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Katie Hagan-Whelchel

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FINALIST PROFILE

KATIE HAGAN-WHELCHEL

Age: 26

Occupation: Student

Birthplace: Louisville, Ky.

Hometown: Brooklyn, N.Y.

Well I like to consider myself as a classy redneck, I mean, after all I am from Kentucky. I grew up in Louisville, home of the Kentucky Derby. I have lots of love for Kentucky and stay true to my roots. Growing up in Kentucky was fun but I can tell you for sure that I couldn't live there now. Life there is slow and laid back.

My family is quite interesting. My father is from North Carolina and my mother is from Kentucky too. They both had children from previous marriages so I have a sister and a brother, but they are 11 and 15 years older than me. My father took a sabbatical from the Presbyterian church and decided to go into women's apparel later on owning a restaurant. I guess if you can 'sell' God you can sell women's clothes and food. My mother is a retired nurse and one hell of a woman. Unfortunately they got divorced when I was 6, which was rough.

I went to a small private school with like 39 in my graduating class. Most of my friends I have known since I was in kindergarten. I was a big athlete; my sports were field hockey, basketball, and golf. I was actually offered a sports scholarship by the University of Iowa but decided that I didn't want to go that route. I also went to boarding school for two years in Virginia; that was interesting. From all these experiences I have grown to be a strong individual. I can only rely on myself and have no one else to blame in the end. My love for food came from the survival of the fittest. Since my parents were divorced there was no set time for dinner because their schedules were always changing, as were mine with sports and extra activities. I began to tinker around in the kitchen and really developed a liking for cooking. My brother is a chef and that had a tremendous amount of influence on my decision to be a chef. But he told me once that you are never really a chef until you die. Cooking you are always learning, always trying to figure out different approaches, methods, or accomplishing the impossible. I love making people happy and making their stomachs happy.