If Food Network Star finalists think their mentors, Bobby Flay and Giada De Laurentiis, have particular requests when it comes to their presentations and offerings on the plate, just wait until this weekend when two special guests drop by unannounced. Hannah Hart, of YouTube's My Drunk Kitchen fame, and Modern Family sensation Jesse Tyler Ferguson show up and give the competitors game-changing calls just when they're least expected. If the rivals want to succeed, they'll have to think quickly and learn to embrace the unexpected amid contest pressure.
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It was just one year ago that Eddie Jackson was in Food Star Kitchen, battling 11 other hopeful rivals with the goal of earning the coveted title of Food Network Star. Now, with that victory secured, he's returning to this hallowed arena, this time not as a finalist but as a judge of Star Salvation. Yesterday we chatted with his fellow judge, Alex Guarnaschelli, in an exclusive interview. Now we're bringing you a one-on-one chat with Eddie. Find out what it's like for him to return to where it all started and get his thoughts on the pressure competitors face at this stage of their journey.
What's it like to be back in Food Star Kitchen, where your own Star journey began just one year ago?
Eddie Jackson: I got to be honest, it’s weird. When I walked into the kitchen I almost ... had a mental breakdown because I thought about all the stress and stuff that I had to go to just to win, and it’s only been a year, so, you know, it’s still fresh in my mind. So I got to admit: It’s a little awkward coming back in because I’m freshly removed from the competition. But at the same time I’m just privileged and very honored to be giving these eliminated finalists any advice that I can.
You hear from Alex Guarnaschelli in her weekly Star Reports, where she breaks down the Food Network Star competition like only a veteran judge can. Now, starting this Sunday night after the all-new episode, she and Eddie Jackson, last year's winner of Star, will join forces to judge Star Salvation. Together they'll challenge this season's ousted finalists to both camera and cooking tests over six weeks in the hopes of finding one hopeful worthy of re-entering the Food Network Star competition.
We caught up with Alex to find out what skills she'll be looking for in the eventual winner and learn her approach to mentoring the competition. Read on for an exclusive one-on-one interview with her, then hear from Eddie.
What do you need to see in them in terms of camera skills and cooking chops in order to find your winner?
Alex Guarnaschelli: I’ll tell you the No. 1 thing is that I have to believe them. I think that it’s really, really hard to let your nerves go and to say, "Wow, maybe what I’m saying isn’t exciting enough, or I should be doing this or that and just putting it out there." Sometimes when you just honestly and transparently admit what’s going on around you and relate it to how you live your life, that’s actually the stuff that separates you from the pack because people aren’t able to do that.
Alright, fans. Be honest. You met the Food Network Star finalists just a few weeks ago, but we're guessing that you've already picked your favorites. Right?Finalists' true personalities are becoming clear to the mentors — and likely you watching at home too. We want to know what you're thinking at this point. Who are you rooting for? Need a refresher about what went down? Check out these top moments from the first, second and third episodes, and go behind the scenes with the crew.
Bold Food + Big Personalities + Bumps in the Road = 5 Unusual Finalist “Recipes” — Alex’s Star Reportby Alex Guarnaschelli in Food Network Star, Recap, June 6, 2016
This week’s Food Network Star integrates the important world of Food Network Magazine with developing an important muscle for any burgeoning food star. That muscle? "Flexing" written recipes and food images to engage viewers and make them eat with their eyes. The challenge? Create an "original" dish based on a proposed recipe title. Giada and Bobby offered the following titles: "Batter Up" (Joy), "Crab Appeal" (Yaku), "Mount Everzest (Tregaye), "Better Off Bread" (Monterey), "Meat Me Halfway" (Martita), "For Heaven’s Flake" (Erin), "Cold-Hearted Cake" (Rob), "Hot or Not" (Damiano), "Sea and Be Seen" (Jernard) and "Carved for Attention" (Ana). I definitely felt some of these were harder to visually convey with food. While "Cold-Hearted Cake" could be illustrated with heart-shaped cake, and "Mount Everzest" could be sculpted into something mountainous with lots of citrus zests, "Sea and Be Seen" and "Meat Me Halfway" were not good matches for Jernard or Martita, respectively. The added catch? If esteemed judge and Food Network Magazine Editor-in-Chief Maile Carpenter didn’t connect the title and the food, the judges wouldn’t taste it! That’s rough. Can you imagine if you made a dish and no one ate it? Jernard, Martita and Monterey suffered this fate. The winner? Tregaye. Her tasty Lobster Bread Pudding gave the judges the clearest connection among the title, food and ingredients. This challenge win left Tregaye with an advantage.
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.
On the set of Food Network Star, the hours are long and the days are many. So when there's a break in filming and the mentors are left simply hanging out between takes, they do what anyone would likely do in their position: pose for the photographer and snap some candid shots, of course.
Take a peek at the photo above. It was taken behind the scenes of Sunday's all-new episode, in which finalists work in teams to film promos for a would-be Food Network show. While both mentors are smiling for the photographer, Bobby Flay has taken to doing a little dance. Or perhaps he's striking a pose. Or showing off his slick shoes. To be honest, we're not exactly sure what he's up to, but there's no doubt he and Giada De Laurentiis appear to be having fun.
Good news, fans. If you've ever watched mentors Bobby Flay and Giada De Laurentiis swoon over an especially impressive dish from a finalist on Food Network Star and wished you, too, could experience what they're tasting, you're in luck. We're collecting all of the winning recipes from each challenge in every episode and sharing them with you so you can try them at home.
No matter if you're craving Rob's succulent crab cake or Ana's Cuban-inspired burger from the premiere, or Damiano's seafood taco or Jernard's Greek-inspired mac and cheese from Week 2, we've got the how-tos for you to make these dishes and others. Check them out below, and keep coming back here to find the latest recipes available.
Though the Food Network Star finalists met in Food Star Kitchen for evaluation in the premiere episode, Week 2 marked the first time they cooked in the arena. This massive space, complete with an expansive pantry, a demo kitchen, a wall of ovens and more cameras than you see on TV, is the ultimate in function. And with the lights, Star logos, and abundant supply of common and next-level ingredients alike, it's pretty cool too.
While we were on set, we snapped photos throughout Food Star Kitchen, from the shelves full of tools in the pantry and the produce picks up for grabs to the finalists' workstations outfitted with handy gear and seasonings. Read on below to check out exclusive behind-the-scenes photos of the set that you won't see while watching the competition unfold on your TV. Plus, find out little-known culinary trivia about the show from the culinary producers.
No finalist enjoys being sent home from the Food Network Star competition. After all, this contest has the potential to change hopefuls' lives and ultimately set them on a much-coveted career path, so when the mentors deliver the news of elimination, it's simply crushing to the ousted rival. But on Sunday night's new episode of Food Network Star, when a double elimination shocked the cast, Aaron was particularly upset to be among the bottom-four rivals.
During evaluation, Aaron attempted to defend his Star Challenge dish to the panel, telling Bobby Flay and Giada De Laurentiis, "I threw in some bacon, just to give it a little depth of flavor — all the love that I put into that." But in the end Giada told him his plate just didn't best Rob's, and Aaron wasn't satisfied with the feedback. "It's complete BS," Aaron said in the stew room. "My dish was great, you know? I tasted everything, over and over and over." And when he learned that he'd be going home, Aaron became only more displeased. Before leaving the competition, he offered the judges one final parting line: "Suck it."