Project Food Blog #1: 2000 Bloggers, 10 Challenges, 1 Winner has issued a new challenge called Project Food Blog to determine who will be the next food blog star! The challenge is based on a series of entries where the thousands of food bloggers are able to show their skills. Advancement to the next round is based on votes (even you can vote PLEASE VOTE FOR ME HERE!). Over the course of the rounds, contestants will be eliminated. These challenges should help bloggers hone their blogging skills and stretch our imaginations. The final contestant wins $10,000 and is featured on for a year! As Ina Garten would say, "How good does that sound?!" The first challenge is to explain what defines me as a food blogger and why I should be the next food blog star.

To define me as a food blogger requires explaining the origin of my passion for food. I have grown up in a family where food is central to life. For any event that occurs, food is sure to come, whether that event is happy or sad. Even before I can remember, my family members hoisted me up on a chair to teach me how to stir dough or to show me how to cut pasta. My observations in cooking as a child turned into a real love of food, from prepping raw ingredients to the point the finished dish is placed on the table.

I think the turning point from me being the eager child watching food preparation to the full-on cook was when my mother was first diagnosed with cancer when I was 8 years old. It was difficult for my family to maintain our regular routine of eating dinner all together at the table. All of a sudden it was instant boxed foods, which were easy for my dad and I to prepare for ourselves while my mom was in the hospital, but they tasted terrible. Out of desire for my family routine to continue, I started to take an active role in preparing dinners. Though they were a lot more simple than what I prepare now, they were fresh and homemade...unlike those horrible boxed dinners. Perhaps that's why I have an affinity even today for fresh, whole, healthy ingredients. Not to mention a healthy lifestyle is one of the ways I can actively work to hopefully prevent cancer in myself one day.

Flash forward to my first semester of grad school, fall 2008. I have a great core group of friends, where again, food is central. They're sort of my urban family! One friend suggested to me to start a food blog. So, in 2009, Chow Bella was created. The name comes from a play-on-words from my phone routine with my mom...she always says "Ciao, bella!" when I just seemed perfect to keep the little traditions of friends and family involved in my blog.

I love having dinner parties with friends out on my porch!
 Out of my drive for healthy eating, Chow Bella focuses on healthy, delicious, and beautiful-looking food (affordable to boot...after all, I am a grad student!). It's difficult to define healthy eating...for some, it's low-calorie, others it's low-carb. Because of differing dietary needs between individual people, Chow Bella features recipes focusing on multiple diets from vegan to gluten-free. There's no reason these diets have to be boring, either. My recipes focus on fresh ingredients and easy to prepare recipes that suit a multitude of dietary needs.


Chow Bella has been my "baby" now for a year and a half. Enjoying food is one of the best parts of life, and it's an experience that many people can relate to. Being a food blogger takes that a step further, however. Because food it art for me, blogging is my creative outlet where I can put my art on display. I love to a matter of fact my day job is to teach biology at the university I attend. So, through my blog I can teach what I know and love. Once a person teaches, they realize they are learning too. Through blogging I have learned more about the cuisines of other cultures because I feel driven to explore; if you can't vacation, you can still explore exotic places through eating!

I want to be the next food blog star because I find solace and my inner strength through cooking. Even now when I cook, I recall the time when I knew going a little bit further than a boxed dinner would keep my family feeling whole in a tough time. Not only do I desire to explore the various realms of cooking, I want others to learn through my experiences as well, which is what food blogging is all about.

Now it's up to you! Please vote for me!