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.
Crunch time is here, and it has nothing to do with breakfast cereal for dinner. Poor Serena belted out the tunes but didn't strike a chord with the Selection Committee. Pasta la vista, bella. Aria had a little memory lapse, forgetting her manners and interrupting Aarti, right when the team leader was introducing their course-by-course Supper Club extravaganza. (Hmm, wasn't Aria upset when Dzintra interrupted her a few weeks back?) Mano a mano, up next. Aarti came out fighting with a killer Green Chicken Curry after last week's dip, topping the challenge along with Brad, who brought his A-game cooking chops--and lamb chops. Who's your favorite?Tom, for his part, brought the salt. Too much of it, that is, according to Bob, Susie, Bobby and the food-loving diners who weren't loving the Unemployed Chef's salt(y) cod. Happy Herb was cooking this week but apparently needs to be a savvier shopper. (Susie, you're right. He saved cash for his team but almost took one for the team as a result.) Maybe grocery goddess Melissa d'Arabian, last year's Star winner and host of Ten Dollar Dinners, could help him--dazzling on-air this episode and online live tonight, offering up commentary and dinner ideas alike. Tell us which finalists' recipes you're making at home this week, then check out the chat transcript below for the way, the truth, the light--all sorts of fan fare, so to speak. Next swank Supper Club, Melissa's invited, and so are you.
Maybe it was Frank Sinatra's swank piano-shaped pool or the breezy Palm Springs air. After teetering along in past weeks, as Bob Tuschman said, Brad the Tin Man got his joints oiled, showing off a newfound swagger. As he wrapped up his reinvention of chicken cordon bleu, he sprinted across Sinatra's lawn with a knife (don't try this at home!) to finish on time, but then was cool as a Rat Packer before the Selection Committee, Ted Allen of Chopped and Food Network Magazine's Maile Carpenter. Fans chatting with us liked what they saw--though the jury's still out on the Justin Timberlake lookalike's "Pro" moniker. Former finalist and funny guy Adam Gertler, host of the sweet new show Kid in a Candy Store, stopped by to chat again, this time not only, ahem, complimenting Serena's pout but also sharing his awe at Susie's perfect hair. Don't doubt it, Mr. G, it's coiffed daily in a way that dazzles. Less perfect were performances by Aarti, Herb and Brianna. Unfortunately, Brianna's distaste for tuna noodle casserole showed even after she amped up her own version with crab and Brie. Poor diva downer--if she had gotten a different dish or minded her toasty 'shrooms, would she still be around? Smart cooking tips and techniques, creativity, salesmanship and a positive point of view aren't too much to ask more than halfway through the competition. (Who's doing all of the above best? Vote for your favorite finalist daily.) Check out the chat archive below, then watch our vlogs to see what Bobby would have done differently this week and what Bob, Susie and Giada had to say about what and who got burned--and whose cooking simply sings.
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?
Brianna'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.
Then 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.
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.
Midterm exam time. Who sailed, who failed? And what made Paula Deen bring up her string bikini and the quality of her grandchild's cooking ability? Who came out on top--Team Serena or Team Brianna? Did Herb get back on track or crash and burn? Oh the suspense! There was too much drama to fit into an hour this week, so we got extra time and a bonus live chat with season four finalist and Food Network star and funnyman Adam Gertler. Like a Kid in a Candy Store--that's his sweet new show--Gertler zinged fans with running commentary and an admiration for all things Serena. Even Mr. Flay joined the fray with live tweets. The finalists faced two challenges: First, create "you in a jar" and present it to a big-ole live audience. Then they had to team up and run a food truck. That's when the twists and turns arrived. Some happy surprises--two chicks seemed to reach detente ("The empanada, y'all, is really good," Paula said), for now, which bizarrely disappointed chatting fans. Check out the chat below for details, then jump behind the scenes for Bobby's recipe makeover of finalists' dishes (would love his pointers!) and vlogs from Bob, Susie and Giada. Then vote for your favorite finalist, up to ten times per day. Meantime, I'll be wondering if Brad should let dark horse Tom borrow his lucky hat, and if Adam might borrow one of Bobby's ties. A+ episode, everyone.
Adam Gertler, our special guest in tonight's Star chat, will have (I’m sure) some enlightening takes on how this competition's playing out. Things are starting to get wilder, and he was, after all, in the finalists' shoes himself not too long ago. But … I also have some other, non-Star questions I think might be fun to run by him, too:
1) What are three foods you'd pick now if you ever did another "Freaky" special on cuisine?