Retro Rad Holiday Fun with Emily Ellyn of Next Food Network Star

Retro-Rad Emily Ellyn Shows Off Her Cranberry Salsa and Cheese Balls, Rosen Shingle Creek, Fla., Dec. 8, 2012
Retro-Rad Emily Ellyn Shows Off Her Cranberry Salsa and Cheese Balls, Rosen Shingle Creek, Fla., Dec. 8, 2012

Growing up, cheese balls rolled into our home every holiday season when students gave my dad (a teacher) Pepperidge Farm gift boxes. Like the disco ball, the big ole’ cheese ball reminds me of growing up in the ’70s and conjures up images of plaid bell-bottoms, white belts and shag carpeting. Although what’s old is new, some things just shouldn’t be revived but Retro Rad Celebrity Chef Emily Ellyn, a finalist on Season 8’s Next Food Network Star, has modernized the glorious ball of cheese so it’s not so, well, cheesy…

Her 21st century creation is made by molding soft cheese into bite-sized balls then rolling them in whatever is found in the kitchen pantry. Leftover granola, chopped nuts and crushed wasabi peas work well. I know because I tasted some of these creamy creations during the Holiday Entertaining and Tree Fluffing Retro Rad Style party hosted by Emily at the Rosen Shingle Creek over the weekend.

Retro Rad Cranberry Salsa for the Holidays
Retro Rad Cranberry Salsa for the Holidays

Retro Rad Celebrity Chef Emily Ellyn is Keeping it Real
Over the course of the Mad Men-inspired evening, Emily mixed and mingled with guests and shared her philosophy about cooking in the kitchen and how she landed a spot on Next Food Network Star. She dished out some of her favorite holiday recipes, such as brewing up snowy hot chocolate in a crock-pot (I had no idea a crock-pot could be used for beverages!) and using cooked tilapia as a substitute in crab cakes. Hmm. Who knew?

And get this, although she said this began as an accident, cranberry salsa has resulted in a zippy festive dish for the holidays. Yeah, it may sound strange using cranberries rather than tomatoes but this tasted quite nice with salted tortilla chips.

Rudolph's Jingle Juice Cocktails
Rudolph’s Jingle Juice Cocktails

What’s in Emily Ellyn’s Beauty Bag?
The retro rad chef shared two things she always carries in her beauty bag, medical tape and Neosporin. As she explained, the medical tape is ideal for grouping and wrapping around the toes twice then slipping feet into high heels. This prevents blisters and other injuries by keeping the toes together. The tape can also be used on the back of the heel to cover up blisters. In addition to applying to minor cuts, Emily uses Neosporin as lip balm and eyebrow smoother. Sounds like a little miracle in a tube!

Sharing Holiday Cheer with Retro Rad Television Chef Emily Ellyn
Sharing Holiday Cheer with Retro Rad Television Chef Emily Ellyn

What’s Next for the Retro Rad Celebrity Chef?
Emily is finishing her Ph.D. in Food Service Education at University of Central Florida’s Rosen College of Hospitality Management, which I imagine is a huge commitment. Emily fans will be happy to know she’s planning a return to television but as of yet, details are hush-hush so be sure to fan her Facebook page: and visit her website ( for updates.

Her Recipes…
Interested in retro rad cooking? Just in time for the New Year is Emily’s 2013 Food Fun and Fashion Calendar serving up yummy recipes, cooking tips and personal stories by the chef. Only 250 were printed so hurry to get yours!

For Emily fans, you’ll be happy to know she’s just as authentic, adorable, fun and approachable as she appears on television. She has such a wonderful positive perspective, she’s the real deal!

Retro Fun Fascinators by Taffy Retta
Retro Fun Fascinators by Taffy Retta

Fascinator Fun
Interacting with Emily was fun but so were the adorable fascinators each guest received. Ya know, those cute little hats that seem to miraculously stick to the side of your head? Tiffany Namey of Taffy Retta crafts clever hair accessories and jewelry and creates fascinators for Emily. Each guest received a sweet black and red one and amazingly, it stayed in my hair, thanks to Tiffany.

Visit Taffy Retta’s Etsy shop ( to find your own affordable fascinator.

And How Did I End Up at Such a Fun Event?
The joy of vacationing at home and being single means I’m able to take off at the drop of a hat, or in last Saturday’s case, in the drop of a few emails and Tweets containing an ultra-groovy invitation to this holiday party. Eileen Ludwig of hooked me up and when I asked my friend visiting from Buffalo if she was interested in attending, my GPS led the way, after we shopped the Atomic Holiday Bazaar and lunched at Der Dutchman in Sarasota.

Rosen Shingle Creek is part of a collection of the Rosen hotels which are independently owned and from first-hand experience, it’s a terrific resort with comfy rooms and relaxing ambiance. Located in the Orlando area, the hotels are offering a host of festive events this season.

Rosen Shingle Creek
9939 Universal Blvd.
Orlando, Fla.
Tel: (866) 996-9939

FTC Disclosure: This post contains an affiliate link to support my traveling habit and running



Jennifer A. Huber is an award-winning travel and outdoor blogger and writer in Southwest Florida. Originally from Buffalo, N.Y., a hiking trail led her to a career path in the tourism industry for more than 30 years. She spent a decade with a park management company in Yellowstone, Death Valley, and Everglades National Parks. She founded the travel blog, with the goal of inspiring others to travel alone, not lonely. The unexpected death of her former husband in 2008 reminded her how short life is. His passing was a catalyst for sharing her experiences with the goal of inspiring and empowering others to travel solo. Jennifer holds a Travel Marketing Professional certification from the Southeast Tourism Society, is a certified food judge, member of the NASA Social community, and alum of the FBI Citizens Academy. When not traveling, she is either in the kitchen, practicing her photography skills, or road tripping with her dog, Radcliff.

4 thoughts on “Retro Rad Holiday Fun with Emily Ellyn of Next Food Network Star

  1. I am not typically one to follow reality celebrities personally but Emily was fantastic! She was incredibly genuine, welcoming and charming. The food and drinks were fun and unique. I would encourage anyone to try her recipes and tips!

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