An Interview With Food Network Star Damaris Phillips

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This article appears in the December 2013 issue of Louisville Magazine. To subscribe, visit Loumag.com

Phillips, 32, is a culinary instructor at Jefferson Community and Technical College and, on the Food Network, the winner of the ninth season of Food Network Star and the host of Southern at Heart, which airs Sundays at 10:30 a.m. She lives in Crescent Hill.

Earliest childhood memory?

“Watching my mom make granola and patiently waiting as it cooled on top of the refrigerator. I am using the word patiently very loosely.”

All-time favorite album?

“Otis Redding’s greatest hits. Also, the Shins’ Chutes Too Narrow because it reminds me of my first apartment, living alone, being brokenhearted but strangely happy about my new independence.”

When you were younger, what did you want to be when you grew up?

“A writer. I love to read, and even as a kid my library card got serious use. I would write short stories in the backseat of the car. It was one of the only quiet places I could find. I would write remarkably bad and clichéd tales of pre-teen angst.”

The weirdest place somebody has recognized you in public?

“I get recognized in thrift stores pretty often. I am usually trying a dress on over my clothes and am caught mid-act.”

Besides your current one, what’s the best job you’ve ever had?

“I worked at Highland Coffee for the better part of a decade. I love the community of coffeehouses. Plus, in my early 20s it was always a great way to meet cute guys!”

Your drink?

“Greyhound (vodka and grapefruit juice).”

Favorite possession?

“My great-grandmother’s china.”

All-time favorite Louisville athlete?

“Darrell Griffith. Growing up with uncles who were U of L fans, it was impossible not to know about Dr. Dunkenstein!”

All-time favorite Louisville restaurant?

“Queen of Sheba. I love Ethiopian food. Also, Mayan Cafe because the lima beans are magical.”

Favorite bourbon?

“Yikes. No way. That’s like asking a mother to pick her favorite child. I love them all differently.”

Favorite dessert in town?

“The banana pudding at Sweet Surrender.”

What Louisville dish have you eaten more than any other?

“The club sandwich from Morris’ Deli.”

Best book you’ve read over the past year?

Being Dead Is No Excuse: The Official Southern Ladies Guide To Hosting the Perfect Funeral, by Gayden Metcalfe. Haven’t finished it yet, but I am laughing out loud so often that I know it will be my favorite book of the year.”

Can’t-miss TV show?

Southern at Heart, of course. Also, I DVR Scandal and The Walking Dead.”

What film has had the greatest influence on your life?

“I can’t think of one particular movie, but I would say that the romantic comedies from the ’80s and early ’90s really helped shape a slightly unrealistic expectation of how my love life would go. Oh, but how I love a snowball fight.”

Biggest guilty pleasure in Louisville?

“Trader Joe’s tater tots.”

Biggest regret?

“Not spending more time with my dad before he passed. No time would have ever been enough.”

If forced to get a tattoo today, what would you get?

“I already have a dogwood branch on my hip and the word cobra on my side and — yikes, what a personal question. If forced, I’d get the Tasmanian Devil juggling my name in Old English — just kidding.”

Fill in the blank: “______’s Louisville” should be the next banner on the side of a building.

“Zombie. That would be hilarious.”

Where do you go to be alone?

“Usually to Baxter Avenue Theatres.”

Fleur-de-lis: had enough or can’t get enough?

“I like them, especially when I’m far from home and missing this place.”

Photo courtesy of damarisphillips.com

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