Longtime married folks say pick a spouse who has the power to surprise you. Newlywed Mee Ae Wolney hit paydirt. Last October she and Dan Wolney started the Mmm Bap Korean food truck, which mostly motors the streets of St. Petersburg. Unbeknownst to Mee Ae, Dan submitted her name as a contestant on the Food Network show Cutthroat Kitchen, hosted by Alton Brown and featuring four chefs competing in a three-round elimination cooking competition.
She got the call shortly after the food truck debuted, which led to filling out applications and doing video interviews over Skype. Although she says she's extremely shy, she nailed it. Wolney cannot reveal whether she won or lost during the filming in January, but the episode airs Sept. 13 at 10 p.m. on Food Network.
Originally she was told she would be competing against other food truck chefs, but instead her three competitors were brick-and-mortar types. Korean-born and Colorado-raised, Wolney graduated from culinary school in Colorado and worked in restaurant kitchens before realizing "I wanted to do my own food but couldn't afford my own restaurant." Oh-so-2015 solution: food truck.
"I heard they were really starting to take off in Tampa," she said.
Her truck keeps things simple, with five core gluten-free dishes: beef, chicken or pork bulgogi, vegetarian bibimbap and other traditional Korean dishes seldom seen in this area.
On the show, modeled after popular reality cooking shows like Chopped and Guy's Grocery Games, Wolney and other contestants are given $25,000 at the start of the show to sabotage each other or benefit themselves. We will have to stay tuned to find out what she spent her money on.
And although Wolney says, "I work in the back of the truck for a reason," the shy chef seems bitten by the television bug.
"Now that I got a taste for it, I think I'd like to brave another one. It was terrifying, but fun."
Contact Laura Reiley at [email protected] or (727) 892-2293. Follow @lreiley on Twitter.