What do you get when you mix four cups of delicious food with a cup of fabulous personality and two tablespoons of killer fashion sense? Hm…think, think, think…Oh, it just has to be Retro Rad Diva Emily Ellyn as seen on Food Network’s Next Food Network Star and Cupcake Wars! Emily Ellyn grew up on a farm in Ohio where she first fell in love with cooking. “On my family’s farm, we grew and harvested most everything ourselves, and we always had delicious food on the table. When my siblings and I were babies, my mom would set our bassinets on the kitchen counter while she cooked– it’s no wonder I developed a passion for cooking,” explains Emily Ellyn.
I caught up with Emily at the Birmingham Home & Garden Show 2014 where we chatted about her experience on Food Network, her love of vintage, her new line of vintage-inspired kitchen couture, and more! And without further ado, I bring to you the VIP Interview with the Retro Rad diva herself, Emily Ellyn!
VIP: What was it like being on Next Food Network Star?
Emily: My experience on Food Network was so intense. Next Food Network Star is a bazaar ride, but it was so much fun. The day after I was eliminated, they had a voting on who the viewers would like to have back on the show, and 20,000 people voted to bring me back! I have to say thank you, and because of that I was also invited to be a part of Cupcake Wars which was awesome. When it comes down to it, I am so thankful for my experience on Food Network because I gained so many awesome fans, and I was able to show my love of cooking off to the world.
VIP: How would you describe your personal style?
Emily: I would describe my personal style as Retro Rad–I like to mix vintage clothes with more modern clothes. When mixing the vintage clothes with modern ones, I feel like it breathes even more life into the vintage and gives it a little bit more oopmh.
VIP: Oh, I love mixing vintage with modern too!
Emily: Isn’t it awesome!
VIP: So, Emily, what is your favorite item to wear?
Emily: Hm…that’s tough, but I would have to say the cute swing dresses and skirts. They have such a fun personality.
VIP: Oh, I love that style! Reminds me so much of 1950’s fashion!
Emily: Yes! I swear I was born in the wrong era…the 50s is when I should have been thriving! I would have been wearing swing and poodle skirts all day, everyday.
VIP: Have you always been in love with vintage style?
Emily: Yes, I have always loved vintage, and right now it is so cool because it is becoming more popular. Everywhere I look in Orlando [where Emily is currently living], I am like “Ooo! Look at that girl’s vintage dress” or “Oh, I so need to go shopping there.” When I was on the Food Network, I caught a lot of flack because everyone questioned if I were putting on this whole “Retro Rad Diva” persona. Nope, It’s just who I am. When I was a kid, I would ask my mom to pull my ponytail up tighter because I wanted to look like Grease Lighting. I would also beg her to do winged eyeliner so I could look vintage, and my mom was always like, “Emmy, you’re seven years old. You’re not going to school with makeup on.” Now, I just do my own winged eyeliner. *haha*
VIP: Now, let’s chat about food.
VIP: If you could only eat one cuisine for the rest of your life, what would you choose and why?
Emily: Oh, goodness! There are so many–I do not know how to choose!
VIP: If I had to choose one…man, I would have to choose Southern because it reminds me of where I grew up in Mississippi.
Emily: Ooo, that’s a good one! Hmm…this is tough….I have so many favorites, but I am going to have to go with Thai food because it is so diverse. There are a lot of fresh ingredients, you can choose to go vegetarian or eat a lot of meat–there is really a lot of options there. Plus, none of it is super heavy, and I prefer light and fresh meals over feeling so full it’s unbearable!
VIP: Hm…I have never tried Thai food, but hearing you talk about it makes me want to try it! Yum!
Emily: It really is good, and because of the variety of the cusuine, there are a lot of different options to suit different people’s tastes.
VIP: What if you had to choose one last food–not cuisine but food–to eat for the rest of your life?
Emily: Oh, man! You’re killing me here, Abby!
VIP: Now, that I think about it…that is a hard question! I don’t even know if I could answer it!
Emily: Okay, I got it–watermelon or strawberries. I am going with watermelon or strawberries.
VIP: Watermelon with salt is the BEST thing ever.
Emily: Oh…yes! It’s true. It really enhances the flavor.
VIP: Normally, when I tell people that, they look at me like I’m crazy! *haha*
Emily: No, no! I did a special on the Daily Buzz, and I told the stand-in anchor to try watermelon with salt because it was so delicious! I don’t think she believed me.
VIP: I cannot eat watermelon any other way. My Paw Riley is the one who got me hooked on watermelon with salt when I was kid. He had a watermelon patch, and during the summer we would always eat Paw Riley’s homegrown watermelons. Well, there was this one time when I was real little when he sat me down and gave me a slice of watermelon with sprinkled salt on it. He urged me to try it despite the fact I thought it was going to be gross…Boy, was I wrong!
Emily: That’s so cute! Watermelon with salt really is great–have you ever tried cantaloupe with black pepper?
VIP: No, I haven’t.
Emily: Oh, you have to try it! Tell your Paw Riley to grow you some cantaloupe and sprinkle some black pepper on it…Mmmm mmm good!
VIP: What would you say is your ultimate favorite cupcake flavor?
Emily: I really like different–something you wouldn’t find everywhere like vanilla or chocolate. I don’t like for my cupcakes to be disgustingly sweet like a super sweet cupcake topped with super sweet frosting…it is just too much for me. However, I don’t think there has ever been a cupcake that I have looked at and said “Ew no, I don’t want that cupcake!”
VIP: Oh, me too! I love cupcakes! Now, speaking of baking, tell me about your vintage-inspired kitchen couture.
Emily: My friend Cynthia of Cupcake Provocateur is the seamstress for the signature Emily Ellyn apron line. Whether you want a full apron or a half apron, each one is sewn to order and only available on my website [www.EmilyEllyn.com]. Right now, there are aprons with pinup girls, cowgirls, senoritas—oh, and there is also a pink and zebra one that is super cute! All of the aprons are so retro rad—see what I did there.