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Meet the Home Cooks Competing in All-Star Academy, Season 2

Get to know the nine cooks who've joined All-Star Academy for a chance to be mentored by one of four renowned chefs and win $50,000.

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Photo: Jason DeCrow ©

Anna Cooper — Houston

Though she was always a good cook, Anna really fell in love with food in Paris, where she lived for a short time with her husband until their trip was cut short due to family tragedies. Inspired to make dishes like boeuf bourguignon and homemade macarons, Anna even went on to win several cooking competitions. Anna treats her dishes like pieces of art, and her dream is to pay off her student loans, attend culinary school in Paris and move forward with a career in food.

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Photo: Jason DeCrow ©

Dain Lee — New York City

Self-taught cook Dain was interested in cooking from a young age, but didn't begin creating his own dishes until he moved to New York City for school, and he hasn't stopped since. He became obsessed with eating in the city's finest restaurants, which was way too expensive on his student budget, so he decided to start re-creating those high-end dishes at home. He treats his kitchen like a science lab, where he is always experimenting with new techniques and creating multicourse meals for his friends.

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Jermaine Wright — Queens, N.Y.

Jermaine is a hip-hop dancer who grew up in South Jamaica, Queens, on the bold Caribbean flavors of his mom's cooking. He got in trouble as a kid for experimenting in the kitchen, but as soon as his family realized how good his food tasted, he was immediately assigned dinner duty. Jermaine is now living upstate, and meals have become more elaborate: He has been known to give eight-course dinner parties for 30 guests. He is still extremely close with his mom and wants to bring home the win for her.

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Photo: Jason DeCrow ©

Lee Abbott — Santa Barbara, Calif.

A dedicated single dad of two young children, Lee is a seventh-generation Californian who describes his food philosophy as "ranch and sea." He grew up in wine country on the coast and believes fresh, vibrant local ingredients bring the most impact to any dish. A video producer by day, Lee is an athletic, outdoorsy guy known for using big zesty flavors, as well as his spot-on palate for wine, beer and spirits pairings, to enhance his Santa Barbara-style cooking.

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