Bobby Talks Pet Peeves, the Biggest Mistake Finalists Always Make and Cooking vs. On-Camera Skills

by in Interviews, Judges, May 23, 2014

Bobby Flay Talks Pet Peeves and the Biggest Mistake Finalists Always MakeEarlier this week Giada dished on her fellow judges and behind-the-scenes moments (read the interview here.) Now we're asking Bobby Flay about his time on Star, what it's like to be a judge, what mistakes he's tired of seeing and if he could have survived the show as a contestant.

Star Talk: What are you excited for this season on Star?
Bobby Flay: This is the 10th season of Food Network Star, and every season the most-exciting thing to me is meeting the new finalists — people who have a chance to be the next Star on Food Network. So as excited as they are, I'm excited to see who they are just as much.

Star Talk: From the first season until now, what has changed?
BF: I feel like every season the finalists get better and savvier than the last. A lot of it has to do with the fact that they get to watch the seasons prior and they become students of the sort. It's definitely a game. It's a game until you actually get the job. That's the way it works. I take my role of a judge very seriously. In a way, we're mentoring people, as well, we're not just saying yes or no. We're trying to give advice, but I want to add somebody to the roster of Food Network who is going to strengthen the network as a whole. I think of it as adding a new player to our team to make it better.

Star Talk: What is one thing every finalist should come prepared for?
BF: I think the most-obvious thing is that we're going to ask what your point of view is. If you haven't thought about that before you got here, you probably shouldn't be here in the first place. To have a point of view that really tells a story of who you are, instead of trying to find the niche or find the hole in the network, trying to be somebody who is already on the network. Just be who you are, which is a very difficult thing to do. You hear people say all the time, "Just be yourself." But that takes practice. It takes practice to be yourself.

Star Talk: Fill in the blank: As a judge, it's important to ...
BF: As a judge, I think it's important to listen. It sounds very simple, but it's important.

Star Talk: When you're judging someone, is there anything you consider a pet peeve?
BF: Crutch words — words that don't mean anything — people use them all the time. Words like the word "delicious." I mean, I actually use it when I'm doing a cooking show, but I've already described in great detail what something is going to taste like, look like or smells like so you get a sense of what it really is. The words "delicious" or "beautiful," those words don't actually have any meaning when you're describing something.

Star Talk: What are two or three adjectives to describe your fellow judges?
BF: Alton is excitable and clever. Giada is tough. I would say Giada is the toughest of the three judges. She doesn't give an inch.

Star Talk: What mistakes do you always see contestants making?
BF: The biggest mistake finalists make every year is thinking they're going to teach America how to cook, as opposed to one person and seducing that person into watching you. If you're going to try to cook for everyone, you basically cook for no one. Every contestant makes that mistake.

Star Talk: Should there be a happy balance between culinary skills and on-camera skills?
BF: Giada and Alton and I differ on this. My feeling is if you can't cook, let's not even go to the next step. This is Food Network. You must be an authority figure on food, not just an entertainer. There's plenty of other networks where you can go be an entertainer and be successful. But I think on Food Network, you have to be able to cook first and foremost. And then, hopefully you can entertain as well.

Star Talk: Do you think you would have survived Food Network Star if it were around when you started?
BF: If Food Network Star was around when I was trying to get a job on Food Network, there's no way I would have won — no chance.


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Comments (16)

  1. Crouton40 says:

    When Bobby Says: "My feeling is if you can't cook, let's not even go to the next step. This is Food Network. You must be an authority figure on food, not just an entertainer."....I am absolutely 100% with him!

    Of course, whoever wins, I'd like to like their personality, too, but --if they can't cook, and just stand there trying to crack jokes or play a guitar or dress in weird costumes to get me to watch them, --then basically all I'm doing is tuning-in to watch an incompetent friend I like. That won't do. And if a contender is trying to make it work that way and skate by on the food, forget it. Bobby is right: "There's plenty of other networks where you can go be an entertainer and be successful."

    Someone may be an expert cook, and be terrible on-camera, and not be Star-worthy. A Star, can do it all! Chances are, no one will cook a flawless meal in every single challenge, but Cooking comes first! Anything else, is just faking it. Last year, Chef Damaris had great flavors (food 1st) and her camera-presence blossomed wonderfully as season 9 went on. It'll be a blast to watch things unfold this year. Looking forward to it.

  2. Protector says:

    Never underestimate the stupidity of alot of the public!!! I agree about this being the FOOD network but in season 9 many people wanted The Pie Man. That tells me they wanted "entertainment" ( they must be on drugs) over cooking expertise. Thank God MORE people voted for Damaris. Rodney's antics would have seriously damaged the networks credibility. And also, people couldn't get rid of Danushka and her zombie-like monotone delivery fast enough, and yet the same public, voted for glazed-over dull monotone Justin. Not good. Beware.

    • CVeraS says:

      Stupidity is in the eye of the beholder - I kind of liked Justin, but I agree with you 100% on everything else you said. What I have problems with is the network presenting us with stereotypes year after year, such a here's your "cowboy", here's your "50's gal", here's your "I'm just a mom" and one each of every diversity group they can come up with. I think it's condescending to both the viewer and contestant. I am already turned off by reading the bios, because it looks like each one was picked to avoid "offending" somebody . Just give me someone who can explain how to cook and hold my attention - I could care less what they look like, their ancestry, and who they sleep with at night.

      • Nora says:

        Justin was so flat and monotone. He often stared into the camera, nearly unblinking. He almost never smiled until very near the end of season. He made strange dishes that almost no one would eat or serve to their friends. How that can not matter in a network star is beyond me. I do agree with you about the stereotypes. The network is making sure they have every type in the cast of characters. It's so predictable and politically correct.

      • kam says:

        I agree that stupidity is in the eye of the beholder----totally hated Justin and am to this day waiting to see him COOK anything. He won by default. DO away with the costumes and "Hollywood" BS. I agree I want someone to explain how to cook and hold my attention without a circus or carnival act to go with it.

      • H2OforLife says:

        The selection of the contestants poses a problem as you rightfully pointed out. With the stereotypical cast of characters, it will turn out that a winner will be chosen with little chance for a lasting contract from FN.

  3. [...] As Food Network's resident food historian and overall respected voice of reason, Alton Brown has a lot to say when it comes to finalists vying for the ultimate job — the job that will allow one person to join the roster that he shares with fellow judges Giada and Bobby. [...]

  4. Lacey says:

    Someone PLEASE tell me how that fakey "Pioneer Woman" even has a show if the Food Network 'stars' are supposed authorities on cooking and food? The woman doesn't measure anything, her show is all flashbacks so we don't actually see her cooking, and she mainly opens cans of processed food and outs them together. Where is the skill in that??

    • gueast says:

      What I want to know is how she ever got a show without having to compete on Food Network Star. Why does she get more air-time over people who have?

    • H2OforLife says:

      No one measures anything any more. They all think they can "one up" Sandra Lee's Semi-Homemade. I cannot stand any of the hosts when they add salt--they grab a lot after saying they need to season. The PW did not start as flashbacks, but yes, that is what is it now. She is relying on her family's antics to make her lack of cooking skills look better. I do sometimes see a from scratch recipe of hers though. Yankee cooking does not fly in the South.

  5. Guest says:

    Food authority. Does it matter? Too many viewers are like starry-eyed true-believers who are totally drunk on the idea that - oh well, as long we like the winner. What a crock. So go get Jimmy Fallon and give him a food show. People say you must like the cook in order to watch in the first place. What they don't tell you is that after people do watch, for maybe three episodes, and see that this loveable person cant cook their way out of a paper bag, ratings go down, the show gets cancelled and we voted for another failed winner. Being entertaining is nice but cooking comes first. This is *not* just a personality contest. Bobby Flay is right.

  6. LAURIE says:

    It made me laugh hysterically when Bobby Flay spoke about "crutch words". Oh, how I wish I had a penny for the number of times he says "ACTUALLY"! Both he and Giada use the phrases "kind of" and "sort of" ad nauseum. Either you do it or you don't; you don't "sort of" do anything.