Poll: Who Was the Best Mentor?

by in Food Network Star, July 19, 2012

Alton, Giada and Bobby - Food Network StarWhen it comes to mentoring, Bobby’s, Alton’s and Giada’s styles couldn’t be more different. In the season premiere, we learned what each was looking for when they hand-picked their teams of five Food Network Star hopefuls: Bobby sought out no-nonsense cooks, Alton culinary teachers and Giada outgoing personalities. As the season continued, it turned out that the mentors’ selection criteria mirrored their own leadership styles.

Bobby found it most effective to maintain a professional relationship with his team and to tailor his instruction to each individual's needs. He spoke of his approach to the other mentors in an exclusive video. “I really try to bounce off the people that I’m mentoring, because I feel like they sort of drive me to the way I’m going to mentor and what I’m going to actually utilize to help them,” he said in Miami.

Alton’s natural teaching ability came to light in the midseason of the competition when he held one-on-one reviews with his finalists, offering them constructive criticism and tips on how to improve. Justin found his meeting extremely helpful and said that Alton was “one the most effective teachers I’ve ever had.”

Though Bobby and Alton primarily focused on training their finalists, Giada strived to create a family-like atmosphere on her team, offering motherly advice when her hopefuls needed it most. Yvan was especially grateful for Giada's guidance after he gave a successful live performance with Guy Fieri. He said of his mentor, "It's funny how a producer can really get the best out of you. It's like a mom. They know what you need even when you don't."

No mentor’s method was completely foolproof — all three teams having suffered losses — but finalists on each team achieved winning moments both in the kitchen and on camera. If they could repeat the season, do you think Bobby, Alton and Giada would choose to mentor in the same way?

Check out this behind-the-scenes video of Alton, Bobby and Giada comparing their mentoring styles and discussing the pros and cons of their approaches to the season.

Tell us: Who do you think was the best mentor?

Be sure to tune in to the finale on Sunday at 9pm/8c to see who you chose to be Food Network’s newest star.

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Comments (458)

  1. sadie says:

    I agree with everyone else I love Alton Brown. Giada was no help to anyone on her team. I do not think they should have tried to keep the teams even numbered. Emily on Alton's team should have been one of the final four she was so different and I loved watching her. Bobby was a little better but not good as a teacher. Giada I could not stand to watch glad I have a DVR and can fast forward past her. Glad Justin won he was the best!

  2. Denise says:

    Alton was a far better mentor. Giada's team was so surgary sweet and goody goody it almost gave me a toothache. Bobby's was the opposite plus they had no personality. And Michelle and Nikki got on my nerves. They were so fake. Now that I think of it, Giada's didn't have personality either. Alton's was the only team who seemed like real people. The other two teams seemed like they were made from the same mold.

  3. flemke says:

    Alton. He had two people in the final. His team rocked. Justin was just the best all the way through. I love Bobby and watch him on just about any show he's on. Giada drives me nuts. I never watch her show. She irritates the hell out of me on this show. I honestly don't understand what her appeal is. Seriously.

  4. Sharie says:

    I love Giada. She reminds me of a mother lion encouraging her cubs to do their best while being extremely protective of them. She is a caring person who is genuinely happy for the success of her team members and sad when any one of them needed to leave. I find it very interesting that each coach selected team members that reflected their own personalities. Giada picked likable, happy, sweet personalities. I must admit my favorite was Ippy with the dynamite smile and cooking skills. I actually enjoyed his laid-back personality and would have learned a lot from him. Best wishes to all the coaches, finalists, and winner for doing a great job under very difficult circumstances.

  5. Food Network Fan says:

    I have to agree with many people on the fact that Alton was by FAR the best mentor. He truly seemed to care about everyone on his team and I think he really helped them to grow and find out who they were as a chef. Also, I enjoyed how he seemed to be having fun during the show. He had a good healthy balance on knowing when to be jokeing around and when he needed to get serious and get the job done. Bobby disapointed me. I think he is a good cook but he lacked emotion and heart in this compotition. It might have been the best thing for his team but it made watching him and his team very dull and boring. Giada, I think people are being a little harsh on her. Yes, I do think she has many quirks like coming of as fake wearing too many short skirts, doesn't make her a mean person who deserves all the hate she has gotten. On that note, I DO think she was the weakest mentor because she was too much cheerleader not enough mentor. She also played favorite. I liked Ippy and Martita, but if she had spent more time with Josh or Linkie maybe they could have gotten that push they needed to become a better contestent. I did enjoy this season of NFNS and I am looking forward to Justins show when It comes out!!

  6. ABG 4 ME says:

    I'll agree with the rest of the population, Alton really cared about his team. He was the only mentor to turn his weakest link [ Who was Marty] Around into a finalist. Alton really did care and was like a father. When it came to his strongest players in the finals, Justin, the rebel that you can't help but loving, and Marty, The former rambling weak link but now as perfect as apple pie, Alton cried. No one loved their competitors as much to cry. Giada didn't cry when Ippy was sent home. Bobby didn't cry when Nikki was sent home. And, what did Alton receive for his awesome mentoring? Both of his final finalists were sent to the finale. GO TEAM ALTON!

  7. Food Fan says:

    BOBBY picked good cooks, but his people lacked personality.
    GIADA picked people I liked right away in the very beginning (Ippy, Martita & Linkie).
    ALTON is the best Mentor with the most useful advice, but his people didnt appeal to me, except Emily who I really liked! Martie was a remarkable improvement. But not the others. I liked Emily for her solid kitchen skills, playfulness and cute nostalgia. Not because of nerdiness. Quirkiness, is like a Habenero pepper. Go lite.

  8. carmen says:

    Alton Brown: Excellent mentor! It's no secret Alton Brown is an effective teacher as well as mentor! He's the best! Just a note, Marty lacked way too much confidence on camera.

    Bobby Flay: Mediocre mentor. He chose people with incredible cooking skills, but I think it ended there since none of his team members seemed camera ready/friendly throughout the season, and they didn't bring a uniqueness to the table as Alton's team did. Michele was a good competitor but I think she needed to be refined. As far as coaching, I believe he did a good job, but when you compare his mentor ability to Alton's it is mediocre. Although Nikki continued to improve throughout the season, I don't think she found the right balance or sincerity on camera, and I think she lingered on too long in the season (only) because of her improvement.

    Giada D: Terribly rude and discouraging!!!! Giada is very repetitive on her show and uses empty words to fill time, and therefore I am already not a fan so my opinion may be bias. The woman doesn't spark excitement (even with all the pom-pom talk) in me, she was rude to those who needed encouragement the most which is a big no-no for any teacher/mentor, and she seemed to confuse poor Ippy (and me) when mentoring him.

  9. Mercy in WIsconsin says:

    Giada needs to lose the low-cut dresses and the too-short skirts. She erodes her credibility and the credibility of the network, and she should want people to focus on her food and culinary expertise versus how cute she is. Alton is genius and really cares--he was perfection. Bobby knows his stuff and cares too and is the consummate professional. All of the finalists deserve to be finalists. I do hope the others get their own shows or are featured in future shows. They are all very interesting to watch. Great season!

  10. Food Fan says:


    Sooo many, many people wrote-in and posted their frustrations and recommendations this year. Let's hope that Food Network keeps and uses "the BIG Emily thread" with over 1030 posts and also the thread about Which-Contestant-would-you-most-like-to-see-brought-back? USE that excellent feedback that so many have given! The viewers have spoken loud and clear:

    1. NO More Teams! Everyone against everyone is better, like older seasons.
    2. No "rescuing" of a bad performer just cuz the rest of their team did good.
    3. No more sending a good candidate home just to keep all teams even.
    4. LOTS of people said they DONT CARE about "stories."
    5. Respect Privacy. Stop with all the tell-us-who-you-are. We can read their bio.
    6. Stop giving Cooks advice and then criticizing them for following it.
    7. Stop Confining & Restricting people to ONLY their narrow iron-clad POV. Let them show range and breadth of talent.
    8. Let people be themselves as long as not too loud/dull/hyper/weird.
    9. Dont send an otherwise great person home for just one bad night.
    10. But a maximum of 2 times in the pitch room. Keeping Nikki and Martita so long this season was just too much.

    Those are the big-ones! Cut-n-paste, print, and keep on the office desk. (grin).
    Refer back to the original threads.
    If these are practiced next year, things will be better for sure.