Star Exclusive: The Winner’s First Interview by Sarah De Heer in Food Network Star, July 22, 2012
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Justin Warner, Team Alton's rebel with a culinary cause, is our new Food Network Star! Just moments after the curtain fell to reveal his face beside Alton's, Bobby's and Giada's on the wall of esteemed Food Network talent, we caught up with Justin to hear his reaction to this life-changing win.
Justin, if you had to describe in one word the feeling you had right before they announced the winner, what would it be?
What's something you took away from this experience?
JW: I realized I have a strong desire to teach people. I never knew that until I saw the reaction of fans in the audience and on Twitter. I say to myself, "Wow! They trust me with that?" Because a year and a half ago, I didn't even know how to cook. To now be an authority on these things, at least in some people's eyes, it's amazing and I'll never forget that.
You and Alton have a very special relationship. It seems as if you're his protégé — you even used a clip from Good Eats in your pilot. How does that make you feel?
JW: First and foremost, it's an incredible weight put on me. Alton said, "You have the ability to represent a brand I created and take it further." To have that blessing was a paternal push I'd never felt before. Like, here, baby bird, go. It's an incredible honor, truthfully.
When you first started this competition, did you set out to create a show like that or was that something you two decided at the end of your process?
JW: Well, I'm a big fan of Good Eats because he tells you how to practically cook things. But as you can see, I'm not a very practical person. The idea though is that I've used a lot of those concepts to create the foundations of the things at my restaurant and in my life. For example, I'll take something that is normal and I'll go wild with it. To have the definite answer for normal in a decidedly abnormal, but revolutionary show, which is Good Eats — to have that as a starting point is nuts.
After the curtain fell to the ground and you saw your portrait on the wall with other Food Network stars like Guy and Rachael, how did you feel?
JW: I felt like the new software was being installed. It's not just a new chapter; it's like a new book. It's like a series you thought would never be picked up — I have no idea what I felt like! This is something I believe in, but I didn't know other people believed in it as strongly as I did. When you're a rebel, you never expect anyone to go with you on a cause, but I think this was the right time and the right place.
What do you have to say to all your fans out there who voted for you?
JW: Thanks for the support. I have the best fans, especially on Twitter. They're so funny, cool and so creative — one even made a rap video about me. There are Tumblrs out there about me cooking. I never would have thought this was possible.
Check out the the full exclusive video of our interview with Justin and conversations with runners-up Martie, Yvan and Michele. Plus, check out the final four Star Scrapbooks and flip through the best moments of the finale.
Questions for Justin? Chat with the winner himself in a live Facebook chat TODAY at 3pm EST.
What did you think about Justin's big win? Share your thoughts on the finale in the comments.