Edgar’s Grille chef to compete on Food Network show


Source: The Augusta Chronicle

Chef Kelsey Burack is on a sweet ride right now.

At just age 26, the Evans High School graduate has studied pastries overseas, worked in acclaimed restaurants and now will be featured on an upcoming episode of “Chopped Sweets” on Food Network.

The dessert-focused show is in its inaugural season but is similar to the network’s popular series “Chopped” where four chefs compete in three rounds using random and sometimes rare ingredients in a sealed basket. If their dish is unsatisfactory to the celebrity chef judges, they are “chopped” from the competition.

This isn’t the first time Burack has had a chance to compete on a Food Network show. Although she was asked to appear on “Guy’s Grocery Games,” she felt this show appealed more to her because it was specifically for desserts.

Her love for baking came after an accident in middle school and also cultivated her love for charity.

While getting lunch during her sixth grade year at Augusta Preparatory Day School, a student bumped into her and caused her to spill hot spaghetti on her chest. Since Burack’s mother worked at the Joseph M. Still Burn Center at Doctor’s Hospital, she immediately took her daughter to be treated where she learned she suffered a second degree burn.

During her visit, Burack saw pictures on a bulletin board of young patients who were treated on a regular basis at the clinic. That’s when she decided to host a bake sale at her school to raise money for toys and other items they would need while receiving care. Burack raised $500 in her first fundraiser and continued to use baking as a way to help others.

“I just found that I could make a difference through baked goods and baking and cooking in general, and I realized that if I could make any sort of difference through food that’s what I would go into,” she said.

Burack dual enrolled at Augusta University while attending high school and then transferred her credits to Johnson and Wales University where she obtained three degrees in four years. She served as a teaching assistant and fellow at Johnson and Wales, studied in Europe and landed an internship in New York City.

Following graduation, she was hired as a pastry chef at DBGB restaurant in Washington D.C. and later became the executive pastry chef. After nearly four years, Burack grew tired of the city life and wanted to be closer to home.

She contacted Kathleen Vossenburg, director of culinary education at Helms College, to see if there were any opportunities at the culinary school. Burack is now a baking and pastry instructor for the college and pastry chef for Edgar’s Hospitality which includes Edgar’s Grille, the Pinnacle Club, Higher Grounds and the Snelling Center.

“I really love to help each student find their specific route and there’s so many different paths in the hospitality and food industry,” Burack said.

In the fall, she received an email from a casting agent for the new Chopped Sweets. After several emails and Skype interviews, she was selected to be on the show and filmed the episode in October.

Burack’s episode will air on Food Network on March 9 at 10 p.m. Edgar’s Grille is hosting a viewing party beginning at 8 p.m. and includes desserts hand crafted by Burack featuring ingredients from the episode’s mystery baskets.