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'A wild experience': JCPS teacher wins Food Network home cook battle

Blue Lick Elementary School teacher Asa Glass not only has a love for teaching, but also for cooking. He took those skills to a new Food Network show.

LOUISVILLE, Ky. — Asa Glass has been an exceptional child education resource teacher at Blue Lick for over a decade. For Glass, teaching is a passion he knew would be part of his life early on.

"I'm a part of a big family of teachers. My grandfather was a professor at EKU, my aunt was a teacher in Tennessee. But right here in JCPS, there's about seven to eight family members who have all been teachers here. My mom led the way." Glass said. 

He said he knew he was headed in that direction, so he started teaching at Blue Lick around 2010.

But Glass has another passion: Cooking. And it's one that the husband and father of two took to a national stage after his Instagram was discovered by a producer. 

Glass was one of the first contestant's on the Food Network's new show Big Bad Budget Battle with Ree Drummond. 

"I never thought I would do anything like this. I do love cooking. It's therapeutic for me," Glass said. "One of my favorite things to do is ask my guests before they come 'what's your favorite food?'  I try to recreate it even if it's something I've never cooked before."  

Those skills came in handy as Glass and two other competitors were given $20 to cook a home staple and another mystery dish for the second round. He grabbed a rotisserie chicken and a few other low-cost items to cook one of his wife's favorite meals -- chicken tikka masala.

Although Glass said the dish was "very salty" after grabbing rock salt instead of kosher salt, he won the first round with his dish. With that win, Glass got an advantage and was able to choose his protein and sauce. 

He chose the Swedish meatballs and was going to grab pesto to stick with his Italian heritage, but was swayed by Drummond. 

 "She told me that that sounded easy and boring," he said. "So she challenged me and so I grabbed the cream of mushroom soup kind of panicked, like okay, we're not getting the pesto we're gonna go that direction." 

Glass made a dish with meatballs and a creamy pasta that would prove to be enough for the judges to name him the first Big Bad Budget Battle winner, coming with a $10,000 prize. 

Credit: Food Network
Asa Glass' Swedish meatball dish helped him seal his victory on the first episode of Big Bad Budget Battle.

"I was shaking," Glass said. But after his named was called, the teacher got another surprise. 

"Eddie Jackson, one of the celebrity judges, former NFL player, he's like, bro, you look like you need a hug. And I was like, Dude, I really do. So he gave me a big ol' bear hug," Glass laughed. "I mean, I was teaching Friday and then getting hugged by an NFL player the following Monday. It was really something."

Glass wasn't able to tell his students about the cooking show until it aired, which happened to be the day before school started for JCPS. 

"I walked in the building that very first day school and this little boy walks up to me and he goes my mom saw you on TV last night," Glass said. "She told me tell you. That's never happened to me before." 

Now, months after the competition, Glass said he took more away from the competition than just the money and a new recipe to make for his family. 

"Once I landed, I was meeting people and going through this experience, win or lose, it was going to become something I'd remember forever. Something that was really special," he said. "I learned that it's okay to stretch. It's okay to grow and challenge yourself and being uncomfortable. You know, kind of stinks sometimes, but it works out."

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