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While most will be enjoying a summer full of weekend road trips, lazy afternoons by the pool and casual evening cookouts, 12 hopeful finalists on Food Network Star will be facing off in the ultimate multi-month job interview for a chance to earn the most-coveted career in the culinary industry: hosting their own Food Network show.
The ninth season of this life-changing competition is set to start on Sunday, June 2 at 9pm/8c, when contenders will travel to Los Angeles to begin an 11-week journey, complete with all-new Mentor and Star Challenges, surprise chef guests and on-location demands. For the finalists, simply showing off advanced cooking chops or shining camera-ready smiles won't be enough. If they want to survive weekly eliminations, they'll have to work their way to the coveted Star sweet spot, demonstrating both a mastery of the kitchen and an effortless television charm.
Alton Brown, Bobby Flay and Giada De Laurentiis will be back to mentor the contestants through each phase of the competition, but this season they're doing so from across the judges' table as members of the selection committee. Food Network executives Bob Tuschman and Susie Fogelson will be on hand, as well, praising and critiquing hopefuls in an effort to discover the next fresh face of the network. Focus groups will also be invited to challenges, not just to watch what goes down, but to share their reviews with Alton, Bobby and Giada — and impact judging. For the first time this season, one finalist will be brought back after elimination for another chance at victory.
While the selection committee must decide who stays and who goes each week, it will be up to you — Star fans — to choose who will ultimately be your next Food Network Star. Just like last year, there will be a live finale fan vote to determine the winner at the end of the season, when you'll have the chance to support your favorite finalist by voting for him or her to take the win.
Meet the Season 9 competitors below, then check out the Food Network Star headquarters for more insider coverage of the show all season long.
Andres Guillama (Waynesville, N.C.)
Chad Rosenthal (Ambler, Penn.)
Chris Hodgson (Cleveland)
Connie “Lovely” Jackson (Los Angeles)
Damaris Phillips (Louisville, Ky.)
Daniela Perez-Reyes (Haleiwa, Hawaii)
Danushka Lysek (New York)
Nikki Dinki (New York)
Rodney Henry (Baltimore)
Russell Jackson (San Francisco)
Stacey Poon-Kinney (Spring Valley, Calif.)
Viet Pham (Salt Lake City)