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'Food Network Star': Meet Katy Clark of Long Beach

June 5, 2011 | 12:28 pm

Fit_Chef_Katy 
Season 7 of "Food Network Star" kicks off Sunday night with three SoCal competitors vying to be the next Guy Fieri. We've chatted with the local finalists in advance of the new show, including Jyll Everman of Glendora and Penny Davidi of Los Angeles. Now, we meet Katy Clark, 34, of Long Beach:

Katy's arrival in the Top 15 seems like it was predestined. She auditioned on her birthday and then sailed on through to be a finalist. A health and fitness life coach, she is trim, bubbly and has a megawatt smile. Her interests are as varied as her background. A sociology major, she's lived in Minnesota and China -- where she was doing nonprofit work and also started a restaurant catering to expats and others who yearned for more Western cuisine. Now, she's in Long Beach, and her life continues to be a blur of activity: She teaches spin classes at the Belmont Athletic Club, and in addition to her fitness and wellness coaching, she travels Southern California with her cooking classes for kids -- "Look I Can Cook" -- and seminars aimed at boosting the self-esteem of young women, "Beautiful You." Her website: Fit Chef Katy.

As a mother of three, ages 5, 7 and 9, she says she's discovered a trick to getting kids to try gourmet foods: Have someone else introduce it. Kids have a knack for digging in but not when Mom is nagging them. "It happens every time. They won't listen to their mom, but they will listen to someone else's mom, so we moms need to stick together in this."

The reigning Mrs. Long Beach, Katy says balancing healthful foods, fitness and the occasional indulgent snack is all about being realistic. "I ask people, 'What’s your daily life like, so we can get healthy food on the table?' " Once she understands a person's routine, she can help them find ways to add in nutrition, exercise and a piece of chocolate cake everyone once in awhile.

"I am all about light and luscious and learning the balance of both," she said. She said she eats healthfully most of the time, with a rare, well-earned indulgence: "I am all about eating yummy, tasty and fattening food ... but not all the time."

Katy said she was surprised at the drama that unfolded in the first episode. "I actually didn’t expect too much drama; it is the Food Network, but I forgot the whole reality part of the reality show." She steadfastly avoided engaging in the high jinks. "I want to keep my character intact, I didn't want to shove anyone under the bus. I do not want to put other people down."

One of the hardest parts of the competitions was just figuring out where things were while the clock was ticking. "It was a lot harder than I thought. I’m very used to a comfortably sized kitchen. [The Food Network Star Kitchen] is ginormous! And you have to run around to get anything." And then there are the variables that come with a professional kitchen, such as "the heating elements are much hotter. And then there are all these tools that I don’t even use."

Katy's wide and varied interests leave the judges wondering about her focus. That was a challenge for Katy, because she has a genuine interest in all these areas. "There is that little bit of insecurity: Am I bugging these people with all these different viewpoints, am I too peppy?" But in the end, she said she just decided to rely on one of her favorite quotes: “The people who mind don’t matter, and the people that matter don’t mind.”

She says her kids think it's "awesome" that she's competing, and it allows her to be a role model. “They’ve always known Mom to be a competitor. I think it’s important for moms to not lose themselves in their families."

-- Rene Lynch

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-- Rene Lynch
twitter.com / renelynch

Photo: Food Network

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