One on one with Chef Kelly Wangard
and Cutthroat kitchen

by Kylee Jepsen

In celebration of Filming in SLO County, we thought we would take a moment to speak with one of our very own chefs about her experience on the big screen recently for an episode of the Food Network's Cutthroat Kitchen. Yes, Chef Kelly Wangard had the exciting opportunity to make her big screen debut and we at Visit SLO County couldn't pass up the opportunity to learn all about it! For those of you who may not be familiar with Chef Kelly, she is Executive Chef and Inn Manager at SummerWood Winery and Inn. Raised in Paso Robles, she studied at the Culinary Academy in San Francisco. Her resume boasts prestigious restaurants including the Kimpton Hotel Group's Puccuni & Pinetti and Grand Cafe as well as the Rosewood's Caneel Bay Resort in the Caribbean. Read more about Kelly here.

We learned so much from our interview with Chef Kelly and hope you enjoy learning a little more about her experience too:

Q: What made you apply for Cutthroat Kitchen and what was involved in the application process?

A: I received a private message from a casting director for Cutthroat Kitchen (CTK) via Facebook. After a brief conversation the next day, she scheduled me for a Skype interview with her direct report. Then, they sent it on to Food Network Execs for approval and I was on!

Q: What was it like being on the show?

A: Incredibly challenging. I was nervous, and my heart felt like it was going to jump out of my chest! I wanted let the ‘TV’ peeps know that I was experienced/talent etc., but wanted the contestants to know nothing about me without coming off as conceded. The most challenging sabotage besides the handcuffs was the fact that we only had 60 seconds to shop for ingredients, so I just grabbed as much as I possibly could.

Q: Did you learn anything interesting about the culinary industry from being on the show?

A: Hmmm…. I already sort of knew that it was a small world, but it really is. We are all connected in some way or another. Two of my competitors on the show knew each other. I feel like the culinary world is really a small community and everyone has worked with, or for, someone throughout their careers.

Q: What was your favorite part about being on Cutthroat Kitchen? Most challenging?

A: Winning!!!! Well, of course. My “Gangnam Style’ dance that I did for my kids at the end of the show! No, my favorite part was the simple fact that I was able to cook and create under such a stressful environment. My “years” of experience showed in my ability to produce some great flavors and presentation in tense situations. I am proud of that and very proud to represent Paso Robles, San Luis Obispo and my family.

Q: What do you see for yourself in the future? Any other celebrity appearances?

A: Sure. I will continue to log my ratios and techniques aka…. Recipes. I want to share that cooking is approachable and by doing less in the kitchen you can enjoy more time and enjoy cooking!

Did you miss Chef Kelly on the Food Network's Cutthroat Kitchen? Well, don't you worry, you can check out the full episode here.