Next Food Network Star Contestant: Colombe Jacobsen

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Colombe is the most Apartment Therapy-ish of the Next Food Network Star contestants, from what we've seen so far.

Colombe lives in Manhattan's Lower East Side and is a fan of New York City's greenmarkets. She believes healthy eating can be fun and hassle free. In our interview she told us, "If you always get the best quality ingredients and keep preparation simple then you'll always get great flavor without having to rely on elaborate sauces and side dishes."

More, including our interview with Colombe Jacobsen after the jump.

In the first episode, which airs on Sunday night, Colombe made a caramelized butternut squash and beet green dish for the first challenge in the show. When we asked how she came up with this recipe, she explained: "Vegetables which are in season at the same time tend to taste very good together. Like right now, saut'ed ramps and radishes are delicious together."

AT: We heard you're from New York City. Do you have a favorite New York City farmers market or store?

Colombe Jacobsen: Of course! My favorite farmer's market is on Wednesdays at Union Square and you can actually find me doing demos there for the next few weeks.

I love Organic Avenue in my neighborhood on the Lower East Side. It's my favorite place for fresh pressed juices. They've got great eco-lifestyle products too, everything from Ahimsa scarves to bamboo cutting boards.

My other favorite store is Kalustyan's. It's a store that has the best spices and other imported specialty items. When I want to try a new interesting ingredient for a dish, I go there. I can spend hours browsing the aisles.

AT:When I heard that you were a child actress, I had to stop and look you up on IMDB. So you were in Men in Black II and a couple of the Mighty Ducks movies. Later you went to the Natural Gourmet School in NYC. Do you think your acting background gives you an edge in The Next Food Network Star?

CJ: Through my experience, I've become very comfortable in front of the camera. I'm accustomed to a studio environment which can be very intimidating to some people. It's easy to forget how unnatural it is to be in a studio-big bright hot lights, people running around and you're not in control of what's going on. That takes some getting used to.

AT: You've said that eating can be both healthy and hassle free. Do you have any particular tips to cut the time in takes to get dinner on the table?

CJ: If you always get the best quality ingredients and keep preparation simple then you'll always get great flavor without having to rely on elaborate sauces and side dishes. For baking organic eggs in the morning and throwing in some fresh sliced tomato and herbs with sea salt is incredibly simple and fast, but makes a great breakfast!

AT: I was intrigued by the recipe you came up with for the first challenge in the first episode. How did you come up with that so fast? Do you have suggestions for creating great recipes after seeing what looks good in the greenmarket?

CJ: I came up with that so fast because I was inspired by the selection of produce. There's something so satisfying about roasted caramelized butternut squash. I love beet greens and they're such an underrated vegetable that usually gets tossed by those who don't know better.

When I think about food, I think of all the senses, not just taste.
When you think about having different colors on your plate you can be sure you're getting balanced nutrients too. In this case it was bright orange, greens and reddish purples. Walnuts and goat cheese gave it more richness and the fresh mint added an extra layer of flavor and freshness.

I find that vegetables which are in season at the same time tend to taste very good together. Like right now, saut'ed ramps and radishes are delicious together, takes about 10 minutes to saut' them in a pan.
Spinach with olive oil, spring garlic and s+p takes minutes to prepare too.

I find that if you get what's seasonal at the market you really can't go wrong, you have delicious ingredients which can really inspire you in the kitchen and it all comes together on the fly.

Sometimes I like to make a bunch of little seasonal vegetable dishes and have them on hand, like little tapas. This way, after a long day, I can grab a fresh baked baguette and a nice cheese on my way home and be well fed.

Top that off with a nice glass of wine. This can be a very satisfying meal that you can enjoy alone or with friends.

(Photo: Food Network)