With Food Network Star wrapped up, I stopped by One Hot Mama's on Hilton Head Island earlier today to talk to owner Orchid Paulmeier, who was a contestant on the reality series.
Orchid said she looks back fondly at her time on the show. She still keeps up with fellow contestants Jyll Everman, Mary Beth Albright and Susie Jimenez. She said her portrayal on the show was fair. She got cut, in part, because the judges said she wasn't being assertive enough in standing out from the other contestants.
"I felt they showed me as I was, for the most part," she said. "They thought I was too nice. But if I had to go, I think that getting cut because I was too nice isn't all that bad."
If she has any regrets, it's that she shied away from the drama. She's proud that she didn't start any, but she said she probably could have done more to interject her opinion when conflicts did arise.
"In a series like this, if you avoid the drama, you avoid the camera," she said.
The one thing about reality TV she wasn't totally expecting was the amount of down time. She said a lot of her time was spent waiting. Often, the contestants weren't allowed to talk to each other until the cameras started rolling again. Sometimes, that would mean they'd spend up to four hours basically just staring at each other. They'd juggle oranges, invent games, do anything to pass the time.
Oh, and for loyal FNS watchers, Orchid says Penny's villainous persona wasn't the result of creative editing. Orchid figures Penny thought she could succeed but throwing others off their game. She did - for a while. She got the boot shortly after Orchid.
As for her future with the network, Orchid may be in line to get her own web series on the Food Network site. She finished second to "Sandwich King" Jeff Muaro in the online fan vote. The winner was supposed to get their own webisodes, but with Jeff winning the whole thing, the online deal is up in the air. Orchid said she's talked to Food Network representatives who told her to "hold tight."
Even still, she plans on keeping in touch and pitching ideas to the Food Network and further developing her brand. She's accompanying several representatives from the Hilton Head Island-Bluffton Chamber of Commerce to the Conde Nast office in New York City next week as part of a local marketing push. She plans on making the editors shrimp and grits and talking up the Lowcountry. Even through she didn't go far in the series, it gave her exposure that she said she needs to take advantage of quickly.
"If I don't keep up with it, my moment may pass," she said.
Stay tuned for more from Orchid in next Wednesday's Island Packet and Beaufort Gazette.