The Eating...Our Words 100: Renatta Lindsey, The Taste Contestant and Houston Home Cook

Who she is:

A self-identified "home cook" from Houston, Texas who will compete on the comfort food episode of ABC's The Taste (airing tonight at 7 p.m. CST). Lindsey's stellar Dijon chicken with mashed potatoes garnered her a coveted spot on the team mentored by British food writer Nigella Lawson.

How it all began:

Growing up in Mississippi, Lindsey learned about the power of good food by watching her mother. "She used cooking as a means of getting family members together. I saw that food had this amazing 'bonding' property -- an ability to bring people together."

And the first dish she learned to make? "Banana pudding," Lindsey recalls fondly. "That recipe stuck with me forever."

Who inspires her:

"I love Rachael Ray and Paula Deen. Both have a down-home spirit. They're easy to watch and their food is delicious, straight-forward, not too complicated." Lindsey is also thrilled to be working on The Taste with Nigella Lawson, whom she admires for being "a self-taught cook and someone who distinguished herself globally by thinking out of the box."

What she craves in Houston:

When she's not in front of her own stove cooking for family and friends, Lindsey loves taking advantage of Houston's diverse culinary scene. As for "favorite" restaurants, she's not afraid to name names: Chama Gaúcha Brazilian Steakhouse, Pappadeaux, Grand Lux Cafe, and Fadi's are on the top of her list.

Where she hopes to be in five years:

Still based in Houston, but perhaps with her own cooking show. "I would love to have something where I invite regular people to cook and eat with me. Almost like inviting folks into a home environment."

The title of this program? "Um, well..." Lindsey giggles. "I always joke it would be something like 'Cooking With Sunshine' because that's my personality and what I like to convey when I prepare food."

Throughout this explanation, I could hear the most endearing note of bashfulness in her voice. Renatta, my dear, if anyone could pull it off, you can. Best of luck on The Taste; H-town and this reporter are rooting for you.

The Eating...Our Words 100:

- Enrique Bravo of Pollo Bravo on How Selling Chicken Helped Him Realize His American Dream - Sean Beck, Sommelier Extraordinaire - Brooksy Smith, Owner of JerryBuilt Homegrown Burgers - Minh Nguyen, Owner of Cafe TH and One of Houston's Best Front-of-House Personalities - Tiffany Tyler and Aimee Turney of Central City Co-Op - Ellen Schwartz, Culinary Instructor & Private Chef - James DeLeon, Certified Sommelier and Craft Beer Nut at Kroger - Alex Padilla, Executive Chef at Ninfa's on Navigation - Kevin Strickland, Herder of Cats at gratifi, a.k.a. Ziggy's - Ron Chen, Owner and "Head Coach" at Rattan Pan-Asian Bistro - Brock Wagner, Godfather of Craft Beer in Houston and Founder of Saint Arnold Brewery, the Oldest Microbrewery in Texas - Blanche Kinze, Murray's Cheese Master at Kroger - Bear Dalton, Wine Buyer & Educator, Spec's - Sam Ray of Republic National, Houston's Largest Wine Distributor - Thai Van, Server Extraordinaire at Kata Robata - Dale Robertson, a Populist Among Wine Writers - Denman Moody, Author of The Advanced Oenophile - Benjy Mason, Executive Chef at Down House

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