It's the nature of the Food Network Star beast that even though no matter how badly finalists want to achieve their dreams of stardom, ultimately only one can win the coveted title, and with that, 11 finalists will be going home. Every week Star Talk will bring you the first exclusive interview with the most-recently eliminated finalist. From thoughts on mentors' critiques to reflections on past challenges and hopes for the future, be sure to check back every Sunday night for the latest one-on-one chat. We're about to break down the ins and outs of tonight's new episode and reveal who went home, so if you've yet to watch the show, read no further until then.
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If the premiere was all about first impressions, then this Sunday's Episode 2 is set to show which finalists have the chops to go the distance in this competition and who, perhaps, was simply gifted a bit of beginner's luck last week. Not only will the contestants have to impress judge-mentors Bobby Flay and Giada De Laurentiis in two tougher-than-ever challenges on Sunday, but they'll also come face to face with two other superstars — Melissa d'Arabian and Alex Guarnaschelli — both of whom know all too well what it takes to succeed in a culinary competition.
Melissa's the Season 5 Star winner, so she's uniquely aware of the anxieties and pressures affecting the finalists right now; it's up to her to not only judge them but also offer the finalists been-there-done-that words of wisdom that only a fellow Star rival would understand. Alex, too, knows the best bets for finalists hoping to wow a judge — after all, she is a frequent judge on Chopped and a notoriously no-nonsense one at that.
Check out the sneak-peek photo above to get the first look at Sunday's all-new episode. While Rue, Sita and Jay look somewhat pleased at what's going down before them, Emilia appears downright shocked and Matthew looks on with a blank stare. What do you think they're reacting to?
For the remaining 11 finalists vying for Stardom, Guy Fieri, Melissa d'Arabian and Jeff Mauro are proof that it is indeed possible to graduate from the group of Star hopefuls to the ranks of superstardom on television. On Sunday's all-new episode, the competitors will receive the shock of a lifetime when they see one of these been-there-done-that survivors return to Food Star Kitchen. Melissa, the Season 5 winner, will enter the arena not as a hopeful, of course, but as a guest judge and Committee member who's all too aware of what the rivals are experiencing on their journey to Star glory.
Star Talk caught up with Melissa recently to get the dish on her upcoming appearance, and she spoke of her feelings for the finalists. "I feel nervous for them because I know how nervous I was. And I know how much you want it," she explained. Keep reading below to hear more from Melissa in an exclusive interview, then tune in on Sunday to see what she thinks of the Season 11 contestants.
Will you judge the competitors differently having been in the competition before?
Melissa d'Arabian: Absolutely! I think that it should be a requirement that before you can judge anybody else cooking under these circumstances, that you do it once or twice, because it’s hard, and there’s a lot of stuff that’s at play.
Do you sympathize with what the finalists are going through, or do you believe that if you survived it, then they can too?
MdA: I really feel for them. I feel nervous for them because I know how nervous I was. And I know how much you want it. I remember that moment of anticipation where the guest walks out and you’re waiting to see who it is and if you relate, and what you think, you know. It’s all as clear as day to me. I remember that emotional feeling. I remember it all. And, yeah, I get it. I feel very much. I feel very deeply for these contestants — very much.
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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.
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And they’re off! This week we met the 12 contestants from the 11th season of Food Network Star, and the competition is sure to be fierce. Along with presenting their food, the contestants also had to present 30-second promo videos to hook the judges and 100 cocktail party guests. There were definitely some food fails and wins — as well as shaky nerves! We loved the concept of the olive oil-poached shrimp appetizer made by Staten Island native and food truck owner Dom Tesoriero, and the judges thought it was delicious, so we headed to the Food Network Kitchen to develop a recipe for you to try at home. They’re super-simple, luscious and tender.
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The first days in a new setting are all about making (hopefully positive) first impressions, and the Food Network Star competition is no exception. This week the 12 hopeful finalists arrived in Los Angeles for the job opportunity of a lifetime; not only did they have to get to know each other — their rivals vying for the same title — but they were also introduced to mentors Bobby Flay and Giada De Laurentiis, Food Network executives Bob Tuschman and Susie Fogelson, as well as the entertainment industry as a whole, represented by People Magazine's JD Heyman.
Star Talk was on set at Triunfo Creek Vineyards as the competitors showed off their 30-second pitch videos to the Selection Committee and presented the panel with first-ever bites of their food. We caught up with Bob and Susie after these initial on-camera and on-the-plate introductions to get their first reactions to this year's crop of talent. Click the play button on the video above to hear what they had to say.
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Mentors Bobby Flay and Giada De Laurentiis are known for their go-big-or-go-home approaches to the Food Network Star competition, so it was no surprise when they not only tasked the finalists with an impromptu spotlight challenge in the premiere episode, but also a next-level cooking test. The cooking challenge sent rivals out of Food Star Kitchen and on location to a food festival, where they had to prepare signature eats for a crowd of 100 people. It takes quite a feat to pull off both the in-studio production and the taping at Triunfo Vineyards, located in the picturesque setting of the Malibu mountains, for an episode like this; below are never-before-seen photos from both sets. Keep scrolling for an insider's look at the making of the premiere and to see what the cast was up to between takes, then check out the full behind-the-scenes gallery for more snapshots.
“Mama Raised Us All to Be Champions:” Of Likables, Shrimp and Long-Lost Italian Cousins — Jeff’s Star Reportby Jeff Mauro in Food Network Star, Recap, June 8, 2015
Ahhh, early June is upon us. The flowers are in full bloom, the pollen count is off the charts, my tank-top tan is ripe and another cast of hopeful foodies — with often questionable culinary points of view — are presented before us in the grand parade known as Food Network Star. I could not be more excited for two reasons. First: I am, first and foremost, a longtime Food Network Star fan. And second: I am an alumni and winner of the show. Having been through this experience, I am the perfect person to guide us all through this season’s journey of ups and down, cuts and burns, unexpected challenges, and the ubiquitous quest for one’s culinary “personality.” Every Monday I'll be bringing you inside my mind for the latest dish on the previous night's contest.
It takes a lot of moxie to put yourself out there and audition for this show. An overnight process it is not. I tried out three times (getting very close once) before I was cast on Season 7. On that Sunday evening, when the premiere episode of Season 7 aired, my life instantly CHANGED. I know it’s a cliche statement, but from that point on my life has been a whirlwind wooden roller coaster of shoots, flights, appearances, the good and the bad, and tons and tons of fun. That being said, to whomever wins Season 11 of Food Network Star, I have a couple words of advice: Family is everything. Keep them close and be sure to have them remind you daily that, yes, indeed your poop does still stink. Be nice to everyone, especially the crew. Give back. My career has thankfully lasted, and I believe these are the reasons why.
OK, onto the premiere episode.
It's the nature of the Food Network Star beast that even though no matter how badly finalists want to achieve their dreams of stardom, ultimately only one can win the coveted title, and with that, 11 finalists will be going home. Every week Star Talk will bring you the first exclusive interview with the most-recently eliminated finalist. From thoughts on mentors' critiques to reflections on past challenges and hopes for the future, be sure to check back every Sunday night for the latest one-on-one chat.
Tonight's premiere episode showed the finalists getting their first tastes of potential stardom as they took those momentous steps into Food Star Kitchen, several with their eyes wide and mouths agape, and surely many had butterflies in their stomachs. We're about to break down the ins and outs of the episode and reveal who went home, so if you've yet to watch the premiere, read no further until then.
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In honor of Food Network Star's most-groundbreaking season yet, Susie Fogelson — one half of the esteemed team of Food Network executives on the judges panel with judge-mentors Bobby Flay and Giada De Laurentiis — partnered with BaubleBar to add to her signature style in the form of fashionable jewelry. When it comes to dressing for TV and the office, Susie explains, "Regardless of the setting, I want the look to complement my personality," and regardless of the clothes or accessories, I always want the focus to be on what message I am delivering."
Just in time for tomorrow's premiere, when Susie will debut the first of the BaubleBar pieces she'll be wearing this season, FN Dish caught up with her to learn more about her style and what she's most looking forward to in this year's competition.
How has your style evolved over time?
Susie Fogelson: As I mentioned earlier, my style has evolved as my life has changed. Depending on my schedule, what the mornings are like with the girls, what meetings are booked through the day as well as what after-office-hours plans may be, I would say my casual style has changed over time more than my business or eloquent looks, as my casual style needs to be comfortable, but also reflect both my roles as a working mother and an executive.