We know he’s not exactly your average Star fan, but we just had to give the Fan Post of the Week to none other than Alton Brown himself. This weekend, the leader and namesake of Team Alton took to Twitter — with Post-it notes — to show his support and not-so-subtle competitive spirit for his top three contestants, Martie, Emily and Justin, as they prepared to meet the press. Pictured above is one of Alton’s many Star-related Twitter pictures. “One of these things is not like the others. #winner,” he scrawled on a Post-it which he stuck to his computer screen over an image of himself, Giada and Bobby.
Team Alton will bring only two finalists to Miami after saying goodbye to Emily Ellyn in last Sunday's episode. Emily embodied her "retro-rad" POV to a T, but after seven weeks she was still unable to open up and get comfortable on camera. After her presentation to the media panel, "awkward" was the word Jess Cagle from Entertainment Weekly used to describe her. "That's a word you never want to hear about someone in front of a camera," said Bob Tuschman.
Alton saw great potential in Emily: "She was a ready-made package. You could look at her and know what she was about. Retro-rad was great. She lives it. When she wasn't on camera, she was on the side crocheting. She was the real thing!"
Through "happy tears," Emily reflects on the Star experience and working with Alton: "There's no way to even prepare for something like this. The whole thing was awesome. I gave it my best, and I made great food. I was more upset when I was voted off that I let Alton down. He was there for us 5,000 percent."
Hear more from Alton, Bob and Emily in her exclusive exit interview. Did you want to see more retro-rad, or do you think it was Emily's time to go home?
For the first time all season, Team Giada has been bumped from the first-place spot in our weekly Fan Vote. Team Alton's "rebel with a culinary cause," Justin Warner, leads the remaining finalists with 23% of the vote. Martita Jara is on his tail at 21%, followed closely by Ippy Aiona at 20%.
Justin gave another solid performance this week, opening up to a media panel about the rebellious roots he inherited from his late dad. Bob Tuschman called Justin's bizarre-sounding dish of stuffed dates with peanut butter, duck and bonito flakes a "perfect bite."
Will Justin keep his momentum rolling as the finalists head to South Beach?
The in-season Fan Vote resets each week, so make sure to cast your vote for your favorite finalist up to 10 times per day. In just three weeks, fans like you will pick the next Food Network Star in our Finale Vote.
Check out the complete list of Week Six Fan Vote results:
Aarti Sequeira wonFood Network Star season 6 and expanded her popular blog into a cooking show, Aarti Party (catch it on Food Network, Sundays at 7:30am/6:30c). As a Star veteran watching from her couch at home, Aarti shares her insider’s take on what went down each week.
Someone give me my clairvoyance badge! (Isn’t that something you earn in the Girl Scouts?) Last week I asked why Emilywas so fascinated by the '50s, and why Justinfelt the need to pursue this "rebel without a culinary cause" POV because, in my estimation, what you cook isn’t the whole story — it’s why you cook that turns an everyday burger into something special.
And guess what? That was exactly what this week was about.
I’ll be honest. I’m still a bit surprised that Emily was sent home. She was an early favorite of mine, although always with a bit of reservation. I wanted to see beyond the awesome wardrobe and masterful cooking technique to the beating heart beneath the halter-neck apron. I had really hoped we’d get there this week.
During my season of Star, we often likened this competition to therapy. The last thing you’d expect in a TV competition about cooking is to have to deal with your demons. But you do, because being under this kind of scrutiny, under this kind of pressure, draws all of those suckers to the surface. And, rather than enduring hours of self-analysis on a couch in a therapist’s office, you’re doing it in your heels, under interrogator’s lights and before a national TV audience. It’s scary, no doubt. But one of the things I learned through Star is that if something scares you, you can’t back off — you’ve got to run full-speed at it, roaring with all your might.
Just when they are thinking that Bob Tuschman and Susie Fogelson are their toughest critics, the remaining finalists meet a new team of evaluators this week: the press. This group of media professionals can potentially make or break a Star’s public image, so it is especially important for the contestants to wow them with their unique culinary points of view, engaging personas and stellar stage presences. Last week, Martita struggled to tout herself as “Mama Mexico” when Team Giada was gifted a Mexican-themed challenge, one in which she should have starred. Going forward, will Martita be able to embrace that individuality in front of the press? Is she hoping to phone a friend to save her from the challenge?
Before you tune in this Sunday at 9pm/8c, we’re challenging you, Starfans, to write your best captions (tastefully appropriate, please) for this call-worthy moment in the comments below.
Relive last week's highlights and catch a preview of this Sunday's episode:
Food courts: Love ‘em or hate ‘em, we’ve all been there. Some stands are more inviting than others, offering fresh, cooked-on-site dishes served by friendly clerks, while many leave something — OK, plenty — to be desired.
On last Sunday’s episode, Starfinalists on Team Alton, Team Bobby and Team Giada opened their own versions of food-court kiosks at Lower Manhattan’s South Street Seaport. Challenging them to cook for and serve hundreds of passersby, the remaining contestants were forced to bring their culinary and social A games.
Team Giada’s Martita, Yvan, Ippy and Linkie opened Besa Me (pictured above), a Mexican-inspired pop-up serving tortilla soup, carne asada tacos, chipotle chili and churros. Yvan incorporated the secret-ingredient chicken livers into his dish and they won rave reviews from the judges. Bob Tuschmanexclaimed, “I could never imagine myself saying ‘I can’t wait for my next chicken-liver taco,’ but I can’t wait for my next chicken-liver taco!”
Seafood was on the menu at Team Bobby’s kiosk, American Sandbar (pictured above). Michele prepared bowls of traditional New England clam chowder, topped with a chicken-liver crouton, and Malcolm and Nikki offered Maryland-style crab cakes and fish tacos, respectively. Susie Fogelson wished that Nikki’s tacos had more of a spicy kick, while Bob Tuschman appreciated that Malcolm’s crab cake featured more crab than cake.
Team Alton’s trio of finalists opened Littler Italy (pictured above), serving Justin’s fritto misto with fried chicken livers, Martie’s Southern-style arancini and Emily’s sweet, fruity panini. Their Italian-style spread wowed the judges and earned each of them immunity from this week’s elimination.
Tell us: If you were at South Street Seaport, which of the Star food-court kiosks would you line up for?
Who’s your favorite finalist still in the running? Don’t forget to cast your Fan Vote up to 10 times per day.
In cooking for this week’s StarChallenge, Team Bobby’s Michele Ragussis was not exactly happy as a clam. She decided to create New England clam chowder as part of her team’s American-inspired seafood spread, and was banking on picking up a few bags of chopped clams — those that have already been cleaned, shucked and diced. However, as Star luck would have it, the market only had fresh clams in stock, forcing Michele to accept the trouble and time of prepping them herself.
Team Giada thought they had last Sunday's food-court challenge in the bag. A Mexican-themed kiosk, with Martita on their side? No problem. But for South African dessert queen Linkie Marais, Mexican food was uncharted territory: "I don't even know what they serve for dessert in Mexico!" Stumped, she ran with Martita's suggestion of churros and hoped for the best, despite the fact that she'd never made them before.
Sure enough, the texture of the churros was off and Linkie tried to re-brand them as "biscotti." But her confidence was shaken, and it showed. She ended up in the Producers' Challenge, where she gave Bob and Susie a solid chicken dish, proving that she shouldn't be pigeonholed into pastry. Still, in the end, it was pitch room veteran Nikki who prevailed, sending Linkie home.
Throughout her Star run, Linkie struggled with confidence issues that caused her to stumble over presentations. "In the end, I realized that it's mostly because of the language barrier," Linkie explains in her exclusive exit interview. "That was where a lot of my confidence problem came from." Giada tried to coax her through this, sharing her own experience of moving to America as a child.
"I am so honored and humbled that I had the opportunity to work with Giada," Linkie says. "I don't think she realizes how much she's influenced my life. She made me realize that I don't have to change who I am."
Hear more from Giada, Bob, Susie and Linkie in her exit interview. Do you think she deserved to go home over Nikki?
The competition has reached its halfway point. Just five weeks from now, one of the nine remaining finalists will have his or her own Food Network show. In this exclusive video, we checked in with Giada, Bobby and Alton to see how they're feeling about their respective top three finalists. Are they surprised at who's made it this far, or were these their top contenders from day one?
They also size up the competition. Who's the team to beat at this juncture? And who's the most competitive mentor? Bob and Susie reveal which Food Network icon "does not want to lose, ever."
Do you agree with the mentors? Midway through the season, which team do you see as the front-runner?
Martita and Ippy are still your #1 and #2 picks this week, Star fans. But Team Alton's "rebel with a culinary cause," Justin Warner, is making strides. He claims the #3 spot this week with 16% of the vote — up from 13% last week and 9% the week before.
This week, Justin impressed Bob and Susie once again with his unconventional Fritto Misto at the food court, contributing to Team Alton's victory in the challenge. Even when his entire team ended up on the bottom in Episode 5, Justin bounced back with his Spaghetti Midwestern and was immediately declared safe in the pitch room. Will his streak continue? Can he overtake Team Giada's Fan Vote stronghold?
The in-season Fan Vote resets each week, so make sure to cast your vote for your favorite finalist up to 10 times per day.
Check out the complete list of Week Five Fan Vote results: