Star Exclusive: The Winner’s First Interview

by in Food Network Star, July 22, 2012

Justin Warner and Alton BrownJustin 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?

JW: Nuts.

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.

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Comments (1,358)

  1. evelyn says:

    what happened to martie she was a finalist

    • Rob says:

      They told her she didn't have enough votes about 15 minutes into the Finale.

      • ArubaBetty says:

        Did they actually say she didn't have enough votes or that she was just eliminated? I wish they had actually given the vote counts.

        • Keith says:

          true I dont think we will ever see all the final vote counts. They way they told her right at the beginnig of the show was terrible. While I think everyoen knew that she wasnt going to be the winner, Why WHY WHY did thye take delite in only telling Marti that she was not the winner. Why not wait till the end and do a slow elimination like fourth, third then give the winner between te final two or just wait till the end and give th ewinner. Somehow I dont think FN will ever publish the actual totals for each finalist. And why not make it so each caller got one vote. One person one vote. Not everyone is internet savy or has free time during the day to make multible votes and email accounts.

          • David H. Braun says:

            Notice they did NOT say Martie had the lowest vote count, just that she didn't win. They have made artificial efforts to keep the teams balanced throughout. I'm confident Martie was 2nd, only behind Justin, which is right where she was the last week online vote percentages were still shown. Michelle was far, far lower. Food Network did not want to have the embarrassment of having one mentor eliminated completely, while another had two protégés left. Since Martie had the 2nd most votes, it was really unfair to have her be the only one explicitly eliminated. If they weren't going to go 4,3,2,1, they should have just announced the winner, without eliminating anyone first.

          • Henly5 says:

            They DID say Martie came in the lowest of the votes. Nothing against her but I'm not surprised at all. She seems super nice but she's not a professionally trained cook and didn't seem to have the expertise.

            I don't think there was any rigging going on. If the judges didn't want Martie in the mix, they didn't have to allow her to do a pilot. Originally they were only going to do 3 pilots and she was not one of them... remember?

          • kat says:

            I meant to give you a thumbs up and I accidentally gave you a thumbs down. I'm sorry. It's the device I use-too small!

        • ann says:

          I doubt we will ever see the vote counts, and if they did reveal them, it's what they say the count was. I believe they look at the vote counts and then pick using that as only one of their criteria.

      • Mary says:

        Now there's a surprise....NOT.

    • Pat says:

      Oh for cryin' out loud, of course she was eliminated because of the lowest vote counts from 4.5 million viewers. Don't you folks pay attention?

    • Jeff B says:

      They just could not wait to even up the teams again.

    • SusieSez says:

      Martie was great. I was really pulling for her.

  2. nana131 says:

    I can't wait to see his first show!!!

  3. nana131 says:

    Team Justin!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  4. Angela H. says:

    I am incredibly excited by the results. I voted for Justin and hoped for his success in the competition. Anyone who can redefine food and cooking is much needed in an oft saturated genre.

    • Tom says:

      There was no accountability. We were not shown any breakdown of the votes. It was rude how they eliminated Martie.

      • Henly5 says:

        I don't agree. Thought it was great of the judges to allow her to do a pilot in the first place, considering there was only supposed to be 3 finalists.

  5. NancyMz says:

    I wasn't surprised but relieved finally to see him named. I just hope that he does the best of his ability to grow into a great chef and make the right choices in his life from here forward!

  6. Kat says:

    Yea!! Hoping it was Justin or Martie....don't think I could have watched the other two.

  7. Claire Miller says:

    Congratulations! I wish you great success and am anxious to see your show!

  8. AllyB says:

    Thrilled to see someone as smart, creative, and interesting as Justin win!! He's one of those rare people on TV that makes cooking fun and entertaining. I love and appreciate the intricate cerebral aspect of his process and am just really looking forward to his show :D

  9. Mike says:

    Ever since Melissa won I stopped watching. She is a habitual liar.

    • msharris2u says:

      Just curious ...why do u say this? Not that I'm a fan, I think she does decent for a Home Cook. Like I said, just curious about ur comment...

    • Shannon says:

      If you are referring to her claims that her meals are "under $10" I agree, not sure where she shops or how she does her math. If you break all of her ingredients down to the portions she uses it may come in close to $10..but to stock all the ingredients and buy in bulk to make the math work out you would be paying a fortune!!!

    • Tina C says:

      $10. NOT! I have tried several of her supposible $10 meals and it can't be done

      • Deanna says:

        Ugh. Don't say supposible.. Please.

        • Jerilee says:

          Don't worry about it, it's not a real word. She probably ment supposed, and it can be done, in most areas. You have to buy in bulk (family packs) and on sale. But I have to admit, with prices going up, it's getting more difficult. Here in CA our economy is in big trouble and good stuff on sale is hard to come by. If you befriend the meat cutter at your grocer he can tell you when to get th bet begins. Most put "sell by" on special. Should have replie to Tina C. But sme info for LL.

        • Dylan Moran says:

          Ugh. Don't be a grammar Nazi .. Please.

        • renee says:

          how many times can I click on the thumbs up? Only once. too bad because I am laughing so hard at your post.

      • Victoria says:

        It's true her meals are more then 10 bucks....but I started trying her recipes and love the results. I learn something new from each show. Didn't care for her at first but now I am becoming a fan.

      • Mary says:

        The key is to buy the meat when it is on sale and keep certain items in stock.

        • chitarra10 says:

          The thing about Melissa D'Arabian's show is that it's all about cooking for a family out of a fully-equipped, well-stocked, large-sized kitchen. That's not really a show that I personally can get anything out of. I would love to see them come up with a show that's more directed towards someone like me: the broke, single girl with a hardly-equipped, practically empty kitchen that's the same size as the bathroom... I would DVR every single episode of a show like that... X-)

          • Mary says:

            Buy everything on sale - read the food ads - the same foods will go on sale about the same time the item runs out in your home. It is a matter of what you want to do and believe you can do. I buy shrimp for $10 a pound from an upscale grocery store on sale, normally cost 18 a pound. The flavor of this shrimp is like the shrimp in a restaurant. Yummy.

          • Smoke_alarm says:

            I agree. I wish they would show up at someone's house (like yours), look in the pantry and fridge, and then show you how to make something decent and surprising. I eat for less than $5 a day. I'd like for them to show me what they could do with that.

          • Mamie says:

            But then why would anyone watch someone making PB&J sandwiches all the time? LOL!!

        • SKWOW says:

          To stay within the ten dollar constraints of her recipes, you need to shop where she does... 1975.

    • Foodie says:

      The Food Network had the idea for her show. That was not her idea.

      • Keith says:

        So? Alton gave JUstin his show ideas, Gidia practicly wrote Yvan a script for his pilot. . He had a different POV at first. That is what the FN producers do.

        • winnie says:

          Justin originally came in with his idea of "Rebel with a Cause"; Alson didn't create that for him but he did give him an idea for his final pilot.

      • cherrycooks says:

        That's right, and thanks for your post. I watched FNS faithfully that season, liked Melissa, and voted for her. Ms. D'Arabian's POV did not include "cooking on a budget". She promised to educate viewers on the cuisines that she had experienced while living abroad and offer helpful advice on how to recreate these dishes at home. I looked forward to her cooking show but was disappointed with rudimentary approach that the "Ten Dollar Dinner" format imposed on Melissa. I watched a few episodes and felt like she was talking to elementary school students! Definitely not the cooking show that I expected from someone who literally had a "world" of experience to share with her audience.

        • LazyCook says:

          That is exactly right...she won the competition based on HER POV, which she displayed consistently all the way through, so I was shocked when FN announced her first show and it's title. Sandra Lee was already doing basically the same idea. It didn't have any relation to who Melissa was throughout the competition, and I think she was probably as disappointed about that as I was. However, she wasn't going to look to look a gift horse in the mouth. I feel the "$10" part has changed because of the economy, and the producers need to take responsibility for making Melissa's work meet those parameters.

          • cherrycooks says:

            Pairing Melissa with Sandra Lee in the hour of budget-minded cooking has likely given Ms. D'Arabian the necessary boost to keep her show going as long as it has and the opportunity to have a companion cookbook for "Ten Dollar Dinners". I'm sure that Melissa has a fan base of young people who are just starting to cook, young mothers who identify with the TV personality, or older folks who enjoying cooking but have limited means. I would have appreciated the show when I was much younger and on a budget.

    • guest45 says:

      It's absurd to blame the talented, charming Melissa for the idiocy of her employers, who always have to add a gimmick to everything. Melissa is a great, creative cook who also tries to offer balanced, healthy meals. Her shopping tips can save people money. Prices are usually a regional issue anyway. Maybe where Melissa lives, she can feed four people for about ten dollars. I can come pretty close, and I live in a far more expensive area.

      • Mary says:

        Jeffrey should have won, NOT Melissa. Can't stand her or her show. Same with stupid Aarti party. What a dumb title.

        • Crazy Chef says:

          I agree Jeff should have won but Melissa is doing a great job with the style the F.N. stuck her in! We love her meals and the food tips just keep on coming! We'd like to see more people like her on the F.N..... There are way too many reruns on these days and let's face it, it's boring!

      • beanbunny says:

        Ok Guest45 - Talented - She has no Talent - Charming - Have you seen her at an event she thinks South Beach food Festival is Beneath her - 2011 she attend with some friends and I was next to her when all she did was Complain about everything and every one - And you can tell that she has spent most of her money from the food network on Plastic Surgery! We almost stopped watching the Next Star after they picked her - She has nothing to teach - no skill!

        • cherrycooks says:

          I hadn't seen Ms. D'Arabian for a while but noticed on last night's "Chopped" that she has a new nose and something - filler or "lifting" - around her eyes.

          • Jerilee says:

            I just saw re-run. Didn't look that way to me. Her hair was pulled back, she didn't have her eyelashes on, and she wasn't in the make-up used for her show. I thought she looked "natural". Says a lot for the make-up crew, doesn't it!!

    • guest says:

      That's a lie.

    • Pat says:

      Oh Lord. With compelling comments such as yours, they should call this the Idiot Forum.

    • Marie says:

      What does she lie about?

    • Jenn says:

      How can u say she is a lair? She is a cook on tv

    • Maggie says:

      I totally agree, she's also got a cocky attitude and her food sucks

    • Crazy Chef says:

      Sorry, I don't see it? The F.N. put her in a show she didn't want to begin with, she wanted to do something much different then ten dollar meals! Depending on what part of the country you live in, maybe you can't make her dinners for $ 10.00...... I think she fooled everyone and is doing a "GREAT" job with what she has! My wife and I have made dozens of her meals and have only found two that we wouldn't make again. That's because of our tastes, not her recipe's. Get used to her as we think she'll be on the Network for a long time to come! Try her meals then you can say something. I doubt you've cooked any or maybe one or two and made up your mind she's a liar. That is simply not true and pretty rude to boot. There is no reason to be that way. If you don't like someone's cooking you can be a bit more diplomatic in your choice of words!

    • Mary1 says:

      Her new book should be sold for $10

    • Lela says:

      I do like her show and I watch it often but I'm curious to know why you call her a liar....
      Thanks Mike....

  10. KALI says:


    • wampler1 says:

      I was rooting for Yvan. I do, however, wish Justin well.

      • MoHub says:

        I was totally on Team Michele, but I'm hoping she made enough of an impression to get a Cooking Channel travelogue-type show similar to Jeffrey Saad's United Tastes of America in which she can travel New England and feature regional dishes—and not just seafood, either.

    • hola says:

      I'm glad you were able to vote i dont have facebook augh!

      • Ivy Lucas says:

        Your not alone...I guess I'M getting old...don't have facebook....but is that fair ? Were watching , not just facebook people !!!!! I wrotte the network and they "kind"of agreed with me will it change so the people that watch can vote ???? I don't think so. IFL