#LookWhoIsBack: Matthew Sets His Sights on Star Salvation

by in Food Network Star, Videos, July 1, 2015

#LookWhoIsBack: Matthew Sets His Sights on Star Salvation

Perhaps one of Food Network Star's most-divisive finalists in the history of the competition, Matthew Grunwald shocked the Selection Committee and fans alike when he strutted into Food Star Kitchen on Day One with not only a difficult-to-grasp POV of social media and hashtags, but also with his tough critiques of his rivals' performances. After only two weeks in the contest, he ultimately met his fate when his sly smirk at evaluation caused his last-minute elimination.

But now, Matthew and the other ousted competitors — Christina, Sita and Rosa — have returned for a second chance at Stardom. They've set their sights on redemption with the help of Star Salvation, a six-week Web-exclusive series hosted by Alex Guarnaschelli and Jeff Mauro, which challenges previously eliminated finalists with culinary and camera tests designed to show who among them is worthy of salvation and the opportunity to return to the Food Network Star competition.

Round 1 of Salvation kicked off on Sunday night following Rosa's departure, with the four hopefuls facing off against each other — and tacos. Click the play button on the video below to see how they fared, and find out who among them was ultimately sent home.

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From the Competition to Your Kitchen: 1-Ingredient Marinades

by in Food Network Star, June 30, 2015

From the Competition to Your Kitchen: 1-Ingredient MarinadesThe competition moved outdoors this week for a 4th of July cookout. And after the teams unexpectedly had their groceries swapped, we saw which contestants could really think on their feet. We loved that Michelle quickly decided to marinate her chicken, for kebabs, in yogurt — a culinary trick seen in both Mediterranean and Indian cooking. The yogurt imparts flavor and also keeps meat juicy by tenderizing it. Even though Michelle had some grilling issues, her marinating choice was super clever.

Go beyond just yogurt — look at the condiment shelf in your fridge and get inspired for other one-ingredient marinades. Pair any of these condiments with a generous dose of salt and pepper:

Mayonnaise: Because it’s so thick, mayonnaise provides a consistent and generous coating — unlike thinner regular marinades, which tend to separate.

Pesto: Best used on pieces of meat (or fish) that grill up quickly — the oil in pesto can get smoky quickly. Read more

Happy Birthday, America! The Death of a Rib Eye, Lessons in Japanese and the Dials of Doom — Jeff’s Star Report

by in Food Network Star, Recap, June 29, 2015

Food Network StarMy favorite personal moment from Food Network Star, Season 7 was during the Fourth of July celebration (check out a photo). It was held on a horse farm in the hills of Malibu, and it was hot, windy and packed with a hungry audience. These conditions, coupled with malfunctioning grills and Guy Fieri as a guest judge, led to a very challenging afternoon. The presentation portion was a live demo on a large stage. We had the options to grab props, so naturally, I grabbed a guitar and an American flag that I donned as a cape, a la Apollo Creed from Rocky IV. Needless to say, this was my moment to lay all my cards on the table and get gutsy. I made an excellent pretzel-fried chicken sandwich and gave a highly charged performance, complete with guitar work, singing, knife throwing and stage jumping. It could have backfired, but it was Week 4, and this is a crucial time in the Food Network Star journey. By now you should have your POV on lock and your cooking-under-pressure muscle exercised and definitely be more comfortable on camera. If you do not posses all three of these at this moment, you are potentially doomed.

On that note: Happy birthday, America! It is now time for a proper Fourth of July cookout competition on a bucolic farm in the middle of the Southern California nowhere. It’s time for teams. The finalists use that classic method of team picking: drawing napkins out of a picnic basket. The teams are as follows:

Team White: Rosa, Jay, Michelle
Team Red: Emilia, Rue, Dom
Team Blue: Alex, Jay, Arnold

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One-on-One with the Latest Food Network Star Finalist to Go Home

by in Food Network Star, Interviews, June 28, 2015

Food Network StarIt's the nature of the Food Network Star beast that even though no matter how badly finalists want to achieve their dreams of stardom, ultimately only one can win the coveted title, and with that, 11 finalists will be going home. Every week Star Talk will bring you the first exclusive interview with the most-recently eliminated finalist. From thoughts on mentors' critiques to reflections on past challenges and hopes for the future, be sure to check back every Sunday night for the latest one-on-one chat. We're about to break down the ins and outs of tonight's new episode and reveal who went home, so if you've yet to watch the show, read no further until then.

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Caption It: Start Your Engines

by in Food Network Star, June 26, 2015

Food Network StarStars, stripes and fireworks — they're all set to be on display this weekend as the finalists leave Food Star Kitchen behind and head outside for a 4th of July cookout. Though of course all of the rivals are seeking individual Stardom, once again they'll be tasked with working closely together as they get grouped into teams on Sunday's brand-new episode. It's up to the teams to not only plate a unified menu but also present it to partygoers and a special guest who's no stranger to cookout fare: Bobby Deen.

Take a look above at the sneak-peek photo from Sunday's episode. What do you think Bobby's up to with those car keys? Is he letting the finalists take a break from challenges and simply test-drive a few vehicles, or will the rivals be forced to navigate their way to the cookout?

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A Star Salvation Preview: Host Alex Shares Must-Have Skills and Reflects on Competition Flashbacks

by in Food Network Star, Interviews, Judges, June 25, 2015

Alex GuarnaschelliWhile three Food Network Star finalists have already met their fate at elimination — and another one will do the same this week — all hope is not lost for those competitors, or for the next few to follow in the coming weeks. Beginning this Sunday night, ousted rivals will have the chance to rejoin the competition, but only if they can survive a six-week journey on Star Salvation, a Web-exclusive contest hosted by Jeff Mauro and Alex Guarnaschelli. At the end of boot camp, one rival will have verified his or her worth, and will ultimately return to the on-air competition with the finalists that remain.

Ahead of Sunday's premiere Salvation battle, Star Talk is catching up with Jeff and Alex for the inside details on what they have in store for the contestants, and what it will be like for this dynamic duo to work together as both mentors and judges. Read on below to hear from Alex about how her past competition experiences will influence her judgment on Salvation, then click here to hear from Jeff.

What's it going to be like working with Jeff? What's your professional relationship like?
Alex Guarnaschelli: We are like Starsky and Hutch. We are like Rizzoli and Isles. ... We have a really great relationship because we both use a lot of humor in what we do, and yet we take food super seriously. We know that there's so much at stake for these contestants that we want to be the perfect balance of lighthearted where the contestants are open to learning and hearing from us, and yet also critical enough that they can grow and kind of sculpt themselves, give themselves clarity, fill in the blanks, color in the lines, curate their own personality. That's what Food Network is all about: growing really good flowers. Start with a seed, some dirt, some water, and just keep on going with that sunshine.

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A Star Salvation Preview: Host Jeff Dishes on Working with Alex and the Importance of Calming Nerves

by in Food Network Star, Interviews, Judges, June 24, 2015

Jeff MauroWhile three Food Network Star finalists have already met their fate at elimination — and another one will do the same this week — all hope is not lost for those competitors, or for the next few to follow in the coming weeks. Beginning this Sunday night, ousted rivals will have the chance to rejoin the competition, but only if they can survive a six-week journey on Star Salvation, a Web-exclusive contest hosted by Jeff Mauro and Alex Guarnaschelli. At the end of boot camp, one rival will have verified his or her worth, and will ultimately return to the on-air competition with the finalists that remain.

Ahead of Sunday's premiere Salvation battle, Star Talk is catching up with Jeff and Alex for the inside details on what they have in store for the contestants, and what it will be like for this dynamic duo to work together as both mentors and judges. Read on below to hear from Jeff, then click here for an exclusive interview with Alex.

What's it going to be like working with Alex? What's your professional relationship like?
Jeff Mauro: We've done other events before, and I think we've shot some stuff together before. I know she's judged me on Chopped before. So we do have a rapport. We see each other out; we're friendly. But I get her totally — I know what she's all about. I get her gruffness, but her level of comedy is so underappreciated, I think. And I think she's so warm, and you want her to like you, which is an interesting gift. But she does it in such a way where I'm super comfortable around her. So I think my kind of goofy attitude and her kind of faux sternness, it's a nice little straight-talk-silly-man combo.

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From the Competition to Your Kitchen: Food Styling Tips from the Pros

by in Food Network Star, June 24, 2015

From the Competition to Your Kitchen: Food Styling Tips from the ProsThe Food Network Star contest was taken to a new level this week when contestants had to use their food styling and photography skills to win over mentors Bobby Flay and Giada De Laurentiis. Here in Food Network Kitchen, our professional food stylists work behind the scenes to make food beautiful for television, online and print. We know how important the right lighting and composition of a plate can be for a pretty photograph. For those of you who like to #NoFilter, here are some tips from Food Network food stylists Richmond Flores and Susan Vu, and from Heather Ramsdell, director of culinary editorial, who also takes our best in-house photographs!

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New Photos: Go Behind the Scenes of Food Network Star, Season 11

by in Behind the Scenes, Food Network Star, June 23, 2015

Food Network StarAn action-packed episode complete with two trendsetting challenges and a duo of special guests judges, Sunny Anderson and Geoffrey Zakarian, this past Sunday's episode saw no shortage of tense moments for the finalists — or slimy, stinky and incendiary flavors, as far as the dinner party dishes were concerned. But no matter the finalists' nerves or the Committee's task of sending home another rival, most on set managed to crack a few smiles between takes. In keeping with the episode's trend of taking photos, Sunny and Geoffrey posed for a quick shot behind the scenes — though it likely wasn't posted on social media.

Keep reading below for more insider snapshots.

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A Boys vs. Girls Dinner Battle, and Why It’s Not About Being “Thesaurus Rex” — Jeff’s Star Report

by in Food Network Star, Recap, June 22, 2015

Food Network StarThis week is all about trends, so the finalists' first challenge is to craft a dish that is both delicious and camera ready. Photographing food and food styling are often-overlooked skills that usually require the work of several experienced and talented professionals. Thanks to social media, however, we have all become food stylists and photographers, snapping pics of every malt ball, pretzel rod and airport kiosk sandwich we shove down our gullets. I'm 100 percent guilty of this as well and make no apologies, but oftentimes, the photos do not do the food justice (mine included). Regardless, I love this trend, and it only connects us more to the magic and allure of food. But I digress ...

And they’re off! Emilia is a bat out of hell, Rosa is frying meatballs, Dom is icing his pesto, Eddie is contrasting, and Big Jay is tasting the rainbow. Arnold is not worried one iota because he plates like Picassette (Picasso’s drag queen alter ego). Sandwich man Alex makes that classic mistake of “plopping on the top bun.” I would have halved the sandwich and exposed the colorful interior structure. In my opinion, that makes for a much better sandwich photo.

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