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Former Miss Sierra Vista hosts new show on Food Network

Her love of food and storytelling has led a two-time Miss Sierra Vista to hosting her own show on Food Network.

Brandi Milloy-Simon, 35, is one of three hosts of “Let’s Eat,” the network’s newest series, which airs Sundays at 11 a.m. She is joined by chefs and fellow co-hosts Jamika Pessoa and Stuart O'Keeffe.

Milloy-Simon said the premise of the show revolves around food trends and easy recipes viewers can do in their own homes.

“This has been in the making for a while,” Milloy-Simon said. “I’m a journalist first. I’ve always been a storyteller. I’ve always loved meeting people, experiencing new things, (and) asking questions.

“So I’d say first and foremost, I’m a journalist. But my love of food has always been there.”

As a trio, the hosts wrote nearly 100 recipes for the 14-episode season, including the pilot episode, which airs Sunday.

“I love that the recipes I show are recipes that I wrote,” Milloy-Simon said. “If people tune in every week, they’ll see the story behind the recipes.”

The series premiere is titled “The Right Stuff,” and according to a Food Network press release, all the recipes are about foods filled with other ingredients.

“Let’s Eat is making delicious dishes literally stuffed with mouthwatering ingredients. First, Jamika Pessoa batters up with crispy, fried, crab-stuffed hush puppies that she calls Crush Puppies. Stuart O’Keeffe prepares Pork Wellington wrapped in layers of ham and puff pastry and then topped with cherry port sauce. Brandi Milloy adds a surprise to Cupcake Stuffed Ice Cream Cones with Mermaid Tails, and then Stuart shares his tricks for stuffing a Pinata Cake with chocolate candies and sprinkles,” reads the release.

The theme of the second episode is “Fancy That!” It features “delicious food and picture-perfect presentations.”

“This show really features those food trends and easy recipes, approachable recipes, easy ingredients — which is definitely something I’m all about,” Milloy-Simon said.

The former Sierra Vista resident’s love of cooking and food stems from when she was a little girl. She recalls cooking in the kitchen with her mom and experimenting with food after trying a new restaurant because she wanted to know how the chefs made such delicious offerings.

“I’ve always had a love of food, and I think once I started focusing on journalism and realized I could be a food reporter and just cover food and meet chefs and talk about food and write about food, that’s kind of where my love really was strengthened,” she said. “I’m definitely an at-home cook. I’m self-taught.

“I just love experimenting with food.”

She first moved to the area in 1994 when her father was stationed on Fort Huachuca. She completed sixth, seventh and eighth grades before moving once again. Milloy-Simon and her family returned to the area a few years later. She completed her final two years of high school at Buena High School.

Milloy-Simon now lives in Los Angeles, but returns to Sierra Vista to visit her family.

“I was born in Texas, but Sierra Vista is definitely where I call home,” Milloy-Simon said. “Where you come from doesn’t determine where you go.”

After graduating from Buena in 2001, Milloy-Simon attended Cochise College before moving to Tucson to attend the University of Arizona. There, she earned her two degrees in journalism and English. In 2003 and 2005, she was crowned Miss Sierra Vista.

With her degrees in hand, she moved to Chicago to work with Oprah Winfrey. Milloy-Simon was one of three finalists on Oprah’s “Big Give.” As a finalist, she traveled the country making dreams come true for “rallying communities.”

She has appeared as a contributor on the “Today Show” as a Today Tastemaker, E! News Now, CBS, ABC, Food Network and other media outlets.

Before moving to Chicago she worked as an intern at KVOA in Tucson, and was the editor in chief for Cochise College’s newspaper. In her previous work with the Food Network, she appeared as a judge on “Guy’s Grocery Games” with Guy Fieri as well as on other shows.

“We’re so used to seeing her on TV,” laughed Carol Milloy, Brandi’s mother. “Her father and I are very proud of her.”

Milloy-Simon credits her love of journalism to being the daughter of a soldier, in addition to her passion for storytelling.

“Being a military dependent and traveling around a lot inspired me to want to learn about different cultures and people and places,” she said. “As a journalist, you get to do those things. You get to experience things people never get to.”

“Let’s Eat” is slated to run until mid-November. To keep up with Milloy-Simon’s adventures, follow her on Facebook, Instagram @BrandiMilloy, or visit her website, brandimilloy.com.

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