The Next Food Network Star: Debbie Surprised At Elimination

As we inch closer and closer to The Next Food Network Star finale on Sunday, the contestant who was this close to becoming part of the final two says that while she was surprised at her elimination, she is nonetheless very thankful for the experience.

"I believe it was a clarity issue that had to do with a few misunderstandings. But overall, I don't think it contributed to my elimination," Debbie tells The Examiner. "I am so grateful to be given the chance to be where I am today. It was the wildest journey of my life. Thank you so much to all of my family, friends, and fans. Sharing my food and my story was a very powerful thing."

Debbie Lee, 39, whose culinary point of view was called Korean with a soulful edge, was criticized for stretching up the truth once or twice to cover up her mistakes.

On the last episode, the three remaining contestants on The Next Food Network Star had a screening of the upcoming inspirational movie Julie & Julia, where they were supposed to find their own inspiration to cook up a three-course meal for 20 of the culinary world's elite. Melissa wowed the judges and maybe even played the poor me card a bit as she mentioned her mom's suicicde. Jeffrey's main entrance, meanwhile, was a disaster, and his dish was called "the worst risotto ever."

As for her future plans, Debbie says that while doing a cookbook is definitely welcome, she's currently working on opening her own restaurant she plans to call "Hot Dog Debbie's, where she'll serve Southern-inspired hot dogs with a Korean kick. "We will open in a few months, and don't be surprised to see Kimchee on your hot dog!"

"Let's not kid ourselves. Melissa's got a black belt underneath that kitchen apron," Jeffrey said, quite aptly, en route to Sunday's Next Food Network Star clash.

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