Star Commentary: Cheers to Jeff!

by in Food Network Star, August 16, 2011

Jeff Mauro's winning moment

After a neck-and-neck race to the finish line, Jeff Mauro inched out fellow finalist Susie Jimenez to become the season 7 winner of Food Network Star. Dedicated viewers and opinionated commenters on Food Network’s Facebook page and our Star blog offered countless hearty congratulations to the newly crowned Sandwich King.

Many complimented his vibrant “charisma & personality” and obvious “talent.” Another wrote that he was simply a “favorite from day one and the obvious choice” for the winner. One ardent admirer left a message for Jeff: “Congrats! You have a little Mt. Prospect/Park Ridge fan club here, and we were cheering for you the whole way ... Stay true to yourself, don't get a big head and remember where you came from! We love you, and we'll be watching!”

Other supporters write that Jeff’s pilot was “joyfully heartwarming and happy” and that they promise to “be loyal fans of his show.” Viewers “can't wait for [Jeff] to get started,” as many realize he has a unique “opportunity to create a new perception of the ‘sandwich.’”

What's your favorite sandwich, and what kind would you like to watch Jeff make? Tell us on Facebook and Star Talk. Don’t miss Jeff’s premiere episode of Sandwich King this Sunday, August 21st at 11:30am/10:30c.

Though a Star has been chosen, you can still help your favorite finalist win the Fan Vote by voting for him or her up to 10 times per day.

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Comments (119)

  1. purple2614a says:

    Congrats jeff. You rock.

    By the way FN please give Susie a show. Her pilot was awesome

    • Deb says:

      Yes, please give Susie a show. She's terrific. I'd love to watch her show!

    • Sarah/Swanlady says:

      I agree please give Susie her own show. I thought her pilot was great, and would have liked to see the whole thing.

      I really thought some of the others were good and would like to see a show develop having Whitney, Mary Beth, Orchid. Maybe a show where they present something.

      Paula, and Ina often have people on showing how they do something. I think there is room for a show.
      You know I like Jeffrey Saad, maybe he could host a show spotlighting different people who were on the main star show. (Please leave out Penny) I would like to see Jeffrey Saad also cooking more.

      • Dishy says:

        In case you are interested, we started a page on facebook to "Give Susie her own FN Show." Feel free to join!! She needs our support!!

  2. Cynthia says:

    Jeff, you and Vic were my favorites but you were the obvious winner because of your camera presence, focus, sense of humor and confidence. Looking forward to your show!! Won't be surprised if you become the next "hit" that Food Network is looking for!

  3. CJBC says:

    Getting a bit tired of hearing people slamming Jeff along this blog. It isn't just a show about making Sandwiches, It is a show about making AWESOME sandwiches. Seriously, do you think FN would choose a program that has no promise for growth? Sure, Jeff may have made mistakes, but who didn't? Susie choked on Rachel Ray, Vic constantly choked on Camera challenges, Jeff was the only one who was consistent on Camera challenges and had a good record on food. His only food missteps that I remember was using store mayonnaise in Iron Chef and the Salami Cupcake debacle. Otherwise, I don't remember a any complaints about his food. Yes, he's a little on the low brow side at times, but that is something that will be worked on and it's not as if his show will be the raw footage mess edited for the best rawness we saw every week on NFNS. Susie and Vic were awesome and hope to see them somewhere soon. Mary Beth and Penny need to go and find a rock to crawl under-Mary Beth actually has a hate-fan club on Twitter now LOL

    Jyll was like watching paint dry, Chris-ugh...if i'd had to watch the making ice cream clip one more time....Whitney had potential but just wasn't there. Justin B was cool, but dull, Justin D was....funny, but for the wrong reasons. Alicia's voice was like nails on a chalk board, Orchid was too Arti like, Juba, Katie, and Howie-yeah, who were they again?

    Jeff was awesome-he deserved to win. But I wish all three could have won-I was so sad to see Vic cut. My most memorable moment was when Chris got cut and then showed Vic saying goodbye to him and he had this kindergartener expression on his face and he said "Friends for life" it was so sweet!

    • Jeff says:

      Do I think FN would choose a program that has no promise for growth? Of course I do. Their track record says so. Who besides Guy has grown at the network? Will his sandwiches be awesome? Yes, some of them might, although looking at the first recipe listed on FN, with a 6 hour prep and cook time, leaves me wondering if he can find a balance between too complicated and too simple.

    • laura says:

      So you want people to stop slamming Jeff but you can slam the other contestants? Classic...And yes, FN has a history of turning their cooks/chefs in to caricatures of them selves. Most programs that are left (Paula, Rachael, the Neeleys etc) are just not watchable anymore because of the various reasons so I am acutally looking foward to watching Jeff's show. Hopefully he will not end up being a tool like Guy Ferry.

      • JamesinAlaska says:

        "caricatures of themselves". Yes. This relates to what I said about
        Cattiness" abd bias in judging in my "Advice for Next Year" post on here.
        No one should end up having to be a copy-cat or Protege' to get the job. The mere fact that FN wants someone to bring something new to the network SHOULD let contestants be ORIGINAL and themselves. This while point-of-view idea just restricts people into a Box--and then as soon as they try to show and broadness, variety or range, they get slammed with "not being true to your roots." They should lose that whole idea. Yes, I really wouldn't mind one iota if we had had ten contestants who all said (for their point of view):

        I'm here to make better-tasting recipes than everyone I'm competiing against! In all seriousness, suppose they all really said that? I say no problem at all. Let 'em!--and then let 'em all cook their buns off and we'll see who's food is most yummy....which is what the whole thing is about anyway!
        To say that FN already has "generic/do-it-all cooks" doesnt matter. We could have 50. The point is, everyone makes the dishes differently and we can always use new and better-tasting recipes.

  4. JimH says:

    After all the angst with Penny and the other "dramas" it appears to have all worked out in the end with for me being the only real surprise that Vic made the final three. Suzie F confirmed what i thought about Vic. He was just not ready and too rough around the edges. He was a project and they didn't want a project. I think they got out of this what they were looking for two finalists that were ready for prime time and it was very close. I think we will be seeing Suzie J on the Cooking Channel soon.

  5. JamesinAlaska says:

    Title: Advice for Next Year.

    1. Judges--completely drop the whole idea of Point-of-View altogether.
    It puts people in a restricting "box." All contestants should be allowed to "show range and variety". They are better skilled that way. Who is better? A Carpenter who merely installs a window?--or one who can put in a window AND do wiring, put on a roof, install a new bathtub, do kitchen cabinets, build a deck, etc.?

    2, More INDIVIDUAL challenges, Each cook against all the others. Keep it down to 1 "team challenge". Whoever wins will have *their own* show. It wont be a team show anyway.

    3. Do a better job of PRE-interviewing and watching the contestants audition-videos. ALL contestants should clearly say in their video just what they hope to bring to the food network. But do not confuse this with a narrow-restricting POV. IF, they say: I'm here to cook Chinese, then fine. But it should be absolutely OK to say: I'm here to show the viewers how to cook all kinds of food and how to make it so easy and so delicious all their friends will rave about it and want to come over to their house all the time to be fed. That should be perfectly OK, too. It doesnt matter if we already have shows where someone does-it-all. The point is: everybody cooks it differently and we can always use new and better-tasting recipes. A caution with "specialty shows"--When anyone "cooks Italian" or "southern food" its FAR too easy for them to get eliminated because then they are invading Giada's or Paula's "territory." Which leads to my next point:

    4. Totally STOP--having any of the current people who already have their own show, from being involved at all in any Judging. We want to completely eliminate any "Cattiness" or being a threat to someone who already has the job. (Personally, I think its time for some "new blood" anyway), but at least this helps keeps bias out of judging. Do not let judging be done by snobbish downtown New York yuppie/foodies, either. So then, Who? As many people as you can possibly get who are just like the people who eat at all the restaurants all across the country in every state that Guy Fieri visits on DDD. Regular folks. Everyday people.

    5. Focus more on "less Gimmicks, more realness." We dont need more Vic-type tattoos, silly schtick "comedy", immature frat-boys, or sarcastic/overbearing Penny's. All of these 5, are Do-able. I can only hope...

    • Susan says:

      James - Very good post. I agree with all your suggestions but unfortunately I doubt that Food Network will listen. They seem intent on "drama" and "angst" and as you say, "gimmicks". I guess they have found that this appeals to the mass audience but it does not appeal to me.

      • Olivia says:

        Every season FN gets posts from armchair critics. There is ALWAYS someone who isn't happy. I'm sure they don't expect every show to appeal to EVERY person and they shouldn't have to.

        That said, I'm sure Food Network does respect viewer suggestions but in the end, they know the types of shows that draw the biggest ratings. Personally I think the network does an overall fantastic job of offering variety, both with educational and entertainment value. This show (Food Network Star), is obviously intended to entertain (similar to Bravo's Top Chef), so I don't mind the drama and find it fun to root for my favorite chef while booing the villain.

        • JamesinAlaska says:

          It is clear and obvious from posts on this blog (and not just mine, either), that many people feel the judges are "not as in touch with viewers as they could be.
          Yes, as you say, we viewer can find both educational and entertainment shows on the network. That isnt the point. The point is: LOTS of people (not just me), are already writing in to express their frustration that FN has been tilting far too much to the whole "reality show" end of the scale and its getting worse.
          I've read many posts of people saying:
          1. They will no longer watch.
          2. Food Network ignores viewers
          3. The judges are inconsistent
          4. Some competitions are rediculous and overdone
          ...and on it goes.
          Are you simply gonna write-off all the posts from those people as "a tiny minority?"
          Also, I myself, have written POSITIVE things about the FoodNetwork. I really ENJOY:
          1. Guy's Big Bite
          2. Barefoot Contessa
          3. Melissa
          4. The Neely's
          5. 5-Ingredient Fix
          But as for ratings....several on here have written that Cupcake Wars is just dumb and overhyped.
          The big thing is: many people who write on here feel as if the judges apparantly ignore viewer feedback. In my post above, I tried to be tactful, matter-of-fact and not resort to name-calling or sarcasm. This is reasonable. From the +12 on my post (as I write this)--it seems there are others who agree.

    • maria says:

      Very well said !! I completely agree with you.

  6. mythoughts says:

    I can't wait to watch Jeff Mauro's first foodnetwork show, i favored him to win because he was fun to watch.

  7. Anita says:

    Finally - the judges got it right after the last three years of picking the WRONG people! Sorry - but we don't watch Arti's Party (the former CNN gal), or the fake "I'm just a housewife" - turned "I'm an executive that spent a lot of time in Paris Melissa D. (terrible show/ snotty "judge", or even Big Daddy - nice guy, nice food - but don't think he should have won.

    Honestly - I think the judges were right not to choose Susie - every one of us has a family story of struggle and profound loss - honestly - it would have depressed me to hear about beloved lost relatives every week - we all have gone through that and want to be happy when watching a food network show - not sad. Plus - Mexican food is once a month in this house - to narrow a point of view! Sandwiches can be sweet or savory and can be any ethic flavor!

    Again - we had almost lost all hope in Food Network - you picked the right guy this time!!!!!! About time!!!!!

  8. Anita says:

    One more thought about Susie. Very nice person - sure her food tastes great - but I noticed that she never really said she was doing this competition because it's what SHE wanted - more that she wanted to honor her father (yes - an honorable thing) - and carry out his last wishes for her. I never got the crystal clear feeling that she was doing it for herself because she purely wanted to. Jeff - on the other hand - as well as other finalists - wanted to do this for himself and had a true passion for it and his point of view.....kind of a specific point to make - but just what those in our house noticed......

    • joyce says:

      You need to listen to Susie's exit interview, she is a class act and expressed some heartfelt comments about her learning and future opportunities. There is nothing wrong in honoring your father and living out his dream of a new chance in a great country like ours. Her family stories came from judges who kept telling/pushing her that she needed to tell those stories.

      I don't know why the judges preferred Jeff over all the other contestants, they need to answer that question. Since you are such a fan of his, you probably already know those answers anyway. I think we all had our preferences throughout the competition. Jeff was not my choice for winning but I am not going to trash him now because he does have some good qualities. The competition is done and it is a mute point to make.

    • bkrdr says:

      yes anita i agree with you, i was rooting for susie untill she said something off key, when jyll asked her to taste her dish, whatever it was, susie refused and said "just because i'm mexican she assumes i can make this" perhaps she was asked because she made the dish 50 million times. if whe would have wone i would have not watched the show.

    • Deb says:

      Good point; however, when Susie walked down that hallway where the stars names were written and ran her hand over the names ... that's when I saw how much she really wanted to win.

      Susie had to overcome her initial defensiveness about how she thought Mexican food would be received, and I think that threw her off-stride at first. I'm not Hispanic but I grew up eating that way because part of my family lives in the desert southwest. I would love to see her show and get tips on how to freshen the flavors in Mexican dishes.

  9. David says:

    I'm also glad to see Jeff win! it might be a nice change from what is out there. Since Alton is calling it quits on Good Eats and I can't handle watching much of anything that Bobby Flay does! I did find it amusing that Penny just had to get her last little snide comments in about Susie's show. (I would have been happy to watch Susie also since I love to cook Mexican food). I hope that if they do this again they find some new judges besides Fogelson (I also wish they would buy her a comb!!)and Flay.

    Oh well just my pennies worth.

    • Guest says:

      oh no---when did Alton decide to pull the plug on good eats? what a waste! Is he just going to stand around making smarmy remarks on the iron chef, or float around popping up as a judge here and there? Sometimes he gets on my nerves, but he certainly is bright and interesting enough to have a show of his own!

      • jeri says:

        I agree. I really like Good Eats, so informative and entertaining! Sometimes he comes up with good stuffon Iron Chef, but his own Good Eats is special.

  10. Jeff B says:

    Jeff is Abe Froman, Sausage King of Chicago. I just cant take him seriously.