All Posts In Food Network Star

Double Trouble

by in Food Network Star, June 13, 2011
Finalist Justin Davis
Justin D. and his snazzy bow tie.

Were you surprised by last night’s double elimination curve ball? I certainly was. Bob and Susie are tricksters, aren’t they? But, let me tell you: I was not surprised that of all the finalists, Juba and Katy were the two sent packing.

Juba was waaaaay out of his element. I was stunned to see how stunned HE was at his elimination. Really, Juba? How that came as a shock to him I'll never know. As I told you last week, his performances left me very uncomfortable and with a blanket over my head.

And, Katy – look, she wasn’t good on camera. I get that. However, she is someone who puts on a brave face in the midst of adversity. Though her “grin and bear it” attitude came off as impersonal to the judges, I felt for her and understood her. And she fought back tears, which made me really respect her. I’m not a fan of tears on this show. Katy could serve as an example to other finalists (um, Alicia).

OK. Penny. I took heat last week for praising her, but today I admit it: I did not like how she turned on Orchid. How anyone could start a ruckus with that sweet woman is beyond me. Though I still enjoy Penny’s straightforward and honest way of tackling this competition, I didn’t like how she singled out Orchid. But, the thing is, she was very well aware of what Penny was doing. Again, with Penny, there is no question where you stand with her. At least Orchid knew what (who) she should watch out for.

Justin D. wears bow ties and so do I. I like this guy because of that. I know I should probably have more than just his attire to base my opinion on, but that’s all I got and I’m sticking to it. Jyll with a “y” did very well in this episode. But, for some reason, her personality isn’t resonating with me. She’s flying a bit under my radar. And more than anything, that “y” is really starting to bother me. Whitney needs to liven up. I understand that she’s a former engineer and still has that “engineer focus,” but she’s on TV now – and we’re not here to watch paint dry. Warm up a bit, Whit.

Oh, before I forget – Jeff’s sweating into his food. Wow. That made me a bit nauseous. Giada seemed horrified and rightly so. Thankfully, he got it together in the second challenge and I feel certain he won’t be without a headband in the future. Actually, a headband could be part of his shtick.

Finally, I thought Mary Beth was the true star of this episode. The judges’ comments last week really motivated her to bring her best. She was engaging and very funny. Simon Cowell is always talking about talent with the “it factor.” I’m not exactly sure what the “it” is, but in my opinion, she has “it.”

Till next week.

Caption It: What’s So Funny, Guys?

by in Food Network Star, June 10, 2011
Your Caption Here

Chefs Anne Burrell and Scott Conant guest judge (along with Pat and Gina Neely!) on the upcoming episode of Star and prove it’s not all work and no play on the set. Don’t let them fool you, though. This week’s challenges — one of which goes down in Chef Conant's restaurant kitchen at Scarpetta in Beverly Hills — are jam-packed with dramatic and emotional twists and turns.

Before you tune in to watch all the events unfold this Sunday at 9pm/8c, we’re challenging you, Star fans, to write your best captions (tastefully appropriate, please) for their LOL-worthy moment in the comments below.

Man on the Street

by in Food Network Star, June 8, 2011

Star Finalists

I’m a fan of Food Network Star and reality TV in general. And, I write this blog post as just that – as a Star viewer sitting at home in my pajamas watching this new season unfold. For in-depth analysis and behind-the-scenes Star news, you’ll want to watch the web-exclusive videos, read the other blogs or peruse on-set photos available at FoodNetwork.com/Star. For the rest of you who enjoy silly observations and baseless information, I’m your guy – you and I will get along beautifully.

So, I just watched the season premiere and here are several of my standout observations. After you read mine, please share yours.

1. We have major tattoos going on this season. Howie, Justin and Vic all have sleeves. Vic is an overachiever and even has ink on his neck. I respect tatted people. An inked person is saying to the world: “Hey world, I’m decisive and committed. I’ve made this lifelong decision and I am good with it.” As a person who will change his shirt five times before settling on that day’s attire, I admire this kind of stick-to-itiveness. Because of their tenacious spirit, I believe the inked finalists will go far in this competition. Now, you may be thinking, “Um, hello – Howie was just eliminated.” Well, the only explanation I can come up with for that is his tattoos must be henna and removable (like Madonna’s).

2. Alicia cries an awful lot, which is very irritating. Do you think she plans on turning the water works on every show? Personally, I could do without it. When the judges noted her way of speaking, she seemed to really take that criticism hard. Why, though? She’s from Missouri and lives in New York – has no one ever made mention of her accent before this show? Speak slower and more clearly – that’s all they want. Use your accent to your advantage. Paula Deen’s accent certainly hasn’t hurt her career.

3. Penny. I liked her. Reading through the comments left on Bob Tuschman’s recent blog post, I see that she has irked many of you. Some are calling her downright “mean.” I don’t see that. Actually, I find her refreshing. I like people who are upfront and direct. People who say one thing to your face and another behind your back are the ones who are trouble. Penny lays it all out for you. You know exactly where she stands. She wants to win this thing. I say, “Go, Penny.”

4. I hope Orchid is reading this. Hi, Orchid. You’re my favorite finalist. I want to hug and squeeze you and put you in my shirt pocket. You can cook, you’re sweet and the camera loves you. I think I may, too. Are you single?

There are plenty of other topics to cover, but I’d like for you to jump in. Need some help? Mull these over. Why does Jyll spell her name with a “y"? Don’t you find that suspicious? Doesn’t Jeff remind you of someone famous? Is it Vince Vaughan, perhaps? And finally, Juba. He made me very nervous (in an embarrassing way). I actually pulled a blanket over my head so I couldn’t watch him. Did he make you tense?

You’re Invited!

by in Food Network Star, June 3, 2011

Bobby and Giada

Join us for a live Twitter party to celebrate the premiere of Food Network Star Season 7 — and dish on every little detail, of course. An all-star guest list has already RSVP’d: Judges Bobby Flay (@bflay), Giada De Laurentiis (@gdelaurentiis) and Bob Tuschman (@bobtuschman) will be tweeting along with special guests from episode one.

Alton Brown (@altonbrown), Mario Lopez from Extra (@mariolopezextra), Hal Rubenstein (@hal2r) from InStyle and Jess Cagle from Entertainment Weekly (@jesscagleEW) will all share their impressions as they watch themselves at the Star dining table.

Obviously, we'd love for you to be there too. Here’s how: Follow @FoodNetwork on Twitter during the super-sized two-hour Star premiere on Sunday, June 5, at 9pm/8c. Use #Star in your tweets to join and track the conversation.

Can't wait two more days? We understand — we're getting antsy, too. Get a sneak peek here, check out all the finalists and support your early favorites in our Fan Forecast vote.

See you Sunday!

Keeping Up With the New Star

by in Behind the Scenes, Food Network Star, August 27, 2010

Aarti Sequeira

You followed her journey through all the Star challenges, marveling as she progressed from early insecurities to a few misses and many hits to a knock-out showing in the series finale.

Now Aarti's the latest and greatest addition to our Food Network Family, and her new show, Aarti Party, is gaining fans at lightning speed.

Keep up with future Aarti happenings over on our FN Dish blog, and follow her Facebook and Twitter updates, too.

Plus, check out videos of her latest recipes in the video section of her show page.

Finally, to all you fans and bloggers who made this such an awesome season, thank you. We couldn't be happier with our new Star, and we hope you love her as much as we do!

Looking for some spice? Share a favorite dish or two you'd love to see Aarti feature on her show.

Welcome, Aarti!

by in Food Network Star, Recap, August 16, 2010
Next Food Network Star Aarti Sequeira and Rachael Ray Food Network host Rachael Ray and Star winner Aarti Sequeira

We have a winner. And I mean a real winner.

Bobby, Susie and I agreed that Aarti is a fresh, natural and exciting talent. She’s both sophisticated and down to earth. Beautiful and relatable. Her food is both comforting and exotic.

Mostly, I think she’s a natural television presence: relaxed, radiant and warm.

Choosing wasn’t easy. She, Tom and Herb were each so different — in personality, point of view and cooking styles. There was something to love about each of them. And fans were passionate for their favorite. And sometimes against anyone who wasn’t their favorite.

Seeing the volley of comments last night from viewers showed the passionate emotional connection that Tom, Herb and Aarti were each able to establish with fans. That encouraged me that any of them could have been the right choice.

But ultimately, Aarti was our choice: a natural star, with an exciting point of view, amazing cooking skills and most importantly, ready to have her own series on television next week.

Aarti will be bringing her party to Food Network starting next Sunday at noon.

Over and out.
Bob

In Aarti’s Own Words: Macarena, Anyone?

by in Behind the Scenes, Food Network Star, August 16, 2010

Next Food Network Star Aarti Sequeira

Where am I? What time is it? Who am I?

All these thoughts are running through my mind this morning.
Oh yeah.

I'M THE NEXT FOOD NETWORK STAR!

I've never been able to do a cartwheel or else I'd do one right now. Would you take a round of the Macarena instead?

No?

Oh, ok.

To think, on day one, that I served raw chicken. Raw. To Bobby Flay. I remember thinking, I'm going home. I can't believe I'm going home already. My friends and family will be so disappointed in me.

Oh, and that budget-friendly, tastebud-unfriendly egg curry I served at the swanky Sinatra estate. I'm sure Frank was rolling his twinkly blues that night.

And of course, that monkey that sat on my back from day one, whispering, "You're no good. And it's only a matter of time before they figure it out." I know that it was frustrating for you guys to watch me collapse time and time again. I know, because it was beyond frustrating for me! I don't know why, but I never saw myself the way the committee, the house, or you guys saw me, even though I'd won more challenges than anyone else at the house. It wasn't until Bob Tuschman called me a "former frontrunner" in episode 5 that I realized who I was, or had been.

That's why this victory is so powerful, so meaningful. I can shove this metaphorical crown in that evil monkey's face (I think of the monkey from Family Guy gritting his teeth and pointing!): "See? I AM good!" This is proof to myself that I do have a purpose, that my life does have meaning. When I doubt my creativity, I'll remember that Turk-Eye Meatloaf or the Pomegranate-Glazed Lamb Kebabs that impressed the Obi-Wan of the cooking world, Chef Jonathan Waxman. When I doubt my energy or my strength, I'll remember sleeping four hours before prepping, cooking and serving on the cramped, smoky food truck for six hours ... or going straight from a long day at the supper club into a late-night evaluation. When I don't think my food is fancy enough or good enough for the most discerning taste buds, I'll remember how I killed it on the Iron Chef Challenge, how my culinary superhero, Chef Morimoto, loved my food. I mean, I did an Iron Chef battle, people. Not only did one. Won it (not against an Iron Chef, but... well, not YET!). How many people can say that?!

And so, to that monkey I say, "Adieu and thank you. I'm sure you had a purpose in my life, but I'm done with you now, and I never want to see you again." For any of you struggling with the same monkey, know that you don't have to carry him around forever. To my fellow contestants, especially my brothers from another mother, Tom and Herb: Thank you so much. To stand up there with you two was an honor and a blessing. I learned something from all of you, whether it was how to be strong in the face of adversity (Brianna), or how to coat your chicken wings in mustard to make them extra crispy (DAS!). Thank you to the selection committee for your patience with me, for all the therapy during evaluation (!), and for giving me another chance to lift my head up with pride. To all the producers, crew, culinary crew: we all saw how hard you guys worked even when you were more tired than we were. Thank you. And to you, out there in TV-terra: Your constant messages of support and encouragement were like a chorus of angels willing us forward. Thank you. And I hope you stay for the next chapter in this crazy story! And finally, I hope you'll allow me one final shout-out to God: Father, You know I'm nothing without You. Thank you so much! AMEN! Selah!

WOOOOOHOOOOOOOOOO!

So How About You — On Star?

by in Food Network Star, August 13, 2010

Next Food Network Star Final Three

You've followed their progress all the way to this Sunday's finale, watching as Herb, Aarti and Tom aced the challenges ... or fell flat. And at some point maybe you thought, "I could do that."

So why don't you give it a shot?

Casting for the 2011 season of The Next Food Network Star is happening now. And after taking in all the action of Season 6, you already know what we look for: great cooking chops, a passion for teaching and a winning personality.

If you're confident you've got the goods, remember this: the final three got started by just throwing their hats in the ring. So come on. Roll the dice and see if you could be the next Star!

 

Heading Into the Finale Feeling Good

by in Behind the Scenes, Food Network Star, August 9, 2010

Herb Mesa

This whole experience has been nothing short of a rollercoaster ride, but all in all it’s been worth every up and every down! Linda and the girls are the most amazing part of my life, and I wouldn’t be here on the show if it weren’t for them.

Going into the pilot, I feel really good -- and nervous, but I feel that I have a very good chance at winning. My show idea just came to me as I realized that The Energy Chef concept alone may not be the right fit for Food Network, and that they really seem interested in my Latin culture, so I went with it and made it work still keeping it healthy.

Rachael Ray on The Next Food Network Star My food has gotten better, and I feel more comfortable with the cameras and with my new culinary POV. Meeting Rachael was sooo surreal -- I was like, ‘I can have her job one day! This rocks!’

I Just Have To Be Myself

by in Behind the Scenes, Food Network Star, August 9, 2010

Aarti Sequeira

There aren't enough exclamations to convey my excitement:
Leaping Lizards!
Jumpin' Jehosaphat (sp?)!
Holy Carp!

Nope. None of them work.

Here it is, our chance to actually DO the thing we've been fighting tooth 'n' nail for! And while I'm nervous (who wouldn't be), most of me is actually calm. It was always the cooking at the drop of a hat that spooked me. Being in front of the camera is fun! When I look in that camera, I'm going to imagine my husband Brendan, my family and my friends on the other side. I wonder whether anyone is going to help us through this thing? Cooking and talking to camera is much harder than it looks. I'm going to stick to my original mantra: be bold, and be joyful. After all, this may be one of the toughest challenges yet – putting everything we've learned so far together in one short pilot – but people watch Food Network to escape the difficulties, the pain, the doldrums of real life. We've got to bring the warmth, the joy, the fun... and wrap it around a tasty morsel and some kitchen know-how.

What could be easier, right? Hmmm.

I'm so happy to be up here with Tom and Herb. They've become brother-like to me. They even tucked me into my bed last night (an empty room now that Aria has left), and simultaneously kissed me on either cheek.

"My two dads!" I said, and they laughed.

Next Food Network Star Finalist Herb Mesa Next Food Network Star Finalist Tom Pizzica Don't get me wrong. They're fierce competition. Each of them can cook their pants off, and their brand of personality is so unique to who they are. I can't replicate it. Herb energizes you, and makes you feel optimistic about reaching your health goals. Tom makes you laugh and makes you feel like extraordinary food is within your grasp. It's sort of comforting to me - I can't be them. So I just have to be myself, do what I do, and see what happens.

We're all going to have a new career at the end of this, whether we win or not. But let's be honest. None of us want to lose. We might love each other to bits, but our competitive streak is still alive and kicking. Winning this thing would be a massive, humongous, gargantuan blessing to any one of our lives. Winning would make the last 9 weeks of sacrifice, challenges and no sleep all worthwhile.

Still, should either of my brothers win, I know I'll be almost as happy as if I had. I will wrap my arms around them, squeeze them half to death, and cry with joy. Because once you win this thing, it is no understatement to say that your life will never be the same again.

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