A food blogger from California, Michelle was the seventh finalist to leave the competition — though she was not eliminated. She voluntary ended her journey early to return to her family, marking the first time in the history of Food Network Star that a finalist has quit.
"I won today's challenge with this soup," Michelle wrote proudly of the Episode 2 dish she concocted using leftover pork chops. Though she tried to convince the judges that she had indeed transformed pork chops like this before, Giada was sure that wasn't the case, as Michelle wrote later, "Giada knew I had never made this before! Ha! Ha!"
Come the Episode 3 Star Challenge, the ladies decided to bring the sensuality at their dinner party, and Michelle indeed delivered. As she presented her slimy soup, she managed to flirt with Geoffrey Zakarian, shocking even herself: "Suddenly I'm telling Geoffrey Zakarian I'm on a yacht for two with him. I mean, I don't even know what I'm saying."
After an unexpected twist that found the finalists cooking with each other's ingredients, Michelle landed yogurt-marinated chicken for her 4th of July cookout offering, but ultimately the demands of the crowd got the better of her. "You need to be really consistent and get it done," Bobby told her after explaining that she'd presented both raw chicken and overcooked chicken — and seemingly everything in between.
The twists and turns continued into Episode 5 when the finalists cooked with each other's most-favorite ingredients. Michelle wasn't sure of the heat in Eddie's habaneros, so despite her plans to let the heat shine, her shrimp didn't boast the necessary habanero. But when it was her time to talk about Eddie's soup, which featured her grape leaves, she spoke well of its consistency and taste.
Quite simply a match made in hell, Dom and Michelle could hardly find ways to work together come the Episode 5 Star Challenge at Patina Restaurant. They were tasked with fusing their flavors onto a single plate, but they failed to achieve harmony both in person and in their risotto with shrimp. "OK. So it's The Dom Show, and Michelle is the dumb sidekick," Michelle said, frustrated that Dom was taking charge of their menu.
Though the name of the game at the pop-up comedy club was improv, that didn't stop Michelle from jotting down a few ideas for how she'd begin her presentation. What she couldn't expect, however, was that guest judge David Alan Grier would throw two curve balls her way while on stage, forcing her to both give a specific tip and tell a certain story.
In what would be the last week of the competition, Michelle was homesick, and it began to impact her performances. "My head is just with my kids. I can't focus," she said, explaining why she jumbled the presentation of her portable brunch dish, a duo of quiches. Giada told her, "You seemed a little unsure of yourself."
"I don't know, I can't stop dancing," Michelle said of the supposedly soulful jig she did during the social media promo video for her and Eddie's grilled cheese food truck. In her journal, she jotted down a few lines of the jingle, "cheesey, weezie, oh so pleazie," plus her team's menu of sandwiches and tomato soup.