Star-a-Day: Joy Thompson

Get to know Joy Thompson, a finalist on Food Network Star, Season 12.

Photo by: Eddy Chen ©2016, Television Food Network, G.P. All Rights Reserved.

Eddy Chen, 2016, Television Food Network, G.P. All Rights Reserved.

It was only recently that Star Talk broke the news that an unprecedented 12th season of Food Network Star is set to unfold this summer. For the first time ever, a prequel competition — Comeback Kitchen — will bring together seven past Star contestants for a no-holds-barred battle. The winner of this three-week tournament will join the dozen first-time Food Network Star finalists in the premiere episode on Sunday, May 22 at 9|8c. But before the new season kicks off, we're introducing all 12 of the hopeful rivals in exclusive, one-on-one interviews. Keep checking back every day to meet a new member of the cast. Today we'd like you to meet Joy Thompson.

Amid owning a restaurant and bakery, and wrangling her five children, Joy, 40 (Thomasville, N.C.), has a lot going on. She draws inspiration from her childhood and manages to maintain a self-deprecating wit through all the chaos, creating upscale Southern food that looks good but also satisfies, such as fried green tomatoes and chicken and waffles. Joy is ready to teach accessible Southern cooking without any of the stuffiness.

Describe your culinary POV in one sentence.

Joy Thompson: My POV is modern Southern, so traditional Southern flavors with a little modern flair.

Who are you most intimidated to be working with, Bobby or Giada?
JT: I'm intimidating by both of them equally.
If you could ask one of them to teach you one thing in the kitchen, what would it be?

JT: I would love to know how to make pasta homemade 'cause I'm not an Italian-trained cook, and with Bobby I would love to know how to make a tostada.

What one thing do you really want to convey to the mentors about who you are?

JT: I would want them to know that I'm sincere [and] I'm passionate about what I do. And the show I would like to do would be one with my family in it, my business in it, running a restaurant, being a professional woman and a mom and a wife.

How did you prepare for this competition?

JT: I work so much and have five kids, so there wasn't a whole lot of time to prepare, so I basically do what I normally do on an everyday basis, and that's I'm a chef at my restaurant and I'm a mom at home.

Win or lose, what's something you want to take away from this contest?

JT: I want to take away the confidence and belief in myself that I know what I'm doing.

What's your greatest strength in the kitchen?

JT: My greatest strength is probably taking whatever I've got in the pantry or the refrigerator and creating a new meal out of it. Sometimes you're on a tight budget when you've got that many kids, so it's just whatever we've got in the house and I've got to create something new with it.

What is the strangest thing we'd find in your refrigerator right now?

JT: Probably baking soda because it takes the odor out of different vegetables and stuff that you've got in there.

What do you consider to be your signature dish?

JT: My signature dish would probably be peach jezebel chicken.

What's your favorite food city to visit?

JT: I love Charleston, S.C. It's a lot of Southern flavors, but it’s also infused with other types of different dishes and different flavors from around the world. And it's still got that little country feel.

What dish or ingredient will we never catch you eating?

JT: I do raw. I like sushi, but my sushi has to be deep-fried.

What's your favorite late-night snack?

JT: Popcorn. Definitely popcorn. And I like to do a burnt-butter-and-Parmesan popcorn. So, I fancy it up.

What's your guilty-pleasure food?

JT: Has to be chocolate — anything and everything chocolate. I prefer milk chocolate and white chocolate, and I don't mind if it has caramel or toffee or peanut butter or any of those other things in it. Yeah, candy. That's me.

What is one must-have dish at your last supper?

JT: I would probably say lobster and a good steak. And now I'm going to have a five-course meal if this is my last, right? So, shrimp and corn chowder, I'm going to have a fried-oyster-warm-bacon salad and then the lobster and then the steak and mashed potatoes 'cause ... I can't gain any weight if I'm going out, right? And then a really good dessert, like a creme brule cheesecake or a five-flavor pound cake with a ganache.

What do you want to say about yourself to fans watching at home?

JT: I guess, I'm just me; what you see is what you get. I'm going to my best to win this competition. I'd love them to have the opportunity to get to know people, whether I'm sharing ideas with them or they're sharing ideas with me through email or Facebook or whatever or meeting people. I'd just love to have the opportunity to interact with the people that are the fans of Food Network 'cause, hey, I'm one of them too.

Rapid fire: Think fast!
Ketchup, mustard or mayonnaise? Mayonnaise
Chocolate or vanilla? Chocolate
Bagels or doughnuts? Doughnuts
Cream cheese or butter? Butter
Coffee or tea? Coffee
Burgers or hot dogs? Burgers
French fries or onion rings? Onion rings
White meat or dark? White
Cake or pie? Cake
French toast or pancakes? French toast
Beer or wine? Wine

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Don't miss the premiere of Food Network Star, Season 12 on Sunday, May 22 at 9|8c.

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