris Phillips
Lisa Brosky
Lisa Brosky

LOUISVILLE, KY (WAVE) - A Louisville woman who makes her living teaching culinary arts at Jefferson Community and Technical College could very soon have her own network cooking show.

Food memories started for Damaris Phillips while growing up in Old Louisville and the Portland neighborhoods with her large family.

"Growing up I'm one of five kids, so we always cooked," said Damaris. "It was one of our nights a week to cook."

Now those skills may get the girl from Kentucky her own national cooking show.

"I went to school because I was thinking I could be on The Food Network," explained Damaris.

You can't watch the show without noticing the influence Louisville, Kentucky and the south made on Damaris. In last week's episode she got upset after a failed batch of mashed potatoes telling the audience, "what southern cook can't make mashed potatoes for real?"

"I really love this place that we live. I'm really proud of who I am and where I come from," she said about Louisville.

Lynn's Paradise Café introduce her to her first restaurant job, but it wasn't until she started dating a chef Damaris realized, "I was in love with cooking and being around food and having it be a huge part of your life."

Teaching herself to bake, Damaris moved out to Seattle. "I was working in coffee shops and bakeries out there and decided I really want to do more."

She knew that more, culinary school, had to come from home, from Louisville. "It's such a culture for chefs. It makes you feel really special that people appreciate your craft so much."

Within 20 days of making the decision she enrolled in Jefferson Community and Technical College culinary arts program. "The first day of school I remember holding a knife and shaking. I was so excited. Every day since then it's been like that."

After graduating, Damaris signed on as a culinary instructor for JCTC's program and applied for her next dream on Food Network Star. Three years later the call finally came to join the cast. "I think it's humbling to see people feel really excited about your food," she said about the response to her appearances on the show.

As much as she's gotten from her time on the Food Network, her colleagues at JCTC really felt the same.

"Because I know Chef Phillips so well and I know how sweet and charming she is, just to watch her bring that to a national audience she makes us so proud," explained Lisa Brosky, Vice President of College Advancement at JCTC.

Even they don't know if she made it to the finale. "I can't tell you that of course," Damaris said when asked for this story.

At this point though it certainly isn't about that end result, rather taking the journey.

If Damaris makes it through in the episode that airs at 9 p.m. on August 4 it will be up to the fans to vote for her to get her own show. She has a viewing party both this week and for the finale no matter what happens starting at 8 p.m. Sunday at Molly Malone's on Bardstown Road.

In the long run, Damaris said she dreams of opening an event space in the Portland neighborhood. She not only wants to offer it for weddings and gatherings but for at-risk youth. She would love to have a community garden there and said she wants to teach children the value of cooking, eating local and healthy.

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