With the first challenges behind the them, the remaining 11 finalists took to Star Kitchen and were hit with two big surprises this week: teaching Alton how to prepare two of his favorite dishes (Green Bean Casserole and Chicken-Fried Steak) in the Mentor Challenge and having Alex Guarnaschelli follow along their live cooking demos in the Star Challenge.
Overcoming one of these challenges would be enough for anyone, but proving these hopefuls can communicate and cook (especially at the same time) is a requirement of the job.
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 episode and reveal who was sent home.
No one can deny it: Luca Della Casa's got the charm factor down. And he can even cook. His culinary heritage impressed the judges in the first episode, but to be considered a Food Network Star, you need to have the ability to look into a camera, and Luca simply didn't do that.
Read Luca's exclusive interview below to hear more from him. Learn how he felt about his elimination, as well as what he hopes fans will remember about him.
Do you think that it was fair that the other two gentlemen who you were standing up with didn't finish their dishes?
Luca Della Casa: No, I don't think so. I thought a big part of the challenge was to finish your dish and present it on TV. How one was going to present it was debatable, but you had to have something on the plate to present, so no, I didn't think it was fair.
How would you explain this competition to viewers at home? What is it really like to go through something like this?
LDC: Well, it's really hard because besides what you see, there is all the behind-the-scenes work, which is very intense. This includes very long days. So that is definitely a challenge within the challenge.
What element of the competition were you least expecting, whether it be good or bad?
LDC: I came to this competition feeling confident about my cooking skills. But I didn't know how my presence on camera would translate or my way of communicating through it. So hands down that's been the most-difficult part.
Did you find the Mentor Challenge with Alton or the Star Challenge with Alex harder?
LDC: Oh! The Star Challenge for sure. I was really at ease in the Mentor Challenge with Alton — it didn't feel difficult at all.
Going along with that, who do you find to be the most-intimidating mentor: Alton, Bobby or Giada?
LDC: I came into this competition thinking that Alton was the most-intimidating because it's kind of difficult to read him, especially on TV, but then once I've been around him, he is actually a very easy person. He's very funny, actually. So I would have to say Bobby. He is very serious and doesn't let a lot of things come out.
What piece of feedback from them will you remember the most?
LDC: Smile. Simple as that. It's something I do so often, but it didn't come out the way I wanted it.
What do you want fans to remember about you?
LDC: I want fans to remember that I have been a fair contestant and that I came here to make new friends. And that's what I did. There are a lot of good people this season.
Who is the craziest finalist behind the scenes?
LDC: Oh! Reuben and Lenny would compete for that title. They're crazy in front of the camera and behind it, so what you see is actually what you get.
Going forward, who do you see yourself rooting for now in this competition?
LDC: I don't know. To be fair to all of them, I would like each one of them to be successful. But if I had to pick one I would pick Lenny just because he's so different.
What's next for you?
LDC: I don't know. I guess I'll go home, see my family and then take it from there. I've always kept a very open mind for the future. I have a very good job right now, but who knows — new opportunities can come knocking on my door.
Watch Luca 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.