All Posts In Interviews

Star Kitchen Preview: Finalists Reveal Their Signature Dishes

by in Food Network Star, Interviews, May 21, 2014

Food Network Star, Season 10 FinalistsEarlier this month FN Dish introduced each of the Food Network Star finalists, and for the first time, fans learned more about the competitors' culinary points of view (POVs), plus insider details, like their hopes for the contest, thoughts on the mentors and go-to midnight snacks. Much like POVs, cooks' signature dishes often reveal their style in the kitchen — what cuisine type they gravitate toward, which ingredients they're most comfortable with and perhaps even their history in the industry — and for the Season 10 contestants, their most-famed recipe (or the lack thereof) reveals plenty about who they are. Read on below to hear all of the finalists explain their signature plates, then watch their casting videos to learn more about them.

Aryen: I would say miso salmon. A basic soup in Japan is miso soup, so basically miso salmon is a take on that.

Chris: My signature dish is what I love to cook. Since I'm all about presentation, modern cuisine and doing it easy, I have a signature lobster napoleon salad. It basically has some technique of using molecular gastronomy. It's very simple. It tastes delicious, has some flavors that pop. It has texture. It's beautiful to look at, and it's beautiful to eat.

Christopher: My signature dish — it varies to the guest. I don't think there's any one dish I've ever done that completely defines me as a cook. I think there's many chefs out there that would have a hard time with this too. You don't want to paint yourself into a corner. What my signature dish is in the fall or what's selling the most could be completely different by winter and springtime. I really don’t like to repeat. I like to do something, and I like to change it and move on. Maybe it's just because I'm still pushing the envelope and I'm not really resting on the oldies. Constantly doing new stuff. I don’t like to get stagnant.

Donna: My husband loves my meatloaf. It's really hearty. It's high-quality nutrition. … You feel so good when you eat it. It's like a hug for your digestive tract. … I love it with my smashed sweet potatoes with maple butter. I serve the meatloaf with an onion-and-peach ketchup. And then I do kale with golden raisins and toasted almonds. It's a full plate, but the thing that's important about the food that I make, it's very strategic. Everything that I make is for optimum nutrition.

Read more

Giada Talks Star Season 10, Her Fellow Judges and Behind-the-Scenes Moments

by in Interviews, Judges, May 19, 2014

Giada Talks Star Season 10Before Season 10 kicks off, the editors of Star Talk wanted to sit down with show's ultimate trio of stars, Giada, Bobby and Alton, to talk about what fans can expect, their favorite elements of the show, as well as what they think of each other. First up, Giada De Laurentiis.

Star Talk: How has the show evolved?
Giada De Laurentiis: I think that the finalists have become more savvy. Each time the viewers are able to watch the show, they start to understand what we're looking for. Although, having said that, each time Bobby, Alton and I meet a new group of finalists, they tend to have the same issues. I think they're getting savvier, but they're still missing the point as to what we're looking for. I think they think they're polished, but they're not quite as polished as they need to be. I think people think this job is very, very simple, when actually it's a bit more complicated than they anticipated once they get into it.

Star Talk: What are the most-common mistakes you see in finalists?
GDL: I think there are several. One is too polished and media trained. Second, I think that they all come in thinking that they're going to pitch their point of view. They're passionate, so of course they think they should be the next Food Network Star — as if that's enough to get you this job, which we all know it goes way deeper than that. We're looking for charisma. I think the finalists need to feel empowered, show they can be a leader, be an authority and also be a little spontaneous so we never get bored.

Read more

Star-a-Day: Sarah Penrod

by in Food Network Star, Interviews, May 16, 2014

Sarah PenrodSarah Penrod, 30, is a born-and-bred Texan who comes from a family of entertainers. She's been performing for her whole life and also has serious culinary chops, as she now owns her own business. This feisty chef has worked with celebrities and athletes, and she always keeps things entertaining in the kitchen. Read on below to hear from Sarah, and learn about her style of cooking and thoughts on the competition.

Describe your cooking style or culinary point of view — in one sentence, if you can.
Sarah: The concept is that we're all so busy, and we're losing the source of love and joy and passion in our lives, and that's our relationship with our partner. And I want to bring that back to you by teaching you how to do these awesome date nights, and I'm the perfect person to 'cause I've been a private chef to celebrities and professional athletes. I have to do some really cool stuff visually, and I think that I'm the perfect person to do date night 'cause I'm madly in love with my husband.

How did you prepare for the competition?
Sarah: I auditioned [for Season 8] and I didn't make it, and I was heartbroken 'cause I've been watching Bobby Flay since I was 10. And it felt like a personal rejection, but I knew it wasn't, and I knew I had major camera issues, so I went and trained with a communications trainer, and I self-produced my own show, called Let's Eat Houston, which is a Web series, and it's also on our Houston public access [which] is pretty huge, and it's pretty significant. ... So I did that, and that is how I prepared to do this. I literally prepared.

Read more

Star-a-Day: Nicole Gaffney

by in Food Network Star, Interviews, May 14, 2014

Nicole GaffneyNicole Gaffney, 29, isn’t just another personal chef — her magnetic personality and innate culinary talent set her apart from the crowd. She grew up cooking with her Sicilian grandparents and comes from a family of commercial fishermen, and her "coastal cuisine" take on food is heavily influenced by her family and growing up in a seaside town. Read on below to hear from Nicole, and learn about her style of cooking and thoughts on the competition.

What are you most looking forward to in this experience?
Nicole: Learning. Yeah. I'm really looking forward to learning. Just with the other competitors alone, I think there's so much each of us can take away from the other person — not just in terms of cooking knowledge, because there's a ton of stuff to be learned there, but just about life in general and TV presence. This whole experience — the things that we can take away from the judges and the mentors ... I feel like what I'm going to know when this is all said and done versus what I knew going into it is going to be monumental.

How did you prepare for the competition?
Nicole: I definitely tried to hone up on my recipes. I reference recipes all the time. I feel like if I was thrown into a kitchen and had to wing it, I would be alright, but I wanted to really memorize certain things, especially when it comes to baking. I don't know if there's going to be any baking challenges, and that kind of stuff has to be pretty precise. Whether it's a half a teaspoon of baking powder or a teaspoon of baking soda can totally make a difference in what you're baking, so I wanted to make sure that I had some really solid stuff in my head ready to go. I tried to watch some past seasons and listen to some of the critiques that the judges gave.

Read more

Star-a-Day: Luca Della Casa

by in Food Network Star, Interviews, May 13, 2014

Luca Della CasaLuca Della Casa, 38, was born in Italy and is an adventurous, rugged outdoorsman with a passion for food. He worked his way up from dishwasher to executive chef, and he is determined to bring people together around a table to share food, Italian style. Read on below to hear from Luca, and learn about his style of cooking and thoughts on the competition.

Describe your cooking style or culinary point of view — in one sentence, if you can.
Luca: My point in my culinary view is what I learned from my grandma. That means very simple recipes, a good knife and the freshest ingredients. That makes the most-amazing meal.

How did you prepare for the competition?
Luca: Well, yes. I went to see some old seasons of the show. I was aware of the show and I saw episodes of it, but I didn't know it perfectly, so I thought I better go back and see everything they do, what they ask them to do. And so that's what I did, and try to put my thoughts together.

Read more

Star-a-Day: Loreal Gavin

by in Food Network Star, Interviews, May 12, 2014

Loreal GavinLoreal Gavin, 26, is motorcycle-riding, guitar-playing chick who loves tattoos, and she's been trained in culinary arts, baking and pastry. She was raised by her grandmother, who taught her to cook from her soul. Read on below to hear from Loreal, and learn about her style of cooking and thoughts on the competition.

Describe your cooking style or culinary point of view — in one sentence, if you can.
Loreal: I have a grandmother's soul from the Deep South and an insatiable lust for adventure.

How did you prepare for the competition?
Loreal: I didn't. I just knew that I had to come in here and be myself.

Read more

Star-a-Day: Lenny McNab

by in Food Network Star, Interviews, May 11, 2014

Lenny McNabLenny McNab, 42, is a one-of-a-kind gourmet cowboy with over-the-top confidence and culinary skills. He trained in Germany and is now the executive chef at a hunting ranch. With his signature hat, belt buckle and boots, you can’t miss Lenny in a crowd — and he is ready to bring his unique take on food to the rest of the country. Read on below to hear from Lenny, and learn about his style of cooking and thoughts on the competition.

Describe your cooking style or culinary point of view — in one sentence, if you can.
Lenny: My culinary point of view is to bring back the traditional ways of the cowboy cook.

What are you most looking forward to taking away from this experience?
Lenny: The thing I think I'm most looking forward to in taking away from this experience is the recognition of being out there in an elite association of chefs, restaurateurs, hoteliers that have made it big enough so that their name gets noticed, because I imagine anybody that does something like this has a touch of an ego.

Read more

Star-a-Day: Kenny Lao

by in Food Network Star, Interviews, May 10, 2014

Kenny LaoKenny Lao, 36, grew up making Chinese dumplings with his mom, and his passion for that signature dish led to the creation of his fast-casual restaurant business. He wants to take the intimidation out of cooking and share how to make food that is simple but delicious. Read on below to hear from Kenny, and learn about his style of cooking and thoughts on the competition.

Describe your cooking style or culinary point of view — in one sentence, if you can.
Kenny: Fast and casual

What are you most looking forward to in this experience?
Kenny: I love playing games, and I love puzzles, and I love competitions and sorting things out. Not even the takeaway, but just the experience itself is so awesome — just to be into this intense, totally immersive game.

Read more

Star-a-Day: Emma Frisch

by in Food Network Star, Interviews, May 9, 2014

Emma FrischEmma Frisch, 30, is the girl next door who has traveled the world, and she has family members on five continents. Now residing in upstate New York, Emma is a food blogger and business owner, and she believes anyone can become a good cook. Read on below to hear from Emma, and learn about her style of cooking and thoughts on the competition.

Describe your cooking style or culinary point of view — in one sentence, if you can.
Emma: My culinary point of view is that anyone can become a more natural and confident cook by learning how to make American comfort food and freshening classic recipes with their own twists. And the way they learn how to do that is simplifying their shopping and finding the best-tasting ingredients at the best prices and freshest ingredients.

What are you most looking forward to in this experience?
Emma: What I'm most looking forward to taking away is new friendships that I will make with the other finalists. I think that I'm going to learn a lot from everyone here. And I want to have a great time. I feel like this is a once-in-a-lifetime experience and a total adventure. And the way they learn how to do that is simplifying their shopping and finding the freshest, best-tasting ingredients at the best prices.

Read more

Star-a-Day: Donna Sonkin Shaw

by in Food Network Star, Interviews, May 8, 2014
  • Comments Off

Donna Sonkin ShawDonna Sonkin Shaw, 42, is dedicated to making health and nutrition taste delicious. She believes eating properly leads to overall health inside and out. She is a certified holistic health coach who works privately with clients, and her twist on healthy comfort food delivers the flavor and satisfaction to keep anyone on track. Read on below to hear from Donna, and learn about her style of cooking and thoughts on the competition.

Describe your cooking style or culinary point of view — in one sentence, if you can.
Donna: My culinary point of view is healthy comfort food. ... I like to say I put the good in the bad and the bad in the good because I feel that people always want real flavor: butter and bacon and chocolate and things like that. There are two of us that come to the table when we come to eat. There's the part that wants pure pleasure, then the part that knows that what we eat becomes our body. So we're also eating for our vibrancy and health, so I try to satiate both sides.

What are you most looking forward to about in this experience?
Donna: All of the feedback from the mentors. I know that there's always room for improvement. I'm excited about making new friends. I'm a very social person. And I love the opportunity to spread my message and help people.

Read more