|Bradshaw Mountain High School graduate Cammie Burford (Camille Ford), center, hosts the new Travel Channel show Food Wars, which premiered Tuesday.|
From the stage at Prescott Valley's Bradshaw Mountain High School to the worldwide stage of television, Cammie Burford has logged thousands of miles.
And she has thousands more to go, partly thanks to her new television show.
Burford (BMHS Class of 1999) is the host of the Travel Channel's Food Wars, but using her given name, Camille, and shortening her surname to Ford. On the show, which premiered March 9, cooks vie to create the best version of their city's most celebrated dishes, and a blind taste test at the end settles the question.
"It's so funny, I feel like I was born to do this," said Burford in a Tuesday morning phone interview from her home in New York. "I've always loved food and I'm an avid traveler, so it made sense."
She even held food competitions in her home, encouraging friends from all over the city to bring their favorite cookies.
For the show, she happily has tested barbecue in Texas, hot wings in Buffalo and pizza in Washington, D.C., as well as favorites in Tucson and Chicago.
"What I love about Food Wars, it doesn't pick just the iconic, but gets down and dirty and shows the different sides of cities," Burford enthused.
She noted that traveling means "learning more than what you read in a travel guide."
"We show a little bit of history and what makes America so great. We have an amazing culture and don't want people to forget that immigrants came over and were creative and inventive, and that can get you somewhere."
She said she enjoys meeting restaurant owners whose parents, grandparents or even great-grandparents started the business - something that's becoming more and more rare.
"The Travel Channel has done a great job with Food Wars," she said. "They put a lot of time and attention into it, making it a show anybody could watch and everybody could respond to. I'm comfortable watching it with my grandma or my niece."
She thinks the show will inspire folks to get out, explore and communicate again.
She started work on Food Wars in December and after the travel season ends in April, "Then we'll see."
Of course she hopes the network will renew Food Wars, but for now, Burford is "beyond happy."
"What a long strange trip it's been," she said, referring to her start in New York.
(Burford related that story in a Tribune article several years ago. It included moving into an efficiency apartment without sheets for her bed when the airline lost her luggage.)
Since then she's paid her dues doing voiceover work, talk shows, reporting the news and producing a play, to name a few.
"When I wake up in the morning and go to bed at night, I think, 'I can't believe this is my life.'"
If nothing else, she wants her story to inspire other people.
"I hope kids will realize dreams are attainable," she said. "You just need to work hard, think smart and wake up with a smile."
And while packing to travel to a Food Wars show in Detroit, she added, "Go explore your world."