Fans 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."
With only 11 weeks of competition between their premiere performances and the finale, Food Network Starhopefuls 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?
If this season's Food Network Star contestants want to take home the ultimate title in a few months, they'll need more than just fancy knife skills and a winning smile; hopefuls must dress the part of a star as well, showing off their individuality and signature style with clothes and accessories both on camera and off.
Last week, fans met the finalists for the first time, and even after just one episode, it's clear that each of the competitors lets his or her personality shine through their wardrobe in the form of bold prints, bright colors, soft fabrics and flirty footwear. Former rock 'n' roller Rodney sported a feathered top hat, while Viet donned dark-rimmed specs and a sleek sport coat and Russell embraced a casual, comfortable collection of T-shirts and sweaters. The ladies, too, modeled an array of pieces, including a red-and-black leopard-print blouse worn by Lovely, a fringed vest on Daniela and sky-high ankle boots on Stacey.
As 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 finalists will be given their meatiest challenge to date on Sunday: host a Burger Bash for 100 hungry guests and present their best between-bun creation to a live audience. As they're tackling the heat of the grill and the demands of cooking for a crowd, host your own scaled-down version of the bash at home. Follow Tyler Florence's lead and set up a Burger Bar (pictured above), featuring a spread of juicy, tender patties, plus an array of toppings and condiments. After taking the burgers off the grill with the deliciously gooey melted cheese on top, arrange them on a platter alongside the fixings, and let everyone build their ultimate burger. Whether you're entertaining partygoers or simply trying to cater to a few picky eaters, inviting guests to assemble their meal to their liking ensures they will get the burger they're craving — no extraneous toppings to pick off or eat around.
Justin Warner is holding strong in the weekly Fan Vote with 31% of your votes. Longtime leader Martita Jara is still a close second at 29%, and her teammateIppy Aiona has fallen to 17% but still hangs on to third place. With just two weeks to go until our Finale Vote — where you, the fans, will decide on our next Food Network Star — will Justin continue to impress the judges with his outside-the-box food and rebel-rousing ways?
The in-season Fan Vote resets each week, so make sure to cast your vote for your favorite finalist up to 10 times per day.
Check out the complete list of Week Seven Fan Vote results:
We're down to three Star finalists remaining and just one episode to go until one of them has a new show on Food Network. You've been voting for your Fan Favorite all season, but now we've got another question. Of the 12 eliminated finalists, who was your least favorite? Cast your vote for the finalist who you were relieved to see go home.
Cue the confetti: Aarti Sequeira is the Next Food Network Star. Challenge after challenge, she fought for the spot, rollercoastering past insecurities and weaving the Selection Committee's suggestions into her delicious dishes and effervescent demos. Big-flower purveyors rejoice! More important, home cooks can look forward to Aarti's sparkle and charm as she teaches them--starting next week!--how to experiment with exotic ingredients and use them in everyday cooking. Tons of you joined Bob Tuschman and Susie Fogelson for our live finale chat tonight, talking through the whys and wherefores of this wild season, commenting along as the judges and a focus group screened the demos and as the drumrolls rolled. Check out the archive to see who said what. Kudos to all this season's finalists, but only one person can be the Next Food Network Star. Congrats, Aarti.
Did you watch? This was the last episode before the finale. The four remaining finalists were inside the famed Kitchen Stadium being judged by their toughest critics to date (the Iron Chefs, themselves).
I'm not going to give anything away here (look around the website or read the chat replay below for answers), but it has now been announced who the final three are to head in to the finale. Exciting stuff, people!
For the finale next week, Star judges Bob Tuschman and Susie Fogelson will be chatting live. Be sure to join us.
We are only one episode away from knowing who will be The Next Food Network Star! Pretty amazing, right?
Aside from just wishing he was still around, I've been thinking some about what Brad could have done differently. What might have kept him in the running? His food had some inconsistencies, but he certainly proved himself enough times on the cuisine front. His camera presence, at first so shaky, definitely seemed to be coming around. Should he have taken more risks? Or maybe it was the late discovery of his culinary point of view. Would he have pulled through with just one more episode to see how this newly defined direction (which the judges seemed to like) played out?
So based on what Brad wasn't able to do, who of the "final four" seems to have the best shot at going the distance where he fell short? Who's your money on at this point? Whoever it is, don't forget to vote for them ... just one more week and it's finale time.
Tonight! Wow, I can put the evening in to one word: "Exciting." Eva Longoria Parker jumped in as our celebrity guest judge (I'm still laughing at her question to Timberlake) and Giada De Laurentiis stepped in to the Star Lounge to answer some of your questions. In my humble opinion, Episode 8 and tonight's chat were the best (and most surprising) we've had this season.
What did you think of Timberlake's elimination (and the episode overall)? Review the chat log below and let me hear your thoughts.