Allrecipes Allstar and Top Chef Amateurs contestant Bettina Applewhite shares her secrets for kitchen confidence.
Bettina at a farmers' market selecting fresh produce

My day job: Registered Dietitian and School Nutrition Specialist. I work for a large school district in Maryland and promote school meals, encourage students to try new fruits and vegetables, and help to ensure all food safety and menu requirements are being followed. I also run a blog called Bites With Applewhite where I share all my love of food, nutrition, and adventure.

Who I cook for: My mother and any friends and family visiting from out of town or down the street.

My signature recipe: Salt and Pepper Shrimp. I made it for the Allrecipes community on a Facebook live video!

Dish I make that others like most: Grilled lamb chops and Brussels sprouts.

In my fridge right now: Salmon, kimchi, and sugar snap peas.

My kitchen is: My happy place because cooking is part of my self-care regimen.

Rare talent that no one will pay me for: Being able to find the humor or silver lining in most situations.

If I had a superpower: I am a superhero. I'm a lunch lady. During the pandemic, my team continued to feed the children in the community free meals despite schools being closed and during virtual learning.

On my bucket list: Culinary trip around the world eating my way through the different cultures.

Obsessions: My pup, Ziggy. He's a Shih Tzu and Bichon mix — such a sweet teddy bear.

Best advice I ever got: Take your confidence with you wherever you go and in whatever you are doing.

Kitchen tool I can't live without: My nonstick pan and a sharp chef's knife.

What few people know about me: My very first road race was a half marathon. I followed an online training guide and just committed to it. After the first one, I joined a running group and signed up for a couple more half marathons. And I signed up for some shorter runs too.

My favorite things to cook: Special occasion meals like holidays and birthdays. It's my gift to give and I love being a part of something special for someone else.

Best cook I know: The matriarchs of the family, my grandmothers and family friends. They knew by feel, touch, and sight when dishes were seasoned enough. I never saw them using a recipe.

I could tell you my secret recipe for: Oxtails and navy beans, but then you'd have to invite me to a cabin weekend snowboarding in the mountains and bring a bottle of red wine.

What I like most about Allrecipes: There are so many different recipes all in one place! I can find everything from apple pie to kimchi to zucchini fritters.

Follow Bites with Applewhite on Allrecipes.

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