I don't often write about daily life... I mostly write to try to help with your plans for a get-together, a holiday, a celebration, or even just dinner with the family. I occasionally write about travel and bigger life events, like weddings. My end goal is to help you celebrate life with those you love.
Tragically, one of my Food Network Star friends and her little family will never be able to do that again. So today, I'm writing about Cristie Schoen so you might know her and remember her as a passionate Southerner, healthy living and eating advocate, athlete, outdoorswoman, caring friend, daughter, sister, chef, wife, and mother-to-be. Rest in peace, Cristie. You will live on in the hearts of all of those you've blessed, fed, and touched with your kindness and love.
Cristie had recently married her boyfirend J.t. Codd, was living on her dream farm and expecting their first baby, a girl to be named Skylar. The very last thing I expected to hear from or about my Food Network Star cast mate Cristie was that she was missing. I certainly never expected to learn that she had been murdered.
A neighbor Cristie and J.t. befriended is charged with their murder and the murder of their unborn child. Robert Jason Owens is a contractor and lived less than a mile from them. They not only hired Owens to help with projects around the farm, Cristie opened her home to this monster, inviting him to their wedding. She had also cooked Thanksgiving dinner for him and others in the area; she rented the local community center to feed everyone in her new hometown who had no place to go. Typical Cristie. She loved to love everyone through her food. I saw her post on Facebook and her open invitation for Thanksgiving. And she didn't just cook, she decorated the room in her signature yellow and went the extra mile to make the day really special with a menu that reflected her Mississippi roots.
I first met Cristie in Alton Brown's Atlanta studio in early November 2011. We were both there to audition for Food Network Star and were vying for one of only five spots on Alton's team from the fifty or so people assembled. I knew she would be in the cast... she was absolutely stunning, had a great work ethic, and sparkling crystal blue eyes that flashed... "I want this.... I really want this." So it was not a big surprise to see her there on the first day of filming. WATCH CRISTIE'S CASTING VIDEO
Our Food Network Star Season 8 teammates had this to say about Cristie:
Food Network Star winner Justin Warner reflected on his first memory of Cristie saying: "I stepped out of the casting shoot to get some fresh air. Cristie soon joined me, only with the intent of introducing herself and offering me company. That's who she was. Bright, sunny, incredibly friendly and kind... a breath of fresh air indeed."
"Cristie was one of the first people I met during the Atlanta auditioning process! What wasn't to love about her striking appearance, but those big blue eyes and her southern drawl warmed my heart. We shared a bond with our spiritual connection and roots to New Orleans. During the show, Cristie saw positive in everything! She was a fearless firecracker'" remembers Judson Todd Allen.
Says Emily Ellyn: "I remember when I first saw Cristie Schoen. We were in Atlanta for our interview with Alton Brown. She had beautiful blue eyes and a smile that shined between her positive pep talks, helping EVERYONE in that room feel more at ease, That positive encouragement, love, and joie de vivre was present in every conversation we shared. Cristie was like sunshine; a positive radiant woman, that warmed the hearts of everyone she met."
Cristie quickly became our Team Alton cheerleader. She was high-energy, highly competitive, and positive- all rolled up into a pint-sized but very powerful package. She was a true team player. I hated she was the first to be eliminated during the restaurant competition because she worked hard to help most of us with our dishes in spite of the fact she wasn't very happy about her own course. It hurt her feelings so badly that the judges misread her passion for healthy eating as anger. She was frustrated that she didn't communicate her point of view clearly because she truly wanted to help people live better lives through a healthier diet. WATCH CRISTIE'S FOOD NETWORK STAR BIO VIDEO
In her final challenge, Cristie raced around the kitchen like the Roadrunner, not scared, not intimidated, nor worried. She confidently told the story of her brother and cooking eggs for him upon his return home from the military. I thought she did a great job and was impressed with her calm in the face of elimination. I'm not sure I could have handled that pressure like she did. It was painful to watch her walk through those big doors leading out of the studio after her they let her go. She had given it her all.
I feel very sure that Cristie gave it her all in her final moments, too. I imagine that she gave that monster who killed her quite a fight, trying to protect her baby, her husband and her own life. As a former cop, my hope is the detectives are carefully compiling the evidence necessary to put Robert Jason Owens in prison for the murder of Cristie Schoen, J.t. Codds, and baby Skylar until the State of North Carolina executes him in punishment for his crimes. Until then, I hope the prison inmates give him a welcome party he won't ever forget and that his life ends so that he may never be able to hurt another human on this earth.
FYI-Owens is also a suspect in the cold case disappearance of Zebb Quinn, an Asheville teen missing since 2000.
To Cristie's family and closest friends: My prayers are with you as you struggle to comprehend what has happened.
Farewell, Cristie. We will all miss your beauty, passion, energy, positive attitude, and your kind heart. Rest in peace with J.t. and Skylar by your side. Gone too soon, gone way too soon.
For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life. -John 3:16