Master Chef

Paola Annoni Patel would like you to know that dentistry has much more in common with cooking than you may think.

The Palm Harbor native, who now lives in Washington, D.C., but is repping her north Pinellas neighborhood on this season of MasterChef, went to dental school at Columbia in New York City before relocating with her husband to D.C.

But food was a formative part of her life early on. She grew up cooking with her mom and her grandparents, and a wine connoisseur dad.

“I was spoiled growing up,” Patel said. “My mom would wake up at 5:30 in the morning and ask if we wanted pancakes or French toast, even through high school. I thought that was everyone’s life was like that.”

And though her career path has strayed away from food, being in the kitchen is still one of Patel’s most treasured hobbies.

“I always wanted to be a dentist since I was a child, and as I grew up, I realized dentistry has a lot more in common than anyone would think with cooking, which I also love — hand skills, mixing motions,” she said. “I really became passionate about food while I was in dental school.”

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