Shawn Dinkins is a chef at Bean’s Café who helps serve around 800 hot meals daily and is almost always hustling to make sure lunch is ready on time for those who might not otherwise have it.

“I know I could have worked at any other restaurant and I love restaurants, but this is where my calling is,” Dinkins said. “I just love the way food smells. I love the way it tastes.”

But lately, when Dinkins isn’t cooking in bulk for the homeless, she’s working on a special project of her own. Dinkins is a contestant in the Food Network’s Chopped At Home Challenge. She has been given a short list of ingredients that she’s allowed to use to make up her own culinary creation.

“I’ve decided to do a grilled chicken breast with roasted poblano and a creamy, cheesy polenta,” she explained, showing off the meal.

Dinkins has already made it through the first round of competition but now she says she needs some help.

“I’m hoping to get into the third round and the final round they will fly me to New York City for the grilling competition,” Dinkins said. “I need Alaska to vote for me online.”

The winner of the Chopped At Home Challenge will win $10,000, which Dinkins said she would use to pay back student loans from culinary school and help her daughter.

Finalist for the competition will be selected based on a combination of judges’ ratings and the number of online votes. For more information, or to vote, visit the Chopped At Home Challenge website.

KTVA 11's Shannon Ballard can be reached via email or on Facebook and Twitter