A Letter to Damaris, from the Rebel

by in Food Network Star, August 13, 2013

Food Network Star Season 9 WinnerHey, Damaris,

As I'm sure Bob, Susie, Alton, Giada and Bobby have already done so, I'd like to be the sixth person to welcome you to the Food Network family. I'm sure you'll fit in quite nicely, as we are all really just a bunch of food-obsessed kooks who like to entertain and have a good time.

Having been through the process, I know exactly what it takes to get where you are, and you've got it. Your poise during the Chopped challenge led me to believe you were a contender. Your pilot really sealed the deal. Your sense of humor is a perfect fit for our audience, and your optimism and good vibes just leap from the screen. Your POV is as solid as it gets. It is who you are: a teacher, a romantic and someone who isn't afraid to sing Bonnie Tyler karaoke after just one drink. Congratulations on finding the sweet spot between all of those Damarises. Also, as a dude who was chastised for winning the home ec award in middle school, I appreciate you championing the idea that everyone should love to cook for each other.

Congratulations on also having the largest gain in Twitter followers since the start of the competition. Interacting with fans is the name of the game. I look forward to seeing your "blue check" soon.

So what else is in store for you? Lemme tell you this: everything.

From here you will begin the process of developing a show, creating your brand and figuring out exactly who Damaris is — but on very valuable paper. Jay-Z once said, "I'm not a business man; I'm a business, man." The same applies for you. Don't be afraid to make the most of your new career in TV and beyond. You showed no signs of fear during 11 episodes of grueling competition. It should be a cakewalk from here.

Just so you know, you are about to meet thousands of people who can't speak, simply because you are in front of them. You may have to pay someone to escort you to public events just to hold strangers' cell phones and take pictures of you with them. Note: Do not ask your significant other to do this task in order to save a couple bucks. Trust me, the results are not cute.

Oh, one more thing: We're doing a demo together at the New York City Wine & Food Festival in October. Text me so we can go over the details.

Best of luck — even though you won't need it,


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Comments (65)

  1. Carmen says:

    I love her personality but think that she should work on POV concept for her new show. I would rather watch her hang out with a group of girlfriends and be herself while cooking.

    • James says:

      God, no. Not that. I don't want Damaris to be just one more Giada or Trisha. They are already doing the friends/party thing. Let Damaris teach and let us enjoy a bit of humor, then we can have our own friends over.

      The party-on-the-show just distracts from her recipes and instruction, and her. But that's what we should focus on. Or--once (and only after) the dish is done, *then* go out on the deck outside or the dining room, etc. and show her with friends--but keep 'em all outta the kitchen and don't even show them til -after--the food is a finished product. (Just my opinion). She does have an awesome personality. I think she's gonna knock it outta the park. She just needs 5 or 6 episodes and America will see we've got a darn-good winner.

    • Bonnie R. says:

      Damaris shines on camera, and I'm sure that whatever show she presents on the Food Network will showcase her culinary talent. Since she's a culinary instructor, I'd like to see her do a similar type of show that was seen in her demo pilot. Congratulations, Damaris!!

      • Deb says:

        Shines on camera. How true. Weeks ago, people were saying that about Nikki and Stacey as if they were the only ones who could. Look at Damaris now. Authoritative, yet sweet.

    • @I_am_zeum says:

      Yea that sounds like a real hoot. call me when estrogen night is over.

  2. Ellen says:

    That's what almost every other Southern show does: cook with their girlfriends and throw parties. Giada does that too.

    • Donna says:

      I have a hard time learning when I watch Trisha. Too many cooks spoil the kitchen.

      Keep the focus on Damaris, and learning how to make her nice recipes. I don't tune-in to listen to someone else's girl-talk. If food is about connecting with people, then teach us how to make it and we will all connect just fine. And we'll be grateful to Damaris that she helped us do it. But not on the show. Her bringing a couple closer, like on Eat, Date, Love is ok. Just show the results at the very end. But not like what Trisha Yearwood is doing all the time.

  3. BillO says:

    Justin, maybe you can explain to her how you can win FNS and end up without a show. Better yet, maybe you can explain to us.

    • Cygnia says:

      Oh, she'll have a show. Young, blonde white Southern woman with a conventional mass-media friendly POV? Of COURSE FN will be rushing that to air ASAP! *rolls eyes*

      • Dori says:

        Darn right we will. With enthusiasm!
        She can relate to all ages.
        It's time all the tattooed, avant-garde, trendy folks realize that they don't have a monopoly on being cool or hip. A conventional cook with humor who can teach beats (stomps!) any "original" edgy, hip down-towner or anyone else with some "unique" far-out concept no one will recreate. Damaris is a breath of fresh air.

        • Rags_McTattershanty says:

          Uh, which channel are you watching, because I see nothing BUT conventional cooks on FN. Justin was a breath of fresh air.

          • Dori says:

            Applies more to those contenders on each season of Food Network Star who think they can or should win because of how unusual their concept is.

            The audience is not obligated to accept, want or even like, anyone's point of view at all just because it is unique or new. Anything can be new. But far too many new things that are offered are just strange. Not liking it does not mean the judges or the audience are bland, uneducated, not hip or behind the times. Being imaginative does not guarantee acceptance, not should it. A point of view must have a clear and obvious appeal. We should not have to be persuaded. If we need to be, then the appeal isn't there to begin with. If contenders want to push something new with appeal, then create better tasting flavors. Damaris has that appeal.

          • Rags_McTattershanty says:

            If you're referring specifically to FN Star contestants, then I see your point.

          • CVeraS says:

            Very well said!

      • Penelope says:

        Yeah, gotta be afraid of those bad-*ss blonde, white Southern women who look like most of the population. Frankly, I'm tired of tattoos and mohawks and all the weird looks that some of these chefs take on (particularly on Chopped). We live in a world where ugly people make themselves look uglier to be cool.

    • Bonnie R. says:

      I've also been wondering where is Justin's show. I saw one or two episodes of some show that Justin was on, a very long time ago, but he didn't do any of the cooking, and that's the type of program I thought he'd host. I thought that Alton was going to produce Justin's Food Network show. Hope something is in the works, since Justin is unique and creative. Happy that Damaris won and looking forward to seeing her on TV!!

  4. bel toro says:

    I said in a previous comment that "You Have What it Takes". I knew it weeks and weeks ago !!! Well the waiting is over and you are our next food network star ... I personally could not be happier for a lot of reasons.

    Some of my reasons are:

    Love that your a cooking instructor (oh, & Bobby Flay said you taught him something he didn't know ... WOW).

    You have a spectacular sense of humor, great personality and a genuine sweetness about you.

    Became better and better after each episode.

    Each challenge you could look in the camera without being afraid. I'm sure you were intimidated throughout the challenges, however, it hardly showed on camera.

    Cannot wait to see your shows and learn something new, rewarding and fun about cooking ... not a reality show ... as much as I like reality shows ... I personally watch FN to learn new recipes to cook and entertain for my family and friends. I tune in on BRAVO to see reality shows.

  5. Crouton40 says:

    So happy that the public chose Damaris Phillips as the winner! I did, too.
    For 4 good reasons:

    1. Excellent cook --great flavors, food always looks nice, wide range of food knowledge. She even gave Bobby Flay a tip on making Pimento cheese that he thanked her for in the finale.
    2. Fun Personality--she's sincere, funny, intelligent, outgoing.
    3. Good Teaching--I understand her. Simple, clear language. Informal kike yer best friend is teaching you to cook. Nice!
    4. No turn-off's for me---she's not conceited, dull monotone, loud-hyper, or freaky.

    Such a relief. Food network needs someone like her. She fits the criteria better than anyone else. Just give her a little time. When America see's her on TV, and finds out how good her recipes are, i think they're gonna love-her-to-pieces! And Food Network will be mighty-glad they have her on their team.

  6. Betty says:

    Blah blah blah blah

    Another predictable yet mundane end to an already predictable yet mundane process of selection.
    Come ON guys, go out into the world and find a new, unique and inviting and skilled person to be the next food network star. I'm so tired of these so called competitions to identfy someone interesting to put into a time slot on your network.

    Don't you remember how you found Rachel Ray, or even the recently departed Paula Deen. Each of the long standing favorites had something unique to offer.

    Your recent additions of this season last season are just disappointments.

    I believe Ten Dollar Dinners was the LAST good choice that's been made. You gotta go out and find a show that interests viewers because you SUCK at reality shows, really SUCK.

    • heather says:

      Gawd, you're so vague.
      Mundane? How? You didn't say.
      What is your idea of "unique"? You didn't say.

      Someone who mixes grape jelly, white onions, black licorice and crab meat and tries to convince us it's "cutting-edge" ? "Unique" has become far too much like cooking out of a Chopped-basket. People don;t cook that way. But we keep getting contenders who try to convince we need to "broaden our horizons" (cough, cough) and embrace "the wave of the future." Yea, right. One gimmick-concept after another. And no matter how out-there it is, we're all supposed to like it just because it's "new." So glad the voters finally chose Sanity with Damaris this year. Who says conventional can't be cool? She's going to be very popular.

      • Penelope says:

        Thank you - I'm not into weird food - I just like food that tastes good that I'm not afraid to eat. Seriously.

    • SheriLyne says:

      Of all the contestants, Viet was the only one who could teach the viewers something of interest-Vietnamese food. Demaris's POV- Southern food with a twist- sounds like Bobby Deen's show. You also have Trisha Yearwood and the Neeleys cooking Southern food. Demaris acted so juvenile that she didn't come across as a food authority. Betty was right about Melissa D'Arabian being the last good winner of this contest. It seems that the original contestants were chosen because because they had "goofy" personalities, were overly dramatic, or were in some way controversial. Get off to a better start next year.

    • MoltoMissy says:

      Agree with you about Melissa D'Arabian. She was my pick from the first episode-great food chops, a team player when necessary, good camera presence. I like her show (and love her first book), but I'm not sure Ten Dollar Dinners stretches her enough. I think she's capable of a lot more. I'd love to see her as a mentor on Food Network Star (to replace Giada.)

  7. Crouton40 says:

    Good Damaris Interview. Check it out.


  8. Amateur Chef says:

    I hope Damaris succeeds but I am not one who plans to watch her program. I find her shallow and without anything to offer that I will be interested in. Her POV is so limited I doubt she will have any following. I am seriously thinking of stopping watching the Food Net work all together. You have not really produced a good Next star since Guy F. Your selection process is broken. You are not finding new stars who anyone will want to watch, this batch of candidates were terrible and none of them had a POV worth watching.

    • Penelope says:

      Razzberries. She's a culinary instructor - now you can get classes for free on television with a laugh or two along the way. Also, you have pre-judged her show without even watching it - if that's the way you go through life, maybe you ought to consider never leaving the house to go to a movie - you will always be disappointed.

      • Crouton40 says:

        hehe....you said: get classes for free on television with a laugh or two along the way.

        I love it. Such a deal!
        And yer right, if we can't learn from a cooking teacher, we're in big trouble. I'm eager to see all the things Damaris has in store for us. Who knows what creations are in that experienced southern mind of hers? (grin) Probably alot. I'm hoping we see flavorful steaks & roasts ( I love blackened crispies on the outside), how to make excellent gravies, and sauces, what are 2 or 3 good kinds of southern biscuits?, Quinoa salads and other flavor profiles, I don't think I've ever had butter-beans and cornbread together (love hot buttered cornbread), hearty country beef stews, shortcake with berries and fruit, fun with potato-boats/cups, what about Crab/clams/oysters?, cookies, fruit parfaits, southern veggies, peppered pork and on it goes. I haven't felt this good about a winner in years. Food I would really want to eat, from a fun & informal teacher.

        I hope she really helps the audience with "questions we're too embarressed to ask", like:
        How do recognize or know when something is freezer-burned?
        Ovens--How do I know whether to use 350 degrees for a longer time, or 425 degress for a shorter time?
        If I'm cooking a roast and like it carmelized or blackened on the outside--and--i like my meat well-done on the inside, how do I get it that way without burning the outside?
        Should I slice meat before I cook it?
        How long does cheese keep in the fridge?
        How can I tell if meat is going bad--before-- it stinks?
        Besides salt & pepper, name 6 spices I should keep on hand.
        Oils--is Extra-virgin better or is peanut oil more versatile.
        ...and when making anything...fun with substitutions (ingredients),
        How to make flavorful sauces. (Flavor trumps everything!)
        Not everyone can take a culinary class, yet they hunger for these "basics". Knowing them, would make us all better cooks--and then--we connect better with those we eat with. I know this has been long, but what can I say, we all have reason to be enthused.

        • Meri says:

          That's a good idea. I now also hope that she does something like that (maybe one question as an end-of-show bit, or as a god-to-commercial teaser (question before the ads and answer afterwards)).

          • Crouton40 says:

            Thanks for speaking up. I like your ideas, too.
            I think she's going to last. Better than many previous shows.

    • Penelope says:

      How silly - you are judging her show before it's even on the air. She's a cooking teacher - if you can't learn something from a cooking teacher, you are in big trouble. Do you prejudge everything? Kind of limiting, isn't it?

  9. Crouton40 says:

    Congratulations DAMARIS PHILLIPS
    Winner! Season 9, Food Network Star

    Damaris's Victory Poem

    After weeks of grueling, stressful tests
    Damaris Phillips did the best.

    Food Network wants a talented star
    A Damaris show will take them far

    The other cooks, they tried their best
    but only Phillips survived all tests.

    With skill and charm she won our heart's
    and just kept growing from the start.

    Some critics gave her scoff and jest
    but voters know that she's the best

    And Happy I shall always be
    with fabulous foods she cooks for me.

    GO Damaris!
    Aug.11, 2013

  10. Rags_McTattershanty says:

    This is sweet and lovely but also makes me sad when I think of the way FN has treated Justin. Where is his show? That "special" in March hardly counts. I want the full story on this. His relationship with Alton seems to be solid, which leads me to believe something stinky happened thanks to Bob and Susie.

    Regarding Damaris - I had my concerns about her at first. I thought she was too soft, with her bouts of tears, but she proved herself to be a formidable opponent to the other finalists and showed great poise, charm, and an irreverent sense of humor that sets her apart from the other hosts. I hope FN doesn't tinker with her too much. I'm looking forward to whatever she puts forth!

    • Penelope says:

      My thinking is that Justin was too off the wall. I loved him to pieces, but doubt I would ever eat his food. Much preferred Marty. Wish they could have put them together in a show - they loved each other so much.

      • Bonnie R. says:

        I never thought of that before, but I also think that Justin and Marty would have been great doing a show together. Starting with the end of last season's Next Food Network Star, I've wondered where Justin's show is, and assumed that he and Alton were still working on a joint venture, but as the weeks and months go by, I'm less sure about this. Damaris got better and better each week, and I know the judges look for growth. I liked her from the start, and kept thinking that she, Nikki, and Stacey would have been the final 3. Maybe the 3 of them can do a special together, after Nikki gives birth. That was a nice surprise at the finale. Looking foward to Damaris' show on The Food Network. Congratulations, Damaris!