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Alton Explains What Not to Do, the Deal with POVs and the Hardest Part of Being a Judge

by , May 27th, 2014

Alton Explains What Not to Do, the Deal with POVs and MoreAs Food Network’s resident food historian and overall respected voice of reason, Alton Brown has a lot to say when it comes to finalists vying for the ultimate job — the job that will allow one person to join the roster that he shares with fellow judges Giada and Bobby.

Star Talk: What are you excited about this season?
Alton Brown: I haven’t participated in as many seasons of Food Network Star as the other judge-mentors. I’ve only really done three. But based on the seasons that I’ve done in the past, I’m excited to see if I can find that nugget — that diamond. You’re walking down a riverbank, you reach down and you pull up a 10-carat diamond and go, “Hey, look what I found.” So you’re looking at each one of these finalists and you’re hoping that one of them is going to be spectacular — amazing. And it could happen. That’s the entire mission.

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Bobby Talks Pet Peeves, the Biggest Mistake Finalists Always Make and Cooking vs. On-Camera Skills

by , May 23rd, 2014

Bobby Flay Talks Pet Peeves and the Biggest Mistake Finalists Always MakeEarlier this week Giada dished on her fellow judges and behind-the-scenes moments (read the interview here.) Now we’re asking Bobby Flay about his time on Star, what it’s like to be a judge, what mistakes he’s tired of seeing and if he could have survived the show as a contestant.

Star Talk: What are you excited for this season on Star?
Bobby Flay: This is the 10th season of Food Network Star, and every season the most-exciting thing to me is meeting the new finalists — people who have a chance to be the next Star on Food Network. So as excited as they are, I’m excited to see who they are just as much.

Star Talk: From the first season until now, what has changed?
BF: I feel like every season the finalists get better and savvier than the last. A lot of it has to do with the fact that they get to watch the seasons prior and they become students of the sort. It’s definitely a game. It’s a game until you actually get the job. That’s the way it works. I take my role of a judge very seriously. In a way, we’re mentoring people, as well, we’re not just saying yes or no. We’re trying to give advice, but I want to add somebody to the roster of Food Network who is going to strengthen the network as a whole. I think of it as adding a new player to our team to make it better.

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Giada Talks Star Season 10, Her Fellow Judges and Behind-the-Scenes Moments

by , May 19th, 2014

Giada Talks Star Season 10Before Season 10 kicks off, the editors of Star Talk wanted to sit down with show’s ultimate trio of stars, Giada, Bobby and Alton, to talk about what fans can expect, their favorite elements of the show, as well as what they think of each other. First up, Giada De Laurentiis.

Star Talk: How has the show evolved?
Giada De Laurentiis: I think that the finalists have become more savvy. Each time the viewers are able to watch the show, they start to understand what we’re looking for. Although, having said that, each time Bobby, Alton and I meet a new group of finalists, they tend to have the same issues. I think they’re getting savvier, but they’re still missing the point as to what we’re looking for. I think they think they’re polished, but they’re not quite as polished as they need to be. I think people think this job is very, very simple, when actually it’s a bit more complicated than they anticipated once they get into it.

Star Talk: What are the most-common mistakes you see in finalists?
GDL: I think there are several. One is too polished and media trained. Second, I think that they all come in thinking that they’re going to pitch their point of view. They’re passionate, so of course they think they should be the next Food Network Star — as if that’s enough to get you this job, which we all know it goes way deeper than that. We’re looking for charisma. I think the finalists need to feel empowered, show they can be a leader, be an authority and also be a little spontaneous so we never get bored.

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Star-a-Day: Sarah Penrod

by , May 16th, 2014

Sarah PenrodSarah Penrod, 30, is a born-and-bred Texan who comes from a family of entertainers. She’s been performing for her whole life and also has serious culinary chops, as she now owns her own business. This feisty chef has worked with celebrities and athletes, and she always keeps things entertaining in the kitchen. Read on below to hear from Sarah, and learn about her style of cooking and thoughts on the competition.

Describe your cooking style or culinary point of view — in one sentence, if you can.
Sarah: The concept is that we’re all so busy, and we’re losing the source of love and joy and passion in our lives, and that’s our relationship with our partner. And I want to bring that back to you by teaching you how to do these awesome date nights, and I’m the perfect person to ’cause I’ve been a private chef to celebrities and professional athletes. I have to do some really cool stuff visually, and I think that I’m the perfect person to do date night ’cause I’m madly in love with my husband.

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Star-a-Day: Reuben Ruiz

by , May 15th, 2014

Reuben RuizReuben Ruiz, 27, grew up in a traditional Cuban family that owns restaurants, and he started working in kitchens when he was just 10 years old. After struggling with his weight for many years, he now specializes in healthy dishes with a Latin influence, and he’s honest, outspoken and high energy with a strong work ethic. Read on below to hear from Reuben, and learn about his style of cooking and thoughts on the competition.

Describe your cooking style or culinary point of view — in one sentence, if you can.
Reuben: The flavors of Miami — I want to bring those to the limelight. The tropical cuisine of the Caribbean, and Central America and the flavors that we have over there. But also with a healthier perspective on life as well. Most people don’t know I’ve lost a hundred pounds, and I did so naturally. And I’ve been able to maintain it, more importantly, now for seven years.

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Star-a-Day: Nicole Gaffney

by , May 14th, 2014

Nicole GaffneyNicole Gaffney, 29, isn’t just another personal chef — her magnetic personality and innate culinary talent set her apart from the crowd. She grew up cooking with her Sicilian grandparents and comes from a family of commercial fishermen, and her “coastal cuisine” take on food is heavily influenced by her family and growing up in a seaside town. Read on below to hear from Nicole, and learn about her style of cooking and thoughts on the competition.

What are you most looking forward to in this experience?
Nicole: Learning. Yeah. I’m really looking forward to learning. Just with the other competitors alone, I think there’s so much each of us can take away from the other person — not just in terms of cooking knowledge, because there’s a ton of stuff to be learned there, but just about life in general and TV presence. This whole experience — the things that we can take away from the judges and the mentors … I feel like what I’m going to know when this is all said and done versus what I knew going into it is going to be monumental.

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Star-a-Day: Luca Della Casa

by , May 13th, 2014

Luca Della CasaLuca Della Casa, 38, was born in Italy and is an adventurous, rugged outdoorsman with a passion for food. He worked his way up from dishwasher to executive chef, and he is determined to bring people together around a table to share food, Italian style. Read on below to hear from Luca, and learn about his style of cooking and thoughts on the competition.

Describe your cooking style or culinary point of view — in one sentence, if you can.
Luca: My point in my culinary view is what I learned from my grandma. That means very simple recipes, a good knife and the freshest ingredients. That makes the most-amazing meal.

How did you prepare for the competition?
Luca: Well, yes. I went to see some old seasons of the show. I was aware of the show and I saw episodes of it, but I didn’t know it perfectly, so I thought I better go back and see everything they do, what they ask them to do. And so that’s what I did, and try to put my thoughts together.

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Star-a-Day: Loreal Gavin

by , May 12th, 2014

Loreal GavinLoreal Gavin, 26, is motorcycle-riding, guitar-playing chick who loves tattoos, and she’s been trained in culinary arts, baking and pastry. She was raised by her grandmother, who taught her to cook from her soul. Read on below to hear from Loreal, and learn about her style of cooking and thoughts on the competition.

Describe your cooking style or culinary point of view — in one sentence, if you can.
Loreal: I have a grandmother’s soul from the Deep South and an insatiable lust for adventure.

How did you prepare for the competition?
Loreal: I didn’t. I just knew that I had to come in here and be myself.

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Star-a-Day: Lenny McNab

by , May 11th, 2014

Lenny McNabLenny McNab, 42, is a one-of-a-kind gourmet cowboy with over-the-top confidence and culinary skills. He trained in Germany and is now the executive chef at a hunting ranch. With his signature hat, belt buckle and boots, you can’t miss Lenny in a crowd — and he is ready to bring his unique take on food to the rest of the country. Read on below to hear from Lenny, and learn about his style of cooking and thoughts on the competition.

Describe your cooking style or culinary point of view — in one sentence, if you can.
Lenny: My culinary point of view is to bring back the traditional ways of the cowboy cook.

What are you most looking forward to taking away from this experience?
Lenny: The thing I think I’m most looking forward to in taking away from this experience is the recognition of being out there in an elite association of chefs, restaurateurs, hoteliers that have made it big enough so that their name gets noticed, because I imagine anybody that does something like this has a touch of an ego.

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