by Maria Russo, June 22nd, 2012
by Sara Levine, June 19th, 2012
Just when they are thinking that Bob Tuschman and Susie Fogelson are their toughest critics, the remaining finalists meet a new team of evaluators this week: the press. This group of media professionals can potentially make or break a Star’s public image, so it is especially important for the contestants to wow them with their unique culinary points of view, engaging personas and stellar stage presences. Last week, Martita struggled to tout herself as “Mama Mexico” when Team Giada was gifted a Mexican-themed challenge, one in which she should have starred. Going forward, will Martita be able to embrace that individuality in front of the press? Is she hoping to phone a friend to save her from the challenge?
Before you tune in this Sunday at 9pm/8c, we’re challenging you, Star fans, to write your best captions (tastefully appropriate, please) for this call-worthy moment in the comments below.
by Sara Levine, June 19th, 2012
Team Giada thought they had last Sunday’s food-court challenge in the bag. A Mexican-themed kiosk, with Martita on their side? No problem. But for South African dessert queen Linkie Marais, Mexican food was uncharted territory: “I don’t even know what they serve for dessert in Mexico!” Stumped, she ran with Martita’s suggestion of churros and hoped for the best, despite the fact that she’d never made them before.
Sure enough, the texture of the churros was off and Linkie tried to re-brand them as “biscotti.” But her confidence was shaken, and it showed. She ended up in the Producers’ Challenge, where she gave Bob and Susie a solid chicken dish, proving that she shouldn’t be pigeonholed into pastry. Still, in the end, it was pitch room veteran Nikki who prevailed, sending Linkie home.
by Aarti Sequeira, June 17th, 2012
The competition has reached its halfway point. Just five weeks from now, one of the nine remaining finalists will have his or her own Food Network show. In this exclusive video, we checked in with Giada, Bobby and Alton to see how they’re feeling about their respective top three finalists. Are they surprised at who’s made it this far, or were these their top contenders from day one?
They also size up the competition. Who’s the team to beat at this juncture? And who’s the most competitive mentor? Bob and Susie reveal which Food Network icon “does not want to lose, ever.”
Do you agree with the mentors? Midway through the season, which team do you see as the front-runner?
by Sara Levine, June 12th, 2012
Aarti Sequeira won Food Network Star season 6 and expanded her popular blog into a cooking show, Aarti Party (catch it on Food Network, Sundays at 7:30am/6:30c). As a Star veteran watching from her couch at home, Aarti shares her insider’s take on what went down each week.
Well, didn’t Martie redeem herself this week?
I was kind of amazed at how many of you wrote, with some vitriol, that sweet Martie didn’t deserve to stay last week. Well, she certainly proved herself this week, cooking a rather elaborate multi-step dish (Southern-style arancini, which I would never have attempted to make for 150 people) and bowling the judges over with her warmth and humor.
Just one thing though, Martie, my love: That moniker you’re using? Martie Party? It’s kinda taken. Ahem!
by Sara Levine, June 5th, 2012
When Bob and Susie declared that Team Bobby and Team Giada were both winners of the Guy Fieri live show challenge, it was bad news for Team Alton. All four members faced the Producers’ Challenge and the pitch room, where no matter what happened, one teammate would be going home. Alton went to bat for all of his finalists: “Every one of these people is going to make your brain tie up in knots. You’re not going to be able to let one of them go,” he told Bob and Susie.
But they had to pick someone, and in the end, Judson Allen bid farewell to the team. Judson had recently turned a corner with his new POV, focusing on healthy food and his personal weight-loss journey, but he continued to struggle with his authenticity on camera.
Before heading home, Judson reflected on the experience of working with Alton: “I don’t think words can sum up how much I have valued his mentorship.”
Bob and Susie also share their take on Alton as team leader: “He’s getting so attached to his team. When they suffer, he suffers. I don’t think people see that side of Alton,” says Bob.
by Sara Levine, May 29th, 2012
When it came down to Eric Lee and Ippy Aiona in the Producers’ Challenge, Bob and Susie said it was one of the toughest decisions they’d ever faced in eight seasons of Star. Both talented chefs consistently impressed everyone with their food, but struggled to find a sweet spot on camera. In the end, Team Bobby’s Eric was the one to say goodbye.
Eric left the pitch room with the same humble, gracious attitude he maintained throughout the competition. “I just want to thank you for the opportunity to work with Bobby,” he told the judges. “It is just incredible how great of a mentor he is.” Bobby, in turn, had high praise for his mentee: “Eric may be the best cook in the entire competition.”
Hear more from Bobby, Susie and Eric in his exclusive exit interview. Do you think Eric deserved to go home?
by Sara Levine, May 22nd, 2012
Team Giada held strong in the first two episodes. Week one, Josh Lyons made it successfully through the pitch room, and then the team took home a win in week two’s food tour challenge. Giada still had all five of her finalists going into week three — but not for long.
After ending up in the bottom of the Chopped desserts challenge, Josh faced the Producers’ Challenge once again, and this time Giada’s pitch-room plea wasn’t enough to save him from elimination. Bob and Susie thought that as the front man of a rock band, Josh would be more comfortable in the spotlight, but he continued to stumble over his presentations. “I think he’s talented,” said Giada. “I just don’t know that he was ready for this.”
Hear more from Giada, Susie and Josh in his exclusive exit interview. Do you think it was Josh’s time to go?
by Sara Levine, May 15th, 2012
Team Bobby was riding high after taking home the first win of the season, only to come crashing back to reality in Episode Two. On their food tour of Harlem, caterer and fitness guru Kara Sigle hoped a strong presentation would distract from her lifeless chicken and waffles. Unfortunately, she stumbled, lost focus and completely forgot to tell the crowd — and the judges — about her dish at all. She wasn’t surprised to end up in the Producers’ Challenge, going head-to-head against Judson to create the ultimate potato dish and make it memorable.
When Bob and Susie decided that Team Alton’s Judson was the better gamble to keep around another week, he was the one who shed tears. Kara left the competition with her head held high and still hopes to see Team Bobby come out on top. “They become your family immediately,” she said of her team. “I think they’re going to go all the way. That’s the final four right there.”
Hear more from Bobby, Susie and Kara in her exclusive exit interview. Do you think she deserved to go home so soon?
by Sara Levine, May 10th, 2012
Team Alton was the first to lose a member with the departure of Cristie Schoen in Sunday’s premiere. Cristie, a movie-set caterer, came off as angry when she delivered her pitch for healthy eating (and a bland black-eyed pea and cabbage soup) in the Restaurant: Impossible challenge. She tried to redeem herself in the Producers’ Challenge, but Bob and Susie ultimately felt that Josh had more staying power.
“I got confused and you lost me at the end. I don’t see the joy and the excitement that will excite an entire nation to eat healthy,” Bob Tuschman told Cristie. She handled her early exit gracefully, but with regrets about her performance: “I’m really disappointed that I did not make it close to the top because I do have such an important message to share. I wasn’t able to communicate that message out.”
Hear more from Alton, Bob and Cristie in her exclusive exit interview. Do you think she deserved to be the first to go?
To give you a sneak peek at the personalities of Team Alton, Team Bobby and Team Giada, we’re introducing a finalist per day leading up to the bigger-than-ever Food Network Star premiere on Sunday, May 13, at 9pm/8c. Don’t miss the casting special on Saturday, May 12, at 9pm/8c for a behind-the-scenes glimpse at each finalist’s road to Star-dom, including footage of their final one-on-one auditions with their respective team leaders.
Last but not least, our final Star of the Day is Eric Lee from Team Bobby. Eric, 44, graduated from the Culinary Institute of America and now lives in Petaluma, California. He worked for 11 years as the executive chef of a winery before leaving to shoot Food Network Star.