Chatting with the First Eliminated Star Finalist

by in Food Network Star, Interviews, June 1, 2014

Food Network StarDespite Food Network Star finalists' highest hopes for success and their best attempts to at once craft top-quality dishes and present a winning personality on camera, week after week another rival will be sent home, unable to survive in the face of stardom. It's up to judge-mentors Alton Brown, Bobby Flay and Giada De Laurentiis to decide who should stay and whose journey has ended, and after every elimination, Star Talk will bring you the first interview with the ousted competitor.

If you haven't yet watched the episode, don't read any further. Star Talk is about to break down the ins and outs of the premiere and reveal the first finalist sent home.

Not long after arriving on the set of the first episode, finalists were already in the throes of a challenge, as they walked onto a celebrated movie back lot and pitched their points of views to superstar mentors Alton, Bobby and Giada. They had only 30 seconds to introduce themselves and what would ideally be a unique culinary perspective to the judges, and while a few rose to the occasion, many stumbled, including Donna Sonkin Shaw, who was ultimately sent home this week.

Donna Sonkin ShawDonna's healthy focus appeared too blunt, and Giada had to remind her: "You can't hit people over the head with the healthy thing." Once the rivals arrived in Food Star Kitchen to work on their party bites for that night's red carpet event, Donna started making what she called "Donna's BLT," but the combination of ingredients didn't wow the judges. "You had a great message," Giada told Donna, who, looking ahead to the future, said, "I have a lot to share, and I'm going to keep sharing it."

Read Donna's first exclusive interview below to hear more from her and learn what she hopes fans will remember about her point of view.

How would you explain what this competition is really like?
Donna Sonkin Shaw: Well, it was a great opportunity for me to meet some really amazing people.

What element of the competition were you least expecting, be it good or bad?
DSS: I wasn't expecting that I would really like everyone so much.

Was there a moment in either of the challenges that you found especially difficult?
DSS: Standing in high heels for however many hours we needed to stand in them.

What's one piece of mentor feedback that you're going to take with you into the future?
DSS: To refine my message.

What do you want fans to remember about you and your message?
DSS: That you are what you eat. That your food becomes your body. And that you make choices every day at every meal.

What's next for you, and what are you looking forward to?
DSS: I'm excited to see my husband and my family and my clients, and resume my workshops and teaching private cooking lessons. I've been writing, so I want to write some more.

What's your early prediction for who you think is going to win it all?
DSS: I would totally watch any of their shows. I love what Aryen does. I find Loreal fascinating. Nicole, like, she's got such a great story. … Both Chrises I just adore. Luca's so charming. Reuben — he's my buddy, and I would totally watch his show. Lenny is a huge personality. Emma is my soul sister. Sarah's just [a] sweet, Southern girl. … I love Kenny.

Watch Donna battle for a chance at redemption on Star Salvation. Click the play button on the video below to see the first part of Episode 1, then head over to Star headquarters to catch the second part.

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Comments (49)

  1. Dee says:

    I have read the comments and was a bit surprised that nobody mentioned how uninspiring these contestants are. Surely there were better choices out there. Although I am out of the desired TV demographic, you can't help notice that all the participants were young. In past years there was a mix of ages and experience. Also, I was surprised the show was even back. Some past winners don't seem to have a show on FN, unless I am missing them. I did just notice Demaris, finally on her own show, which was kind of bland. Anyone else feel this crew is a letdown? And the judges also seem a little snarkier.

    • Tammy says:

      I think FN is much more invested in TNFNS than the actual shows that come from it. Star brings in great ratings. Look at all the discussion it generates. But yes, I agree they went young this time and that's a shame. It is just the first show and we haven't seen their full personalities yet though so I wouldn't call them uninspiring quite yet.

  2. Runner says:

    Sarah - No where near as hot as she thinks she is. She's the girl who's gotten some attention in life and tries to skate by on her looks. I'm not sure she's all that good of a cook either. No chance.

    Donna - One of the execs mentioned it and was spot on - she was weird to watch. And not in a quirky, kind of fun way. It was more of a, she makes me uncomfortable thing.

    Emma - zzzzzzzzzz (sorry, feel asleep just thinking about her)

    Ruben - lose the hipster beard. Lame!

    Luca - expect to see him at the end. Good looking, appears he can cook, and he's got a accent. I thought Giada might throw her underwear at him last night.

    Nicole - super hot, polished, a classically trained chef. She should be there until the end as well.

    Lenny - we'll see how long the cowboy thing keeps him around. Personally, I wouldn't watch his show.

    I'd lump the rest in all together as bland. Maybe one or two breaks out of this pack.

    • shannon says:

      Runner, LOL. The comment about Giada and Luca,spot on. I was thinking, look out Todd,you may be getting traded in. I could almost see the wheels in Giadas mind turning.

    • Dinner for One says:

      I agree. I think Sarah is the new Danushka......blond with an attitude and a mediocre cook. Also, I agree with your comment about Giada ...it was like calm down girl.

  3. LynninBR says:

    First episode of Star makes me wonder what kind of guidance these contestants got, about distinguishing themselves. The contrived red carpet entrance tells us what? These people can't be as plastic as they appeared. What would make the embroidered cowboy think twirling a lariat was a good idea? Cleavage and pearls? Pageant smile and ceremonial wave? These may be interesting, talented people who know a lot about food, but nobody in the first episode seemed authentic, or got me interested in hearing more from them.
    Food Network, where oh where is Justin Warner?

  4. Dinner for One says:

    Dear Sarah, please lose all the pageant rah rah. Women have had to work hard to break stereotypes and earn their place in the commercial kitchen. It hasn't been that long ago that women were not even allowed in the commercial kitchen and when they were only one was allowed-more than one was considered bad luck. You cheapen every women who has had to work hard and earn their place on the line. For all of you who will say I am a blond basher....I am a petite blond with plenty of male attention. Also, my favorite chef is Anne Burrell...because she can cook.

  5. Jen says:

    Why do I recognize Donna? I know I have seen her on TV before, but I can't place it...was she on Food Network Star in a previous season?

  6. not because she's a blond but because she comes across as being a phony.