Luca Manfe is probably not a person one would associate with Washington, or Daviess County.
He's Italian, lives in New York and is one of the top finalists on the FOX TV show MasterChef. But Manfe is connected to this area through his wife, former Washington native Katherine Arnold, and has made it to the top 10 on the reality show.
The rise from a restaurant manager to a finalist on one of the most popular reality shows this summer has found a following across the country as people have followed the show as the bombastic Gordon Ramsey leads the search to find the next great chef. Manfe has caught on with audiences with his skill in the kitchen and never-give-up personality.
"It is very exciting," Manfe said about the interest he has gained from the show. "People follow the show. It's awesome to read the posts on Twitter. I try to keep up for an hour so every day."
While cut the season before, Manfe did not give up and worked hard to become a finalist this season. During that time, he worked hard on his cooking, reading cookbooks and watching online videos. Since then, his skills are sharper and has become one of the favorites to win the grand prize.
"In the time between, I have improved this year," Manfe said.
And he has also survived in the face of pressure from the show's judges, Ramsey, award-winning chef Graham Elliot and successful restaurant owner Joe Bastianich. At first, the pressure to perform was intense, but he learned how to deal with the spotlight, even if that comes with Ramsey's trademark outbursts.
"That can be very tough," Manfe said about Ramsey when he yells. "Then you understand he is teaching."
He said the experience of learning from chefs and restaurateurs who have gained the highest honors in the restaurant world has been a great education.