Next Food Network Star Finalist Herb Mesa smiling while wearing a t-shirt and black apron

Next Food Network Star Finalist Herb Mesa smiling while wearing a t-shirt and black apron

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Herb Mesa's Bio

Eliminated the Final Week

Herb, 41 (Atlanta, Ga.), is a restaurant-trained chef who worked his way up from dishwasher to director of catering and assistant general manager of luxury hotels. He has worked as a personal chef since 2003 and adds creative twists to recipes from friends and family. Herb, who works as a personal fitness trainer in his spare time, also attempts to nutritiously enhance any recipe he encounters.

Food specialty: Flavorful, nutritional, Latin healthy "alternative" dishes; meal planning; sports nutrition; simplicity and efficiency

Favorite restaurant: La Fonda Latina in Atlanta, Ga., not necessarily haute cuisine but a comfortable atmosphere indoors or outdoors. It's always a good meal, non-greasy, and my kids love it. They make a great margarita and I don't break the bank. We're regulars.

Three foods you can't live without (other than bread or water): Eggs, milk and chocolate

Food you won't go near: Crisco, pre-packaged foods containing trans fats and foods containing high fructose corn syrup

Weirdest thing you've ever eaten: Turtle steak

Interests and hobbies: Martial arts, playing with my girls, eating, cooking, tennis and outdoor activities, grilling out, chilling by the pool with family and friends, napping and reading

Favorite Food Network chef: Alton Brown, Bobby Flay and Emeril Lagasse, whose perseverance to making it on TV and making a brand of himself has been truly an inspiration to me.

Favorite shows (don't have to be on Food Network): NCIS, Law & Order, Rock of Love and currently any gripping reality show I may catch.

Favorite food destination: Miami, Fla. Every Latin culture, as well as the cultures of all of the major countries around the world, is represented in the city of Miami. It's a true melting pot!

Culinary inspirations: My mom, Jeffrey Nimer, Gary Kennely, Robin Haas, Todd English, Charlie Trotter and Harry Gable. I worked with many of these great chefs and learned some of my best tricks from their incredible skills, and of course learned the flavors of my heritage from my mom.

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: Jack LaLanne, Bruce Lee and Celia Cruz. I would make intensely flavorful, clean Latin dishes that would satisfy the greatest fitness guru, the ultimate fighter and the best female Latin songstress ever.

Favorite books: Any books on history and conspiracy; Dean Koontz books; John Grisham books; and The Art of War by Sun Tzu.

Favorite movies: The Princess Bride; anything with Will Ferrell; all Austin Powers movies; The Godfather; Reservoir Dogs and Breakfast at Tiffany's

Why do you think you should be the Season 6 Food Network Star: I have been working for many years now to find a way to get my message of clean, flavorful eating out to the most people in the most inspirational, motivational, educational and fun way possible. Becoming the Food Network Star would give me the opportunity to do just that. I want to positively change the most people's lives as I can, just as I have been doing for private clients for the past many years. You are what you eat and I want to teach you that there's no reason to be fattening and boring.

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