All Posts In Interviews

Star-a-Day: Havird Usry

by in Food Network Star, Interviews, April 8, 2016

Food Network Star, Season 12It was only recently that Star Talk broke the news that an unprecedented 12th season of Food Network Star is set to unfold this summer. For the first time ever, a prequel competition — Comeback Kitchen — will bring together seven past Star contestants for a no-holds-barred battle. The winner of this three-week tournament will join the dozen first-time Food Network Star finalists in the premiere episode on Sunday, May 22 at 9|8c. But before the new season kicks off, we're introducing all 12 of the hopeful rivals in exclusive, one-on-one interviews. Keep checking back every day to meet a new member of the cast. Today we'd like you to meet Havird Usry.

Havird, 28 (Augusta, Ga.), took over his family business, running one of Augusta’s most-popular restaurants since the ‘40s. He grew up learning how to cook in the family restaurant and received a formal culinary degree from Helm’s College, where he graduated first in his class. With a focus on modern Southern cuisine, Havird creates fresh, modern dishes from staples such as fried chicken and shrimp and grits. Ultra-competitive, he won’t hold back when it comes to going after what he wants.

Describe your culinary POV in one sentence.
Havird Usry: I am modern Southern cuisine.

Read more

Star-a-Day: Erin Campbell

by in Food Network Star, Interviews, April 7, 2016

Food Network Star, Season 12It was only recently that Star Talk broke the news that an unprecedented 12th season of Food Network Star is set to unfold this summer. For the first time ever, a prequel competition — Comeback Kitchen — will bring together seven past Star contestants for a no-holds-barred battle. The winner of this three-week tournament will join the dozen first-time Food Network Star finalists in the premiere episode on Sunday, May 22 at 9|8c. But before the new season kicks off, we're introducing all 12 of the hopeful rivals in exclusive, one-on-one interviews. Keep checking back every day to meet a new member of the cast. Today we'd like you to meet Erin Campbell.

Erin, 24 (Woodbury, Minn.), was introduced to a vast array of food types during childhood but eventually realized that sweets were her calling, learning how to decorate cakes in her grandmother’s kitchen. After graduating from pastry school and working at a variety of bakeries, this California girl moved to snowy Minnesota to run her bakery’s flagship store. While she loves sweets, she also cooks flavorful comfort food, which she describes as “Grandma food kicked up a notch.”

Describe your culinary POV in one sentence.
Erin Campbell: My culinary point of view is just keep it simple, keep it memorable and keep it fun.

Read more

Star-a-Day: Damiano Carrara

by in Food Network Star, Interviews, April 6, 2016

Food Network Star, Season 12It was only recently that Star Talk broke the news that an unprecedented 12th season of Food Network Star is set to unfold this summer. For the first time ever, a prequel competition — Comeback Kitchen — will bring together seven past Star contestants for a no-holds-barred battle. The winner of this three-week tournament will join the dozen first-time Food Network Star finalists in the premiere episode on Sunday, May 22 at 9|8c. But before the new season kicks off, we're introducing all 12 of the hopeful rivals in exclusive, one-on-one interviews. Keep checking back every day to meet a new member of the cast. Today we'd like you to meet Damiano Carrara.

Growing up in the Tuscan city of Lucca in Italy, Damiano, 30 (Moorpark, Calif.), spent most of his childhood in the kitchen cooking alongside his brother. The two brothers always dreamed of opening their own business together, and they left the Italian countryside for California in 2009 to follow their dreams of opening an authentic Italian pasticceria. Sticking to his roots with traditional Italian recipes, Damiano wants to share his vast knowledge of Italian cooking with a wide audience.

Describe your culinary POV in one sentence.
Damiano Carrara: Complicated. My point of view, it's pastries. It's desserts, pastries. But I also like to cook. I grew up in Italy, in Tuscany, with fields around me, fresh vegetables, fresh fruit, fresh chickens and everything. So, growing up over there, because of all the fresh ingredients, I grew up cooking fresh farm food, so I love to cook that. But then on top of that, I like to do desserts too.

Read more

Star-a-Day: Ana Quincoces

by in Food Network Star, Interviews, April 5, 2016

Food Network Star, Season 12It was only recently that Star Talk broke the news that an unprecedented 12th season of Food Network Star is set to unfold this summer. For the first time ever, a prequel competition — Comeback Kitchen — will bring together seven past Star contestants for a no-holds-barred battle. The winner of this three-week tournament will join the dozen first-time Food Network Star finalists in the premiere episode on Sunday, May 22 at 9|8c. But before the new season kicks off, we're introducing all 12 of the hopeful rivals in exclusive, one-on-one interviews. Keep checking back every day to meet a new member of the cast. Today we'd like you to meet Ana Quincoces.

A former lawyer with 20 years of experience, Ana, 49 (Coral Gables, Fla.), dreams of winning her own Food Network show, and she's confident she is the one thing Food Network is missing. Ana is passionate about showing viewers how to spice up their dishes with Cuban flair; she has written Cuban cookbooks and currently produces her own Latin-inspired food line.

Describe your culinary POV in one sentence.
Ana Quincoces: It's really enhancing everyday foods with Latin flavors.

Read more

Star-a-Day: Aaron Crumbaugh

by in Food Network Star, Interviews, April 4, 2016

Food Network Star, Season 12It was only recently that Star Talk broke the news that an unprecedented 12th season of Food Network Star is set to unfold this summer. For the first time ever, a prequel competition — Comeback Kitchen — will bring together seven past Star contestants for a no-holds-barred battle. The winner of this three-week tournament will join the dozen first-time Food Network Star finalists in the premiere episode on Sunday, May 22 at 9|8c. But before the new season kicks off, we're introducing all 12 of the hopeful rivals in exclusive, one-on-one interviews. Keep checking back every day to meet a new member of the cast. Today we'd like you to meet Aaron Crumbaugh.

Aaron, 36 (Spokane), grew up in a small town and spent a lot of time working on his grandparents’ farm. He learned to cook at the age of 5, when he would make meals for his family. Since graduating culinary school, he’s had a successful career in Chicago working in restaurants, and he's now in Spokane, running his own catering company. Aaron’s determined to go after what he wants, and he wants to be on Food Network!

Describe your culinary POV in one sentence.
Aaron Crumbaugh: I love meat.

Read more

To Eddie, From Damaris: Here’s What to Expect from the World of Stardom

by in Food Network Star, Interviews, August 18, 2015

Food Network StarIt was just a few days ago that Eddie Jackson, a former pro footballer, was crowned Food Network's newest Star after he bested his fellow finale rivals, Dom Tesoriero and Jay Ducote, at the end of an 11-week journey. Yesterday Jeff Mauro, the Season 7 victor, offered his hearty congratulations to the new Star with a welcome letter, and today Damaris Phillips, the Season 9 Star, is sharing that sentiment and giving Eddie an exclusive preview of what to expect as his life turns from ordinary to full of superstardom.

"It will be overwhelming and crazy for the first six months," Damaris tells Eddie, "but — hopefully — your life doesn’t change that much. It just gets better." She adds that while "you don’t wake up and have this totally different life and, like, Bentleys and butlers everywhere," there's the very real opportunity to achieve everything you've always hoped for. "You just have the chance to have your dream come true and just to be really present with that and to be really grateful for it and to just have a good time. Because it is so much more fun than you can imagine," she explains.

Read more

Exclusive: Chatting with the Runners-Up of Food Network Star

by in Food Network Star, Interviews, Videos, August 17, 2015

The stage was set for a finale of life-changing proportions last night when the entire Selection Committee came together to welcome Food Network's newest Star to the family. As the top-three hopeful finalists and their peer competitors awaited the winner reveal, the group looked back on a groundbreaking season, from Matthew's #LoveOfHashtags to Michelle's decision to quit in Week 7. They screened never-before-seen bloopers of the cast and took in Dom's, Eddie's and Jay's pilots before welcoming Brooke Johnson, the president of Food Network, to the set to announce Food Network's newest Star.

Eddie Jackson, a former pro footballer, ultimately claimed the coveted crown to become the Season 11 Star, which meant Dom and Jay, both stellar rivals with impressive stories of growth and success behind them, were deemed runners-up.

Read more

Exclusive: One-on-One with the Winner of Food Network Star

by in Food Network Star, Interviews, Videos, August 16, 2015

After 11 weeks of Mentor and Star Challenges testing both culinary chops and on-camera comfort, as well as constructive feedback from mentors Bobby Flay and Giada De Laurentiis, one hopeful finalist has risen to the top to become Food Network's newest Star. Eddie Jackson, a former pro footballer, scored the ultimate culinary touchdown tonight when he was crowned the Season 11 winner.

Star Talk was on the set of the finale and caught up with Eddie just moments after he took in his victory. He dropped to his knees in overwhelming emotion, then welcomed hearty congratulations from his fellow competitors, as well as the Selection Committee and the president of Food Network, Brooke Johnson. "I'm beyond speechless," Eddie said. "This is a feeling that I've yet to feel."

Read on below to hear more from Eddie in his first exclusive interview as a Star, then click the play button on the video above to go on set with Eddie and learn about his transition from football to food.

What did you learn about yourself during this competition?
Eddie Jackson: I had never done anything like this, so to speak, in front of a camera one-on-one. So I kind of learned that I can actually do this. I've been in front of the camera in front of, you know, 60,000 people, playing football and things like that, but never one-on-one talking directly to a camera by myself. And over the course of this show, I realized that I really can do this and this is something that I want to continue to do for the rest of my life.

Read more

Exclusive: Giada Looks Back on a Groundbreaking Season and Dishes on Dom’s Return

by in Food Network Star, Interviews, Judges, August 12, 2015

Giada De Laurentiis on Food Network Star"My proudest moment would be Dom coming back from Star Salvation. I think that for the first time in all of these years, I actually feel like Bobby and I actually mentored somebody, like truly mentored them," said Giada De Laurentiis, one half of the powerhouse mentoring duo that she makes up with Bobby Flay. Star Talk caught up with Giada on the set of Food Network Star, just moments after Dom Tesoriero, previously ousted in Week 8, rejoined the competition. She told us about how, with solid mentoring, he was ultimately able to find his way into the top three and what his strengths were following that transformation.

Read more

Chatting with Rachael Ray: What It Takes to Make a Pilot

by in Food Network Star, Interviews, August 11, 2015

Rachael Ray on Food Network StarDom, Eddie and Jay all completed multiple challenges during their runs on Food Network Star — some with great success and others with disappointing outcomes — but perhaps their most-important task didn't come in Food Star Kitchen. In New York City last week, the top three each worked with Rachael Ray as they filmed the pilots they would like to do for their would-be shows on Food Network. From Dom's authentic Italian point of view to Eddie's love of barbecue to Jay's penchant for deep-fried delights, each of the guys created a camera-ready concept, but their tapings wouldn't have been possible without Rachael’s mentoring. This Food Network legend knows the ins and outs of food television, and she's surely filmed multiple successful pilots for Food Network.

Star Talk caught up with Rachael on the set of the guys' pilots, and she told us all about what goes into shooting a video like this. Read on below for her advice to the top three, plus her reflections on how her show 30 Minute Meals came to be.

What’s been your greatest lesson learned after all of these years on Food Network?
Rachael Ray: I don’t really know anything, and I think that that’s what makes our shows popular, you know? It’s a conversation, and I like to learn. … And I think that most genuine television is about sharing, and, you know, I don’t know if I’m any better at it … 15, 20 years in than I was when I started, but I try and be curious and dedicated and authentic when I go to work.

Read more