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that became popular," said Kozar. "My mother actually read the food labels and she was able to spend time at home, making things from scratch using our garden as often as possible." As a stay-at-home mom, Kozar's mother was able to spend the time teaching her children the benefits of home-style cooking, rather than retreating to the processed food aisle for something canned and bland. With a family of four girls, Kozar recalls that her mom always found time to discover great recipes in- between raising the family. "Sometimes I really wanted to eat what other people were having, and I didn't realize the benefits of fresh home-cooked meals," said Kozar. "We would occasionally go out to eat, but usually it was a chance for my mother to get out of the kitchen and for us to discover new ethnic foods." WISCONSIN FISH FRIDAYS Friday nights in the area of Wisconsin, where Kozar grew up, are home to some of the best fish-fry's. Actually the entire state of Wisconsin celebrates Friday fish fry's, where German style potato cakes, coleslaw, fried perch, cod or walleye, and rye bread are traditions for the area's large Catholic and Lutheran populations. These decade's old traditions surely had a direct influence on Kozar's style of cooking today. THE ROAD TO MASTERCHEF Kozar never thought about auditioning for MasterChef, but she and her boyfriend Alex were always big fans of the show since its beginning. It wasn't until legally blind chef Christine Ha won season three of MasterChef, that Kozar really got inspired to audition. "I really believed that I could do it, because Ha was a home-cook too," said Kozar. Just like me, she learned everything from books, magazines, and videos. I too simply studied everything I could about preparing meals." Kozar decided to head to Chicago for the auditions of MasterChef and the producers immediately loved her. It was a long process before she was on the show, but she said that despite what people might think, Chef Ramsey is very supportive and encouraging. "He pushes people to come out of their shell and he looks for the love in your dishes," Kozar said. Her appearance on MasterChef led to an all-expense paid trip to France to work for one of Ramsey's restaurants in Versailles. This ultimately allowed her to take cooking classes in Europe during her stay. It was just the type of thing she needed for her resume in fine cuisine. While she did not win MasterChef in season six, she did impress the usually 23 DiGEST THIS

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