Alexis, 40 (Clarksville, Ind.), grew up around Latino flavors and feels passionate about experimenting with different ingredients and cooking techniques. After leaving his corporate job, Alexis followed his dream and received his culinary degree from Sullivan University’s National Center for Hospitality Studies and has worked as a caterer. Currently working as a part-time food writer, Alexis grows his own produce on his 65-acre family farm.
What is your food specialty: My food specialty is food that is unexpected by applying knowledge or food science to my cookery. I find that I can create a lot when I learn about how ingredients interact with each other when heat is applied to them.
Favorite restaurant: Wiltshire on Market in Louisville, Ky. Chef Colby cooks food that is an exact reflection of her personality: casual and elegant. It's my favorite restaurant because her food is beautiful, simple and addictive. I feel happy when I leave the restaurant.
Three foods you can't live without (other than bread or water):
Ramen Noodles — I wish I could name an extravagant ingredient like truffles, foie gras or caviar, but the plain fact is Ramen Noodles. Yes, the 19-cent ones you ate for dinner when you were in college, are something that I enjoy so much. I make my own broth and I play with how many different versions I can make of Ramen Noodles. I usually just boil the noodles in a broth, add mustard or vinegar and Worcestershire sauce and I have a smile on my face.
Saltine Crackers with shaved ham — When I was a teenager my father would eat thinly shaved ham on top of saltine crackers. I always thought to myself, "Why does he eat that all the time as a snack?" I enjoy eating the same combination my father does, but one caveat is I enjoy the saltine crackers with shaved ham standing up in the kitchen alone, when no one is around. It just tastes better to me that way.
Chef Boyardee Ravioli — Yes, the original from back in the day. My sister and I would eat this practically every Saturday night while we were teenagers around 9 p.m. for dinner. We would cut them in half with our forks so there would be more of them and the ravioli would last longer. It was like our little treat and that only we shared. We would nosh on the ravioli while we watched the Love Boat. It's a classic for me.
Food you won't go near: Green, yellow or red bell peppers. I am not fond of them at all.
Weirdest thing you've ever eaten: Animal intestines
Interests and hobbies: One of my hobbies is going to secondhand stores and finding vintage plates, casserole dishes, juice glasses, cast-iron skillets and vintage unmatched silver I can use for entertaining when my friends and family come over. I feel it's my contribution to helping re-purpose things that would normally be thrown away. I also enjoy when friends comment on the interesting dinnerware or glassware where they are simply amazed that it came from a thrift store. It's great for me to make a cake for a birthday and place it on a wonderful one-of-a-kind plate and let the birthday person keep the plate.
Favorite Food Network chef: Alton Brown is the "top dog" for my favorite Food Network chef. I appreciate his no-nonsense approach to cooking, his unabashed confidence and authority he conveys on his shows. I think he is simply brilliant in how he takes a mundane, boring topic like food science and makes it compellingly simple and entertaining.
Favorite shows (don't have to be on Food Network): Glee, The Real Housewives of New York City, Atlanta, New Jersey and Orange County and Anthony Bourdain: No Reservations
Favorite food destination: London is my favorite food destination. Well, at least for the moment. The English have a vast array of cuisines all over their grand city. London really never sleeps, and you can find the best fish and chips at 10 p.m. after leaving work; or you can sit and have a beautiful glass of wine with a wonderful British-, Indian- or Spanish-inspired meal down the street from your hotel. One thing is for sure —the British have attained mastery in exceedingly amazing customer service, good street food and innovative cuisine.
Culinary inspirations: We all have had the experience of discovering inspiration in the most unlikely places, and that is where I usually find my culinary inspirations. I find them in personal experiences I gather as I travel in my home city, out of town or visit with friends. I may feel uninspired for weeks, and then I attend a family party and become inspired by a simple cauliflower salad that then gives birth to a sautéed cauliflower-parmesan mash.
Three people, alive or dead, whom you'd like to invite to a dinner party, and what culinary delights would you prepare for your guests:
Gloria Estefan — I love her because I grew up with her music, and I love who she is as a person and how she lives her life.
Andy Garcia — I think he is the modern, sexy version of what Cuban men can be. He is elegant and I love the roles he plays in films.
Ellen DeGeneres — I think that she is a survivor. I love that her kindness and depth are so profound. I don't think anyone besides her family could know her wonderfulness and measure of her genius.
What I would cook for them is just food that tastes good and requires very little fuss:
Ham Croquettes with Guava Dipping Sauce. Why? It's a great starter when you are sitting outside in the summer.
Farm Baby Green Salad, with Roasted Shallot Dressing. Why? Because when I eat this salad it makes me feel like the world doesn’t matter for a moment.
Grilled Bison Burgers, Cinnamon Scented Onions and Apricot Cumin Barbecue Sauce. Why? Because bison has a sweet flavor to me and it has very little fat — and it's pretty healthy.
Beet Ice Cream with Candied Pine Nuts and Caramel. Why? Because during the summer our farm is teeming with beets, and one of the things I make in the summer with those beets is ice cream.
Favorite books: Ratio, Culinary Artistry, The Betty Crocker Cookbook, Who Moved My Cheese?, Cien Anos de Soledad, The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, La Sombra del Viento and The Chronicles of Narnia
Favorite movies: The Birdcage, Monster-in-Law, White Chicks, The First Wives Club, the Jason Bourne movies, Big Mama's House, Moulin Rouge, The Breakfast Club and The Cell
Why do you think you should be the Season 6 Food Network Star: I should be the Food Network Star because I enjoy studying and teaching about the science of food. I will bring that knowledge to people at home in a great show that will be both electrifying and compelling.