When Bobby Flay and Giada De Laurentiis took the stage at New York City’s Times Center, it didn’t take long for these longtime friends and colleagues to start passing playful, well-meaning jabs to one another. The two joined Julia Moskin of The New York Times as part of a series of TimesTalks during the New York City Wine & Food Festival, and what followed was a lighthearted conversation about food, Food Network Star and their early days on the network. Never one to miss a beat, Bobby jokingly told the audience, “As you know, Giada invented Italian food,” while Food Network’s resident Italian superstar took the dig in stride before returning the favor to Bobby. She told the story of how he claimed on national television to have discovered a secret pasta-making strategy, when in fact it was she who deserved the credit.
In no time, their chat turned to the most-recent season of Food Network Star, in which Justin Warner, mentor Alton Brown’s Rebel With a Culinary Cause, scored the most votes from at-home viewers and was crowned Food Network’s newest star. Bobby and Giada, also mentors to teams of Star contenders, looked back on the season and agreed that while other contestants may have turned out better food, Justin “is a talented entertainer” and “has a real chance to make some noise” now that he has claimed the top prize.
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- Chopped host Ted Allen weighs in on Round One of the most exciting season yet.
Dog lovers everywhere can breathe a collective sigh of relief: Michael Proietti pulled it out in the dessert round to win the first round of our Chopped All-Stars series, a full-on face-off between four fan favorites from The Next Food Network Star. We’ve had our fair share of aggressive competitors on the show, but I think Michael is the first one so dedicated to culinary victory that he’d threaten puppies in exchange for a win.
- Michael Proietti is the first to move on to the Chopped All-Stars finale.
At the risk of stating the obvious, Michael was joking and would never harm a domestic animal, excepting, perhaps, a lobster. He was, in fact, arguably the sweetest and definitely among the funniest contestants ever to compete on The Next Food Network Star—both major reasons we wanted him to compete in All-Stars. But it was his cooking skill, not his personality (or even his elaborate hair) that now have taken him to the April 3 finale, where he’ll compete to win $50,000 for the charity of his choice, the Jed Foundation.
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- In her online videos, Aarti shares useful tips, go-to techniques and surprising myth-busters about Indian cuisine.
Aarti Sequeira pretty much cleaned up on The Next Food Network Star, Season 6. Her series of web-exclusive videos, a prize awarded to each season’s Fan Favorite, is now live on FoodNetwork.com.
“Fan Favorite was probably even more rewarding than winning the competition in certain ways because it’s coming from the audience,” Aarti says. “There is something very democratic about the fans being able to vote you in as well, to have their voice heard. I’m really thankful.”
For her four-video series, Aarti chose topics that give viewers new insights into the Indian cuisine she’s cooking up on Aarti Party, which just debuted its second season. For example: The ever-mysterious curry. “The number one question I get is definitely ‘how do I make a curry?’” Aarti says. “I am so glad to finally have the chance to explain what it is, what it isn’t, and that it’s actually not all that hard to prepare.”
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- This burrito may look intense, but it's nothing compared to the six-footer Tom will sample on tonight's episode of Outrageous Food.
You probably recognize him as the funny-guy runner-up from Season 6 of The Next Food Network Star, but Tom Pizzica is back on Food Network in a big way. To celebrate tonight’s premiere of Outrageous Food (10 pm/9c), we chatted with Tom about his new gig, his favorite on and off-camera memories from Star and even the menu from his recent wedding.
You got a first glimpse of the show along with fans during last week’s sneak peek, featuring a 105-pound burger. Where’d you watch?
I was in Minnesota with the production company. We had a big party, and my mom came, which was really nice. Seeing the show was as much fun as I thought it was going to be, it comes off as fun as it was to film. It’s going to be awesome—a fun way to spend a Friday night.
Of all the cities you visited, what were your top three favorites and why?
I really enjoyed Minneapolis, a great town. It’s just a nice little city. It kind of looks brand new but it’s not. It’s got a cool little downtown, fun little bars and the people are really nice. I’d never been to Chicago before and it didn’t disappoint. It’s a great food city and I finally had my first real deep dish, which was fantastic. And I gotta say, New York was fantastic. It was my first shoot, after the Next Food Network Star finale aired, and my first time being in New York as a kind of a “star.” I had a lot of nerves going on, but everything worked out well.
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- Two Next Food Network Star winners ham it up on Guy's set in L.A.
Guy’s Big Bite is back with all new episodes starting this Sunday, and that’s season 6 Next Food Network Star winner Aarti Sequeria hanging out with him on set. You’ll see her “stopping by” on Sunday’s episode—and no, this was not staged!
Guy‘s show was filmed in Los Angeles this year so he could be closer to his California home, and one morning L.A. native Aarti decided to stop by to say hello to him and the production team. They’d met during NFNS season 6 and got along instantly. Before she knew it, Guy had asked Aarti to cook with him on camera.
Sunday’s show is all about one of Guy’s favorite activities: Tailgating. We know Guy is a major Raiders fan…does Aarti also have football loyalties? Don’t miss Guy’s Big Bite this Sunday at 11am/10c to catch the two Star winners making game day grub.
Do you know what Sunday night is? Come on, we’ve been promoting it like crazy! In case you’ve been living inside a bubble, Sunday night at 9pm/8c is the two-hour season premiere of the best competition show on television – the one, the only – The Next Food Network Star. No, I’m not just saying that because I work for FN, I honestly feel it’s the best. Where else does a foodie have the opportunity to become a national celebrity, have access to build their own brand and all the while do what they love – cook? The concept of the show is amazing!
The peeps who have made it to this season’s competition have a passion for food. And, of course, we dig that! Now, sure, not all of them have the defined culinary skills, point of view or TV presence to win a show on the network, but our judges (Bobby, Susie and Bob) would never question their passion for food itself. The judges just need to find that one person with a little “sparkle” to go along with that passion (i.e., Guy Fieri).
Have you checked out who the 12 finalists are this season? Have you read their bios, watched their videos? Seriously, you must! You need to see what true characters these people are. Char-ac-ters, I say! Once you read and watch, let us know what you think! Write us here, tell us on Facebook, or chat with us – yes, chat!
On Sunday (and every week after that), we will be hosting a live chat during the Star broadcast. So before you settle in on the sofa to watch the show, grab your laptop! We’ll be starting at 9pm/8c at FoodNetwork.com/Star. It will be a weekly date, so don’t stand us up.
Watch what Jeffrey and Melissa had to say directly after the confetti fell on The Next Food Network Star finale set.
I’ve totally been wrapped up in The Next Food Network Star (NFNS) these last few weeks. (Who’s your fave?) While watching this season, I started wondering what was up with last season’s winner, Aaron McCargo Jr. Well, Big Daddy is in the house!
Yesterday I snagged Aaron for some water-cooler chat about his new season of Big Daddy’s House and the current season of NFNS.
SECRETARY CONFIDENTIAL: You’re about to hit your one-year anniversary here at Food Network. Looking back over the past year, is there anything you didn’t expect would be a part of the experience?
AARON: I can’t say there have been any real downs, but I will say that I didn’t understand the flow of everything at first, the demand of my time. I hope to speak to The Next Food Network Star winner at some point, and offer what I’ve learned through all my bumps and bruises, as well as share my high fives. But I can’t call this work–it’s so much fun.
SC: Have you been keeping up with this new season of NFNS?
A: Oh, yes! I’ll be honest with you, it’s kind of tough to watch. It’s so surreal for me. My wife sits there with the kids watching with me, I look over, and I catch her tearing up all over again. I always tell people, it’s night-and-day different from doing NFNS to Big Daddy’s House. On NFNS you don’t have a clue as to what you’re going to do, what the challenge will be, or whether you’re going to be sent home. You can never relax. At Big Daddy’s I can now relax and enjoy it.
SC: So, if you were competing this season, who do you think would be your biggest competition?
Go to Bob’ Blog, and see why Bob thinks he sent the wrong NFNS finalist home this week.
What does everyone think about Susie Fogelson, of The Next Food Network Star selection committee, posting her own vlogs each week here on The FN Dish?
Viewers would be invited to submit questions directly to Susie via FNDish.com after the premiere this Sunday, June 7th @9pm. Susie would then answer viewer submitted questions on a vlog post that following Friday, June 12th.
What do you guys think?