If you are a regular reader of the Statesboro Herald, you are familiar with Rebekah Faulk Lingenfelser. She’s the Herald’s food columnist and maven of all things Some Kinda Good.
What you may not know is that Lingenfelser has her sight set on another crown — becoming the winner of Season 14 of “Food Network Star.”
Lingenfelser, 34, is one of 10 finalists on the popular show, which premiers on June 10 at 9 p.m. The finalists will be featured in nine episodes, which Lingenfelser called an “intense” experience.
The road to the competition has been long but intentional. Originally from Blythe, Georgia, Lingenfelser is a Georgia Southern University graduate, having earned a bachelor’s degree in Public Relations. She says she didn’t really start cooking for herself until she was out on her own and had graduated from college. In her spare time, she was always reading food magazines and cookbooks, and watching the Food Network.
“I’m a firm believer in you should listen to your life, and literally every moment in my spare time, it was just always surrounded by food or entertaining and cooking something good,” she said.
So although marketing and PR was her bread and butter, it wasn’t her passion. She began her blog, Some Kinda Good, as a creative outlet. She said one of the things that encouraged her to start the blog was a quote from one of her mentors, Julia Child: “Find something you’re passionate about and keep tremendously interested in it.”
“That really resonated with me. That was the ideology behind Some Kinda Good,” she said, adding that her blog was originally intended to be something she’d share with family and friends, but “it really took off. A lot of people were interested.”
Lingenfelser was working in Charleston, South Carolina as the director of marketing and public relations at Trident Health, when her life took an unexpected turn.
Feeling at the top of her game, Lingenfelser was enjoying the city and all it had to offer, when she received some terrible news — there was to be a reduction in force, and her job was one that was to be eliminated.
“It was a big blow to me. I was so devastated and I couldn’t believe it. I loved Charleston. It was a great food city, and I thought, I’ve finally got the best job so far in my career. I was thriving and doing well, and then that hit me like a mack truck,” she said.
Lingenfelser grew up in a family that loved food and entertaining, and that love has been handed down to her.
“I’ve always been around good food and good company, and that’s where my love of food began,” she said.
That love became the silver lining in her dark cloud during the six months she struggled to find employment. She had long thought about going to culinary school, and decided that since she hadn’t been able to find work, she’d make the best of the situation and finally pursue it. She was able to obtain a grant to pay for her education, and she enrolled at Savannah Technical College’s Culinary Institute of Savannah.
“It was a really valuable education. I learned those foundational French sauces, and all of those things that I couldn’t learn in cookbooks and food magazines,” she said.
Before enrolling in culinary school, Lingenfelser had moved back to the area, and she had become a regular at the Main Street Farmers Market.
“I lived in this great little country town, surrounded by an incredible farming community, and I went to the farmers market every Saturday, and absolutely loved it,” she said. “I thought, nobody in this town is writing about food. Nobody is showcasing these amazing restaurants. I felt like I was the one for the job.”
Believing that you have to make your own opportunities, Lingenfelser contacted the Herald — repeatedly, she says, laughing — until someone listened. And she soon became the Herald’s food columnist, a job she’s held for five years.
“It’s been fun and it’s something that I have enjoyed doing. I wanted to bring attention to the restaurants and the local mom and pop shops in Statesboro, as well as the farming community,” she said.
As she continued to write about food, Lingenfelser had an epiphany.
“What I really want to do is host my own cooking show,” she realized.
Lingenfelser has been a fan of “Food Network Star” for years, and has dreamed of being on the show herself. She has her own YouTube channel, SKG-TV, has previously been a finalist on “The Taste,” and even hosted “Statesboro Cooks,” a local cable show produced by Tyson Davis, a multimedia and film instructor at GSU, and his students.
“We had a ball and we did several episodes,” she said of the show. “It just whet my palate for more.”
All of these things were stepping stones, Lingenfelser says.
“Everything that I’ve done has been strategic, and it has been intentional. I believe you have to kick the door down for what you want in life. You can’t expect or wait on someone to hand it to you. You have to go after it; you have to make it happen. You have to make your own luck. That’s exactly what I’ve done,” she said.
And now she’s applied for "Food Network Star" and is a finalist, which she says is a “dream come true.”
Lingenfelser can’t reveal much about the show just yet, but says the challenges were tough, and were designed to test the finalists’ cooking and on-camera skills.
“I can say that it’s super intense, really exciting and one of the coolest things I’ve ever been a part of,” she said.
Lingenfelser says her experience as a writer and in the previous on-camera work she’s done will give her an edge over the competition.
“Not only is this competition about being able to throw down in the kitchen and cook good food, but it’s also about being personable on camera, and connect with an audience,” she said.
If she wins, Lingenfelser will gain the ultimate prize — her own Food Network show. She says her show will feature the cuisine and local produce of Southeast Georgia, which is near and dear to her heart. She is a believer in cooking with local and in-season ingredients.
“That’s the way I like to approach food. It’s giving back to the community, and it helps everybody. I love to support local. When you eat what’s in season, it’s going to be at its peak, so it’s going to taste its best,” she said.
And that best will, you can bet, be Some Kinda Good, which she says will be the name of her show.
“It’s going to be good food and good company,” she said.
Search Facebook for Some Kinda Good, tweet Lingenfelser at @SKGFoodBlog or visit RebekahLingenfelser.com.