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Appalachia's Celebrity Chefs

Five Celebrity Chefs from the Appalachian Region

Celebrity chefs often host their cooking shows, competing against the clock and fellow chefs for prizes, bragging rights, and judging inspired dishes from home cooks and bakers.

While many of these chefs are located in major cities with easy access to some of the world’s best proteins and produce, others have more humble beginnings with roots in Appalachia that have shaped their culinary experiences.

These celebrity chefs hail from within the Appalachian region and are making appearances on the small screen:

Katie Lee

Milton, West Virginia

Katie Lee Biegel, who also goes by Katie Lee, can be found on numerous Food Network shows, most notably as a co-host on “The Kitchen” along with Sunny Anderson, Jeff Mauro, Geoffrey Zakarian, and Alex Guarnaschelli.

Lee has also appeared as a judge on Beat Bobby Flay, Halloween Baking Championship, and Iron Chef America.

While she currently resides in The Hamptons, Lee grew up in Milton, West Virginia, using fresh vegetables from her grandpa’s garden and beef and pork from the family’s cattle and pig farms. She is known for her quick and healthy recipes.

Tyler Florence

Greenville, South Carolina

Tyler Florence has been a presenter, host, or judge on Globe Trekker, Food 911 (a rapid rescue food show), How to Boil Water (a culinary show for beginner cooks), Worst Cooks in America, and currently hosts Tyler’s Ultimate (his signature series), The Great Food Truck Race and Bite Club on the Food Network.

His 15+ year career on the tv channel has seen him on various specials, including Planet Food, All American Festivals, and My Country, My Kitchen.

Before becoming a professional chef, Florence grew up in Greenville, South Carolina, with a population of about 70,000, learning about southern food and cooking from his paternal grandmother, Edith Florence, affectionately known as “Florence Mamma.” He incorporates those southern roots into many of his dishes, which he credits as solidly American with international influences.

Justin Warner

Hagerstown, Maryland

Justin Warner has appeared on a number of Food Network shows, including 24-Hour Restaurant Battle, Guy’s Grocery Games, Tournament of Champions, Cutthroat Kitchen, and more.

Most notably, Warner was the winner of Food Network Star’s eighth season, wherein Alton Brown mentored him.

Warner does not have formal culinary training, but he was inspired to cook by his father, who passed away a couple of years after Warmer graduated high school. He is known for his interesting and unique approach to flavors.

Jason Smith

Grayson, Kentucky

Winning both the third season of the Holiday Baking Championship and Food Network Star, Season 13, Jason Smith made a name for himself after working as a school cafeteria cooking manager and caterer.

In addition to those roles, Smith has served as a judge on Best Baker in America and Worst Bakers in America. The self-taught chef and baker describes his cooking as down-home but elevated and budget-friendly. He is a crowd favorite with his bright, vibrant outfits and folksy Kentucky sayings.

Sean Brock

Pound, Virginia

Sean Brock has been a revolutionary force in southern cuisine, landing on TV shows: PBS’ The Mind of a Chef, Netflix’s Chef’s Table, Food Network’s Iron Chef America, and more.

He has published two cookbooks and won James Beard Awards and published cookbooks. In 2010, Brock won the James Beard Award for Best Chef, Southeast, and is a four-time finalist for Outstanding Chef and a three-time finalist for Rising Star Chef. He currently owns and operates Nashville, Tennessee, based restaurants: Joyland, The Continental, and Audrey & June.

Brock dedicated his career to preserving southern and Appalachian culinary traditions and has led the way for future generations of chefs.


While each of these bakers had made a name for themselves on major network television, they all have backgrounds rooted in Appalachia, a region covering 423 counties across 13 states and spanning 206,000 square miles. With unique economic, social, and many challenges based on location, the region’s 26.1 million residents live in parts of Alabama, Georgia, Kentucky, Maryland, Mississippi, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Tennessee, Virginia, and the entirety of West Virginia.

These chefs overcame hardships associated with their locations and used their upbringings to inform their future and power their careers.

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