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The Next Food Network Star: Doreen Fang

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Season 6 of The Next Food Network Star premieres on Sunday June 6th on the Food Network. Shot on location here in Los Angeles, the group of 12 finalists also happens to include three competitors who call the L.A. area home; this week we'll talk to each one of them in a three-part interview series.

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Doreen Fang (Photo courtesy Food Network)
Doreen Fang has lived in California almost here entire life--except for a brief change-it-up time in Las Vegas--and she now calls Walnut home. Fang says she loves food and sharing that with people...she is someone who gets about eating and wants other people to feel that excitement, too.How does your cultural background influence your culinary life?
I think that being Chinese, and eating Chinese food growing up--it’s my comfort food. I love all those things...noodles, rice dishes, and having other [dishes] from Japanese and Korean cuisine...I've been surrounded by Asian cuisine all my life. [When people want comfort food] normally someone might say “I want meatloaf” For me, now that I’m older, I feel like sukiyaki or eating dumplings. It just makes me think of home.

Food is so important in Asian culture, and is often surrounded by ritual. What are your favorite food rituals?
For me, it’s just about the social aspect of food, coming together as a family gathering as a group. One of the most important things my parents taught me was the ritual of eating as a family. It's about enjoying food with other people--not necessarily about a specific thing, it’s just about being together. Food makes people happy!

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How would you describe your cooking style?
My style is California cuisine, although I'm influence by Asian cooking. Now I'm cooking a lot more Thai. When I cook at home I cook a lot of very simple Asian dishes. I also tend to cook a lot of California-style cuisine, or Mexican. I like variety. I'm not stuck in one cuisine. I love all the Asian cuisines, but I wasn’t exposed to all of them as a child. But now that I’m older I’m really trying to open my palate and cooking styles, and try Thai, Malaysian, Singaporean...There are so many cuisines out there!

What made you want to be The Next Food Network Star?
Last year I was traveling to Seattle for a day--I was on a food trip with friends, where we go just for the day--and I was on the plane, thinking “I want to do this as a career! I want to share my enthusiasm and passion for food with people. I can do this!" The way I am with food gets people excited. Later my best friend and business partner talked about open casting call for The Next Food Network Star. Now I’m living that dream, which is pretty amazing.

Who is your favorite LA chef?
My favorite is Thomas Keller. I love his approach to food, you can tell he loves food. I think that’s what I really appreciate about him.

If you were to take someone on a culinary tour of “your” LA where would you go?
I would take them to Supreme Dragon in Rowland Heights. It's a very simple hole in the wall place, and they have great Chinese food: Dumplings and pot stickers, green onion pancakes. I know the reason I got into cooking was to get away from Chinese food, but now it reminds me of my mom...it's simple and good. I would love to take someone to Sugar Fish, for good simple sushi. I also like Mario’s Peruvian and Seafood, and Jitlada in Hollywood for Thai. You know, when I moved back [to Los Angeles] I started on this culinary journey to find the best restaurants. I’m still really searching...but there are so many places! I kind of stopped eating out. I couldn’t find places that I was in love with. I think I'm ready to start trying places.

Where are your favorite place to shop for ingredients?
I live in Walnut, which is predominantly Asian area, and we do a lot of shopping at the 99 Ranch market. When I lived in Vegas or San Francisco there were more markets with fresh foods, but here I'm a bit rarther out from all the fresh produce.

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I know you love ice cream. What's your favorite kind of ice cream?
I love Fosselman’s in Alhambra. And I love Thirfty’s. I eat a lot of Haagen Dazs...they have a really good line of "5 ingredient" flavors. My favorite flavors are chocolate mint...Jamoca almond fudge, rainbow sherbet, and cookies and cream.

Will Fang be named The Next Food Network Star? Tune in and find out. The 2 hour Season 6 premiere airs Sunday June 6th on The Food Network.