FOOD NETWORK STAR: This Cheesy Blonde Knows Her Way Around the Kitchen

September 24, 2011
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A local cooking star is born.

A local cooking star is born.

Perhaps, the greatest compliment you can pay vivacious 31-year-old blonde, Jyll Everman, is to call her cheesy.

And why not? She grew up in Packer country, in the shadow of Lambeau Field in Green Bay, Wisc. But the high-energy lass with the golden tresses isn’t just a Cheesehead, she’s also a chef, caterer, owner of Jylllicious Bites, and one of the celebrated finalists from season 7 of the Food Network Star.

“Mother made dinner for us five kids every single night,” said Jyll, while she was hovering over a stove preparing “Duck Breasts with Cherry-Balsamic Reduction” for Boyd and Randi Marshall and a few dinner guests at their lovely La Verne home last Thursday night. “I was surrounded by shake and bake pork chops and tuna noodle casseroles. That’s what I grew up eating and what I grew up loving.”

But is was actually her old chef boyfriend who had the biggest influence on her cooking and ultimate career choice.

“He dumped me, so I decided I was going to be better than he was,” she said while pouring some balsamic vinegar into a saucepan.

Then just 19, she moved to California and enrolled in Epicurean, a small cooking school on Melrose in Hollyood, and waitressed and catered to pay her bills.

“I didn’t even know what an artichoke or an avocado was,” said Jyll.

But she learned, adapting her good Midwest stock with California’s chic cuisine. After picking up the trade, including working at Parkway Grill and Noir in Pasadena for six years.

In one evening, La Verne's Boyd Marshall learned how to cook duck breasts with cherry-balsamic reduction.

In one evening, La Verne's Boyd Marshall learned how to cook duck breasts with cherry-balsamic reduction.

What really made her melt, however, was making fingerfoods, sort of the “anything you can make, I can make smaller” approach to cooking.

“I love shrinking a chicken pot pie into an appetizer,” she said. That’s how Jyllicious Bites was born, making her a hit at wedding and baby showers and other milestone occasions celebrated with trendy little bites and nibbles.

For the last couple of years, Jyll has also been teaching cooking classes at the Village Kitchen Shoppe in Glendora (previously featured on That’s how Randi met Jyll and hired her for her dinner party. That day, Jyll was teaching her students how to make Panzanella Salad and other scrumptious goodies.

But as everyone knows, the world doesn’t live on Panzanella Salad alone, so last January, Jyll’s husband Tommy challenged his wife of three years to try out for the Food Network’s “Star” show, season seven.

Jyll took the dare, interviewed three times in Burbank and again in New York, where she was told she would receive an email if she didn’t make it and a phone call if she did.

The duck breasts were seared to perfection.

The duck breasts were seared to perfection.


The wait seemed longer than the time it takes to thaw and bake a 20-pound turkey.

“I was afraid to turn on my computer or read my email,” Jyll said. Then one day her phone rang, showing an New York City area code.

“Oh my God, oh my God,” Jyll remembered saying as she was running around the house before finally calming and collecting herself. “Yes, this is Jyll,” she answered, as is she were just taking another New York phone call.

After she was told she one of 15 finalists out of more than 10,000 applicants, she basically had to kiss her husband goodbye for two and a half months and move into the same house that the contestants use on “American Idol.” Living with 14 other strangers, many with personalities, bigger and more boisterous and dramatic than her own, was tough.

“That was more time than I’ve ever spent with my husband,” Jyll said in one of the shows outtakes, trying to grasp the reality of the reality show she had gotten herself into.

Over that period, however (filming started in late March and ended in June), she wowed the judges – the crème de la crème of chefs like Wolfgang Puck, Bobby Flay and the Barefoot Contessa, with her Almond Joy coconut shrimp, Rice Krispy crab fritters and other finger foods.

She also was a natural in front of the cameras and cooking under pressure.

“I had a little bit of an advantage,” Jyll said, because as a caterer I’m used to working under time crunches. The deep fryer was my best friend. There was never a time I didn’t complete a dish.”

As happens, all good things must come to an end, however, and Jyll finally bowed out to somebody called the “Sandwich King” (Jeff Mauro), but not before she got to cook with Rachel Ray, whose high-wattage personality and comfort food Jyll considers close to her own.

“My food is very non-intimidating,” Jyll said. “You’ll never look at my dish and go, ‘I can’t do that.’ I was so honored to meet and hang out with her.”

And now you can hang out with Jyll by booking a cooking class at the Village Kitchen Shoppe or having her cater a party or serve as your personal chef for an evening. You can book her and her team for an hour or all evening long, but hurry because with the holidays quickly approaching the dates on her cooking calendar are filling up.

“There’s no doubt,” she’s going to be a star,” Randi Marshall said, after tasting Jyll’s cremy fingerling potatoes with bacon, balsamic green beans with pine nuts and apple-cranberry bread pudding with cinnamon and whipped cream.

The proof is already in the bread pudding. She was recently racing home on Foothill Blvd., when she was pulled over by a patrolman for going 84 mph. When she pulled out her license, the officer recognized her from the Food Network and let her off with a warning.

“The policeman went all Justin Bieber on me,” Jyll said.

Jyll has that effect on people, and the duck was, well, Jyllicious.

To learn more about Jyll and her services and pricing, visit her website, or watch any of the season 7 episodes on Also, watch and listen to Jyll on www.LaVerneOnline’s Reel Video. Perhaps, the best or most controversial episode to watch is episode 6 when Wolfgang Puck shows her how to make risotto.

“He literally took my hand like a kindergartner and led me upstairs and taught me how to make risotto,” Jyll recalled. “I went up to my room and just cried. It was just embarrassing.”

Jyll is as real as her food, a born Badger who knows how to make Wisconsin comfort food with a California flair — a fusion of flavors everyone is now calling Jyllicious.

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