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A chef with Shelby County roots planted her claim to fame with vegan dishes as she won the competition show Cutthroat Kitchen on the Food Network.
Kristina Addington took home more than $18,000 and top honors after competing as the first vegan chef on the show.
After applying online she received a call from the producers the next day, and following a Skype interview, Addington received the news that she would be invited to compete on the show.
“It was intense,” Addington said. “Definitely the most exciting thing I’ve ever done.”
Cutthroat Kitchen, in its fourth season, features four chefs competing in three rounds of culinary competition, battling to create the most delicious dishes in 30 minutes.
However, the show features a twist. In the beginning of the show, competitors are each given $25,000 to which they can use to bid on items to sabotage their opponents.
“It [might] be an ingredient taken away or [maybe] they can’t use their knives,” Addington explained.
In the final round, for instance, she bid on and won a glove that would keep her competitors fingers stuck together. But Addington also tasted a bit of sabotage, herself.
“In the second round,” she said, “ I was tied up in a toga to another chef.”
And in the final round, with ginger snaps on the menu, Addington had her ginger swapped with pickled sushi ginger.
But that trick couldn’t ruin her creation.
“I just used a tiny bit of flavor,” she said, explaining that she mixed other ingredients to create a proper ginger taste.
Despite being vegan and having to use pickled sushi ginger, her gingersnaps won over the judges.
Upon completion of the show, what money the winner has not bid away goes home with them.
“I won $18,500. I didn’t have to bid away too much of that fortunately,” Addington said. “And I was the first vegan chef to be on and win the show!”
Addington has several ideas but hasn’t yet decided exactly how she plans to use her winnings.
“Currently I’m a private chef and I offer cooking lessons, so I definitely want to put [the money] into my classes,” she said. “I’m considering a food truck.
“But it will definitely go toward a vegan food business.”
A Shelbyville start
Addington said she was the executive chef at Harvest Coffee and Caféinside Masterpieces for Your Home when they opened last year.
“I loved it and I am from Shelbyville so I loved being able to talk to people about vegan food, but I left to focus on my own business,” she said.
“It’s a wonderful place…and I wish them the best.”
Addington said she is grateful for the experience and had a great time, but is mostly pleased that the show provided her an outlet to express the benefits of vegan eating.
“I put a lot of weight on my shoulders. I wanted to represent Kentucky and vegan in the best way,” she said.
Addington said as a vegan her ultimate goal is to share with others the benefits of a plant based diet.
“It adds years to your life, it’s accessible and can be delicious,” she said.
She also explained that eating a vegan diet is also a way to avoid supporting a cruel animal industry.
“I’ve been vegan for seven and a half years,” she said. “I grew up eating Southern fatty foods…and I came upon information online one day about factory farming and I didn’t like it,” she said.
Addington said that since that time she has lived on a vegan diet and says she still manages to eat many of the same comfort foods she grew up on, but uses plant based ingredients.
“My goal is to show people that we can still enjoy those nostalgic dishes we grew up eating around our family’s table, while using ingredients that are more sustainable and easier on the environment that don’t support the animal industry that inflicts so much cruelty,” she said. “Educating people on the benefits of a plant-based diet, while showing them how delicious the food can be, drives me.”
While Shelbyville is Addington’s hometown, she currently resides in Louisville where she is known as the Vegan Temptress. She attended culinary classes at Sullivan University.
Addington currently offers cooking classes to individuals and groups in the comfort of their own homes.
The Vegan Temptress
For more information on Addington’s vegan classes, visit www.vegantemptress.com.
To watch post show interview with Addington and other contestants, visit http://www.foodnetwork.com/shows/cutthroat-kitchen/altons-after-show.html.