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Food Porn is On the Menu 

How Tara Redfield went from food blogger to bonafide reality TV chef

Tara Redfield identifies herself as a food pervert. It might sound strange, but she means it in the most innocent of contexts. She's obsessed with food, in every way. And, this fall, the former Sisters resident will appear on the new reality television competition, TNT's "On the Menu" featuring hosts Chef Emeril Lagasse and Ty Pennington (of "Extreme Home Makeover" and "Trading Spaces" fame).

Raised in Central Oregon, Redfield graduated from Sisters High School and moved to Los Angeles in 2006, getting her first industry job working on the TLC show, "Take Home Chef," with Australian celebrity chef and total hunk, Curtis Stone.

"At the time I didn't see myself as having a career that was food-based even though I loved food so much," explained Redfield. "It's always been a hobby for me, something I enjoyed. But I never thought about being a chef until I got into my food blog."

Redfield is the brains behind thefoodpervert.com, a culinary blog studded with tantalizing photos of food along with recipes, intriguing chef interviews and food events and restaurant reviews.

"I am one of those annoying people at restaurants taking pictures of my food," explained Redfield. "I feel like I was doing it before it was trendy. I had a big click camera before the iPhone. My dream is to host my own food and travel show. I want to be the female Anthony Bourdain."

Her first step in that direction could be her television debut as a contender in the first episode of "On the Menu." The premise of the show gives everyday home-cooks a chance to have their dish appear on the menus of some of the biggest chain dining establishments in the nation. The chefs compete against one another to make the tastiest and most commercially appealing original menu item as judged by Pennington and Lagasse. This model also allows viewers to taste the winning dishes at chain locations across the nation after each episode.

Redfield's episode ventures into the baby-back-rib-filled world of the Chili's menu, asking contestants to improve upon a Chili's classic, the burger. Later episodes stop in at Denny's, California Pizza Kitchen, Planet Hollywood and The Cheesecake Factory.

"I saw a casting notice for home chefs, which was great because I don't have professional experience other than what I've taught myself and learned from cooking," said Redfield. "Shows like "Chopped" and the millions of other cooking shows want a professional skill set."

After her first contact with casting producers they told Redfield she needed to come up with an original audition recipe in just 48 hours.

"For my audition I made chicken and waffle sliders, but I did a pumpkin waffle with diced bacon mixed in the batter, and fried chicken fingers with a honey chipotle sauce and then an apple slaw," said Redfield. "My home kitchen was a mess while I was testing the recipe. There were piles and piles of waffles and chicken and breadcrumbs everywhere."

Although Redfield has taken her cooking talents far, she still has fond memories of cooking and eating in Central Oregon.

"I learned a lot from cooking with my dad," said Redfield. "We used to eat tons of Mexican food and we would go to Redmond and Bend and check everything out. There's good food in Sisters, but what I remember most is the cheeseburger at the Snowcap."

"On the Menu" Episode 1, "Chili's"

featuring Tara Redfield

8 pm. Fri., Oct. 3 on TNT

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