In just a few short weeks, the Food Network Star finalists will begin the job interview of their lives. And while Bobby Flay and Giada De Laurentiis will decide who among the finalists boasts glimmers of Star power and who ultimately does not make the grade, the judges will also be there as mentors to guide the hopefuls through the competition, teaching and inspiring them along the way. But to reach this place in their careers, and at the precipice of stardom, the hopefuls are bringing with them the wisdom and motivation of other mentors — professional and, often, personal too — who've helped ready them for this very competition.
Read on below as the 12 finalists reflect on their culinary mentors and what they've learned from these influences in years past.
Alex McCoy: Marco Pierre White has been my biggest influence. I had an opportunity to spend a little bit of time with him, and he's just such an amazing person. He's a pure chef, and I think the one thing that I really learned from him that I've taken through my entire career is his respect for ingredients.
Arnold Myint: My parents — both of them. My mother's a chef, and I was raised cooking with her. But my father's the one that cooked for me, so not only do I have the technique and the palate, but I also see the passion and the love behind creating a dish. Something as simple as an egg is memorable to me because of who made it.
Christina Fitzgerald: I have a lot of them. I would not want to say one, because I feel like I would hurt others' feelings because they've all done so much for me. And I'm so close to them, and I'm so grateful for all of the time that they offer up to help me.