The New Queen of Southern Cuisine

Has the food community found its new ambassador of Southern cuisine? Damaris Phillips, a culinary school instructor from Louisville, Ky., may just be the answer to this question.

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Growing up in a big Southern family, Phillips began cooking for her family at a young age. She then lived a relatively normal life in Kentucky until she enrolled in culinary school because she did not know what to do with her life.

Thankfully, she made the right decision. Phillips has said that on her first day in culinary school, her hand shook holding the knife because she was so excited, and she still feels that same excitement to this day.

This excitement and passion for cooking clearly showed during Phillips’s run on the Food Network reality competition series “Food Network Star.”

The program features chefs who dream of hosting a show on the Food Network being mentored and judged by network executives as well as food stars like Rachael Ray, Alton Brown, and Bobby Flay, and the show’s winners (two of who are stars Guy Fieri and Melissa d’Arabian, win their own show on the network.

In her time on the show, Phillips earned rave reviews from the judges and the audience for her sweet and wacky personality and her skillful, modern takes on Southern classics from pimento cheese to pork tenderloin and biscuits. In the end, Phillips won the show in a fan vote and debuted her series “Southern at Heart” on Oct. 27.

In “Southern at Heart,” Phillips uses her culinary skills, off-the-wall wit, and “Southern food is the food of love” philosophy to teach men how to impress the women in their lives.

In the debut episode, Phillips uses her recipes for chili over chai-spiced grits, chocolate cupcakes with burnt orange marshmallows, and sorghum caramel apples to teach soon-to-be father Greg how to show his expecting wife his love through the food of love: Southern food.

With a fresh concept and food philosophy, strong cooking and teaching skills, and a star’s stunning look and personality, Damaris Phillips seems to be starting to build a culinary super-brand: a brand built around sharing Southern food, the food of love, with the world.

*”Southern at Heart” airs Sundays mornings on the Food Network at 10:30 AM.

– Jay Kucia, Contributing Writer

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