So, What’s It Really Like to Be on the Food Network?
Food blogger and mom Amy Pottinger from Honolulu shares her experience on Food Network Star.
“She didn’t wash her hands!”
I found myself yelling at the TV, my hands clenching my cheeks while I watched in horror as Amy Pottinger, a mother of two who’s husband is based at Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam, cut up raw chicken—then continued to cook without washing her hands.
I wasn’t the only one appalled. Pottinger, a 33-year-old contestant on the Food Network’s reality competition show Food Network Star, was preparing a meal on camera with hosts Giada De Laurentiis and Bobby Flay staring in disbelief. They said the same thing I was screaming at the TV.
Suffice it to say, Pottinger barely survived that round, only to get cut on the last episode that aired on Sunday. Her cheese-stuffed mini burger wasn’t good enough to move on, and she is now left to compete in Star Salvation for a chance to rejoin the main competition. Does she make it? Find out this Sunday, when the winner will be revealed.
In the meantime, Pottinger, who hails from Seattle, is back home after filming the finale, chasing after her two kids, 5 and 3, blogging and cooking and blogging about cooking.
HONOLULU MAGAZINE: You’re home. What are you doing today?
AMY POTTINGER: Oh, I’m running errands today, getting a pedicure, fixing the garden. We’re growing Roma tomatoes, heirloom tomatoes, heirloom rainbow carrots, cucumbers, cilantro, rosemary, basil, jalapeño. My daughter insisted we grow pumpkins. We live on base [at Hickam]. It’s a rental. We custom-built our last house [in Florida], and this is all beige and linoleum. I’ll live (laughs).
HM: Did you always want to cook?
AP: I wanted to do interior design, I wanted to be an artist, then a fashion designer. I’ve always been drawn to anything artistic, and I think that’s why food is appealing to me. You’re always creating something, and it’s something so communal. I’ve always worked in restaurants but never in the culinary capacity. And I was always around food.
HM: Why did you start your food blog, Caviar & Crayons?
AP: I started it in August 2014. We had just moved to Florida and built this beautiful kitchen. I’m not super computer savvy at all, in fact, not remotely, so when [web development platform] companies like Wix came online, I knew I could do that … I do everything, from start to finish. I do all the designing, cooking and taking pictures. I’m slightly embarrassed to say this, but I take my pictures on my camera phone. I even edit them on my phone. I’m super amateur status.
HM: Why did you decide to audition for Food Network Star?
AP: I thought it would something fun and entertaining. I’m always saying weird stuff and I’m awkward, though I’m not the bumbling idiot I seemed on TV. I enjoy being in front of people, I enjoying entertaining on some level, and, honestly, I just enjoy cooking. I love cooking and I wanted to share that on a national platform.
HM: So, that first episode when you first met the hosts, was that really the first time you had met Giada De Laurentiis and Bobby Flay?
AP: Oh, yeah, and that was the first time we met each other, too! [The producers] definitely figured out how to make you nervous!
HM: What were they like?
AP: They obviously are wildly impressive. They’re pretty cool. They’re both nice and quirky and funny.
HM: I can’t believe you had to cook against Bobby Flay. That must’ve been intimidating!
AP: I thought, “I’m going home. There’s no way.” Giada was really sweet. She was, like, “You’re going to beat Bobby Flay! You’re the only girl left!” And I was, like, “Uh, no, probably not.”
HM: Anything that surprised you about cooking on a reality TV show?
AP: I figured some things on reality TV are misrepresented [when it airs] and I was really hoping time [for cooking challenges] would be one of them. It’s not. That broke my heart.
HM: If you do win, what kind of show would you want?
AP: I would want something that had variety. I think it would be fun to go and visit other people who have food blogs, other people who are more amateur and cook—like me.
HM: Where do you get your inspiration for your dishes?
AP: I like things that are aesthetically pleasing. I’m visually inspired. I’ll go to the farmers market and love how that Japanese eggplant looks and cook around that. Or I’ll sit there and browse Pinterest. I’ll find something that looks pretty, but I don’t really read the recipe. I’ll just make some version of it.
HM: So, what are your plans now?
AP: I got the business end of things in order, got my LLC and business license, all that fun stuff. I’ve been doing random things, some private chef jobs, an in-home cooking class, a kid’s birthday party, some catering, just kind of working in things as people request them. I’m totally open to whatever presents itself. I really do enjoy this. I’d really like to keep writing, cooking, entertaining and all that jazz. I just feel like I’ve got so little experience in how to get my foot in the door, so that’s been a disadvantage for me.
HM: I just have to ask: Why didn’t you wash your hands? You were killing me!
AP: I know! I think I was just trying to present to the camera. I looked around and didn’t see a sink, so I had no idea. The producer told me there was a sanitation bucket below, and that briefly went through my head that I should maybe dip my hands in it, but I don’t know why I didn’t. It seems like a weird choice, I know. Obviously, I made a bad call. I thought for sure I was going to go home on that one.
Watch the latest Star Salvation 3 at 5 p.m. Sunday and Food Network Star: Who Wants a Pilot? at 6 p.m., both on the Food Network. Watch past episodes, including auditions, here.