White Plains’s Newest Celeb Chef

It’s no secret that Westchester is pulling in all of the great chefs these days. There’s Neil Ferguson, Peter Kelly, Rick Laakkonen, and, as Eater reported last week, Joe Bastianich is on is way. Could Jeffrey Vaden be the next star on that list?

No, he’s not the next big-city import. He’s native to White Plains, and currently vying for a prime-time cooking slot on the fourth season of The Next Food Network Star, which premiered on Sunday. As the title of the show implies, the winner of the reality show’s competition gets his or her own show on the Food Network.

Before jumping to the small screen, the CIA grad was owner of Peekskill’s JK’s Pomp and Circumstance Caterers and JK’s Restaurant and Bar. He’s currently heading another catering venture, Soul Luxe Caterers (www.soulluxe.com is coming soon).

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Now, pleasing a room full of diners is very different from pleasing a reality-show audience. Reality shows thrive on drama, manufactured or otherwise. Still, Vaden doesn’t seem phased. “All I can be is myself,” he says. “I am very comfortable in my own skin and I hope America will be comfortable with me as well.”

Though he’s experienced behind a sauté pan, Vaden is a newbie when it comes to reality shows. “I have never seen previous seasons of The Next Food Network Star programming nor did I have interest in Top Chef or Hell’s Kitchen.” Vaden chose to audition for the show based solely on the recommendations of his former customers. Remarkably, he was cast.

But is he nervous about all of the catiness and competition—and the vicious editing process—will make him look bad? “I have thrown apprehension to the wind,” he says. “I guess we will have to wait and see! Although I am a little nervous, nothing ventured, nothing gained.”

Check him out: The show airs Sunday nights at 10 pm. Maybe you’ll see a few other familiar faces in the mix, since Martha Stewart is signed on to be a guest judge.

Visit The Next Food Network Star‘s official website.

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