Italian-born Luca Della Casa came into the competition with his heritage as a point of view, and while his culinary offerings were strong, he struggled with camera work so much so that he was first sent home in Episode 2. After winning Star Salvation, however, he remained long enough to earn a spot in the final three, and he was ultimately named the first runner-up of the contest.
Star Talk caught up with Luca the day of the finale to talk about his time on the show, what he would cook Giada if he got the chance and who he thought was the most-intimidating mentor. Read his interview below.
Star Talk: Luca, making it to the final two is an incredible achievement and you obviously fought to get here. Was this competition everything you thought it would be?
Luca Della Casa: Oh, absolutely and even more. It's been a fantastic journey. It started good in the first episode and then it went south, so I thought I lost it. And then I had the opportunity to come back through Star Salvation and find my way back. I'm so excited about being here right now.
Let’s talk about coming back and fighting your way back on Star Salvation. What did you learn that you took back to the competition with you? Because everyone saw a huge change.
LDC: The most-important thing was getting more confident. And the mentors during Star Salvation really helped me realize that.
Considering the mentors on the show and the mentors on Star Salvation, who do you find most intimidating?
LDC: I think Bobby Flay. He is such a talented chef, and I have so much respect for him that he was definitely the more intimidating for me.
Was there any one piece of advice that he gave to you that you’ll carry on with you in the future?
LDC: Yes. I think that what I got from him was trying to be natural. Be yourself, not to try and be someone that you're not. That really helped me.
Looking back on the episodes, was there one cringe-worthy moment you look back on and go: "Ugh! Why did I do that?"
LDC: Oh, there are plenty of those moments, you know! The challenges are very fast; you don't have a lot of time, so you react fast, but thinking about it later, you change things here and there constantly. But at the end, it works out pretty good, no matter what. So I'm happy with it.
Has anything changed since the competition started for you, in your professional life?
LDC: Oh, absolutely. I get so much recognition back at home and at the restaurant also. I go to the grocery and people stop me and they shout: "Oh, Luca, I really love you! I would like a picture with you. You really inspire my kids to jump in the kitchen and cook with us." It's amazing.
If you could make Giada a meal, what would you cook her?
LDC: Well, probably my special recipe: gnocchi with rabe sauce. It's a specialty of my family, and I'm sure she would love it.
What can we expect from you in the future?
LDC: Well, I don't know, but it looks like the future is bright and amazing and exciting, so I'm just ready to jump into whatever is next.