connie lovely jackson*Food Network’s competition series “Food Network Star” premieres tonight, Sunday, June 2 at 9 p.m. ET/PT for a ninth season.

Celebrity chefs Alton Brown, Giada De Laurentiis and Bobby Flay are back as judges/mentors – looking to find the newest culinary star.

Connie “Lovely” Jackson will be among twelve contestants who will be put through rigorous challenges as they vie for their own show.

“You’re definitely going to see the ups and downs of becoming a Food Network Star. We’re put in some crazy situations and we have to perform.”

The 27-year-old Jackson lives in Los Angeles but was born and raised in Chicago. She was spoiled by her family because she was the youngest – given the nickname “Lovely.”

Jackson confides she loved to cook when she was a child and admits, “my passion (for cooking) comes from my mom. My mom had dinner on the table every night. It was a time for me and my family to be together. Food is such a great memory for me.”

She also got formal training at the Illinois Institute of Art – Chicago where she received three degrees. Jackson says, “that’s where I got my core training for everything that I need to be the chef that I am today.”

Lovely Eats is her L.A. based company that caters to celebrities and professional athletes.

“I’m living my passion, living my dream. I’m really blessed to be able to do what I love to do.”

As a private chef Jackson does what she does, she says, with pizzazz and lots of glam, “I do call myself the glam chef. I mean I love including, you know, trendy chic things to my food.”

When she talks about rich foods, it takes on a whole new meaning.

“So I love to cook with edible diamonds, edible roses, compound butter, champagne, (and) other spirits – things like that. I do have some cutlery that has diamonds on the handles. So I can incorporate glam in my food and also in my kitchen as well. When you look good, you feel good, you cook good.”

Jackson has made it to the big kitchen on the cable channel, now she must prove herself worthy of having her name in the credits as host of a show. When asked what makes her qualified for the job, she replied, “I definitely feel that I have a unique point of view. There’s no one who has done any of the styles of cooking that I do – that I’ve seen on Food Network thus far. I’m hoping that the judges see my passion, my talent, my unique creativity that I’m bringing to the table.”

The audience will vote to determine the winner – an announcement to be made during the show’s season finale on Sunday, August 11 at 9 p.m. ET/PT.

Tene’ Croom is president of Pittsburgh based Tene’ Croom Communication (www.tenecroom.com). Contact her at: [email protected].