MUW graduate a finalist on season eight of 'Food Network Star'

By Anika Mitchell Perkins/MUW Media Relations

COLUMBUS – Linkie Marais, a 2006 Mississippi University for Women graduate, will show off her culinary skills on this season’s “Food Network Star.”

Marais is one of 15 talented hopefuls who will be on the special two-hour premiere episode, which airs Sunday, May 13 at 8 p.m.

She and the other finalists arrive in the “Food Network Star” kitchen in New York City to meet with stars Bobby Flay, Giada De Laurentiis and Alton Brown for a three-way team competition.

Marais, originally from South Africa migrated to Tupelo with her family when she was 16 even though her interest in baking and decorating cakes started long before then.

She worked for a wedding company during high school where she decorated wedding cakes and catered, and she later earned a degree in culinary arts from MUW.

“I loved MUW. It was like a family,” she said about the program and her culinary instructors, who provided her with experiences that made her fall more in love with food. “They were so patient.”

After attending MUW, Marais worked as a pastry chef and cake artist. She moved to Boston where she worked for a high-profile baking company, and was part of a team that decorated up to 80 cakes per week. Her recipes and techniques are influenced by the South African cuisine she grew up with.

Marais is ecstatic about being on the show, considering it was her second time to audition.

“I tried out for the show a year before,” she said. “I was so happy when I went this year and actually made it.”

“It’s the most exciting and best experience I have had,” Marais added about working with the show’s stars. “So for me to have this honor, I have been like a sponge.”

Marais also is excited about being able to represent MUW, adding that she left with the “preparation needed to take on the culinary world and professional world.”

Viewers can glimpse the “Star” finalist selection process with a casting special airing on May 12. Also, viewers will vote online before the July 22 finale to determine who will receive the ultimate prize: their own Food Network show to be produced by their “Star” team leader.

The 28-year-old Marais currently resides in North Attleborough, Mass., with her husband, Jannie.

Get to know Marais and vote for her as a fan favorite up to 10 times a day at: http://www.foodnetwork.com/the-next-food-network-star-fan-vote/package/index.html