by Mary Jeneverre Schultz

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Kathy during a catering event. (Photo courtesy of Kathy Poland)
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Chef Leah Eveleigh wearing her official chef hat. (Photo courtesy of Leah Eveleigh)
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Kathy Poland, owner and founder of “A Taste of the Philippines” food cart recently invited 60 of her closest friends, family and loyal supporters to watch her compete on Food Network’s Cutthroat Kitchen.

Hosted by Alton Brown, Cutthroat Kitchen features four chefs that compete in three rounds for the chance to win up to $25,000 in cash. Chefs are required to put their culinary skills to the test as they outwit and, at times, sabotage their opponents in order to move on to the next round. Poland, the only female chef on the episode, competed against three seasoned male chefs.

Eveleigh competed and won Cutthroat Kitchen back in May 2014. This time, she was excited to support her friend and colleague.
“I am so proud of her,” Eveleigh says of Poland.

Eveleigh used her contest winnings for a trip to the Philippines and tuition for Auguste Escoffier School of Culinary Arts in Boulder. However, the school also awarded Eveleigh a scholarship. Her year-long attendance of the culinary school landed her an internship at the Westin Hotel in downtown Denver and eventually as the breakfast and lunch and only-female chef on staff at Fire Restaurant, located inside the Art Hotel.

Poland won the first round of Cutthroat Kitchen, even with the obstacle of walking a treadmill and using a flat iron to cook her breakfast sandwich. In the second round, she was forced to use canned chicken for the entrée, Chicken Parmesan. Calling Alton an “evil genius,” Poland makes it to the third round to make crepes but with a large Lazy Suzette, spinning around the table as she creates the sweet dish. Despite her best efforts, her male competitor wins the fourth and last round.

“I still feel like a winner,” said Poland as she recalls the taping of the show in California.

Both Eveleigh and Poland have collaborated together and separately on many fundraisers around Colorado, specifically for the Philippines. Both chefs also appeared on local television news stations, especially during May, Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month.

While Eveleigh completed her graduation ceremonies from culinary school in May, she confessed to still dreaming big and hoping she instills inspiration in others. Poland hinted to big things coming down the pipeline soon but wants to keep it under wraps until she is ready to announce it.

Follow Leah Eveleigh on Facebook at www.facebook.com/Leaheveleigh.
Check out Kathy Poland food truck schedule at www.atasteofthephilippines.com.