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. Renée says:

    I have to say that my image of Alton had gone down in recent years but it went way back up as a result of this season and I found myself loving him again. His relationship with Justin is very cute and genuinely mentor/pupil-ish. It was touching to watch!

    This season only made Giada look like a mom on "Toddlers and Tiaras". Her of the way too short skirt and the 425,000 tooth grimace only served to make me like her even less than I already did. All she could do was go rah, rah and flash the teeth. That to me was not mentoring.

    Bobby? This show made him look like a stiff. I thought he had a little more warmth in him. I get it that he's a New Yorker, so am I, but he's just too gruff at times. I like Bobby but this show didn't make me loooove him. I do like Michelle, so at least he gave her to us.

    Alton's team was my favorite. In the beginning it really looked like Tuschie and Suse were biased against him, and I've read that he felt that way too. I said, "Watch, one of his people will WIN!" and it looks like I'm going to be right. Justin for the WIN!!! And bring back EMILY too!

    • Stinky says:

      Giada looked HOT this season (as she always does) and it's laughable to see all the fat women on this blog who are jealous of her gorgeous figure, her stunning smile, her beautiful hair, and her bountiful br--... er, uh, chest.

      • Sumay says:

        Your tag name seems to be reflective of your personality. Talk about making generalizations!

      • Renée says:

        Excuse me but I am better looking than Giada!!!

      • Renée says:

        You know I'm sick and tired of men telling me I'm "just jealous" of Giada. I have no reason to be jealous of her or anyone. I am pretty and have never had any lack of male attention, plus II am smart and confident in myself and what I'm worth. I don't give a fig how Giada looks, I just don't like her. First of all, she's grotesque, not pretty at all. Plus she has an eating disorder and she thinks she's all that when in fact she is not half what she thinks she is. I love a lot of female personalities and think they're beautiful, but I can separate the bitches from the nice women. If you weren't thinking with the wrong head you'd notice what a high maintenance princess Giada really is. But some men just love bitches, what can I say?

        • Stinky says:

          If that's the case, you would have a lot more men in love with you.

        • Bystander says:

          Talk about being stuck on yourself! You should seek professional help! Take a course in GRAMMER while your at it.

        • Stinky says:

          Wow. You would actually attack someone for having an eating disorder? That's really low.

          • [undisclosed] says:

            And you would actually attack someone you've never seen before for being "fat?" That's even lower. Like ninth bolgia low.

          • Stinky says:

            I disagree. The weight comments were to prove a point: they were "catty" in their comments about Giada, attacking her appearance. I gave them a taste of their own medicine. Hopefully, (although not likely) these people will understand how it feels to be subjected to such shallow scrutiny and may (again unlikely) learn to voice their opinions in a more civilized manner.

            However, an eating disorder is a disease. To attack someone with such a disease as though it were a reflection of their character is, indeed, lower.

            Of course, trying to stand up for such a deed (as you just did) is just as low. How you can justify the attacking of an eating disorder victim certainly says a lot about your character.

          • Anonymouse says:

            Oh give me a break, like Giada isn't shallow enough to deserve such comments about her. I find it revealing that no one denies that she has an eating disorder. I think she needs help. I think it is amazing that people would still think she's so great if she indeed does have an eating disorder.

          • Stinky says:

            So if she has an eating disorder, then she deserves to be hated on?

            She asked for it?

            Do you understand that an eating disorder is a disease, not a choice?

            Don't you have some crippled kids to toss into traffic?

          • Sumay says:

            IMHO - if a person has an eating disorder - and I could be wrong - it would be brought on by the unrealistic expectations of people in society who expect people in the spotlight (and out of the spotlight really - heard anyone throw around the word heifer a few times in the comments) to be absolutely perfect in every way.

            I don't know if she has an eating disorder or not - I don't have an insatiable desire to prove something that I absolutely know nothing about. However, if she does - I feel sorry for her. I wonder if all this "constructive criticism" is going to help the issue.

          • Stinky says:

            OK, I apologize for the heifer remark. I never meant to be so insensitive and insulting to the bovine community.

      • jayceedavis says:

        Speak for yourself Stinky. I am calling Giada as the way I view her. I never said that she didn't have a nice body or lovely hair or can extol the virtues of a push up bra. But I don't judge the people that I like to watch on those qualities. I go to the Food Network to learn something about cooking from someone that I enjoy looking at. Giada's fake Italian accent is a turn off. Her smile while it is clean and huge, well I think she would do better hawking tooth whitening products than food. On this season she overly favored Martita, while I can't claim that all posting here agree with that, a huge percentage agrees. So everyone that feels she didn't do well mentoring, but should get the kudos because of her dress, body and breasts? I think that says more about you than us. /two cents

        • Stinky says:

          You miss the point. All of you fatties hate her for the way she looks, but get angry when people love her for the way she looks. Works both ways. But for the Thunder Thighs Brigade, the truth is harder to swallow than those donuts.

          • kat says:

            I would say that I likeGiada in some ways, but not others. She often comes across as phony to me. I agree that she is attractive and has an almost perfect figure, but I think her cleavage exposure on her regular show is way overboard. It's not a jealousy issue, it's a character issue. As my daughters get older, I would be concerned about the message they are getting (I'm not a feminist, but I do want my daughters to grow up to respect themselves). If she wore a shirt like that once, that would be one thing, but to wear it everyday tells me she is trying to sell more than good recipes and a sunny disposition! However, on NFNS, I dont remember seeing her dress inappropriately. Just my two cents. I think if FN and HGTV brand themselves as family networks, they should realize that families are struggling to find safe havens in a sea of vulgarity.

        • Sanita says:

          Giada spent her early childhood in Italy. So much for the fake accent. Do your homework first!!!

          • cherrycooks says:

            Giada has been living in southern California since the age of five. Giada was educated in the states, and she doesn't use the accent other than to overenunciate Italian foods and ingredients. I've seen Giada in interviews and TV gigs other than Food Network shows, and she has no trace of an accent.

          • Stinky says:

            You mean she uses actual Italian words to describe Italian food?

            That's insane!!!!

            She should be fired!

      • bat says:

        you have NO clue as to who is fat abd who is not, You're just star struck with Giada because she's attractive

        • Stinky says:

          Then, by your logic, it would also be true that no one is star struck on you because you are not attractive?

    • FranIrwin says:

      I have always felt that Giada "talks down" to viewers and is a bit simplicstic in her recipes, many of which may be "classic" Italian American but which lack imagination. Of course, she is a beautiful woman and perhaps a good addition for many male viewers to this Season. Cooking wise, she certainly is NOT one of my favs on the Network.

    • Coco says:

      Yes, Giada's miniskirts have to go, along with the big phony smile. She seems very creepy to me.

    • @PamelaGrow says:

      Agree. I have actually always loved Alton. I did wonder, though, about his health. He looked rather drained and peaked during the entire season.

  2. Food Fan says:

    Alex, yes.
    Marc Conant is too much overbearing and abrupt (too much like a Robert DeNiro wannabe).
    Alton is better as a Mentor than a Judge. As a judge he could just ask some off-the-wall encyclopedic question that he *knows* the cook wont be able to answer, then play that up to the hilt and eliminate whoever he wants over it. Too arbitrary. His Mentoring with the this-is-good, this-is-bad, here's what you need now, is much better.
    Wolfgang Puck would make a good food judge, with Alex. Ane either Melissa or Robert Irvine as a food Judge.
    Not Anne Burrell. She is more for professional chefs and fancy restaurants. (Besides, every time i think of her, al i can hear is: yer givin' me a heart attack! or, yer makin' me nervous! Pffft. Keep her for the Iron Chefs, not here. Some contenders havent been to culinary school and are self-taught. People like that can still make incredibly tasty dishes.

    • Marla says:

      I think you mean Scott Conant and I agree that he doesn't come across as a teacher/mentor. My suggestion was Marc Murphy.

      • Food Fan says:

        Scott Conant. Not Mark.
        Still dont think he's the guy to do it. Too domineering and abrupt.

    • FOOD FAN from Maine says:

      It's Scott Conant, not Marc. He wasn't even a judge. Seriously, did you watch this episode? Anne Burrell isn't a bad person, but when judging amateurs, I don't think she's cut out for the job. ALex G, yes. Good Chopped judge.

    • Diamondf Chef says:

      Anne oversalts everything, and it was lame that she reffered to "her husband" often on her show when she is gay.

  3. Stinky Cheese says:

    Alton, he cried the most on the show and there were a few moments the tears looked real.

    • Payback! says:

      Yeah. You are stinky. No reason for his tears to be fake.

      • Stinky Cheese says:

        Hello, I was comenting he looked real. Uh, thats called a compliment. The only cheese that stinks is that not all the chefs will because they each did a fine job.

        • Payback! says:

          Then please accept my apologies Stinky Cheese. Sincerely. In this case, I was the stinky one. and I stand corrected. My mistake in misunderstanding your comments about his tears.

          • BeeGee says:

            I misunderstood Stinky's comment also. Stinky said "there were a few moments the tears looked real". To me that sounded like he meant most of the time they were not real. I'm glad he meant it as a compliment and told us so.

    • pearl kelley says:

      I didn't find his tears fake. He reminded me of my Daddy when I finished college.

  4. diane leroux says:

    Yep I have to say I'm with Alton all the way. Bobby well he knows he's good and he picked the people like him. They were good and they knew they had that attitude about them wich is good most of the time, but we are ordianry people and were not perfect. Giada De Laurentiis well she expected pefection from her team and it didn't seemed that she always had paitence with her team. Alton seemed to want his whole team to win he took every loss to heart and it showed. Alton mentored each one and he really saw there best qualities and he brought those qualities out for us to see.

    • cjcal says:

      I agree (and had not thought about this before) that Giada expected perfection. Or maybe she did not expect to spend a lot of time and energy "fixing" the weaknesses in her team members? And, yes, it seemed like Alton wanted his whole team to win.

  5. cvahess says:

    I loved Justin, Martie and Emily and I would have wanted to be mentored by Alton.

  6. Shari Johnson says:

    Alton Brown makes food fun and entertaining !! I love his History lessons. Loved Emily & Justin. They had their POV'S from the start.

  7. FOOD FAN from Maine says:

    Bobby Flay is BOR-ING! "If you can't cook you can't be on my team" Pftt. ALton and Giada know what they are doing.

  8. Crazy Chef says:

    Did you take into consideration that it takes a week to film a one hour show and they edit it down to what the "F.N." wants you to see? For those of you who have nothing better to do than dish dirt about the Mentors and the Contestants I guess you are all "Perfect", right? This show is meant to find the next F.N. Chef, it's not a dirt-dishing show that so many people on these blogs seem determined to turn it into! I liked it better when we all talked about the "FOOD" they made and if we were going to try it ourselves! Some of us traded tips and it was fun, this is not fun and the comments are just outright rude! This is not what this blog is for! Wake up those of you who can't get into the real idea of the show and remember this is a cooking show!!! This isn't aimed at any one person and I'm not sure who's comment this will end up on as there are so many comments between where I clicked in and where this is going?

    • Spice Girl says:

      I agree with you Crazy Chef! This year things have really gotten out of hand on this BLOG! I too liked it better when we talked about the food and traded tips. It was fun but sorry, get real, things change and in this case for the worse! Too Bad!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    • Food Fan says:

      I agree when you said: "I liked it better when we all talked about the "FOOD" they made and if we were going to try it ourselves!"
      Justin's food, its very unlikely I'd wanna eat it.
      Ippy's, I would have loved to try!
      I'd love to have Michelle make some pan-fried razor clams and a bowl of oyster stew.
      I'd like to have Yvan make two seperate South American dinners, to see what I've been missing.
      I thinking I would loved most anything at all that Emily would have made.
      And I'd like tell Martie to make me a party-platter with three different yummy things, finger-food or whatever.

      But I think a big reason we didnt have more Food discussion is: alot of attention this year was on the Mentors (too much. Good as it was...) and not enough on the individual people, although everything got talked about.
      I think if we can lose the TEAM format next year, that will also help cut down so much focus on mentoring and more on each Cook.

      • Sumay says:

        Unfortunately I did not participate last year - that is sad that things have become the way they are. I also notice a lot of negativity that isn't even necessary.

    • Payback! says:

      Good for you Chef, and you ain't Crazy!

      The jokes and complaints about Justins skin and Giadas smile, Nikkis eyebrows--so uncalled for, and unnecessary.

      Not many posting can probably honestly say he or she is gorgeous or totally handsome and certainly none of us are perfect.

    • Mona says:

      It's been hard this year to talk about the food......this year has been more about the mentors, contestants having a personal story and how to keep the teams even......unfortunately very little about FOOD. Isn't cooking FOOD and teaching someone how to make it what the show is about??
      I have made negative comments and I stand behind everyone of them that I have made, sometimes I give an explanation, sometimes I don't owe anyone a reason for my opinion.
      I think this was a horrible season and the team format didn't work! I also think it was a CHEAP shot to keep Justin and Martie.

  9. Ippy Fan says:

    Yes, Ina. She gets laid back. And even though Robert is super hyper active on his shows, he knows a good chef when he sees one. This is what Robert tweeted about Ippy's food: "Loved ippy's dish tasted awesome"

  10. tristinsgram says:

    I think what bothers me the most, is the total difference in the blog, from some of the previous years. Boggers used to interact with each other, learning where others were coming from (sorry bad grammar), making friendships, etc. Used to be blogs abour where they were at in the cooking world. Some were teenagers, some were chefs, some were doing their own cooking thing. With it all, we were discussing the potential of the contestants. Now no discusion, just every one either trashing or for the contestant. The mentors was a really bad idea. So I like a specific mentor, that doesn't mean I like their contestants. The mentors shouldn't matter!

    • Food Fan says:

      I agree.
      While I am ALWAYS grateful for replies (even if they dont always agree), it seems like this year its more like people just say: I like whoever (and thats it). Or very little else.
      Some people give reasons WHY they like someone, or HOW someone is bad, or WHAT makes someone good in the writer's eyes-- and I'm always very happy to see anything specific!

      I'm betting the network is, too. If we all want them to "listen to their viewers" then lets TELL them something more than: "_____ is best" (and no reason at all) or ______ sucks (and no reason at all). Thats about as useful as Mud. Being Vague sucks!

      I like a bit more back-n-forth replies between people in posts. It doesnt have to be vicious. It doesnt even have to be a heated argument. More like to friends havin' a cold beer and relaxing and just sharing ideas/thoughts about the Cooks, who did good, how...and who did badly, and why. I'm betting if you were "out with the girls" and all of you were talking about "so-n-so sucked and should be sent home", that the others in the group *would* ask you "what makes you say that?"--and most of us would sound-off and tell 'em. We wouldnt just say "they suck" and leave it at that with no reason. (in real life)...so why do so many do it here?

      Thankfully, there are many of us here who dont.
      And many people who are clear about why they feel the way they do.
      Those posts--are more enjoyable to read (and useful for the Network). "What do you think about ______", is NOT an attack...
      Again, people can say what they want, how they want, and I'm not in charge and I know it. Its Nice--to hear an enthusiastic: "_______ all the way!!!"....but i have a hard time believing that most folks reading something like that wouldnt immediately be a saying "OK, fine. You like 'em. And all of us reading have absolutely Zero idea why!)--(and neither do Bob & Susie if they are reading).
      I was very glad for all the many people who were clear and gave their opinions/feedback in "the BIG Emily-thread" about her, and POV, and Teams, and too-many-stories and all the rest. Lots of *informative* feedback. :-)

    • Sumay says:

      The commenting is getting to the point of being ridiculous. Some are just plain rude and it is totally unnecessary. I am more than happy to hear your thoughts about the show and the people who were in it - but do it with respect and be constructive. It's sad because perhaps some things said here can change the way the show is developed in the future - and instead of finding things useful - they are full of comments like "I like Giada because she wears short skirts." I'm sure she would be disappointed too - because she has way more to give than just that.

      I too agree that the mentors should NOT MATTER. When I was looking at the contestants - I focused on what they were bringing to the network and also if they were cooking something that I would want to cook. It should be based on food not as much on looks or who their mentor is. I truly liked different contestants under all of the three mentors.