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Caption It: Bunny Ears

by , June 28th, 2013

Damaris Phillips, Russell Jackson and Nikki DinkiEach episode of Food Network Star runs for about 42 minutes total — not including commercial time, of course — but to produce that short amount of television, finalists, mentors, camerapeople and behind-the-scenes crew devote three whole days to filming a single show. Shooting often starts early in the morning and doesn’t wrap until late in the evening, and while the process is indeed efficient and organized, the cast is surely left with downtime, both on the set and behind the scenes. It’s up to them to fill that time on their own: Should they try to anticipate future challenges, hash out go-to recipe ideas, reflect on the competition in their journals or chat with contestants?

Given the sneak-peek photo above from Sunday’s all-new episode, it looks as if Russell and Nikki have taken the moments before filming begins to simply goof around with each other, donning silly faces, lighthearted expressions and bunny ears. Do you think they’ve become slaphappy by their long days on set, or are they using the play time to de-stress from the competition? Will they be able to regain focus and professionalism before the next challenge begins?

Before you tune in this Sunday at 9pm/8c to find out what’s going on, we’re challenging you, Star fans, to write your best captions (tastefully appropriate, please) for this moment in the comments below.

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WATCH: Food Network Stars Dish on Their Favorite Dinner-and-a-Movie Combos

by , June 27th, 2013

This past Sunday, the remaining contestants took a break from Food Star Kitchen and traveled to Cinépolis Theaters in California for a dinner-and-a-movie combo challenge that Bobby, Giada and Alton will never forget (relive the contestants trailers by watching them here). The episode got Star Talk editors thinking: What would be the ultimate combo using an existing movie? Elf and a big plate of spaghetti? Christmas Vacation and not-so-dry turkey?

Star Talk caught up with Food Network stars, including judge Bobby Flay, Star Salvation‘s Robert Irvine, Geoffrey Zakarian, Marc Murphy, Amanda Freitag, Guy Fieri, Jeff Mauro and Anne Burrell, as well as other famous faces, to ask that very question: “What’s your favorite dinner-and-a-movie combo?” Click the play button above to hear what each had to say.

Now tell us: What’s your favorite dinner-and-a-movie combo? Share with Star Talk editors in the comments below.

WATCH: Star Salvation Episode 1, a Second Chance at Stardom

by , June 23rd, 2013

For the first time in Star history, one eliminated contestant will have a chance to re-enter the competition in a four-week Web series called Star Salvation, presented by Buitoni. Each Sunday night after every Star episode, Robert Irvine, host of Restaurant: Impossible, will test the finalists in a series of culinary skill challenges that will determine whether they stay or go.

In the first episode, fans will see the infamous Danushka, Andres, Daniela and newly eliminated Lovely return to Food Star Kitchen for a rigorous challenge testing their basic culinary skills that they’ll have to complete in just 15 minutes. Who will be one step closer to returning to the competition?

Click the play button above to watch the first episode and find out who will advance to next week’s episode of Star Salvation.

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Caption It: Face Plant

by , June 21st, 2013

Alton Brown, Giada De Laurentiis and Bobby FlayIt’s no secret that the finalists face a mountain of pressures week after week, cooking against the clock in all-or-nothing challenges, strutting their stuff for a crew of cameras and enduring hours-long evaluations that ultimately determine their futures. But what about the mentors, Alton, Bobby and Giada? They, too, grapple with a series of Star stresses, as it is, after all, up to them to narrow down the crop of contestants before you, the fans, choose your next star. The burden is on them to find each competitor’s strengths and weaknesses, and give them the tools they need to show off the former and improve the latter, all while maintaining the distance and fairness of a judge. Alton, Bobby and Giada handle the job differently depending on the day, but for each of them, when the work becomes particularly trying, sometimes all that’s left to do is laugh.

Take a look at the sneak-peek photo above from Sunday’s all-new episode: Alton, Giada and Bobby have gathered at evaluation, and it seems that for Giada, the moment is simply too much to bear. She’s face-first on the table while Alton offers a well-meaning giggle and Bobby displays a look of apparent confusion. Do you think they’ve just endured a particularly difficult elimination, or have they taken a brief break from deliberation to relax among friends?

Before you tune in this Sunday at 9pm/8c to find out what’s going on, we’re challenging you, Star fans, to write your best captions (tastefully appropriate, please) for this moment in the comments below.

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One-on-One With Guest Judge Alex Guarnaschelli

by , June 18th, 2013

Alex Guarnaschelli on Food Network Star Season 9No one may know the pressures of reality cooking competitions better than Iron Chef Alex Guarnaschelli. She’s a force in Kitchen Stadium and arguably one of the most-straightforward Chopped judges at the table. Beyond competitions, she’s a chef who has been wowing patrons for years at her restaurants. Simply said: Alex knows her stuff and can probably describe it better than anyone else.

This past Sunday, Alex joined Alton and Bobby at the judges’ table for a special Chopped-themed episode of Star. Star Talk recently caught up with Alex and asked her about her time on the show, including her reaction on Danushka’s infamous “bored” comment.

Your face was priceless when Danushka revealed her “boredom” during the challenge. What was your initial reaction to hearing that? Was that a Chopped first for you?
AG: Standing on the middle of the subway at rush hour, waking up late for a final exam or frying an egg for the queen of England would be less stressful than that kitchen. I think boredom is a curious reaction. I also think if you know you’re bored, and cooking is such a demanding profession, it might not be a good fit.

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VIDEO: Danushka’s Not Impressed

by , June 17th, 2013

One of Food Network Star‘s most-contentious finalists ever, Danushka Lysek provided plenty of camera-worthy drama in her brief three-week run in the competition. She sparked rivalries among finalists, delivered unapologetic smirks, stares and eye rolls, and she even stupefied the Selection Committee with her seeming indifference to the challenges at hand. “My goal with doing this competition was knowing I’m not like anyone that’s on the Food Network,” Danushka said after being eliminated, and indeed she proved to be one of a kind.

Click the play button on the video above to watch Danushka’s best, most-hilarious reactions during her time on Star and see a mashup of some of her now-notorious faces. Do you think Danushka deserved more time to prove her commitment to the competition, or were the mentors justified in sending her home? Tell Star Talk what you think in the comments section below.

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VOTE: Who Do You Think Is the Scariest Chopped Judge?

by , June 15th, 2013

Someone will get chopped on this Sunday’s appropriately themed episode of Star (watch an extended preview here). Like most Star and Chopped endings, it won’t be pretty. And it wouldn’t be a real Chopped experience without a Chopped judge present — Alex Guarnaschelli, especially. Alex has judging down to a T, not to mention she understands the stress of these competitions, having recently won The Next Iron Chef.

Standing in front of the judges’ table on Chopped is scary for any contestant, especially when he or she is waiting to hear the criticism from the judges. Both Alton and Bobby have admitted they believe Alex is the scariest Chopped judge to face. But what do you think? Vote in Star Talk’s poll below.

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Caption It: What Caused Alex to Make This Face?

by , June 14th, 2013

Bobby Flay and Alex GuarnaschelliChopped fans know that when it comes to doling out blatantly honest criticism and no-nonsense feedback, Alex Guarnaschelli, a longstanding member of the judges’ panel, does it best. She has more than 15 years of experience at the table and knows what winning dishes look and taste like, which means that come Sunday night, Food Network Star finalists will have to cook above and beyond Alex’s expectations if they want to impress her. She’ll join the Selection Committee as a guest judge during the Chopped-style challenge, overseeing the contestants as they attempt to fuse mystery basket ingredients into camera-worthy meals.

While some contestants may indeed prove to her their culinary chops, others will inevitably disappoint — and then some will simply be so shocking that Alex is rendered nearly speechless at the sight of it. Take a sneak-peek look at the snapshot above from Sunday’s all-new episode: Bobby can’t help but chuckle as Alex looks on in amazement at what’s going on in front of her. What do you think has caused her to make such a face?

Before you tune in this Sunday at 9pm/8c to find out what causes Alex’s stunned face, we’re challenging you, Star fans, to write your best captions (tastefully appropriate, please) for this moment in the comments below.

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The Infamous Shimmy: Duck Fat Will Never Be the Same Again

by , June 13th, 2013

After watching Damaris Phillips‘ premiere performance last week, judge-mentor Bobby Flay had but one piece of advice for her: “Don’t try to seduce us.” It appeared as though she took that instruction to heart, but, unfortunately she let history repeat itself this week during the Burger Bash challenge, and it almost forced her week-two elimination.

Not long into her live cooking demonstration in front of the Selection Committee and an audience of 100 guests, Damaris once again resorted to uncomfortably suggestive body language as she described a key ingredient in her dish. She revealed duck fat to be the must-have addition to her pimento cheese burger, and she accompanied the announcement with a shoulder shake and shimmy that left the audience both grimacing and laughing — “at her,” no less, according to Alton Brown.

Damaris realized almost immediately the mistake she’d made, explaining, “When I get nervous, I default to being awkwardly sexy sometimes.” Come evaluation, she knew she’d be in for harsh feedback: “My presentation was crap. I went up there and did exactly what the Selection Committee told me not to do.” Bobby indeed doled out hard-to-hear criticisms, among them that her demonstration was “a little off-putting,” and Damaris was simply unable to hold back tears in front of her peers and the mentors.

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On Location: Burger Bash and the Mansion at Culver Studios

by , June 11th, 2013

Culver Mansion - Food Network Star Season 9After arriving at The Culver Studios Mansion to find an array of ground meats, plus various cheeses, buns and condiments, the contestants weren’t surprised when the mentors revealed this week’s challenge to be burger-themed. They had one hour to prepare a signature burger, which they demoed in front of a 100-person audience. Browse these behind-the-scenes photos to see the mansion up close, the pantry outside of Star Kitchen and what it looks like when the cameras are turned.

Click here to browse the entire gallery of photos from Episode 2 now

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