Watch out, Casey and Tre—there’s another local chef in town who is stirring the pot, literally, on reality television. Meet Lisa Garza, the 32-year-old co-owner and event coordinator for Suze Restaurant & Catering, who will be competing this month on the Food Nework’s The Next Food Network Star (beginning June 1). Garza’s been working front and back of the house at Suze for eight years (hubby Gilbert is exec chef) and has been in the restaurant business since she was 16, so she has earned her cooking chops. She’s also gorgeous, which, um, shouldn’t hurt.

What was the biggest challenge of the show?
I didn’t realize how emotional it would be to be away from friends and family for so long. And there was a lot of anxiety there. It wasn’t as much about kitchen skills—I can kick butt any day in the kitchen. The challenge was looking at myself from the outside. It’s almost like finding a character. This show is 10 times harder than Top Chef.

What is your signature dish?
Cassoulet with duck confit. I like to make this when friends come over, served with foccacia, and a little pistou. It’s gourmet comfort food.

Who is your favorite Food Network personality?
Paula Deen. Being a Southern girl, too, I love her.

What did you hope to accomplish?
I wanted to show there is an art to fine dining. It’s all about standards and craftsmanship. I want every detail perfect. That’s how I express my love.

Lisa will blog about the show. Check www.sidedish.dmagazine.com every Monday.