Pinay chef shines at Food Network Star season opener

by Don Tagala, ABS-CBN North America Bureau

Posted at Jun 12 2011 09:38 AM | Updated as of Jun 13 2011 07:27 PM

NEW YORK- The search for next “Food Network Star” kicked off Season 7 on Sunday with a Filipino-American restaurant owner from Hilton Head Island, South Carolina dominating the show.

Thirty-nine-year old Orchid Paulmeier won both of the first two challenges on Sunday’s broadcast of Episode 1.

The contestants were asked to make a sophisticated breakfast, which represents them as chefs.

Paulmeier was surprised when she was named the winner.

Her second challenge dish, Filipino Pork Skewer Over Southern Rice Vinegar Slaw, impressed the judges further. She said, “I grew up in a Filipino household and every single family barbecue, there was pork on a stick.”

Celebrity chef and judge Bobby Flay said, “Orchid, so you made the hot Asian Skewers over rice vinegar slaw really beautifully glazed, the rice vinegar slaw was really good."

Food Network Star Judge Bob Tuschman said, “You were the standout, and I have to say, I agreed with them, you were effervescent, luminescent every escent I could think of. My only criticism is you have given me nothing to criticize you about.”

Paulmeier was born and raised in Orland Park, Chicago. Her mother – a native of Nueva Ecija and her dad from Quiapo, Manila.

She says growing up with her Lola’s Filipino home cooking gave her the advantage of bringing unique and fresh flavors to the show.

Paulmeir said, “They need an Asian person, they need a Filipino on the Food Network and I think I have a lot to offer.”

She will face 14 other chefs and restauranteurs — battling for the title of the next “Food Network Star” and winning their own cooking show on the Food Network. She also leads the Food Network Star online fan poll with 33% of the votes.

You can catch more of orchid on the “Food Network Star” Sundays at 9 p.m. on the Food Network.