Alhambra native wins Food Network competition

Merrin Mae Fuentebella showed off her cooking chops to win the Oct. 6 episode of Food Network’s “Cutthroat Kitchen," a TV competition in which four chefs must complete challenges involving stolen food, destroyed items, and lost time. Fuentebella, who grew up in Alhambra, won $14,900 and has been offered a job as sous chef at Alma Restaurant, best new restaurant in America according to Bon Appétit magazine.

Fuentebella's favorite moment of the competition was hearing judge Chef Jet Tila announce her as the winner. "I said, 'Oh my god, really?' I danced," Fuentebella said. "I was literally hopping. I was just so ecstatic."

The sous chef, who used to work at Sotto Italian Restaurant in Los Angeles, said her Twitter account "blew up" with followers after the show aired and that she will continue to brand herself online with chef interviews and cooking demonstrations. "My podcast is in the works," Fuentebella said. "I’m going to have a YouTube channel. You’ve got to get yourself out there. To make people care, you have to make them know what you care about."

While Fuentebella's job at Alma was already in the works and not part of her winnings from the Food Network, she is enjoying her prize money. "I’d like to get rid of my student loan debt and take a much-needed vacation probably sometime next year," Fuentebella said.

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