What do you like about introducing non-cooks to cooking?
Cooking is one of those things that is universal to people. And any time you can teach somebody a way to connect with all people, there's so much joy in it. And it is always going to be exciting. Almost everyone loves to eat, and when you're able to make people feel more involved in that process, it feels really good. I think it's an incredible gift to be able to give people.
[Read: Building Your Kitchen Confidence.]
What's your favorite meal to prepare?
My dad's favorite food was butter beans, so I love to prepare them because it makes me think of him. When I miss him really badly, I make them. My favorite foods are usually things that make me think about somebody. My sister's favorite is fried chicken, so there are times when I want her to know how special she is to me, so I make her fried chicken.
You were labeled a "Southern spitfire" on the show. How did you feel about that, and what other sides of yourself do you hope to show as you continue on TV?
I don't think anybody doesn't like to be called a spitfire. I think it sounds sassy and like I have a lot of moxie, and I always think of those things as pretty good. I would love for people to see that I'm goofy and have a great sense of humor, and I can have a lot of fun, but there is real seriousness to my dedication to my craft. I don't think of teaching people to cook as a joke. I take it very seriously, and I'm excited for people to get to see the teacher that I am.
What stands out as your most challenging experience during this season?
That first day, you walk in and then 10 other people walk in, and they're all remarkable. Like, they are all so successful and talented. And I was standing there thinking, "Oh, somebody made a mistake. How did I get here?" And then that's the second you realize that all the people surrounding you are remarkable, so maybe that means you might be remarkable, too. That moment, for me, was really important.
[Read: Video: Top Chefs Talk Healthy Eating.]