Luca Della Casa, 38, was born in Italy and is an adventurous, rugged outdoorsman with a passion for food. He worked his way up from dishwasher to executive chef, and he is determined to bring people together around a table to share food, Italian style. Read on below to hear from Luca, and learn about his style of cooking and thoughts on the competition.
Describe your cooking style or culinary point of view — in one sentence, if you can.
Luca: My point in my culinary view is what I learned from my grandma. That means very simple recipes, a good knife and the freshest ingredients. That makes the most-amazing meal.
How did you prepare for the competition?
Luca: Well, yes. I went to see some old seasons of the show. I was aware of the show and I saw episodes of it, but I didn't know it perfectly, so I thought I better go back and see everything they do, what they ask them to do. And so that's what I did, and try to put my thoughts together.
What are you most looking forward to in this experience?
Luca: To grow as a person, because that's what I get out of every experience in life — to get something out of it, no matter what. Of course, I want to win and I'm here to win. But that's what I'm looking forward to the most, to get to know something more, to get out as a better person — more confident, if you will.
Which mentor are you most excited to learn from?
Luca: They have so much experience in cooking and in this kind of work, so I would pick any of them. But if I had to pick one, I would like Giada, just because we come from the same country.
Which mentor do you find to be the most intimidating?
Luca: Not really intimidating, but Alton Brown is really, like, a very smart man, and it's more difficult for me to read his mind or where he's going.
What is one thing you most want to convey to the judges about you, your food or your would-be show on Food Network?
Luca: I want them to know that I'm a professional chef, so I can deliver on food and knowledge of food, but at the same time, I want to do it in a very simple way where everybody can relate to it and get involved with what I'm going to say on TV.
What’s your Achilles’ heel ingredient, one that you hate to work with?
Luca: I don't like pork tenderloin. It's a very lean piece of meat. It tends to get dry very easily. It's not very exciting. I'm not very excited about that.
What's your guilty pleasure food?
Luca: Chocolate probably. And french fries.
What's your favorite late-night snack?
Luca: Chocolate probably. Or almonds with chocolate.
What's one must-have at your last supper?
Luca: I always said that that would be a roasted chicken with french fries. I wouldn't know which one to pick.
Rapid fire: Think fast!
Ketchup, mustard or mayonnaise? Mayonnaise
Chocolate or vanilla? Chocolate
Bagels or doughnuts? Bagels
Cream cheese or butter? Butter
Coffee or tea? I have to say tea.
French fries or onion rings? French fries
Burgers or hot dogs? Burgers
White meat or dark? Dark
Cake or pie? Pie
Waffles or pancakes? Pancakes
It's going to be a summer of heated competition as Food Network Star gears up for its most-explosive season yet, a 10th year of putting hopeful rivals through the job interview of their lives. To make it to August and ultimately land a sought-after television career — Food Network show host — finalists will have to impress mentor-judges Alton Brown, Bobby Flay and Giada De Laurentiis with the coveted combination of cooking chops and on-camera charm. Season 10 kicks off Sunday, June 1 at 9|8c, but before then, FN Dish is introducing fans to all of the contestants. This year's crop of competitors boasts business owners, executive chefs, world travelers and farm-to-table enthusiasts — not to mention fiery personalities, over-the-top entertainers and undeniable competitive spirits. Check back every day to meet another finalist, then learn more about each of them by checking out their casting videos.