This Louisville girl who grew up in a funeral home is the latest winner of Food Network Star and has her own show, Southern at Heart, which airs Sunday mornings. Meet Damaris Phillips, whose magnetic personality and charm showed us that she is destined for great things, with food and with life.
What do you do for a living?
I am a chef and culinary instructor.
When did you discover your talent for cooking?
To this day, it is still strange to think of it as a talent. Growing up we were always in the kitchen with my parents, so cooking has always been a natural part of life. I do remember the first time I roasted a chicken. I remember thinking I must have done something right if people were oohing and ahhing over chicken.
You are the new Food Network Star. How has your life has changed just since that competition began?
The biggest change has been in the amount of respect people automatically afford me. It used to be that I would walk into every situation and work harder than whoever was working the hardest, and that is how I earned respect. Now walking into situations, people listen to me, value my opinion, take me seriously. Honestly, this has been the biggest change.
Where do you see yourself in a year?
I want to go on a two-month road trip. I have a couple fun ideas that I can’t wait to live out with my gentleman and best friends. We are always looking for adventure, so if it isn’t the road trip, I see myself working on fun projects centered around food and connecting with others.
How do you balance your job and your personal life?
I never thought that I would be the type of person who would have this issue, but surprise surprise, I am busy as a bee these days. Balance in life is hard and, for me, something I have to make serious efforts towards. Right now, I have not reached the perfect balance of all life aspects. I just can’t do it all, and so I drop the ball on cleaning, and laundry, and I haven’t returned the Redbox movies I rented two weeks ago. But, NOT doing those things means I eat dinner with my friends, help pick out Halloween costumes with my niece, have a date with my gentleman, and still can teach and film and grow my career. All in all, it’s going pretty ok.
What is the biggest life lesson you have ever learned?
Life is finite. Every single day I wish I could have just one more conversation, or cup of coffee, or even just one more laugh with my dad. But missing him helps me to love the people in my life with that much more abandon. And so it is the best lesson of all.
Who is your mentor?
For cooking: Coby Ming. She is the chef at Harvest Restaurant in Louisville and one of the most talented and best leaders I have ever known.
In TV land: I have always admired Alton Brown’s unique approach to food television, and well everything he does, and so I will be attempting to court him as my mentor.
In life: I am very blessed to have had the best family and friends of all time—all of whom help me daily to be the very best version of myself.
What is best advice you have received in business?
Do the right thing.
If you were not in your current job, what would you secretly love to do?
I would love to sing in an Americana-type band. Or, do stage makeup for zombies. Or be a shoe designer or a personal stylist or a psychologist or the best new American novelist of our time. Or run a bed and breakfast on a quiet lake where people will get married and come to fall in love again. Or, be a camp counselor.
Maybe one day…
What is something people would be surprised to know about you?
I like to do standup comedy on amateur night. I still need a lot of work. And, I grew up in a funeral home. People are always interested in that.
What is your favorite place to eat?
Queen of Sheba for Ethiopian Food. I love it and cannot make it worth a lick.
Cefiore for a sweet bite. I am a sucker for frozen yogurt and they have the best. Plus, the owners are hardworking and customer-service focused. And you have to respect that in Louisville; they were hip to the FroYo craze way before everyone else.
Where do you like to shop?
What is a treat or a luxury you do for yourself?
I love getting a manicure and having my hair blown out for special nights.
What is your weakness?
Banana pudding and a touching story.
What is your favorite thing to do in Louisville?
Whenever there is racing, I love to go to the track. I also love walking through Cherokee Park, or meeting friends at one of the 1,000 food events that are always happening.
What three things can you not live without (besides God, family and friends)?
- Warm showers
- A bed
What are you reading right now?
Being Dead Is No Excuse: The Official Southern Ladies Guide To Hosting the Perfect Funeral by Gayden Metcalfe and Charlotte Hays. It was a gift and I am LOVING it!!!!
What are three of your “favorite” things right now:
- Fresh tumeric root
- Nail stickers
- Spray tan
When we met Damaris, it was right before she was scheduled to start shooting her new show. She was on a whirlwind media tour and was gracious enough to carve out time for us. We worked for an hour and talked for another hour, just chatting and shopping. She is a bright light in this community and we should all be proud of her. Thank you Damaris.
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