VALDOSTA, GA (WALB) - 36 year old Alycia Matthews is an engineer by trade, but she's been interested in cooking since she began helping her mother with dinner parties as a kid.
"She had a gourmet club. Couples...they come to each others' houses and you plan a five course meal," Matthews explained.
A few months ago, her sister sent her an e-mail about an opportunity to go on Rachael Ray's cooking show and compete for a chance to win full tuition to the International Culinary Center in New York.
First, she had to submit a four minute video of her cooking. "I made lamb chops, baby lamb chops, mashed cauliflower, and brussels sprouts," said Matthews.
Her video got her into the top 20, then she had a phone interview with a producer from the show, which got her into the top ten, and finally she had to submit an essay to the culinary center and get accepted.
She got accepted, and then soon after got another call from the producer one night as she was eating dinner. "I took a bite of my sandwich and the phone rings. I was, like, 'it's New York," Matthews recalled with excitement. "She said, 'guess what? You are a finalist.'"
Matthews flew to New York and spent two days taping the show along with the two other finalist. The judge was world famous chef Jacques Pepin.
"That was a surprise. We didn't expect that. We didn't know who was gonna be judgin' us, we didn't know how many people, we didn't know what we were gonna be doin'" said Matthews.
She said the whole experience was an adventure and she had a lot of fun. She planned to continue her engineering career but hoped to one day also have her own high end catering business on the side.