All Posts In Behind the Scenes

Jumping Into the Fray

by in Behind the Scenes, July 24, 2010

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Hey, Guys: I’ve been following all the chatter going on here at Star Talk and to put it simply – I had to join the conversation!

Every week, through the remainder of the show, I’ll be happy to answer questions you send in via our blog here, Facebook or Twitter. If you don’t have a question, but a comment – well, leave that too. I love reading your insights (and several have made me laugh out loud). Keep ‘em coming!

Now, let me get to your questions.

Do you guys watch the behind-the-scenes footage of the cast, kitchen incidents, etc. before making an evaluation decision?Nicole Miller

Wow, excellent question, Nicole. There are hundreds of hours of footage from every episode, so it’s not logistically possible to screen and edit it all for us in time for judging. But the producers are vigilant about making sure we know EVERYTHING that went on behind-the-scenes. We get massive amounts of background notes before every judging event. The notes detail and transcribe every notable moment for the finalists while they were shopping, cooking, living together, etc. Why? As we say in this competition, character matters.

How long do the eliminations really take? The editing makes it seem really quick.Jenny Cohen

On average, we talk to each finalist for about an hour. Every judge addresses every finalist. We spend a lot of time giving them constructive advice. In the early episodes, these sessions can take about 10 hours. It all gets edited down to 12 minutes (of course, all my best lines are left on the cutting room floor). Pity the poor finalists – we’re sitting all this time; they have to stand.

Hi Bob. Have you ever thought about the contestants judging each other? Kris Mohnen

Hmmm. That’s an interesting idea, Kris. We haven’t, although we do that on The Next Iron Chef when they’re all pro-chefs. Maybe we’ll try it?

Hello Bob. I was wondering how someone goes about presenting an idea for a Food Network show. Who would a person contact, and what kind of presentation would you be expected to give?Devin S. Forbes

I’ve got bad news, Devin. For legal reasons, we are not permitted to review show ideas from individuals. We can only take pitches that come from major production companies (i.e., those who produce network series). So if any of you have an idea, you need to make a deal with a production company, who would then pitch it to us.

Have you ever tasted something that you had to spit out, or even made you sick?Mike Walters

Luckily, no food in this show has made me sick yet, though some has briefly made me lose the will to live. A few weeks ago DAS and Tom served jerk slaw which everyone but me actually spit out (I was fascinated that they could fit so many horrible flavors onto one fork). In two weeks, you’ll see a dish that I call the WORST DISH in the HISTORY of The Next Food Network Star. Not to put too fine a point on it.

Would you consider taking someone whose food and technique is not the best (but rocks it on-camera) or vice versa – knowing that they will need work to be ready for their own show? Or, are your criteria that they have to excel in both areas? Tim McMillin, Sr.

Our stars really need to have expertise and food credibility to make it, mostly because our viewers are smart and food savvy. That said, if we saw someone who had the inherent personality and passion for food, but just hadn’t learned proper technique yet, we might tell them to come back after they had been through culinary school and had some experience.

What is the most important factor in picking a star? Rebecca Stuart

Well, it’s not quite grammatically correct, but there are TWO most important factors when picking a star: A charismatic personality that pops on camera, and an authentic passion for and expertise in the food world. Unfortunately, those qualities are so rare to find together. But if it was really easy to find people like this, I probably wouldn’t have a job.

How much thought is put into the candidates' ethnicity, sexual orientation, gender, etc. when choosing contestants for The Next Food Network Star, Chopped, etc? From the outside it appears to be far too much. Gary Saunders

Our candidate pool and our audience is richly diverse in every way. So, we’re lucky to be able to pick the finalists we feel have the most potential while still being able to reflect the diversity of our viewers.

At the start of the season do you have a gut feeling about who the winner will be? If so, how right have you been? Hope Harris- Gayles

I’m right about half the time. But no matter what the initial feeling is, you never know how the finalists will do when put to the test. Last year on the first day of taping, I thought Melissa, Jeffrey and Jamika radiated the most charisma. Two years ago, I thought Aaron was disastrous at the beginning of taping. Three years ago, I never could’ve guessed Amy. But Guy, and the Hearty Boys I had a good feeling about from the start.

That’s it from me. Now, what say you?

Talk to you next week.

Caption This: Stress on the Star Set

by in Behind the Scenes, July 21, 2010

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Last week's fete at Frank Sinatra's wasn't the happiest paarti for Ms. Aarti. The next challenge is right around the corner, bringing a fresh chance to prove herself. What, pray tell, is she thinking? Help us make the picture sing--caption it. Then click over and vote for your favorite finalist.

A Love Story or Two (OK, Maybe Three)?

by in Behind the Scenes, Food Network Star, Recap, July 19, 2010

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My first love was Dzintra, but as with all great love stories – ours was cut short far too early. After the enviable Dzenis-Dudley romance of 2010 ended, I knew I must move on and find my next reality star romance. Serena and Brianna both fit the bill perfectly. But, who would I choose? To love one meant I would have to hurt another. I’d been left so heartbroken before, I couldn’t stand to hurt one of them like that. Oh, how I’ve been conflicted!

Serena and Brianna have made the decision-making process very difficult. In my reality (yes, it’s a bit skewed), both have been competing for my affections. Serena with her unintentional comedic timing, Brianna with her diva-esque quality – both have been screaming, “Choose me! Choose me!” It has been embarrassing, actually. When the ladies argued a couple of episodes back, I knew that I was at the root of the tension. I hate it when ladies fight over me.

This sordid love triangle brings me to last night’s episode. Again, watching the two of them cook at Frank Sinatra’s house to win me over – or the judges, whatever – was difficult to watch. Even though Brianna was very hard on tuna casserole (a fave meal of mine), I knew the tuna hostility was really misplaced anger – she wanted my decision, and she wanted it NOW.

As Herb, Aarti and Brianna were left standing in front of the judges – one of them about to be eliminated – I finally made my decision. As I watched Brianna in her blue dress bravely stand before the panel, I knew she was the girl for me. The thought of losing her was terrifying! I couldn’t withstand that kind of pain. And once she survived this elimination, she and I would move forward with our relationship. She would forgive me for having been so confused for so long and Serena? Well, she would come to understand that cupid’s arrow had struck – and once that little dude strikes, he can’t be stopped.

And then, it happened. They sent my girl home! Can you EVEN? I threw my shoe at the TV! How dare Bob, Bobby and Susie, yet again, come between me and love?! It’s like they have a personal vendetta against me and are determined to have me die alone. Bobby, if you’re reading this, can’t you help a brother?! When did you turn on me?

Brianna, my love, I must let you go. I will always carry you (and Dzintra) with me.

Serena, you lucky girl – I’m all yours! Honestly, now that I sit and reflect, it has been you all along. Seriously. NF0607_Serena-Preview-Feature_s4x3_lead

 

Exclusive: Bobby Dishes on Aarti and Aria

by in Behind the Scenes, July 19, 2010
WWBD? Watch Bobby's online-only vlog.
WWBD? Watch Bobby's online-only vlog.

After shooting episode six at Frank Sinatra's former home, Bobby recognizes that Star is falling down to the wire. "Consistency, to me, is very important when you're trying to put forth what your food point of view is," he says in a FoodNetwork.com exclusive vlog, reacting to Aarti's Camera Challenge and explaining his appreciation for her smoked salmon canapes.

Less impressed with Aria's shrimp-as-pig-in-blanket (she threw the pig out the window!), Bobby knows what she should have done--or at least he is sharing what he might have done, his Re-Flay. "Imagine pork belly wrapped in phyllo or puff pastry or something very light, and then..." Watch Bobby now, in his own words. Cue the mouthwatering.

In the Stars’ Shoes: What’s You In a Jar?

by in Behind the Scenes, July 16, 2010
Brad Sorenson's Three-Onion Cherry Jam
Brad Sorenson's camera challenge effort: Onion Cherry Jam

During this week's camera challenge, Susie asked the finalists to create a food that was "you in a jar." Some finalists had more success than others cramming themselves into said jar. Brad's 3-Onion Cherry Jam shined at the judges' table, but he forgot to flash his million-dollar smile for the Venice Beach crowd. Meanwhile, Tom made the audience crave his Citrus Marmalade (even on yuck-factor foods like brussels sprouts and chicken livers) but the taste made Bob shudder, "He made me want to buy 12 jars…but I would have returned them all." And poor Serena! Before her big comeback, the granddaughter of the "patron saint of marinara sauce" botched her bottled Amatriciana sauce and gave a nerve-filled presentation.

The moral of the story: It's easier said than done. So, what would you make? Would your jar be butter-filled like Paula's, as spicy as Bobby's or totally off the map?

TELL US: What's you, in a jar?

Foes, Frenemies, BFFs: The Many Faces of Serena and Brianna

by in Behind the Scenes, Community, July 15, 2010

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Is the Serena-Brianna dramarama done? Have they reached detente? Not that long ago Serena was in tears after a kitchen collision and a foot injury--with Brianna to blame.

When the pair partnered in a food truck challenge this week, they fought like sisters, "but in a good way," Brianna told the Selection Committee. They hugged it out, learning that their dishes--empanadas and panini and gyros--scored a win. As the intensity is upped, can they keep it civil?

NF0603_TS-StarChal-4_s4x3_tzBrianna's facing heat for her cool approach. Bob T talks in his vlog about how the audience in the live demo simply disengaged: "Brianna was probably the biggest offender there; her presentation just left them flat." But in her vlog, Giada counters that Serena "is stuck in what she wants to do," rather than connecting with the audience and judges. (Funny, that's not the impression you get over on Food2, where Serena debuted, in a way, before Star was a twinkle in her eye.) Given that they both, like the other finalists, have work to do, it might be best for them both to go ahead and get along instead of resorting to schoolgirl spats.

NF0605_BTS-Serena_s4x3_tzThen again, maybe not. Don't you get fired up by people who rub you the wrong way? Doesn't the next Star need passion and intensity and strength? Could it be strategic to set your competitors off their game by distracting them with faux, or real, ire? I'm guessing I'm not the only one who is hungry for more, because it is, after all, entertaining.

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Hug. It. Out.

Now it's your turn. You make the call: Should Serena and Brianna stay frenemies or foes or become BFFs? We want to see your comments (though the comments you've shared toward them in the past few weeks indicate you prefer warm and fuzzy to too cool for school). Tell us what you think.

Then check out the fan vote and vote for your favorite finalist--last I looked, Brianna was the favorite of 2 percent of voters; Serena was at 7 percent. Tough times with each other but limping along together?

Caption This: Episode 6

by in Behind the Scenes, Food Network Star, July 14, 2010

This week on The Next Food Network Star, Bobby gets – well, let's just say he's not all about a few of the finalists' offerings.

How would you caption this pic of Bobby?

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Bobby Flay Energizes Herb and Takes On Cheeseheads

by in Behind the Scenes, Recipes, July 12, 2010

Cooked: Herb and his oil blend run out of gas. Bobby tells him what he should've done instead.
Cooked: Herb and his oil blend run out of gas. Read on and watch to see how Bobby would've made it work.

Energy Chef Herb was crestfallen when he and fellow finalists failed to beat the three-minute buzzer during their cooking demos. Stage right, enter Grill It Guy and all-around Superman Bobby Flay. In less than three minutes, Flay troubleshoots a trio of Star hopefuls' dishes, transforming them from meh to masterful. And he shows off some dapper duds, to boot.

In this week's Re-Flay, he jazzes up Herb's cooking-oil stir fry conundrum in a flash, then takes on Team Wisconsin. The king of Bobby's Burger Palace tells Brad and Aria they needed fattier beef (20 percent fat!) for better burgers. And if your marketing plan includes boasting about being Cheeseheads, he advises, skimping on the cheddar is a bad call, no matter how you slice it.

Listen to Bobby's advice before the next episode.

How can Bobby make it look so easy when the finalists look so tortured? C'mon, did anyone look good? Vote for your favorite. Then check out this week's scrapbook starring Dame Paula Deen. And no, Aria's injury was not Brianna's fault.

I Think Paula Will Just Know

by in Behind the Scenes, Food Network Star, July 10, 2010

So as many of you are already aware, Paula Deen is the special guest judge on tomorrow’s episode of The Next Food Network Star. What do you think she'll be able to bring to the table for the finalists?

I'm actually a pretty avid Paula fan: I, too, adore Southern cooking and, I too, think it might not be worth hanging around if the world somehow ran out of butter. Add to that the time I had the good fortune to actually meet her in an airport. She soooo did not disappoint: on-the-spot clever, jokingly self-deprecating -- believe me, I could go on. In short: I’m ALL ABOUT seeing her hang out with the Star cast.

And yet … most of my anticipation has nothing to do with how downright fun and engaging I think she is. Here's the thing. Whether you're watching her on TV or being briefly (though very graciously) accommodated by her in an airport, you sense that this is a woman with crazy-sharp instincts when it comes to sizing people up. I got the sense she could tell me my ultimate life goal with nothing else to go on besides my description of the in-flight meal. (Yes, this was awhile back when you could still get those.) So tomorrow, I'll be keeping a sharp eye out for any subtle Paula "indicators." (Of course, the finalists' food will be a factor -- this is not a lady to hold back when it comes to stating what she likes and what she doesn't, I mean come on). But ... Is she looking a bit longer at Brad? Taking a moment to squeeze Aria’s hand? Smiling more when she’s around Serena? Hmmmm ….

Caption This: Episode 5

by in Behind the Scenes, Food Network Star, July 6, 2010

This week on The Next Food Network Star, Ms. Paula Deen steps in and gives her take on the Season 6 finalists (and their dishes).

How would you caption this pic of Paula?

Paula Deen on Star Set