By now you've seen the Food Network Star fan vote, right? You know that by supporting your favorite finalists you can help them top the polls? Good, because right now it seems like you all have strong — strongly positive — feelings for one hopeful in particular. Joy Thompson, a restaurateur and mom of five from North Carolina, is currently enjoying a nearly triple lead over the next-closest finalist. To date, Joy's garnered a whopping 44 percent of your votes, while baker Erin Campbell is coming in second place with 15 percent of the votes and Martita Jara, the winner of Comeback Kitchen, is trailing Erin closely with 13 percent.
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Alright, fans. Be honest. You met the Food Network Star finalists just a few weeks ago, but we're guessing that you've already picked your favorites. Right?Finalists' true personalities are becoming clear to the mentors — and likely you watching at home too. We want to know what you're thinking at this point. Who are you rooting for? Need a refresher about what went down? Check out these top moments from the first, second and third episodes, and go behind the scenes with the crew.
It was only last week that the Food Network Star finalists, in the competition for all of a few minutes, received the first of many surprises when Martita, a former finalist and the winner of Comeback Kitchen, joined the cast. And this week they're about to receive yet another unexpected shock: a double elimination. But before two hopefuls will say goodbye, the contestants will endure their first team challenge and enjoy a mash-up rap battle at the hands of the mash-up master himself, Rev Run.
While the Food Network Star competition is 11 weeks long, finalists have but one single opportunity to make a positive first impression on Bobby Flay and Giada De Laurentiis. Recently both mentors told us the importance of these initial meetings, as Giada explained: "That first day, that first impression, we keep going back to. And sometimes it saves you and pushes you through." Bobby said, "I don’t think you ever forget the first impression of somebody," though he was quick to note that there's room to grow later if need be. "I’m very open in terms of making people evolve," he added.
Mere hours after accepting the title of Food Network Star, Eddie Jackson took to Food Network's Facebook page to chat with the fans who stood by him through 11 weeks of competition and are ready to see him on his upcoming show, BBQ Blitz (premiering Friday, Oct. 9 at 10:30|9:30c). From his fitness philosophy and his early days of footballing to his kitchen hero (hint: It's one of his Star mentors), Eddie answered fans' questions.
Read on below to learn 11 key pieces of Eddie trivia, then go on the set of the finale with the Season 11 victor in an emotional exclusive interview.
1. Looking back on his Star journey, Eddie remembers two special moments most fondly: "First thing was when I met Bobby Flay, because I was such a huge fan. Secondly, everyone on the show became instant best friends. Those two things really stand out to me."
2. "I gave my dad a huge hug and a kiss," Eddie says of how he celebrated just moments after he learned of his win.
3. Though Eddie's passion for food is undeniable, he admits: "Football came first. I started playing before I could barely walk!"
4. "My favorite dish to prepare is escabeche fish," Eddie says.
Competing on Food Network Star brings opportunities of a lifetime, like competing on a national stage, the biggest and most-inspiring one there is, and being mentored by industry legends Bobby Flay and Giada De Laurentiis — and that's not even counting what happens after winning. But with the contest comes sacrifices, like having to leave home and be away from family for an extended period of time, which is precisely what Michelle Karam couldn't handle, as she explained to the Selection Committee of her decision to walk away from this once-in-forever chance and quit the competition with just weeks remaining. She shocked her fellow finalists and the judges with her unexpected decision, and in her one-on-one exit interview with Star Talk, she explained of her husband and children, "They trump everyone and anything else." Michelle added: "I’ve never once during this entire competition had anyone else in my mind. Every second. Every minute. Every day. They are my life." She also apologized to her fellow finalists: "I didn’t know I wasn’t going to be able to go on any further until I got to that point. Truly. I left the day if not the moment I figured out I could no longer go on."
Fans, after watching the dramatic exit unfold on Sunday night, what did you think of Michelle's decision to quit? Are you proud that she put her family before all else, or are you disappointed and thinking that she gave up on a dream? Are you simply shocked and unsure of what to make of the news? Tell us in the poll below. For a look at how the unprecedented actions played out on Sunday, click the play button above.
From first-impression spotlights and sunny days at an alfresco food festival to a not-so-sweet baking challenge, a 4th of July switcheroo cookout and a think-on-your-toes improv challenge, the remaining rivals have survived six weeks of camera and culinary challenges, and now only half of them remain as they reach the midpoint of the competition. As they gear up for the second half of the contest and you, the fans at home, get close to meeting your newest Food Network Star, we want to know who you think is the frontrunner thus far. Are you banking on one of the final six being crowned the winner, or do you think one of the Salvation hopefuls is going to come back and claim the title?
Vote for your favorite rival here to support him or her in the fan poll. Right now Christina, who was ousted in Week 1, is claiming a whopping 17 percent of the votes, while Emilia's in second place with 12 percent of the votes, and Jay and Matthew are tied with 11 percent apiece.
Need a refresher on who's made the most — and fewest — strides so far? Click through the photos below to relive each week's challenges.
It was Emilia's plan all along on Sunday night to take a grand risk in front of the judges, as she explained of her plans for her comedy club performance in front of mentors Bobby Flay and Giada De Laurentiis, plus Food Network executives Bob Tuschman and Susie Fogelson, "I know going into this presentation I have to do something risky, something that's going to show who the real Emilia is." While she indeed delivered on her risk, it surely didn't pay off; by roasting her fellow finalists during her demo, mocking them, and calling to attention their perceived flaws and quirks, she came off as "mean-spirited," according to Bob. Bobby, too, noted the awkwardness of her performance, as he said, "It got a little uncomfortable there at the end." And Susie admitted, "I felt slightly abused by her."
But Emilia told her side of the story in her exclusive exit interview with Star Talk and explained, "I stand by the fact that I took a risk; I wish I would have thought about doing it in a different manner." Though she added later, "I knew the guys would laugh. ... You know, they're like my brothers, so I'm allowed to make fun of them."
We want to know what you, the fans, think of Emilia's presentation. Did she go too far in mocking and insulting her fellow finalists, or was it simply all in the name of good fun and a laugh? Cast your vote in the poll below to share your thoughts.
Dom and Michelle may have been challenged to deliver a fitting fusion of flavor on Sunday night, but what they presented — both on the plate and in person — was anything but harmonious. "Just make the food and let's get this done," Dom told Michelle, deciding for their twosome that he'd make risotto and she'd prepare an add-in, which left Michelle feeling sidelined on her own team. "OK. So it's The Dom Show, and Michelle is the dumb sidekick," she grumbled, frustrated that she had little creative input into their dish. When it came time to present, their frustrations quickly got the better of them. Dom felt Michelle to be usurping their intro, and he proclaimed, "Like a true marriage, the husband can't get a word in edgewise," ultimately leaving the crowd feeling awkward and the Selection Committee stunned. "That was painful to watch," Giada said afterward.
Do you, the fans who watched the argument unfold, think that one person was correct and another was clearly in the wrong? Are you in agreement with Dom and his all-business attitude, or do you think Michelle was right to speak up during the presentation? Who are you siding with? Tell us by voting in the poll below. (If you need a refresher on what went down, click the play button on the video below.)
Not only was Sunday's episode all about each finalist's first chance to impress the Selection Committee, but it was also their first opportunity to wow, you, the fans, who are watching the journey unfold. From their initial struts into Food Star Kitchen to their final moments at evaluation, the premiere allowed you to see the competitors as they are under pressure — both at the stove and away from it — and learn a bit more about their all-important culinary POVs.
Each week it's up to you fans to decide which of the rivals is your favorite and who you think is worthy of topping the fan vote. As it stands right now post-premiere, Christina, the finalist who faced week 1 elimination, is holding the lead with 20 percent of the votes, while Matthew and Emilia, both of whom had only OK showings on Sunday, are following closely behind with 14 percent and 13 percent, respectively.