Photo by: brad swonetz ©brad swonetz photography

brad swonetz, brad swonetz photography

Eliminated Week Seven

Her favorite days used to involve grocery shopping lists, Julia Child re-runs, and baking and cooking for family and friends. That was when Celina Tio was 8. She knew early on she wanted to be a chef, thanks to the positive influence of her brother, father and grandfather.

After earning a degree in hotel and restaurant management from Drexel University, Celina started cooking at Philadelphia's Ritz-Carlton hotel. By age 23 she had become the chef of the hotel's Grill Room.

Wanting a broader challenge and audience for her cooking, Celina moved to Orlando, Fla., to work for Walt Disney World. There she helped open two specialty restaurants: Spoodles, which features Mediterranean cuisine, and Citricos, specializing in Southern French dishes.

Celina became known during the following seven years heading the kitchen at Kansas City's renowned American Restaurant. There she garnered local and national accolades, including 2005 "Chef of the Year" by Chef magazine and the James Beard Foundation's 2007 "Best Chef: Midwest."

Celina now channels all that experience into her own restaurant, Julian. In this comfortable neighborhood establishment, she creates the chef-driven twists on American comfort food she calls, "feel-good food." She'll make for fun and fierce competition in the battle for the title of The Next Iron Chef.

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