All Posts In Community

Caption It: Bunny Ears

by in Community, June 28, 2013

Damaris Phillips, Russell Jackson and Nikki DinkiEach episode of Food Network Star runs for about 42 minutes total — not including commercial time, of course — but to produce that short amount of television, finalists, mentors, camerapeople and behind-the-scenes crew devote three whole days to filming a single show. Shooting often starts early in the morning and doesn't wrap until late in the evening, and while the process is indeed efficient and organized, the cast is surely left with downtime, both on the set and behind the scenes. It's up to them to fill that time on their own: Should they try to anticipate future challenges, hash out go-to recipe ideas, reflect on the competition in their journals or chat with contestants?

Given the sneak-peek photo above from Sunday's all-new episode, it looks as if Russell and Nikki have taken the moments before filming begins to simply goof around with each other, donning silly faces, lighthearted expressions and bunny ears. Do you think they've become slaphappy by their long days on set, or are they using the play time to de-stress from the competition? Will they be able to regain focus and professionalism before the next challenge begins?

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Sunday’s Star Menu: Patriotic Eats and Drinks

by in Community, June 26, 2013

Fruit-Tart FlagAs Sunday afternoons turn to evenings and the hours until the next episode of Food Network Star tick away, how do you settle in to watch the latest premiere? No matter who you're with or where you're watching from, you surely have on hand a spread of eats and drinks to last you through the episode, right? Here at Star Talk, we want to see what you're munching on. Every Wednesday, check back for a themed menu to get you ready for the episode ahead, and on Sunday nights, snap photos of your spread and share them with @FoodNetwork via Twitter and Instagram using #FoodNetworkStar.

Food Network Star will pay tribute to the most American of holidays on Sunday night with a 4th of July Live Star Challenge that tests the finalists' abilities to think — and cook — quickly on live television. With no stops, restarts or scripts allowed, this will indeed be a test of the contestants' star powers, and what better way to showcase your own stars and stripes than with a menu of patriotic eats and drinks to enjoy during the show?

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Caption It: Face Plant

by in Community, June 21, 2013

Alton Brown, Giada De Laurentiis and Bobby FlayIt's no secret that the finalists face a mountain of pressures week after week, cooking against the clock in all-or-nothing challenges, strutting their stuff for a crew of cameras and enduring hours-long evaluations that ultimately determine their futures. But what about the mentors, Alton, Bobby and Giada? They, too, grapple with a series of Star stresses, as it is, after all, up to them to narrow down the crop of contestants before you, the fans, choose your next star. The burden is on them to find each competitor's strengths and weaknesses, and give them the tools they need to show off the former and improve the latter, all while maintaining the distance and fairness of a judge. Alton, Bobby and Giada handle the job differently depending on the day, but for each of them, when the work becomes particularly trying, sometimes all that's left to do is laugh.

Take a look at the sneak-peek photo above from Sunday's all-new episode: Alton, Giada and Bobby have gathered at evaluation, and it seems that for Giada, the moment is simply too much to bear. She's face-first on the table while Alton offers a well-meaning giggle and Bobby displays a look of apparent confusion. Do you think they've just endured a particularly difficult elimination, or have they taken a brief break from deliberation to relax among friends?

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Sunday’s Star Menu: Hot, Buttered Popcorn for the Movies

by in Community, June 19, 2013

Theater-Style Buttered PopcornAs Sunday afternoons turn to evenings and the hours until the next episode of Food Network Star tick away, how do you settle in to watch the latest premiere? No matter who you're with or where you're watching from, you surely have on hand a spread of eats and drinks to last you through the episode, right? Here at Star Talk, we want to see what you're munching on. Every Wednesday, check back for a themed menu to get you ready for the episode ahead, and on Sunday nights, snap photos of your spread and share them with @FoodNetwork via Twitter and Instagram using #FoodNetworkStar.

On Sunday, the remaining finalists will leave the comfort of the Star Kitchen and get their first tastes of Hollywood by starring in big-screen movies shown at a luxury cinema. For the first time, they'll work in teams to create trailers that promote themed menus. Even though they're at the theater, the Selection Committee may expect more from the finalists than fresh-popped popcorn. But for fans watching the episode unfold from the couch at home, a bucket of the hot, buttered stuff is the ultimate snack when it comes to movie-paired munchies.

Try Food Network Magazine's Theater-Style Buttered Popcorn to re-create the concession stand classic. The key to this recipe is clarifying the butter — accomplished by melting it and letting it rest until it separates into three layers — as it will offer a decadent flavor without making the popcorn soggy.

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VOTE: Who Do You Think Is the Scariest Chopped Judge?

by in Community, June 15, 2013

Someone will get chopped on this Sunday's appropriately themed episode of Star (watch an extended preview here). Like most Star and Chopped endings, it won't be pretty. And it wouldn't be a real Chopped experience without a Chopped judge present — Alex Guarnaschelli, especially. Alex has judging down to a T, not to mention she understands the stress of these competitions, having recently won The Next Iron Chef.

Standing in front of the judges’ table on Chopped is scary for any contestant, especially when he or she is waiting to hear the criticism from the judges. Both Alton and Bobby have admitted they believe Alex is the scariest Chopped judge to face. But what do you think? Vote in Star Talk's poll below.

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Caption It: What Caused Alex to Make This Face?

by in Community, June 14, 2013

Bobby Flay and Alex GuarnaschelliChopped fans know that when it comes to doling out blatantly honest criticism and no-nonsense feedback, Alex Guarnaschelli, a longstanding member of the judges' panel, does it best. She has more than 15 years of experience at the table and knows what winning dishes look and taste like, which means that come Sunday night, Food Network Star finalists will have to cook above and beyond Alex's expectations if they want to impress her. She'll join the Selection Committee as a guest judge during the Chopped-style challenge, overseeing the contestants as they attempt to fuse mystery basket ingredients into camera-worthy meals.

While some contestants may indeed prove to her their culinary chops, others will inevitably disappoint — and then some will simply be so shocking that Alex is rendered nearly speechless at the sight of it. Take a sneak-peek look at the snapshot above from Sunday's all-new episode: Bobby can't help but chuckle as Alex looks on in amazement at what's going on in front of her. What do you think has caused her to make such a face?

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The Infamous Shimmy: Duck Fat Will Never Be the Same Again

by in Community, Videos, June 13, 2013

After watching Damaris Phillips' premiere performance last week, judge-mentor Bobby Flay had but one piece of advice for her: "Don't try to seduce us." It appeared as though she took that instruction to heart, but, unfortunately she let history repeat itself this week during the Burger Bash challenge, and it almost forced her week-two elimination.

Not long into her live cooking demonstration in front of the Selection Committee and an audience of 100 guests, Damaris once again resorted to uncomfortably suggestive body language as she described a key ingredient in her dish. She revealed duck fat to be the must-have addition to her pimento cheese burger, and she accompanied the announcement with a shoulder shake and shimmy that left the audience both grimacing and laughing — "at her," no less, according to Alton Brown.

Damaris realized almost immediately the mistake she'd made, explaining, "When I get nervous, I default to being awkwardly sexy sometimes." Come evaluation, she knew she'd be in for harsh feedback: "My presentation was crap. I went up there and did exactly what the Selection Committee told me not to do." Bobby indeed doled out hard-to-hear criticisms, among them that her demonstration was "a little off-putting," and Damaris was simply unable to hold back tears in front of her peers and the mentors.

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Sunday’s Star Menu: Alex Guarnaschelli’s Sweet and Savory Pizzas

by in Community, June 12, 2013

Flatbread With Bacon and Scallion PestoAs Sunday afternoons turn to evenings and the hours until the next episode of Food Network Star tick away, how do you settle in to watch the latest premiere? No matter who you're with or where you're watching from, you surely have on hand a spread of eats and drinks to last you through the episode, right? Here at Star Talk, we want to see what you're munching on. Every Wednesday, check back for a themed menu to get you ready for the episode ahead, and on Sunday nights, snap photos of your spread and share them with @FoodNetwork via Twitter and Instagram using #FoodNetworkStar.

The remaining Star finalists are in for perhaps their most-difficult judgment to date on Sunday night when Next Iron Chef: Redemption winner and Chopped judge Alex Guarnaschelli joins the Selection Committee. She'll be on hand to lend constructive criticism and honest feedback as the competitors try their hands at something with which she's all too familiar: mystery ingredient baskets. What better way to watch the battle unfold than with a feast of some of Alex's best recipes? Pizza is a no-fail classic for low-key nights in front of the TV, and Alex has two top-rated versions to satisfy both your sweet and savory cravings.

A dressed-up version of everyday pizza, Alex's Flatbread With Bacon and Scallion Pesto can be made in less than 40 minutes and calls for just a handful of ingredients. Since there's no traditional tomato sauce on this pie, the secret ingredient is the creme fraiche spread, which acts like sauce; it's mixed with fresh lemon zest and seasoning, and it serves as the bed for the other toppings like soft caramelized onions, crispy bacon and a vibrant pesto featuring scallions, capers and parsley.

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You Asked: What Exactly Is an Underground Chef?

by in Community, June 11, 2013

Underground Chef Russell JacksonFans saw Russell make an incredible comeback this past Sunday night on Star with his bacon-bourbon marmalade burger. But when it comes to Russell's point of view, viewers are still stuck on this one question: What exactly is an underground chef?

Let's start here: Subculture dining is a version of an underground supper club. Simply put, it's an exclusive dining experience, almost like a dinner party where the guests have an intimate experience with the chef. It's a time for the chef to try new dishes, think outside the box and create something different from the usual dining experience. Just because you hear "underground chef" or "underground supper club," doesn't necessarily mean the meal takes place in the basement of a space or "underground."

Underground (n): a secret operation.

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Caption It: Alton Means Business

by in Community, June 7, 2013

Alton Brown and Giada De LaurentiisWith only 11 weeks of competition between their premiere performances and the finale, Food Network Star hopefuls have the narrowest of windows to leave a lasting impression on the Selection Committee. It's up to them to find their culinary hooks quickly, sharpen their kitchen skills and ultimately convince the mentors of their staying power on the network. With Daniela's early departure last week, the contestants learned that most will not enjoy the time they need to prove their progress, and come Sunday, their star potential will be tested in a new way during live demonstrations at a Burger Bash-inspired event.

Check out the sneak-peek photo above from this weekend's episode: Alton's delivering what appears to be a not-so-gentle remark to the competitors during evaluation. Do you think he's speaking to the entire group, or is he singling out one finalist who's especially struggling? After just two weeks of competition, should the mentors demand progress, or should they understand the time it takes to learn and improve? How long is too long to wait for a finalist to demonstrate growth, on the plate, on camera and on stage?

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