Monday, June 24, 2013

Kelsey Nixon's Advice to Viet Pham About "The Next Food Network Star"

What advice would Kelsey Nixon give to chef Viet Pham, a hopeful on this season's "The Next Food Network Star?"

"I'd tell him, don't take any criticism too personally," Nixon told me during a telephone interview last week.  I was talking to her about her upcoming season of "Kelsey's Essentials," and her nomination for a Daytime Emmy.  I noted that another Utahan is competing on "The Next Food Network Star," and asked Kelsey what advice she would offer, given that the show gave her a shot at national food TV. 
"While you're there, you end up with tunnel vision; every critique felt like a personal attack in a way," said Nixon. "Just maintain your genuine self through the show, and don't let your critiques get you down."
It was only five years ago that a hopeful Nixon competed on the reality TV series, "The Next Food Network Star," with only a BYU college cooking show under her belt. Although she didn't win, viewers were impressed enough to vote her the Fan Favorite. When the Food Network launched its Cooking Channel for a younger demographic, Nixon was offered a shot at her own show.
Those who watched Nixon compete on the show may remember that some judges shot down her naturally sunny disposition. Bob Tuschman, Food Network's senior vice president, called it "overcaffeinated cheerleader," but revised his opinion over the course of the contest. 
"At first, I thought her sunny, ever-chipper personality read as fake," Tuschman wrote in a blog post when Nixon left the show. "But she is just a rare person. I know she will be back to reclaim a spot in the food television world."
Nixon also advised Pham to use the show's momentum to take advantage of opportunities. 
"That show opens so many doors for you, whether you win or lose," she said.  "But it's critical to work hard within the first year to take advantage of those opportunities.  I fostered the relationships that were offered up right after the show; because that's when people are most interested in working with you." 
It was just a few days after her  star-studded night at the Daytime Emmy Awards, and Nixon enthusiastically described it as a "grown-up prom."  

Kelsey Nixon with husband Robby Egan.
Although Nixon lost out to Lidia Bastianich of PBS' "Lidia's Italy," she said, "Cheesy as it may sound, I felt like I was going home a winner just to have my name on the same list as some of the other nominees." 
Her husband, Robby Egan, had fun meeting  Ozzy Osborne and a few other celebrities. Kelsey's "pinch me!" moment was being   seated next to Garten, of "The Barefoot Contessa" series.  Although the two are part of the Food Network's conglomerate, they had never met.
Nixon, who grew up in North Ogden, was a nominee for "Outstanding Culinary Host" for her Cooking Channel series, "Kelsey's Essentials." Her Facebook page shows a glammed-up Nixon in jewels and sequins at the June 16 events, posing happily with fellow nominees Giada De Laurentiis and Ina Garten. 

Her Daytime Emmy nomination caps off an eventful year, as "Kelsey's Essentials" begins its fifth season on prime time July 3 (airing 8 p.m. Eastern Time). On June 24, 2012, her son Oliver was born three months premature and weighing just two pounds. It was a challenging time for Nixon and her husband, Robby Egan, while Oliver spent his first months in a neonatal intensive care unit.
Now at age 1, "He's now happy, healthy, doing fantastic," she said (and  during the interview, I could hear his baby talk in the background.)  "We have really been blessed not to have any complications."
She also wrote a cookbook this past year. Pre-ordered copies of "Kitchen Confidence: Essential Recipes and Tips That Will Help You Cook Anything"(Clarkson Potter, $19.99) are now available on
"It was interesting, because last year at the end of filming, I was all ready to spend three months focused on writing my book before the baby came. And then the baby came three months early," she said. "But when he was in the hospital, it wasn't healthy for me to be there with him every hour of the day. It was emotionally draining.  So I would spend the mornings at home working on the book before going to the hospital. About a week before he came home from the hospital, I turned in my manuscript to the publisher."
She described blending motherhood with a career as "really hard, but really rewarding. People talk about 'life and work balance,' but I don't think 'balance' is a good way to describe it. I think 'juggling' is a better description. But what's been so great is that as he has started to eat food, my two worlds have intersected. Food is something I can bring into my home and nourish my family with."
Also, her career affords her time at home, instead of heading to an office every day.  "I'm able to do all my recipe development and writing from home. The only time I'm out of the home is when I'm filming, or if I have a meeting."
What people may not realize is that the entire 13-episode season of "Kelsey's Essentials" is usually filmed in a three-week period.  
"This time I brought my mom to New York, and she spent some great quality time with Oliver while I was filming."
 When asked some of her favorite dining haunts on her visits home,"My mom's cooking," was her first response. But she also likes to stop at Kirt's Family Drive-In on Washington Blvd, Tona on 25th Street for sushi, "And we always have to make a trip to Chick-fil-A because we don't have any in New York!" 


Carla H said...

I am a big fan of Kelsey's! Her personality is one of the reasons I love her show. I really enjoy the recipes and am looking forward to getting her book! Her little Ollie always puts a smile on my face!

Carla H said...

I am a big fan of Kelsey's. Her personality is one of the reasons I love her show. Really good recipes, too. Can't wait to get her cookbook. Ollie always makes me smile!