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Local Hoosiers have had some decent showings on TV cooking shows

Jul 27, 2023

When Fishers native Samantha “Sami” White appears on the 26th season of “Worst Cooks in America,” which begins Aug. 6 on Food Network, we’ll see her attempt to uphold the banner of many Indy cooks who have impressed celebrity chefs and restaurateurs in front of TV viewers.

White, a 2012 Fishers High School graduate living in Chicago, is one of 16 home cooks in the culinary boot camp competition vying for the $25,000 that goes to the most improved chef.

The romance-themed season has contestants being mentored by chefs Anne Burrell and Jeff Mauro.

She’s not the first to rep the Indianapolis area on that particular show.

Greenwood resident Tiffany Billingsly just missed the semi-finals in 2021.

Here’s a look at how locals have fared on some national cooking programs in recent years.

“The Great Food Truck Race”

Food Network


It got high praise from host Tyler Florence for its Boomerang jumbo grilled chicken wings, but Terry Anthony’s The Block Bistro & Grill in Indianapolis was the first to be eliminated in this season's “The Great Food Truck Race.”

“Top Chef Amateurs”



The Carmel new home sales consultant won an episode of the cooking series, gaining $5,000.

Top Chef Amateurs season 1: Carmel's David Johnson wins episode 9 (

The show pitted against one another two home chefs paired with mentor alumni from the “Top Chef” series. Johnson was mentored by Shirley Chung, a finalist in season 11 and the runner-up in season 14.

'Top Chef' spinoff:The Indy area has another 'Top Chef' personality. See how he performed.




Fishers resident, by way of Chicago, Kelsey Murphy won it all in season 11 of “MasterChef.” That was a prize of $250,000 and a new kitchen.

She worked on a couple of “MasterChef”-related promotions and opened a spot at the Fishers Test Kitchen.

'MasterChef' winner has our attention:Where you'll see Kelsey Murphy next

“Holiday Wars”

Food Network


As part of a three-person team, cake artist Coffee won the third season of “Holiday Wars,” a holiday-themed baking and cake decorating competition show.

The prize was $25,000 for the team.

Coffee used the notoriety to help promote her Cakes by Coffee cake decorating instruction business. She later appeared on a special “Holiday Wars” episode with her Dough Angels team squaring off against the champs from that season’s “Halloween Wars” for a New Year's Eve trip to New York.

Cooking skills:Indianapolis cakemaker wins Food Network's 'Holiday Wars' baking competition

“Worst Cooks in America”

Food Network


The Greenwood resident was on a team mentored by chef Carla Hall. Billingsly began the competition with an aversion to touching raw meat and ended up placing fourth out of a field of 14.

"Guy’s Grocery Games"

Food Network


The Indianapolis butcher and restaurateur wowed judges with a supremely porky sandwich, appropriate for the episode’s bacon theme. Judges proclaimed his Triple P sandwich, featuring two fried pork loins, thick pieces of candied bacon and a red onion bacon jam with pepper jack cheese, the best dish during the first round.

Porky sandwich:Guy's Grocery Games judges loved this dish -- and you can get it in Indy




Askew, who operates personal chef service Tanorria’s Table, cooked her way into the final four and America saw none other than Gordon Ramsay predict her shrimp and grits would go down in history as the best.

“Supermarket Superstar”



The Indianapolis resident won the grand prize – $20,000 plus $100,000 worth of product development funding and the launch of her Smoogy ice-cream sandwich-type cheesecake treats in selected A&P supermarkets.

“The Next Food Network Star”

Food Network


The Indianapolis native hosted Nickelodeon’s "Double Dare" game show back in the 1980s. More recently, Summers, a North Central High School grad, has done a lot of work for Food Network, including hosting "Unwrapped," and the first two seasons of “The Next Food Network Star,” judging on "Ultimate Recipe Showdown" and executive producing “Dinner: Impossible” and "Restaurant: Impossible."

Others who don’t live in the Indianapolis area have used their notoriety to set up shop here include:

“Top Chef”



Viviani, the Florence, Italy-born who lives in suburban Chicago, Illinois, came in fourth during the show’s 11th season when he was selected as the fan favorite. His Fabio Viviani Hospitality Group opened Osteria by Fabio Viviani in Carmel Market District for dine-in service with Italian cuisine and handcrafted cocktails in March 2022.

"Top Chef"


McInnes, 2008-2009; Booth, 2013

McInnis, a Florida native, made it to the finale, having been brought back into the competition after an earlier ouster, in the fifth season of the series.

Booth, who grew up in Australia, was the fifth chef eliminated during the show’s 11th season, set in New Orleans.

The pair opened a southern-style restaurant Root & Bone in Indianapolis' Meridian-Kessler neighborhood in 2019.

Wahlburgers in Carmel:Here's what to expect at the Wahlberg brothers' restaurant and bar




Wahlberg starred with two of his celebrity siblings in the series that followed their establishment of the burger and bar chain.

The company opened a restaurant in Carmel in 2021, with the chef appearing there later.

Contact IndyStar reporter Cheryl V. Jackson at [email protected] or 317-444-6264. Follow her on Twitter: @cherylvjackson.

'Top Chef' spinoff:'MasterChef' winner has our attention:Cooking skills:Porky sandwich:Others who don’t live in the Indianapolis area have used their notoriety to set up shop hereincludeWahlburgers in Carmel: