by Cesca Janece Waterfield
Jamika Pessoa is an Atlanta-based personal chef who is competing in season five of The Next Food Network Star. In the coming weeks, symptoms she’ll battle nine other hopefuls for the starring spot in a Food Network show. The reality show consistently garners the Network’s highest ratings, and they aim to hold onto that record with a season that is spangled by stars, including Gina and Pat Neely and season four’s winner, “Big Daddy” Aaron McCargo, Jr. The winner will be announced Aug. 2, and receive a six-episode show. Contestants must prove their skills for creating delicious food, but star quality is a key ingredient. Jamika’s got both.
She began at the Ritz-Carlton in Atlanta as an intern. Her mother is from Trinidad while her father is from Jamaica. Not surprisingly, she became known for her original interpretations of Caribbean dishes. Over the next four years, she worked her way up to being a top level cook and assistant to the chef before venturing out to start her own business. She describes her last day there as “the greatest day and the saddest day. I felt like I learned so much, but I wanted so much more.”
She’ll get her chance when The Next Food Network Star premieres June 7 at 9pm.
People are excited about this season of Next Food Network Star.
If they’ve got more excitement than me, then that’s amazing! I’m super excited about this one.
How does your grandmother continue to inspire you in the kitchen?
I’m the youngest of three girls. My family’s from the Caribbean. My grandmother, I would refuse to let her put me down. She was always holding me and she had to cook. So I pretty much learned to cook by being attached to her hip. I would see her cooking and stirring the pots and it piqued my interest. The first thing that she taught me to cook on my own was scrambled eggs. Sunday mornings, that would be my thing. She would never write a recipe down. She knew everything by memory. I still have not figured out her bread recipe. It’s like the most amazing bread. So many recipes I learned from her and I just started taking it on my own. She’s definitely the one. I saw it, I got inspired by it and just kept it going, what I love, from her.
How did you become a contestant on The Next Food Network Star?
I love to cook and once I got into being a personal chef and I wanted to grow my business, I would be out…
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