Cheer him on this Sunday.

Melissa Locker
June 2, 2017
Eddy Chen/Food Network

Trace Barnett is known for serving up Southern food with a twist, like slow-roasted pork shoulder with a bourbon sauce, poke salad, and rosemary corn muffins. Now, he’s using those skills as one of the finalists on the Food Network Star. When the show’s 13th season premiers on Sunday, Barnett will face off against 11 other chefs hoping to impress the judges and the viewers and earn a spot on the channel.

The 27-year old from Brilliant, Alabama learned to cook from his grandparents, where he would spend afternoons working in their garden and learning how to turn garden-fresh vegetables into the staples of the Southern kitchen. He then went on to study food science at the University of Alabama, according to AL.com, and launched a food and lifestyle blog called The Bitter Socialite, where he shares recipes, DIY projects, and tips like how to pack a picnic basket.

The blog is taking a back burner, though, as Barnett goes to compete on Food Network Star where he hopes to wow Bobby Flay and Giada De Laurentiis with his modern Southern cuisine. Barnett has a slightly controversial opinion on Southern food though—he seems to think Southerners overcook their vegetables. And as far as the Southern food that he serves on the show, there's one thing you can expect not to see: overcooked veggies.

"A lot of Southern dishes like turnip greens or cabbage or any vegetable really are just cooked to death," he told AL.com. "You know, you just make it into this soggy, sloppy mess of a dish. And that's one thing that should be retired because roasting or sauteing or infusing it with herbs definitely releases the flavor without creating baby food."

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Barnett also told the Food Network that despite his Southern heritage, he’s not a huge fan of fried food. “I’m not a huge fan of fried foods at all, which is unusual being from the South,” he said. “Fried is not my thing.”

Mull over that food for thought while you watch Barnett compete on the national stage when the new season of Food Network Star premieres on Sunday at 8 p.m.