2009 flashback: Atlanta’s Jamika Pessoa vying for ‘Food Network Star’ crown

Originally posted June 4, 2009 by RODNEY HO/rho@ajc.com on his AJC Radio & TV Talk blog

Georgia is already well-represented with two major Food Network stars: Alton Brown ("Good Eats") and Paula Deen ("Paula's Party").

But Jamika Pessoa of Atlanta is hoping to join the network's stable of personalities by competing on the latest season of "The Next Food Network Star," which debuts at 9 p.m. Sunday.

Her prize if she wins? Her very own show on the cable network.

Here's a quick bio:

Age: 30

Profession: Certified personal chef

Cuisine style: Bold twists on traditional dishes, especially those of her Caribbean heritage.

Atlanta work history: Interned at the Ritz-Carlton Buckhead.

Favorite local restaurant: Thai Palate Cuisine in Midtown.

Earliest memories of cooking shows: "When I was 8 or 9, I remember watching on PBS this old guy who used to cook with wine. It was funny watching this guy get drunk and cook. I thought you cooked with wine with everything!"

On what being on the show is like: "It's the most unbelievable roller-coaster ride you can imagine. It really plays with your mind. You're constantly trying to think and strategize. 'Is that guy out to get me?' "

In the first episode: Pessoa's Floribbean shrimp gets mixed reviews. Brown, paraphrasing Dickens, calls it "the best of times, the worst of times" and the shrimp itself "the gatekeeper of badness."

(Her response: "I'm definitely not going to say anything bad about Alton Brown. I love you!")

But she gets a compliment from Giada de Laurentiis: "She has something a lot of Food Network viewers could connect with."

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