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'Food Network Star' season 12 features two Atlantans: Tregaye Fraser and Jernard Wells

By RODNEY HO/, originally filed Thursday, May 19, 2016

For its first 11 seasons, “Food Network Star” has created only one superstar, and he himself is hardly universally embraced: season 2 winner Guy Fieri, whose oversized personality has dominated multiple shows on the network the past decade.

Other winners have been able to stay in the TV business, including season 6 winner Aarti Sequeira (Cooking Channel’s “Taste in Translation”) and season 7 winner Jeff Mauro (Food Network’s “Sandwich King”).

But becoming a star has proved a lot tougher than winning “Food Network Star” for most of the others.

Not that this deters a new set of contestants for season 12, including two from metro Atlanta: Tregaye Fraser and Jernard Wells. The show returns at 9 p.m. Sunday.

Here’s a thumbnail sketch of each:

Tregaye Fraser

Hometown: Philadelphia

Current resident: Lithonia

Age: 31

Runs: a catering company, Chef Tregaye N Company

Education: Le Cordon Bleu College of Culinary Arts, Atlanta campus

Past employers: Marriott, the Sun Dial restaurant

Past appearances on Food Network: “Guy’s Grocery Games,” “Cutthroat Kitchen” (she won). The network “has grown to love me,” she said. “And I fell in love with being on TV.”

Her take on Fieri: “I know people make fun of him but he’s super dope. He’s a rock star, not some buttoned-down chef. He knows his stuff. He’s passionate.”

Why “Food Network Star”: “It’s like an academy where you get groomed to graduate. I take it as an education.”

Her culinary point of view: Fusion. “I have really broad experience. I want to teach people to push their taste buds to the limit. I’m not afraid to mix and match flavors.”

Jernard Wells

Hometown: Mississippi

Current residence: Grayson, married with nine children

Age: 37

Past employer: Tyler Perry, running catering for Perry’s national play tours. He has also run multiple restaurants going back to his teen years.

Past appearances on Food Network: “Chef Wanted With Anne Burrell,” “Cutthroat Kitchen” (three times, winning twice).

Opened and now consults for: East Wave Asian Fusion, downtown Atlanta

Owns: Le Chef Amours Haute Cuisine, a manufacturing company that makes sauces

Why “Food Network Star”: “I like the entertainment side of life. I understood there were more ways to become a notable chef than just cooking at a restaurant. This show offers a platform for me to share my story to the world.”

Culinary point of view: “Southern cuisine with a Cajun twist. I’m from the South. I represent the South. My father was part Creole. And that’s what led me to inherit a more Cajun style of cooking. I learned how to cook spending time with him.”


"The Next Food Network Star," 9 p.m. Sundays, starting May 22, 2016, Food Network

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About the Author

Rodney Ho covers radio and television for the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

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