Dallas Native Natalie Jacocks Wins Food Network Reality Competition Chopped.

We all know that Booker T. Washington High School has produced some great talents —
Norah Jones, Erykah Badu, Roy Hargrove and Edie Brickell, just to name a few. Well, now another of the school's alums has made Dallas proud.

Last night, Dallas native and Booker T. graduate Natalie Jacocks took home the top prize in the Food Network's reality cooking competition show, Chopped. Jacocks' episode of the ongoing Chopped: Leftovers Extravaganza series aired last night at 9 p.m. As one of four chefs competing for the top prize of $10,000, Jacocks and the other contestants had to cook a meal using three different baskets containing “leftover” ingredients. All of the items in the baskets had be used in the meal.

For an appetizer, the chefs had to make something fun and tasty out of leftover pizza and beer. For the entree, they were given leftover pot roast and steamed rice. For dessert, left over refried beans and a melted vanilla milk shake.

Simply making something edible out of those ingredients takes talent, but to make something that a panel of celebrity judges would eat and serve to someone else is something else. But Jacocks accomplished the feat — and while five months pregnant, no less.

We caught up with Jacocks last night at Terilli's, where she hosted a watching party for her episode, and, right after everyone found out she won, we spoke with her about the show and her upcoming plans for Dallas and her cash prize.

Is tonight the first time you had seen your episode of Chopped?
Yes, it was!

What did you think?
I think it is a great show, a great competition. They had to tell me to stop having so much fun! They actually had to edit out a lot of my giggling and laughter. I think that's why they barely showed me. I was having too much fun. I would suggest to anyone trying out for this competition to leave all cockiness and attitude aside. It's a hard competition and it's just not about that.

Where did you go to culinary school?
The Texas Culinary Academy in Austin and The Art Institute of Los Angeles in Santa Monica. California.

What is your history here in Dallas?
I actually haven't worked much in Dallas. We moved to New York for a while but, before that, I worked at Suze restaurant for Lisa Garza, who just opened Sissy's on Henderson. Jeffrey Hobbs is her chef there and was also over at Suze. He is top-notch, one of my favorite chefs in Dallas — even before I even knew him. Then I got the chance to work with him.

But you're back in Dallas now, though, right?
Yes!

What are your plans? Do you want to work in another Dallas restaurant anytime soon?
I think that I have more ideas than just being in a kitchen, and I would like to try to put those into Dallas. I think that Dallas is missing a lot here. In Brooklyn, you could run out of your apartment and get anything you wanted — any kind of food, any kind of grocery item. Where we live now, in a loft in Deep Ellum, there is nothing around. You have to get into your car. There are a lot of residents there, and we would like to open something where you could stop in after work get a beer, get a tapas or you could come in as a couple and still have the romantic feel. Something like a general store where you could get anything you need but also have a restaurant with a great bar with crafted beers, well done wine and great cocktails. I'm not flashy. I dress flashy but I'm not a flashy cook. So something simple. I do want to work, I just don't want to be fully back in the kitchen. I want to be able to have a family and still do something in the culinary world.

Speaking of that: You were five months pregnant when you taped the show! And they didn't even mention anything about it in the episode?, did they
Not once! I can't believe it. I talked about it the whole time. I had to go back and do voice-overs, and it was all about the baby. I did like three hours of voice overs.

Did you do that all in one day?
Yes. I got there at 4:30 a.m., we started taping at 5 a.m. and I didn't get done until 8 that night. I was so tired. All the interviews you see on the show were at the end of the day. I was so worn out.

When did you actually tape the show?
We did the intro part a year ago. Back in March 2011. The competition was taped in June.

Perhaps more important, when did you get your money?
I got the check in November — the day before my daughter was born! We were literally in Manhattan and spending money the day before I went to the hospital. It's also what we used to move back here to Dallas.

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