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Faces of Columbia

Faces of Columbia

Amanda Barnes, Renee Hulshof, Tina Patel and Megan Judy on work, life and pursuing their passions

No matter the size, every town seems to have its super stars, the folks who make the headlines, are making a difference or have built their own empires in the place they call home. Whether it’s the exercise guru sharing her expertise, the radio personality with an audience of fans, the self-taught cook overflowing with talent or the morning news anchor with charisma to spare, these women put Columbia on the map in more ways than one. They work hard, play hard and continually inspire us to follow our bliss.


Tina Patel

Columbia’s Rachael Ray

Tina Patel has been cooking since she was in the fourth grade. With a natural curiosity, she combines flavors and foods that will leave you asking for the recipe, but that’s half the problem — she doesn’t follow one. Without any formal cooking lessons, just her love for cooking and entertaining, she’s worked with Colin Cowie, opened her own restaurant and can whip up a dozen cupcakes on the fly. Tina Patel is our local Racheal Ray.

“Some people are outdoorsy. I’m kitcheny.”

Tina Patel - Columbia's Rachel Ray

CH: At what age did you start cooking? Do you remember what your first dish was?
Tina: I’ve been cooking since I was really young. My mom was Indian, so she was always cooking Indian food, and I remember going to the library as a little girl, I’d always come back with a cookbook. My mom was a good cook, and I learned about adding spices and combining different flavors from her. My cooking really started from trial and error and a natural curiosity. Now food is a communal thing for me. It’s how we get together as a family, so I’m always having people over, and there’s always food, wine and fun. Some people are outdoorsy; I’m kitchen.

CH: What are some of your favorite ingredients?
Tina: My spice cabinet is huge, and I experiment all the time. I use a lot of yellow curry, dill, basil, Herbes de Provence, fresh ground pepper and sea salt. I love to cook with fresh herbs, so I’m always pulling things from my herb garden like fresh thyme, oregano, mint and basil. Every season brings new spices to work with.

CH: There’s a lot of creativity that comes with cooking. Would you say you are creative?
Tina: For me cooking is a lot of stress relief, so if I’m having a really bad day, I go home and bake a loaf of zucchini bread. People around me know when it’s been a really stressful week because I come to work with a few dozen cupcakes and batches of whatever’s in my kitchen cabinets.

CH: How many cookbooks do you have, and do you have a favorite?
Tina: I don’t have as many as you would think; I have about 25 to 30. A friend gave me Joy of Cooking, and I love it because it explains things, though I don’t love it because it doesn’t have pictures, and I’m a picture girl. I do a lot of my stuff online, and Pinterest is my friend. Fifteen minutes before I go to bed, I’ll scroll through and see what’s new and exciting. I don’t really have a favorite cookbook, though recently I’ve fallen in love with the Pioneer Women, mainly because her recipes are so down to earth, homey and yummy. I like to take her recipes and just add my own spin. She has a recipe for sesame noodles that are to die for, and I like to make a big batch of those and then add chicken, beef, shrimp or make it as a side dish.

CH: Healthy cooking and organic ingredients are very important for a lot of people these days. How do you incorporate healthy options into your everyday meal planning?
Tina: If I’m baking, it’s a little hard. If you health it up too much, it’s likely to change the texture or taste, but I will throw in some zucchini, carrots or healthy additions, and people don’t even know it’s in there. For me, sweet treats are just fun. If I’m cooking, it’s a little easier to throw in fresh ingredients such as sautéed spinach. And I try to use ingredients that are in season.

CH: What would you say to the non-cook? How would you get him or her into the kitchen?
Tina: I’d give them a really basic cookbook and tell them to invite some friends, I’ll bring the wine, and let’s just have fun. I think if people really learn the basics of cooking, they are less scared of it. I would actually love to write a cookbook that covers all the questions people have when they start cooking including step-by-step instructions. Most recipes list ingredients with instructions but lack the explanations for why you should fold something in or what’s going to happen if you don’t. I can see why it’s frustrating for people who haven’t cooked before; the recipe might have an easy star by it but be far from easy.

CH: How long have you been in Columbia?
Tina: I’ve been in Columbia since 1999. I went to the University of Missouri and studied broadcast journalism. I didn’t really find my way and ended up graduating with a political science and communications degree.

CH: Now you are working at the Country Club of Missouri. How did you get into food service?
Tina: Yes, I’m the director of events at the Country Club of Missouri. I’ve been working in restaurants since I was 16 and got my first job out of college at the Holiday Inn Executive Center doing convention services. I really wanted to do weddings though, so I talked my boss into letting me be a full-fledged wedding planner. It was stressful, but at the end of the day, you’re doing something amazing for someone, and you’re hoping you can create a memory of a lifetime for them. The food, beverages, ambience and entertainment are the center of the party.

ON TINA: Green silk shirt, Dillard’s, $31.15. Black leather asymmetrical skirt, Dillard’s, $79. Steve Madden Groovi pumps, Dillard’s, $99.99. Gold and orange chevron print cuff, Cha Boutique, $12. Gold solid triangle earrings, Girl Boutique, $12.99. Lastra round platter, Tallulahs, $119.

Follow Tina’s Pinterest Board at:



Amanda Barnes

Our resident fitness pro

With a list of certifications a mile long — including certified personal trainer, health coach, fitness instructor, spinning instructor, Zumba instructor, American Heart Association and certified American Red Cross instructor — how does Amanda Barnes find time to continue her learning, do a weekly wellness segment on KOMU-TV8 and run her business?

“No matter where I was or what I was doing, I always had myself rooted in fitness. It was the one thing that was consistent in my life.”

 Amanda Barnes - Our Resident Jillian Michaels

CH: You have more than 20 years of experience in fitness. When and how did you start in the fitness industry?
Amanda: I started teaching fitness and doing personal training for my friends when I was a sophomore in college. It wasn’t until I moved back to Columbia in 1994 that it became something I did full time. No matter where I was or what I was doing, I always had myself rooted in fitness. It was the one thing that was consistent in my life.

CH: You have created a great personal brand, B by Barnes. Tell me what it’s like to take something you are passionate about and create a business from it?
Amanda: Building a fitness brand really was a no-brainer to me. My background in health and wellness came from my mother and father, who are both RNs and owned home health care businesses. My brother has cerebral palsy, and I grew up taking care of him. I’ve always taken care of people and understood what was necessary for a healthy lifestyle. It was a natural progression for me.

CH: A lot of times if you’re passionate about something, you have a hard time attaching a monetary value to it because you love it and don’t do it for the money. Was it hard for you to start charging for something you loved doing?
Amanda: If you love what you do, and you recognize that there’s a value from that, then you can turn it into earning an income. For me, I like being accessible. When I was in California, market rate was $200 an hour, and there’s a demographic for that. I’d rather help the 79-year-old lady get around better. Getting access to fitness and health shouldn’t be a luxury, and it should be affordable. I look at my week and determine how many hours I can work and what I need to live, and that’s how I created my structure.

CH: It’s hard changing people’s behavior if it’s not something they grew up around. How do you get the people whom you coach to change bad habits?
Amanda: I find that it’s usually an emotional trigger that leads to a lifestyle change; it’s not about a quick fix. Sure I have clients who have a high school reunion and have goals to get into a size 6 in two weeks, but it’s really about making major changes in the way people live. I take stock in what people really want to change, and we create a step-by-step goal list. We then look at the environment and what needs to change so we can offer the support you need, and then we take a look at schedule. Moms have a lot going on, and they tend to put everyone else in front of their needs. It’s like when you’re on an airplane. They tell you to make sure you put your air mask on before you assist anyone else. If you’re not around to help them, how can you be of any help at all?

CH: Physical measurement and goals can be easy to measure, but I’m sure there’s a huge emotional transformation that you see from your clients. What’s the biggest impact you’ve made?
Amanda: I had a 9-year-old I was talking with, and he was sad that he was putting a lot of work in and not seeing any physical changes. So I said, “Can you think of anything that’s gotten any easier for you since we’ve started working together?” And he stood there for a minute and looked off and said: “Well, I don’t have to stop on the hill halfway up anymore when riding my bike. I can go all the way up without stopping.” And I said, “Huge success.” For everyone I work with, there’s always an emotional side to reaching health goals, and what that emotional success is will be different for everyone. Those are the stories that mean something to me. It’s changing the way they live their lives. Real-world application is what’s important.

CH: Speaking of real life application, you help train the Columbia firefighters?
Amanda: Yes, I helped create the physical training for the academy and then did some on-site training to help reduce injury. The academy program was fun. I created a series of different workouts for them to do to on a weekly basis so every day there was a different workout to help build strength, endurance and then work on balance and different application to help with everyday situations. I also work with several police officers.

CH: How did you get into on-the-job physical training?
Amanda: Managing MMA fighters gave me my in. Police, firefighters and military are professions called tactical athletes. I’ve gone to several different conferences and did research so I understood what types of on-the-job physical training they need. Most of these professions require you to have to recover very quickly. You’re up on feet, you’re down on the ground, and you have to be able to make quick transitions.

CH: You’re also a wellness coach for KOMU and write a weekly blog that covers wellness issues, right?
Amanda: I do segments that air every Monday at noon. I write the segment and corresponding blog posts that appear online. I also write a daily exercise tweet that goes out and am very active on social media.

CH: How do you make time for your own workout?
Amanda: I try and build time into my schedule for my own workout. Most of the time, people, especially women, like to work out with a partner so they can mimic your movements, so I do quite a bit every day. My boyfriend also helps me get my time in; he’s big and muscly.

ON AMANDA: Sports bra tank, Pure Barr, $79. Nike spandex, Dillard’s, $65. Nike Free 5.0 Training Fit shoes, Dillard’s, $100.

Connect with Amanda on Facebook and Twitter to stay motived:


Megan Judy

Our favorite morning wakeup call

Megan Judy is up before the sun each day to anchor the morning news on KOMU-8, and her day job continues as a teacher at the Missouri School of Journalism. She’s also a wife, a mom and an active philanthropist. So what’s her secret? Time management and a heart for everything she does.

“It’s all about time management and just trying to keep all of the balls in the air. I sometimes joke I hold life together with dental floss and Scotch tape, but we get it all in!”

Megan Judy - Our own Katie Couric

CH: You’re a busy girl! Not only do you wake up every day at 3 a.m. to anchor the morning news on KOMU-8, but you also teach at the Missouri School of Journalism and are involved with many local charities. And you’re also a mom to Cooper. Is keeping up with all of that challenging? How do you do it all?
Megan: Oh my, it’s all about time management and just trying to keep all of the balls in the air. I sometimes joke I hold life together with dental floss and Scotch tape, but we get it all in! My schedule starts early, and it’s crazy, but it affords me a lot of time with my family. Cooper is one of my most favorite people to hang out with and my schedule (though short on sleep) allows for that. I don’t miss field trips or ball games, which are very important to a third-grade boy. I’m very fortunate.

CH: I’m sure you have many behind-the-scenes blooper moments that we don’t get to see. Tell us a little about what goes on behind the scenes at the TV station.
Megan: Behind the scenes, we aren’t much different from how we are on air. The morning team is really close, so we do lots and lots of chatting the second we get to break. We talk about our families, life events — big and small — and share parenting tips. We crank up the music here and there. Eric, Angie and I always joke it takes us the full two and a half hours to finish a conversation because we take breaks to do the show. I’m really lucky; Angie is one of my very best friends, so getting to work with her every day is such a blessing.

CH: You recently were married, and now you’re Megan Judy. Tell me about the proposal and how you met.
Megan: Yes, I traded Murphy for Judy. My husband, Cliff, and I were married in January. He’s the best. I really hit the husband jackpot. Cliff always says he’s not romantic; he just does romantic things. I totally disagree. He’s very romantic. Then again, I’m easy to please. He’s helpful around the house with cooking, grocery shopping and laundry. That’s romance in my book! Cliff and I met in journalism school. I graduated in ’04, and he graduated in ’05. We were friendly but didn’t hang out or anything. We didn’t speak again until June of 2011 when we reconnected on — groan — Facebook. It’s so cliché these days, but my goodness, I’m so grateful. We talked on Facebook for a couple of weeks, and then Cliff visited Columbia from Kansas City. When I saw him get out of his car, that was it. I was completely hooked. He proposed during my morning newscast on a Friday in August of 2013. I was speechless, which never happens! I’m a really lucky girl. Cliff brings out the best in everyone.

CH: I read that you have a real life My Best Friend’s Wedding story; your best friend, or man of honor, was Chance Seales.
Megan: Oh my gosh, Chance is the best friend everyone wishes they had. I’m glad I snagged him! In our wedding, I had a man of honor, Chance, and a matron of honor, Amie Smith. Amie and I grew up together. She’s been like a sister to me and my third lung since first grade. My former co-anchor, Chance, and I are completely inseparable, too. Luckily, my husband was fully aware of the package deal he got when he married me! Chance and I anchored the morning show together for a year. He lives in D.C. now, and I just got to visit him. We talk every day. There’s lots of collaboration. You know, dress or skirt? Curl my hair or leave it straight? Is the guy he’s seeing going to make the third-date cut? Chance was very enmeshed in the exhausting analysis when Cliff and I started dating. I know mid-Missouri misses seeing him on KOMU, and I miss him like crazy.

CH: You grew up in St. Louis and are a big Cardinals fan. What’s the most all-out sports fanatic thing you’ve done?
Megan: I’m a huge Cardinals fan. One of my first words was “Willie,” as in Willie McGee. We always have a baseball game on in our house. My husband is just as big of a Royals fan as I am of the Cardinals. Cooper, the little peacekeeper, roots for both teams. He plays Switzerland when the Cards play the Royals, which luckily doesn’t happen often. The bets are too intense! We have a baby girl on the way; her first baseball outfit’s fate was decided by which team won the Cards vs. Royals series this year. To my chagrin, our little girl will be donning Royals blue before she sports Cardinal red.

ON MEGAN: Dress, Motherhood Maternity, $75. Earrings, Francesca’s, $20. Bracelet, Stella & Dot, $60.

Connect with Megan Judy on Facebook: or on Twitter: @Komumegan.


Renee Hulshof

Columbia’s Laura Ingram

Outspoken, smart and incredibly funny, Renee Hulshof is someone you remember. As the mom of two girls, Casey, 15, and Hanna, 11; wife of 19 years to Kenny Hulshof; and conservative voice on KFRU’s The Morning Meeting, she’s also incredibly busy. In addition to all that, she makes time to volunteer at the girls’ schools and is still an engaged professional. It’s really the best of both worlds. So how does she do it?

 “My daily life puts me in the community and keeps me very involved. A phone and a computer are all I really need.”

Renee Hulshof - Columbia's Laura Ingraham

CH: You’ve been co-hosting with Simon Rose on KFRU’s The Morning Meeting for six years now, but your position is often different from Simon’s. What’s it like working with someone every day who often has opposing views?
Renee: I admire Simon, adore him to pieces. He’s great fun, and generally we like each other and get along very well. We have a different flavor to the show, but my job is to take a position. We don’t come to the air with a topic to disagree on. Some people say I don’t argue with him enough, and others say I argue too much, so it’s hard to please everyone all of the time. If I’m 50:50, then I figure I’m doing pretty well.

CH: You’re a busy mom, radio talk show host, volunteer and Kenny Hulshof’s wife. What are your tips for keeping it all together — besides the having the emergency toothbrush hanging out of your front pocket of your purse?
Renee: I’m always on the move; we’re in our car all the time! Portable means keeping a first aid kit in the car at all times — my husband, Kenny, is horrified. I keep wipes, towels, scissors…the list goes on.

CH: Walk me through a typical day in your life.
Renee: School starts at 7:40 a.m. on the west side of town at Our Lady of Lourdes, so we leave every morning at 7:15 to 7:20 and then go all the way south and drop off our oldest at Father Tolten, and I inch my way back through town to have my second cup of coffee. I then make the beds and sit at the kitchen table and do my radio prep. I look through Twitter and Facebook, the paper. With kids I don’t do much media in the evenings because I’m dealing with dinner, homework and whatever else needs to happen to make it all run smoothly. So after plugging back in to what’s happening around me, I leave the house at 8:45 a.m. and head to the station. I will often walk in when the theme song is playing; I cut it that close. We do book our own guests. Sometimes people think we have our own producers, but we don’t. We each have different relationships, so we break the work up and decide who’s going to call whom. We do have regularly scheduled programing with guests who come on the show. We do block, record a promo, and by 11:15 a.m., I’m out of there. A long time ago they offered me an office, and I said no. I just couldn’t take care of one more thing. It wasn’t happening!

CH: Not having an office probably helps you to stay plugged into what’s going on in Columbia, right?
Renee: My daily life puts me in the community and keeps me very involved. A phone and a computer are all I really need.

CH: Managing your time sometimes means saying no. How do you develop the power to say no?
Renee: I had to set the priorities of what’s important to me and put the big rocks in first. I use the old analogy of the jar and the rocks, the sand and the water. What has to go in first? I kept putting the sand and the water in and wondering why the rocks wouldn’t go in. So the big rocks go in first, and for me that’s kids and family. It wasn’t until Kenny went back into Congress that I put a job back in. And it had to be a manageable job. My job requires a lot of reading, and I’ve had to adapt to getting my information much differently from when I was at the J-School. Social media involves who you follow and the way it feeds you information. When you say you’re on Facebook now, it doesn’t mean you’re looking at cat pictures anymore. We live in a wired society.

CH: Your girls are getting older. How has your parenting style changed from when they were younger?
Renee: Years ago I went to see Yakov Smirnoff (the Branson comedy show), and I was talking to him backstage before he went on stage, and he asked if I had kids. At the time the girls were 5 and 8, and he said to me: “Oh, you’re in the easy phase. Wait until your kids are my age. You go from being their manager to their consultant.” I looked at him with this look on my face, and he explained that when they are younger, you manage everything from what they wear to what they eat; you control everything and they are fine with that. Later when they get older, they ask, “What should I do?” and you offer your advice; they’ll consider it and may or may not take it. And I’m looking at this guy that’s a funny comedian who’s come to speak to us, and I’m thinking that’s the smartest thing I’ve ever heard. Being a good consultant, a consultant whom they will listen to and take the advice of, is the key. You don’t want to still be their manager, or they will not even hear you. And you don’t want them living in your basement!

ON RENEE: Army green fitted jacket, Cha Boutique, $139. Calvin Klein pink shirt with gold zipper detail, Dillard’s, $69.50. Round gold earrings, Dillard’s, $21.95. Taupe pleated trouser, Klassy’s Fashion, $45. Steve Madden Gallery pump, Dillard’s, $79.99.

Connect with and follow Renee on Twitter: @Reneehulshof



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