Robert Irvine’s Advice for Any Future Star

by in Interviews, August 6, 2014

Robert Irvine's Advice for Any Future StarNo one accomplishes a mission quite like Food Network's resident fixer-upper Robert Irvine, and that makes him an ideal mentor to guide Lenny, Luca and Nicole as they film their pilots. Star Talk caught up with Robert while he was mentoring the final three to ask him a simple question: What one piece of advice did you share with each of them?

Star Talk: What were your initial reactions watching and guiding Lenny, Luca and Nicole? And what advice did you share with each of them?
Robert Irvine: It's really interesting because I never had to go through this rigmarole of trying to prove that you can host a show, cook, deal with people and answer questions all at the same time. So to me when I mentor somebody, I tell them one simple thing: Be who you are and it will shine through. You can learn the tricks of the camera and you can learn timing, but what you cannot learn is how to be yourself. People see through cameras and televisions like it's not even funny. If you be yourself, then you'll always be successful.

You have to imagine your boyfriend, girlfriend, mom or whoever is special to you, and think you're having a conversation with them. And that's it. The rest — once you've done that a couple of times and settled down — it's just that easy. And I know when we first start in this business people will say: "Oh, there's a camera. Oh, there are four cameras." People watch you all the time. It's the same as a camera. Just don't worry about the cameras. And these folks — to be in the final three of the Food Network Star competition, it's huge. Not many people get to that point, and one of these folks is going to have a show of their own. Thankfully I'm not the one who is going to be voting on that. Because I gotta tell you, so far, it can go numerous ways. I think it's going to be a tough competition. It's anyone's game.

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Comments (45)

  1. msjs0315 says:

    I felt I learned a lot more in the time allotted from Nicole's pilot than Lenny's or Luca's. Nicole showed how the entire clam dish was prepared. In contrast, Lenny demonstrated he can toss coffee, Lawry's and sugar on a steak, and Luca gave us a three-ingredient sauce.

    Lenny's video seemed more about Lenny than about the food, possibly because there's only so much one can say about how he cooked the steak. And I gladly would have swapped 30 seconds of social chatter on Luca's video for a bit of info about the fish he served under the sauce.

    All that said, kudos to the video editors. I think they did a superb job crafting the pilots with the footage they had.

  2. girloftheworld says:

    "If you be yourself, then you'll always be successful."

    Well isn't that an interesting maybe even ironic quote.

  3. FNSWATCHER says:

    Seeing as to the comments on Facebook and on the Star Blog, I predict Lenny will win. YUP. I called it first!!!

    • John says:

      On the Star blog Lenny's posts are getting alot of thumbs downs.

      Not all that much is being said either way about Luca. Doesn't look like much enthusiasm.

      People are writing more positively about Nicole and the comments are liked, higher. She would make the best winner. She had the best video.

      • FNSWATCHER says:

        I'm not saying I LIKE Lenny. I like Nicole and feel that her show would be good! But all I'm saying is, I did see a few good comments on Lenny and lots about him on Robert Irvine's FB page when he asked who they voted for/ who they thought would win.

        • Gary says:

          Those were the viewer's opinions, not Irvine's. He asked the question, but he didn't chime in.

          • Buffy says:

            Irvine is an employee. Irvine may have his own program but he is still an employee of this network who wants his program to air to American viewers.

    • Jack Hammer says:

      The problem with facebook is it's preaching to the choir. These people liked you anyway. Maybe they've already followed you the last 3 years. How many new viewers have you persuaded?

  4. girloftheworld says:

    "If you be yourself, then you'll always be successful."

    • chef anne watcher says:

      So, in Lenny's case, he was not "himself" (because he's a fraud), and he will always be a failure. Interesting.

      I think Robert Irvine got a taste of the real Lenny when he was directing him. He knows how to read people, and phony Lenny was very uncomfortable for a very long time. His "starstruck" act, when he first met Robert, was sheer stupidity on his part. He was probably nervous that Robert might find the Real Lenny, who has been hiding behind the facade. He couldn't hide from the camera, either. Robert almost had to use a cattle prod on the fake cowboy to get him to appear convincing in his intro. Robert barked, "Talk to me", "Prove it to me", "Sell it to me", "Own it" at Lenny's babbling. Lenny's 'aftermath of the beans' was crude, and I saw Robert's reaction to the off the cuff remarks. The grossest picture that Lenny painted was his comment about 'lying buck naked in the fetal position in a corner', or something to that effect. Ewww.

      • guest says:

        Lenny seems to have turned off many. Will Luca charm his way to a win? Has he really made anything stellar? Reading many of the online posts, Nicole is the one getting more positive posts and plusses to them than anyone else. People like her and her cooking has been wonderful. Hopefully, the voting will agree with the postings.

      • MoHub says:

        Lenny's babbling was so bad, he got a clip on The Soup last night.

        • Gary says:

          Maybe SNL will do a skit of Lenny's babbling and trash his cutting of the brisket video. Lenny babbled continually during both his Pilot Pitch and in his Pilot. He's certainly not 'ready for prime time' and he'd be a shameful addition to the FN family. Keep this fraud and his schtick on the dude ranch, selection committee!

  5. sickofsarah says:

    RI's advice comment:...'i tell them one simple thing. be who you are and it will shine through'... it sure did for nicole! i loved her pilot and she was awesome, the total package. she showed us her bright flavors with the names of the creole spices, simple techniques with detailed instructions, and told us how long to cook the clams. the most important thing that really came across, on camera, was that she was in total control while having fun doing the demo. the camera did not lie, and nicole's performance was genuine.

    RI: ...'but what you cannot learn is how to be yourself'...nicole knows herself very well, almost to a fault (as evidenced on her blog). she learns from her mistakes, owns up to them, and uses the lessons she's learned in a positive way. she is the real deal, and her whole personality shined brightly in her pilot. she truly IS the next shining star for the FN, and will be a perfectly wonderful addition to their family.

  6. Crouton40 says:

    I really liked Nicole's video. I can learn from her. She's easy to listen to, interesting and you can tell that she loves what she does, Coastal Cuisine. I thought Robert Irvine and her worked well together. She's genuine, knows her stuff and has been clear on her point of view from the beginning. A show with her offers lots of tasty new dishes that aren't already being done. Judges have loved her cooking. Warm, likeable lady. Friendly, clear teaching. Something new. Good reasons for her to be the #NextFoodNetworkStar :) I hope she wins.

    • cwsfashionflavors says:

      Get off your bandwagon for once. Who would you like if it was not Nicole? If nicole and Ms. Phillips were in the same season. Ms. Phillips would win that hands down. in the popular vote. Both luca and Lenny have more votes. You don't think Alton is not making phone calls, tweets to his friends for Lenny? think again. This is cutthroat voting >>>he has many friends. i am only here to report the facts.

      • Crouton40 says:

        How funny. Let's see. Somehow...I don't have the right pick someone a favortite and say why I would vote for them? If I do, I'm on some sort of bandwagon? Is that it?

        I suppose you wouldn't mind if I rooted for your favorite. But some people disagree with me, too. They, and you, are perfectly free to do so. And to say why they do. Why don't you try that? Instead of getting bent out of shape, tell why your fave is better. I do. People may challenge you. So what? Discussion and condidering different angles is a good thing. But that's what seems to bother you. People can, and have, questioned me, too. I don't mind.
        As for Damaris Phillips, I voted for her last year. She was good and she's still good. Nicole, in my opinion, is very good now. Other people have posted that they feel the sane way. Are they on a bandwagon? Maybe we have good reasons for our belief.

        If you say Luca and Lenny have more votes then I question the poll numbers. We've also seen Rueben ahead in the votes even after he was eliminated. The voting should go along with what we see posted here. People read whats written online and come here to see the phone number to vote posted. It will look suspicious if the voting does not go along with the majority of blog comments. People come here to read"the buzz", form an opinion, then tweet about things.
        You like to think of yourself as reporting the facts but
        A) you are not the only factual one and
        B) you often ask questions of a finalist you dont like but those same questions can be asked right bsck to your fave
        C) you sometimes bring up things that have no Nicole and Damaris are not competing against each other. Where someone cooks, or how expensive it might be to stay there, does not make one a better cook.

        If cutthroat voting is happening like you mention, there's almost nothing you or I can do about it. Earlier in this competition, I had picked Sarah, Nicole, Luca and Lenny as my top 4. At times I have praised all of them when I felt I honestly could. And I did. Then, Sarah was eliminated and I chose a fave of the remaining three. Just like hundreds of other people. Ya know, you and I should have a "cover charge" for others to read us debate. Might make some good pizza & beer money. But "you started it" with the bandwagon commernt. Thats fine. I can't take it, but if yer gonna throw a few rocks, don't be surprised if the dog doesn't bite back. (Wink).

        • Crouton40 says:

          CAN take it. Auto-correct. I might buy a new tablet.

        • cwsfashionflavors says:

          Dewey Defeats Truman was the famous mis quote. We know the rest of that story. NOT everyone tweets or face book.So across the country not everyone into social media.Someone people only have cable, not the internet or a PC. That being said.opinions on a blogger can be worthless. It is a "Straw vote", because no one know who is really writing an opinion on a blog I have blogged in second Life. Does that say I am expert? No.

          Lets be realistic. There underling reason why they brought Luca back.Is is possible luca could damage Nicole chances more than Lenny.? i believe so. Luca has that "eye of the tiger" affect. He only had couple slight stumbles in challenges Is it possible that they brought Luca back to be the spoiler.I believe so.I am calling like I see it. Luca moves up to voting spot 2. Drops Nicole down to 3. Causing the effect of lenny win by default.Alton comes out smelling like a rose. Because, I feel he has been mentoring Lenny often

          Another theory is that if Lenny loses. Guy will apprentice Lenny. Guy will leave DDD. Lenny gets DDD. Guy goes on to do grocery, his Sunday show & Kids cook off

          I love a deep dish. Perhaps get some of the beer Nicole was drinking on her promo."when I am cooking. I drink a Budweiser. And you should, too<<<<nicole>>> But i don't drink. Are we going also chat about the Kids cook off too?

          • Crouton40 says:

            Aww, what the heck. I still feel good about how my last post holds up, but voting is over and there's not much going on...
            Dewey defeats Truman. You--should be pausing over that headline. We've seen what polls say later turn out to be different before on here.

            The fact that many people are on social media can also cut both ways. It means they won't be reading "pro" posts for this or that person, and they won't be reading finalists being bashed. It can be good that they see for themselves by watching on TV. It can also be bad if Judges facial expressions and editing of finalists are steered in a bad way. That said, my hope is that viewers would look at all episodes and consider who has most consistent and overall best performance (and growth) in:
            Best Cooking
            Clear teaching
            Likeable personality and
            NOT a turn-Off.
            For me, that's Nicole. Everyone is free to make their own choice.
            And then, there you go, assuming again when you don't know. About why Luca was brought back and the exact effect it may have. You say: Luca moves up to voting spot 2. Drops Nicole down to 3.----But you don't know that. You say, "let's be realistic" (as if no one else is?). I almost never say that. You also say you call it as you see it. I never say that, either. Why would I? Doesn't everybody anyway? This is like saying you "cook with passion." Who doesn't?

            And then, you mention: Causing the effect of lenny win by default.Alton comes out smelling like a rose. Because, I feel he has been mentoring Lenny often." ---Maybe. One could just as easily make the case that bringing Luca back knocks Lenny further down and helps advance a Luca win, not a Lenny one. Assumption again. People have written before on here that they felt things were pre-designed. Judges should be helpful yet impartial. The theory about Lenny losing and getting DDD and guy leaving....that, I could see possibly happening. Who knows?
            It will be VERY interesting to read:
            A) the exit interviews of the 2 losing finalists
            B) the Victory comments and/or their own blog recap (if they have one) of the winner and...
            C) the blog comments here after it all goes down.

          • Crouton40 says:

            NOT on social media.

      • chef anne watcher says:

        Who is still voting in the "popular vote" on FNS? It means nothing and I haven't checked it for weeks. Alton has lost the respect of FNS viewers this season with his blatant display of favoritism for Lenny. His premature announcement that both Luca and Lenny were doing Pilots, 2 weeks before the fact, has created viewer backlash. He has destroyed his credibility as a judge on FNS. His "opinion" means nothing to me, too. Is he a mentor? Hell no! Alton has cut his own throat and the FN execs need to give him his walking papers.

        • Buffy says:


          This is what makes this season the strangest season of FN for me. I really have not watched FN for a couple of years. I read books and use other websites for my recipes, .as a result, I have noticed I only have tomato sauce as a canned item in my house now. I know it is time for me to cut FN out. After, I spent a week catching every lie in each program. Is it really hard to present the realities of a host cooking?
          They are not going to do any thing to Alton, he is taking his act on the road in a tour.

          People continue to look to Suzie and Bob as a voice of reason. It is my impression they are the decision makers and they sat in and gave comments. I respect their position, but not the person.

          • chef anne watcher says:

            I agree with you, this season has been extremely strange. Ultimately, Suzy and Bob are the only 'judges' who count, since they are the Top execs and financiers. They want to protect the FN's image and keep the viewers tuning in to any/every show for the ratings/income. When a triumverate judge oversteps his/her bounds, they usually reel them in, either by words or a look in an episode when they appear.

            Last year, I think they wanted Rodney or Russell to win over Damaris (and look at her limited exposure, 6 episodes in a lousy time slot?). Pfft. The year before that the voters chose Justin over their pick of Martie (and he got 1 episode to prove himself?). Pfft again. The selection committee has lost both times when the viewers voted and they, ultimately, want to be in control. What they seriously need to consider this year is two-fold: 1) Alton's shameful behavior towards Nicole, embedded in his judges video on his blog this week, with his misleading and disparaging comments about her, in order to sway the voters towards Lenny, and 2) his overtly backing of his #1 horse, Lenny, despite Lenny's vile character (of which I'm sure he had knowledge).

            Bob's assignments were for the finalists to include their POVs and their expertise as a blueprint for their shows The fact is the fake cowboy never disclosed his culinary training in Germany until his Pilot, when it suited his agenda/credentials! Really? We saw Suzy's reaction to the revelation and it wasn't positive -- it made him look like the lying, deceitful weasel that he is along with his disgusting YouTube videos that have gone viral on these blogs. FNS needs to deal with it, quickly, or there will be dire consequences in viewership that could sink the reputation of the network.

            The execs need to extinguish ALL votes cast for Lenny to avoid a redux of the scandal in 2007, and to utilize the voting results for Luca and Nicole. Luca and Nicole had received their highest praise and were top 2 on Sunday so the showdown is between them. All they need to do is go with it! When they see their Pilots, I think it will be obvious that Nicole should win the brass ring in their minds along with the voters/viewers. Therefore, the decision should be an equitable decision between the voters and the FN execs.

          • shannon says:

            Caw, you are right. I said it before and I will say it again I hold out hope and have faith that the network will do the right thing where Lenny is concerned. Can you imagine Suzy and Bobs reaction when they saw Lennys video. It was probably as disgusted as mine.

        • cwsfashionflavors says:

          The thing is Alton does not care. He is popular on Iron Chefs and his show. He could leave FNS and only be a host. As long his shows makes money. Bob and Susie are happy. Food Network is not the only thing he does. He goes across the country and tours

          • shannon says:

            I believe his tours are all under contract to and/or tied to Food Network. Not to be mean but without FN and all its affiliates what exactly would you suggest he host? His fame and fortune at this point is directly linked to us ....the "foodie" culture of the world. If Alton does not keep the fans happy he would not have a place at the network to speak of. If you are not generating profits for the company they have proven they will cut you loose and not look back.

        • the Owl says:

          Alot o' truth to that.

        • MoHub says:

          I never vote in the fan polls, and I'm sure others don't either. It's just a straw poll anyway. However, I do vote when it counts: determining the FNS winner.

          • shannon says:

            I never vote in the polls either. I voted the first year..I watched the numbers and they seemed skewed, after that I did not put much stock in them.

      • shannon says:

        May I ask your name.....officially? What is your relationship to Alton Brown? I would assume you two must be very close. Why do I ask? You state you are reporting FACTS, only a confidant of his would know that he is tweeting and calling his friends to get them to vote for Lenny.
        Or maybe the reality is you don't know him (Alton) and it is simply your opinion that he is calling friends to rally for Lenny. That is fine....ruminate in this thread, but don't say your opinions and ideas are fact please when they obviously are not. Btw....I think you are placing way more importance of this show in Altons Brown's personal life than there actually is. That isn't a fact, just my opinion.

  7. Buffy says:

    Be quiet Robert. FN does not want people to be themselves.
    I watched Restaurant Impossible and it is this show that sealed the deal that I must not watch FN.

  8. Bill O says:

    Funny they should use Robert Irvine. I think he's more widely admired for his biceps than for his cooking. I would never watch a cooking show by him. I certainly wouldn't use his recipes, which are rarely rated 5 stars

  9. kitchenkook says:

    Although I haven't missed a chance to vote, i don't know why FN decided to allow viewers to choose who's on air to teach me something new and interesting in the kitchen. I believe Susie, Bob and company have consistently kept their eyes and ears tuned to the desires of their varied audiences, as we learned in earlier seasons from their commentaries after each show.

    That said, I enjoyed this season and look forward to expanding my culinary exploits from the next fan-favorite.

  10. John says:

    If you scan thru the posts here and in a couple other threads you will notice that:
    Many of the pro-Lenny posts are getting quite a few thumbs-downs.

    Not much is really being written about Luca. I would have expected to see more but it doesn't look like all that much enthusiam. Not as much as I would have thought.

    Nicole seems to have more positive comments made about and they are marked higher.
    I hope Food Network management realizes this.

    • msjs0315 says:

      John, to be honest, I thought the decision to open Luca's pilot video with a plate of pasta that looked like it had black worms crawling through it was a really bad move. I get that it was probably part of the deal struck with the restaurant, to plug its signature dish on FN, but after that jolt I wasn't able to enjoy his pilot much.