The Next Food Network Star is getting close to the end and my fave, Nicole Gaffney, is still in it. She has done a lot better than she makes out that she has. She is more self-deprecating than I am and I am the WORST! But the judges see the same thing in her that I do. Actually no I made that up I don’t know what they see in her. But I do know why I think she is the best person they have and why she should get a show. Allow me to enumerate my top five reasons (in no particular order):

  1. Someone has to win.
  2. She has a good personality and not in the “I am saying that because she is gross looking” way. She actually does and she isn’t gross.
  3. Her specialty is “Coastal Cuisine” which is pretty easy since pretty much all land touches water at some point. Not to mention the people who live in the rectangle states (which I assume is 95% of the people who watch Food Network) think the ocean is exotic!
  4. She doesn’t yap incessantly about the South.
  5. I have a lot of well thought out reasons like accessibility and being*record scratch*

Also she told me this joke on Twitter. It is like I made her.

Superficial Gallery: Before we start, I am telling people that your name is Nicole but I am calling you Coley because you will cry if I don’t. That means the initials down below will say “CG” instead of “NG” which means my SEO is screwed. Thanks for nothing.

Nicole (Coley) Gaffney: CG makes me read this like I’m my husband, because those are his initials. But, I appreciate you calling me Coley. It makes me feel like we’re real friends. So, it’s cool.

SG: Do people come over to your house to watch the show? Does it make you nervous?

CG: So far, I’ve watched it everywhere but my own house. I’ve gotten to have different viewing parties all over the place with different groups of people, so that’s been fun. I often want to crawl into a hole and die when I watch myself on TV, so it tends to be difficult being around other people. Sometimes I shush people, and then I feel bad about that.

SG: Last easy question: do your friends pick on you when they watch with you? Like, do you have any personality quirks and/or physical attributes you are worried they will razz you about or that people will notice?

CG: Hahaa! Great question. My husband teases me about how my chin sticks out when I’m excited. Kinda like if I’m screaming “WOOOOOOOOH!!”. I get teased about my overall bad posture and weirdness, I’m super clumsy and a terrible dancer. If I’m ever out drinking and dancing with friends, they always wind up laughing at how bad I am, but I don’t care. I’m constantly covered in burns and bruises. I also have big ears, got teased for them a lot as a kid. And really thin crappy hair. But these are probably more my hang ups than anyone else’s.

SG:  I have a feeling most of those things aren’t true at all. But I will say that I mentioned your ears once when I was watching the show in my living room but then I got super paranoid because I assumed you could hear me. Now enough of this chit chat! Let’s cut to the chase, Gaffney. Do Alton and Giada hate Bobby Flay and talk smack about him when he’s not around? Mind you I have no basis for this question but it would be a huge scoop if I guessed right so tell the world.

CG:  Well, thanks. Kids used to say “Fly away home, Dumbo!” to me when I was growing up. I was an awkward kid, and I still feel super awkward even though I’ve “come in to my own” so to speak. As for Alton, Bobby and Giada, we never had any real interaction with them aside from what you see on TV. I wish I had gotten to build more of a rapport with each of them. It would have made presenting so much less nerve racking. But, I think that’s part of why they do it.

SG:  How much of a pain is it to work around pretending you don’t know what happens in the show, not to mention pretending that things that happened a long time ago just happened this week? CG: It’s totally a pain. Especially when writing my blog recaps. I get all jammed up with my tenses.

SG:  That reminds me, since you already know what happened, why does it take you so long to put up your recaps on your site? Do you type with your feet?

CG: There are a few reasons. The main one being that I have a job! I actually cook for a living, almost every day. I haven’t figured out how to cook and write at the same time yet, so if you have please clue me in. On top of that, I am a perfectionist, and writing doesn’t come easily to me. It takes me a really long time to write something that actually makes sense. And then I get stuck having to do all these long boring interviews, leaving me less and less time to write my own stuff. That last part was a joke. Well, kinda. 😉

SG:  Got it. Now I am going to ask a bunch of questions about the show that the Food Network censors better not censor! First off, the telecast has been going on for about 11 months it seems. How long did it take to film? I mean, did you do one challenge every day?

CG: It took about a total of 2 months. Each episode was different in the amount of time it took to film. Everything went faster once the numbers started dwindling down.

SG:  Are the mentors helpful or do you only see them when they are being filmed? I want to believe Alton Brown is super nice and that Giada has seen that Internet meme of her and thinks it is funny. Don’t ruin my dream here, Coley.

CG:  We only see them while we are being filmed, which kinda bummed me out. They were definitely helpful; I learned a ton through the process. Although, sometimes I felt their advice to be contradictory – “relax and be yourself / HAVE MORE ENERGY.” I don’t know if Giada saw your meme, but I did, and it’s hilarious. I hope you make more funny memes of me. Memes and .gifs make the internet world go round.

SG:  On the OFF chance that you don’t win, are you going to try out for other Food Network shows? Will you get special treatment? If you are on Chopped will you tell Ted I said hi?

CG: I honestly have no idea. Competing gives me too much anxiety- like, I’m talking crippling, nauseous, clammy, can’t-sleep, can’t-eat anxiety. Although, I guess I wouldn’t mind doing an all-stars type competition in the future, you know, for charity. If I do Chopped, I will totally say what’s up to Ted for you. But if I don’t win, I still want to pursue this dream of mine, even if not in a television medium. I want to teach people more about cooking- new ideas, tips, techniques, interesting flavor profiles, etc. – in a way that will make them want to get into the kitchen to cook for their friends and family. I learned to cook and love food by watching the Food Network and by following the chefs that inspired me. I want to be able to do that for others. I would love to spend more time on my blog, improving my writing and photography, developing new recipes, and eventually put out some cook books.

Nicole Gaffney Food Network Star

The Gallery motto for the show:

SG:  If you DO win are you worried that the Food Network used up all its wishes on Guy Fieri and nobody else who wins TNFNS will ever do well? 

CG:  Yes.

SG:  Would you consider changing your name to “Gal Fieri” just to try and improve your odds?

CG:  No.

SG:  Please give me ONE piece of behind the scenes dirt, some kind of exclusive thing that you didn’t tell anyone else who interviewed you? Did Lenny kill a guy?

CG:  Not to my knowledge. But, Lenny DID tell a captivating story about how one time his dogs (two English springer spaniels) disappeared for a few days, then returned home dragging a decaying horse head in tow. According to Lenny, they must have been out there for days “chewing it off.” That’s our Lenny!

SG: OK so I am going to give you a list of questions/topics for you to throw random thoughts out about on and then I will shut up about Food Network: Were people really mad that you are a big fat ham liar? Who do you stay in touch with other than Emma? Do you and all the other contestants want to do a Google Hangout to increase your famousness (post show finale)? Does Giada ever ask about me? Why do they give you such stupidly short times to cook everything?

CG: Yes, I think I lost the confidence of many people when I lied about a piece of ham. I hope my career can one day recover from this scandal. I stay in touch with nearly everyone, though some more than others. Emma Frisch is my home slice for life, if that wasn’t already blatantly obvious. I’m honestly really excited to see them all at our reunion next week. We can totally try to arrange a google hangout with the gang one day. Giada has never asked me anything other than why I lied about ham, so, no. And to answer your last question, I think it’s because seeing people run around like idiots makes for good TV.

SG: You have a lot of irons in the fire. I even found your dorky modeling page (I WONT BE LINKING IT, CREEPERS SO FORGET IT!) which tells me that you believe that you have something to offer the general public. I happen to agree but tell me what you would love to do if you could do anything in media in case you don’t win the show.

CG: I was never a good model, I’m too awkward. I thought about deleting that page, but figured it wouldn’t hurt my image, right? Like I said before, I want to continue to teach in some manner. I want to share recipes and knowledge with people. Does that sound lame and cliché? Well, so be it. If I can get to do that on a nationally televised show, then great. But if not? There are other options. Like, hey, maybe radio? It could be like that old SNL sketch “Delicious Dish” with Molly Shannon and Ana Gasteyer (and of course, Pete Schwetty).

SG: I used to live in New Jersey and it really does get a bad rap because of the opening credits of The Sopranos. Tell us what’s great about the state other than having the meanest, fattest governor.

CG: First of all, WOAH! You never told me you lived in NJ. What part? North Jersey and South Jersey are really two completely different animals. North Jersey is what people tend to think of when they think of the state – lots of tough guys and smelly factories. South Jersey is much quieter with loads of forests and farmland – it’s why were called the Garden State. You know, we even have our own special breed of rednecks we affectionately refer to as “Pineys” (they come from the great Pine Barrens). There is also the legend of the Jersey Devil (not the hockey team), which is totally real and originated right around the corner from where I grew up. We grow the best damn tomatoes and blueberries in the universe. Do you have blueberries in your refrigerator right now? Look to see where they are from, I’ll betcha $20 bucks they say Hammonton, NJ – the blueberry capital of the world. We also have pretty awesome beaches. I wish I was on one of them right now. What else does a girl really need in life (well, besides her own cooking show)?

SG: What’s next for you? I mean, derp maybe a TV show on Food Network but what else?

CG: I DON’T KNOW! It is the most difficult part of my life right now, not really knowing what my future holds. Being a personal chef is great, but I can’t see myself continuing with this life forever. Personal chefs tend to get looked down on as if it’s somehow easier than cooking in a restaurant. It’s not. The only difference is flexibility in schedule- If I want to take off on a Saturday night during busy season, I can take it without fear of being fired. But, we still work our asses off, especially those of us that have bills to pay and can’t afford to take off a Saturday night. I develop menus, have to shop for the ingredients, schlep my equipment to someone else’s place, then I do all the prep, cooking, serving, and clean up. No restaurant chefs wash their own dishes, because it sucks! Anyway, I’m going to milk this opportunity for all its worth and try to make a career in the media somehow. YOU will be the first to know when I figure it out.

SG: Does your husband, Chaser, complain when you say anything you cook will take longer than an hour now? I totally would. “Oh, you can cater a whole pool party in an hour but I gotta wait ninety minutes for green bean casserole? GYP!”

CG: Not really. He just gets stoked that I’m cooking at all. When I’m busy cooking for my clients – which is 99% of the time in the summer – I don’t cook much at home. And it’s a bummer, because I really like quiet nights at home where I can relax and cook for just the two of us. I’m thinking next Sunday- no parties, no friends, no family. Just me and Chaser like old times. We’ll see how that works out.

SG:  OK, hard part is over. Now the coolest section! What’s your favorite part of Please note I ask everyone this and one person actually said “the colors”. Do NOT be like that person, Nicole….

CG:  I like all the parts where you make fun of me. I kinda like getting made fun of, but only when it’s really funny. You are 90% of the time. You should work on that 10%. I have some more cannibal jokes if you need ‘em.

SG:  List all the links I missed, things you are promoting, stuff you want us to know, and whatever else you want! Go ahead!

SG: Shout outs? Final thoughts? Well wishes? Retractions? Promise we will be BFF’s forever and that the web show I am thinking of for you will be your number one priority no matter what? Kidding about the web show thing, unless you are interested….

CG: Hmm. I’m interested to hear more about this web show. I’m keeping all of my options open right now. As long as you keep tweeting nice things to @frischkitchen and making funny memes of me, we can totally be BFFs forever. Final thoughts? Be nice to people on reality TV shows, they actually have feelings. And also, if and only if I make it to the final three next week- VOTE!

So there you go, folks.  Make sure you check out The Next Food Network Star Sunday at 9:00 PM EST.   And if you want to help Coley AND win yourself a sweet $20.00 Amazon Gift Card, then check out the giveaway.  We here at the Gallery are 100% behind her and we figure the more people who know it, the better chance she has to win.  So tell the world to tune in on Sunday night (and come read the interview) and you’ll have a chance to win!  Just follow the instructions below.