All the Things You Didn't Know About Damaris Phillips

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Photo By: Mark Peterson ©Mark Peterson

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©2014,Television Food Network, G.P. All Rights Reserved

©2014,Television Food Network, G.P. All Rights Reserved

Photo By: David Moir ©2016, Television Food Network, G.P. All Rights Reserved.

If She Wasn’t a Chef She’d Be Busy

“I was going to be a writer, and that turned into journalist. And then that turned into a career in children’s literature, which turned into early childhood education, which turned into psychology, which turned into premed, which turned into nursing school, which turned into communication, which turned into marketing and advertising. I did a brief stint with set design and stage design. And I tried playwriting too. And then cooking. The whole time I was always cooking in restaurants. I always worked in restaurants, and I always cooked, but I was going to school so I could make something to be proud of. And then finally I realized, like, oh, you should probably just go to school for food.”

The First Dish She Perfected: Cookies

The first recipe she perfected was chocolate chip cherry cookies with oatmeal. Try this updated, party-ready version.

Get the Recipe: Chocolate Chip-Cherry Cast-Iron Cookies

Her Husband Is a Vegetarian

Damaris has never met a piece of pork she didn't love — but Darrick is a strict vegetarian. They went meatless for their wedding, serving veggie-and-hummus sandwiches on Parmesan focaccia, plus a selection of colorful salads.

Watch the Video: Date Night in Louisville, KY

He Proposed in the Most-Romantic Way

When Darrick proposed to Damaris, he presented her with 1,000 origami cranes made from receipts, ticket stubs and notes he'd saved during their three-year courtship. For the ceremony, they strung them together to create a backdrop that hung from the gazebo where they exchanged vows.

See More Photos: Wedding Belle: Damaris' Southern Wedding

She Is Obsessed with Tater Tots

She calls them “the best use of potatoes of all time.“ Sometimes she makes them into tatertachos which are the same as nachos except instead of tortilla chips you use tater tots. It “classes it up a lot,” she says.

Get the Recipe: Homemade Potato Tots

Her Favorite Food City Is Seattle

“I love Seattle. I lived out in Seattle for a while, and the food there is so phenomenal. It’s so fresh and gorgeous, and just beautiful and simple. I really love that place.”

See More Photos: Welcome to Seattle: A Newcomer's Eating Tour

Her Favorite Thing About Cooking: Making People Happy

“I loved the minute I realized I was good at cooking. Like I had a moment — I made a roasted chicken and I remember watching people’s faces as they ate it, and I thought at that time, oh, I am good at this. I feel the same way when I do a wedding cake. I’m always like, oh my god, I’m going to ruin this person’s day, and then I get done with it and think, oh lord, how did that happen?”

Her Ultimate Southern Feast Would Include Lots of Biscuits

“Biscuits. Some sort of potato. Some sort of greens. More biscuits. Some sort of gravy. I guess there would be a pork product in there somewhere. Roasted vegetables, lots of pickles, desserts, cakes and cobblers, and pies. More biscuits.”

Get the Recipe: Spiced Biscuits

Favorite Late-Night Snack: Spaghetti

“When I say spaghetti, what that means to me is any sort of noodle with red sauce on it.”

Get the Recipe: Linguini Bolognese with Pancetta, Beef, Tomato Sauce, Herbs and Parmesan

Her Signature Cocktail Is Simple and Elegant

“You take a bottle of Champagne and you chill it. And then you open it and you drink it."

She Keeps Hosting Simple

“Make everything in the oven. Make more casseroles … It’s like you’re multitasking by using your oven. The other thing is, make things ahead of time. Make things and freeze them. There are plenty of recipes nowadays that are perfectly good frozen and then reheated. All of my scones, all of my muffins, all of my rolls — everything — I make the dough, and then there’s always a step of baking, so I freeze the dough, pull it out and bake it. All of my pies, premade. I freeze everything.”

Her Favorite Southern Meal: Cornbread and Milk

“Cornbread and milk. It’s my favorite. I also love beans and cornbread. First you have pinto beans or butter beans and cornbread for dinner, and then the next morning, inevitably, there’s leftover cornbread. You take that cornbread into a glass, cold milk over the top and you just eat it — [with] maybe some honey. I like to put a little honey on there. It’s like cornflakes, kind of. Not really, but kind of.”

Get the Recipe: Skillet Cornbread

Lightening Southern Food Is Easier Than People Think

“I think the thing that people don’t realize about Southern food so much is that typically meat and all that heavy stuff was used as flavoring. And really the main stars of the meal were typically, when we grew up, were vegetables. So we had lots of vegetables, lots of beans, lots of legumes. Really we didn’t have a ton of money for big, big hunks of meat, and traditionally in the South, that’s not what you got at all.”

She Loves Costumes

“Any reason to dress up, I am in. So, I don’t only dress up at Halloween. I dress up for my birthday; we have a costume party every year for my birthday. I dress up probably seven times a year at least.”

Her Least Favorite Ingredient: Button Mushrooms

She’s Not a Competitive Person at Heart

“I’m competitive with myself, but trying to look for weakness in others so that I will hopefully do well hurts my soul.”

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