by Maria Russo in Food Network Star, Interviews, Judges, July 26, 2016
by Alex Guarnaschelli in Food Network Star, Recap, July 25, 2016
We're just days ahead of Sunday's Food Network Star finale and the announcement of this year's winner, and no one knows what the top-three hopefuls, Damiano, Jernard and Tregaye, are feeling right now better than Guy Fieri. Ten years ago this bona fide superstar was filming his own pilot and waiting in eager anticipation for the results, just like the Season 12 finalists are today. Now he's returned to the Food Network Star competition, not as a finalist, of course, but as the director of Damiano's, Jernard's and Tregaye's pilots. His past as a competitor and his decade of shining on Food Network on such fan-favorite series as Guy's Big Bite and Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives means that he has a unique perspective on the pilot process and what it takes to film a successful show.
We checked in with Guy to find out what it's like to be back on the show that launched his Stardom and get his take on his last 10 years on Food Network. Read on below for an exclusive one-on-one interview with him, then click the play button on the video above to hear more.
It was just 10 years ago that you were in these finalists' shoes, filming your pilot and going for the win. What’s it like to have the tables turned and to be right back where you started?
Guy Fieri: This round of Food Network Star — they just get better and better. Each year I think that people are watching the show, seeing how it works, upping their game. I mean, these three that I’ve had a chance to work with have upped their game so much. They would have beat me back in the day. The game gets tougher, the challenges are more difficult, and they’re really talented. I think you could have a show out of any one of them. I would tune in. ... My interest in it is how coachable they are, and they’re really enthusiastic, and they got good creds. Any one of them could do great.
by Maria Russo in Food Network Star, July 22, 2016
We are down to the final three Food Network Star competitors: Jernard, Tregaye and Damiano. What a season! I don't know about you, but I feel like the cream has definitely risen to the top in this pack of finalists. I just can't really decide who the winner will be.
I have had the pleasure of co-hosting a great web series, Star Salvation, with Eddie Jackson, the divine Food Network Star, Season 11 winner. Together we put the eliminated finalists through a series of additional tests as a learning process before picking one winning finalist to head back to the Food Network Star competition for a second chance. Eddie is all smiles and confidence, but he is also a tough cookie! Together we explored each finalist's culinary point of view and coaxed more dimension in front of the camera. Truth? More than one of the eliminated finalists deserved another crack at Stardom, but one really brought it: Chef Yaku. How can such a tall human become almost small and vulnerable in front of a camera? It's a simple answer: love of food. The man just gets so into his cooking and sharing his recipes! He is the obvious winner of Star Salvation. And now, just as the three finalists emerge for their final pre-finale test, out walks Yaku to join the competition. The mission in this episode is to make a dish in 60 minutes that embodies their points of view. Then, make a video (only one minute long!) in which they each describe and eat their dish. Piece of cake, right?!
by Maria Russo in Food Network Star, Interviews, Judges, July 21, 2016
Sunday's new episode marks the penultimate week in the Food Network Star, Season 12 competition. After nearly two months of camera challenges, culinary face-offs, unexpected twists and a roster of special guests, only one challenge stands between the remaining rivals and the opportunity to film pilots for their would-be shows on Food Network. The current top three — Damiano, Jernard and Tregaye — and the to-be-announced winner of Star Salvation have all put in the work to land among the final-four hopefuls. And mentors Bobby Flay and Giada De Laurentiis have worked just as hard to find those with the brightest glimmers of Star power. After all, when the judges met the competitors just 10 weeks ago, most weren't ready for the spotlight and indeed needed to be taught critical know-how.
Before you tune in on Sunday at 9|8c to find out which hopefuls will go on to shoot pilots, we're challenging you, Star fans, to write your best captions (tastefully appropriate, please) for this high-five moment in the comments below.
Tune in to Food Network Star on Sunday at 9|8c.
by Maria Russo in Food Network Star, Videos, July 20, 2016
It was just a few years ago that Aarti Sequeira secured her future as a Food Network Star, besting her fellow finalists to earn the Season 6 crown. Now, with incomparable been-there-done-that wisdom and an acute realization of what the remaining Season 12 finalists are feeling at this point, she's set to return to Food Star Kitchen on Sunday to watch Damiano, Jernard, Tregaye and the returning Star Salvation victor compete for three pilot opportunities.
We caught up with her on set to hear what it's like to be back on Food Network Star and walk down competition-memory lane. Read on below for an exclusive interview with Aarti to get her take on what's ahead for the finalists this week.
What's it like to be on the other side of the competition, as a judge and not a finalist?
Aarti Sequeira: It feels way better to be on this side of it. ... It's so hard to actually put yourself back in that position, only because it feels like so long ago, and it kind of was so long ago. I remember that it was bittersweet at this point. Maybe it's my nature or maybe it's the nature of the competition, but you get so close to these people, you know what I mean? And you know what it would mean for them to win, you know obviously what it would mean for you to win. But you want only the best for them ... and it's hard because you know that it's a mutually exclusive deal. If you win, they don't. If they win, you don't. There's no gray area there, and so it's tough. It's a tough psychological place to be.
by Maria Russo in Food Network Star, Videos, July 19, 2016
This is it. After five weeks of culinary and camera challenges, Star Salvation hosts Alex Guarnaschelli and Eddie Jackson have just one battle left to judge before selecting the finalist who's most worthy of returning to the Food Network Star competition. Monterey, Yaku and this week's newcomer, Ana, are set to showcase classic dishes reminiscent of their hometowns after taking in an expert food demo by none other than one of their mentors, Alex. It's up to each of them to not only demonstrate their expertise and authority in the kitchen, but also convey a presence on camera that's both easygoing and commanding. Ultimately two of these hopefuls will fall in a final effort to continue on the road to Stardom, while one will rejoin the Season 12 cast in Sunday's penultimate episode of Food Network Star.
Click the play button on the video above to watch Monterey, Yaku and Ana face off for the last time, and tune in to Food Network Star on Sunday at 9|8c to find out who's earned Salvation.
by Alex Guarnaschelli in Food Network Star, Recap, July 18, 2016
Remember the unexpected twists that came in Week 4's hotel challenge when VIP guests Jesse Tyler Ferguson and Hannah Hart made special meal requests? Or the shock in Week 5 when Robert Irvine stole 10 minutes from the finalists' prep time? Or the curve ball in Week 7 when competitors had to use frozen ingredients for a baking challenge? All of these unforeseen obstacles were ultimately learning moments for the Food Network Star finalists, but that doesn't mean they were any less tricky (or frustrating) to contend with. On Sunday night's new episode, mentors Bobby Flay and Giada De Laurentiis once again gave the contestants a game-changing surprise, but this one was far happier and more welcome than the others.
by Maria Russo in Food Network Star, Interviews, July 17, 2016
“I have the most clearly defined culinary point of view,” boasts Ana in the beginning of this tense episode of Food Network Star. “I don’t know what ‘fun, fusion, fleek’ — that's not a culinary point of view,” she says, throwing shade in Tregaye’s direction. What a way to begin. There’s no denying Tregaye has been a trailblazer these past few weeks. Building momentum with Giada and Bobby is critical, and we are down to a small enough group that mentor support is either obviously there or about to end. We begin the Mentor Challenge by picking dates (and their corresponding national food holidays). Each finalist has to make a dish and do a live streaming event with a surprise guest and questions from viewers in the mix. This is like a seven-ball juggling act!
by Maria Russo in Food Network Star, July 15, 2016
With only 11 short weeks to ready finalists before a winner will be chosen, the Food Network Star beast is such that week after week, hopeful competitors will fall, faced with the crushing disappointment of elimination. Here on Star Talk, we'll be bringing you the first exclusive exit interviews with the ousted finalists as they're sent home. Check back here every Sunday night for new one-on-one chats to hear from the just-eliminated competitors, learn their thoughts on the competition, and find out how they feel about the mentors' critiques of their final dishes and presentations. We're about to break down the ins and outs of tonight's new episodes and reveal who went home, so if you've yet to watch the show, read no further until then.
by Maria Russo in Food Network Star, Recipes, July 14, 2016
What started as a competition of 13 eager hopefuls has narrowed to just the final-four contestants. Ana, Damiano, Jernard and Tregaye have proved to be the strongest of the bunch — but they're not finished yet. As they look ahead to their next Food Network Star challenges, they'll be faced with their most-demanding tasks yet, and it will be up to them to prove they have the chops to rise to the occasion.
Take a sneak peek at the above photo from Sunday's new episode. With no time to waste, the hopefuls are set to sprint through the kitchen to get started on their latest challenge. After all, in true Food Network Star fashion, prep time is almost always tight, so running is surely in order. What do you think they're racing toward, and who is the speediest of the bunch?
After the Week 8 challenges kicked off with a task to reinvent regional specialties, the Food Network Star mentors put the spotlight on guilty pleasures — those decadent, indulgent, over-the-top dishes that are almost too wonderfully sweet, salty and buttery to be real. From a pork-focused appetizer to starter courses of seafood and pasta, then a beefy entree and a cookie dessert, mentors Bobby Flay and Giada De Laurentiis, plus guest judges Alex Guarnaschelli and Trisha Yearwood, were in for five courses of comforting fare.
We rounded up the best recipes from both challenges so you can make them at home. Learn how to make Tregaye's take on traditional loco moco, featuring a fried egg on top, or indulge your Italian cravings with Damiano's succulent tagliolini pasta with sea urchin. Check out the winning dishes below, then learn how to make all of the mentors' favorite dishes from past episodes.