A passion for food began as a family affair for Brianna Jenkins. As a girl, Jenkins learned to cook from her aunt, who shared her love of discovering new dishes from a wide variety of ethnicities. Jenkins knew her calling lay in the food world. The question was: in which field?
Jenkins' cousin, a working chef, encouraged her to think of a back-up plan in case becoming a chef or a line cook didn't work out. That's when she decided to enroll at Georgia Perimeter College to study journalism, planning to use her love of cooking to fuel a career in food writing. But a summer trip to Paris
"When I got to Paris, my heart was there," she said. "I knew I had to be a chef."
Jenkins moved to Paris to attend culinary school at ESCF Ferrandi. She graduated in the top of her class and gained experience working in France's famous boulangeries, patisseries and restaurants. After returning to Atlanta in 2006, Jenkins opened her own catering company, Bouche a Bouche, which means "the kiss of life" in French. She planned elaborate dinner parties for Atlanta's elite until the market took a turn.
"That's what inspired me to try out for The Next Food Network Star," Jenkins said. "Now is the time to try something new."
The show pits 12 chefs against each other in a season full of culinary and marketing-related challenges. The winner receives his or her own show on the Food Network. Current Food Network stars including Bobby Flay and Giada de Laurentas provide both challenges and critique for the hopefuls.
"To have these chefs tasting and critiquing your food--I never would have imagines I would be there in front of them," Jenkins said. "Sometimes I would say, 'Somebody pinch me!'"
Jenkis said she owes her success to one thing: perseverance.
"Believe in yourself and know you are a rock star," she said. "If you have a true passion, don't ever think you can't do it. Never stop."
The next season of The Next Food Network Star premieres June 6 at 9 p.m. ET.