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Anne Burrell Previews Her Star Appearance with Been-There-Done-That Advice for Working on a Team

by in Food Network Star, Interviews, Judges, July 2, 2015

Anne BurrellOn Worst Cooks in America, Anne Burrell sets off to find who among her cast of recruits is the best of the worst, but as a guest judge on Food Network Star this weekend, she'll work with mentors Bobby Flay and Giada De Laurentiis in the search for the best of the best, that one person worthy of Stardom. She's familiar with what it takes to work with — and compete against — a teammate, as her Red Team of recruits regularly faces off against Tyler Florence's Blue Team, something that will likely affect how she judges the Star finalists during Sunday's brand-new partner challenge.

Ahead of her special appearance, Star Talk caught up with Anne to find out what she's looking for from the finalists at this stage of the game, and to learn her advice to them for working as a pair. "Whenever I watch Food Network Star — and I watch it every year — I always have such anxiety for the people who are on this show, because I know how hard it is to do a cooking show, the stand-and-stir kind of show when you're just talking to a camera," she told us. "It's so wildly unnatural. I feel for these people because I went through it, and I think if I'd had to compete on this show to be able to get a show, I would have never had a show." Read on below to more from Anne in an exclusive interview.

When you meet the finalists, they'll be five weeks into their Star journey, nearly halfway through the competition. What are you expecting to see from them at this stage? What should they have mastered by now?
Anne Burrell: To understand how to be comfortable in your own skin and in such an unnatural situation and have a camera presence that doesn't annoy people or come across as fake. The camera can see everything, and if you are trying to sell me something that you don't really believe in, people can tell and they'll turn the channel. So when they really say, "What's your point of view and do you believe this?" you have to, otherwise you're not going to go anywhere. By week five, I still expect to see people who are figuring it out but who are on the right track to getting there. This is a crash course in an education, and you have to be a little bit crazy to be able to do it. I think a lot of people want to do it, and then actually when they see what goes into it, it's actually very, very difficult.

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A Star Salvation Preview: Host Alex Shares Must-Have Skills and Reflects on Competition Flashbacks

by in Food Network Star, Interviews, Judges, June 25, 2015

Alex GuarnaschelliWhile three Food Network Star finalists have already met their fate at elimination — and another one will do the same this week — all hope is not lost for those competitors, or for the next few to follow in the coming weeks. Beginning this Sunday night, ousted rivals will have the chance to rejoin the competition, but only if they can survive a six-week journey on Star Salvation, a Web-exclusive contest hosted by Jeff Mauro and Alex Guarnaschelli. At the end of boot camp, one rival will have verified his or her worth, and will ultimately return to the on-air competition with the finalists that remain.

Ahead of Sunday's premiere Salvation battle, Star Talk is catching up with Jeff and Alex for the inside details on what they have in store for the contestants, and what it will be like for this dynamic duo to work together as both mentors and judges. Read on below to hear from Alex about how her past competition experiences will influence her judgment on Salvation, then click here to hear from Jeff.

What's it going to be like working with Jeff? What's your professional relationship like?
Alex Guarnaschelli: We are like Starsky and Hutch. We are like Rizzoli and Isles. ... We have a really great relationship because we both use a lot of humor in what we do, and yet we take food super seriously. We know that there's so much at stake for these contestants that we want to be the perfect balance of lighthearted where the contestants are open to learning and hearing from us, and yet also critical enough that they can grow and kind of sculpt themselves, give themselves clarity, fill in the blanks, color in the lines, curate their own personality. That's what Food Network is all about: growing really good flowers. Start with a seed, some dirt, some water, and just keep on going with that sunshine.

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A Star Salvation Preview: Host Jeff Dishes on Working with Alex and the Importance of Calming Nerves

by in Food Network Star, Interviews, Judges, June 24, 2015

Jeff MauroWhile three Food Network Star finalists have already met their fate at elimination — and another one will do the same this week — all hope is not lost for those competitors, or for the next few to follow in the coming weeks. Beginning this Sunday night, ousted rivals will have the chance to rejoin the competition, but only if they can survive a six-week journey on Star Salvation, a Web-exclusive contest hosted by Jeff Mauro and Alex Guarnaschelli. At the end of boot camp, one rival will have verified his or her worth, and will ultimately return to the on-air competition with the finalists that remain.

Ahead of Sunday's premiere Salvation battle, Star Talk is catching up with Jeff and Alex for the inside details on what they have in store for the contestants, and what it will be like for this dynamic duo to work together as both mentors and judges. Read on below to hear from Jeff, then click here for an exclusive interview with Alex.

What's it going to be like working with Alex? What's your professional relationship like?
Jeff Mauro: We've done other events before, and I think we've shot some stuff together before. I know she's judged me on Chopped before. So we do have a rapport. We see each other out; we're friendly. But I get her totally — I know what she's all about. I get her gruffness, but her level of comedy is so underappreciated, I think. And I think she's so warm, and you want her to like you, which is an interesting gift. But she does it in such a way where I'm super comfortable around her. So I think my kind of goofy attitude and her kind of faux sternness, it's a nice little straight-talk-silly-man combo.

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From the Chopping Block to the Dinner Party: Geoffrey Zakarian Previews His Star Appearance

by in Food Network Star, Interviews, Judges, June 18, 2015

Geoffrey ZakarianWhen it comes to judging chef competitors, few others do it as well — or as frequently — as the Chopped panel, including Geoffrey Zakarian, which means that the remaining 10 rivals are in for a world of surprise when he shows up to judge this Sunday night. From the time constraints to the pressures to please, he's familiar with the issues affecting the finalists, and he's no stranger to doling out constructive criticism in an effort to help them better their performances. Come Sunday, he and Sunny Anderson, one of his fellow co-hosts on The Kitchen, will be on hand to attend a dinner party thrown by the competitors; ultimately Geoffrey, Sunny, and mentors Bobby Flay and Giada De Laurentiis will evaluate who has the Star potential to go the distance in the business.

Recently Star Talk caught up with Geoffrey to find out what he'll be looking for in Star hopefuls this weekend. Read on below for his insider take, and find out what he believes to be one of the best pieces of advice he's ever received.

When you meet them, the finalists will be only three weeks into this journey. What are you hoping to see in them?
Geoffrey Zakarian: Well, I always try to see if they have real fire. How disappointed they get from setbacks — this says a lot.

Giada has said that she focuses on molding finalists' personalities, while Bobby's all about their cooking chops. Do you think one piece of the puzzle is more important in this competition: the camera presence versus the food?
GZ: As a chef, I think food is foremost. But you need to learn to understand the camera and the power it has.

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What Does It Take to Impress Alex Guarnaschelli? The Judge’s First Impressions, Plus Lessons Learned

by in Food Network Star, Interviews, Judges, June 17, 2015

From mentors Bobby Flay and Giada De Laurentiis to guest judges Melissa d'Arabian and Alex Guarnaschelli, the competition was brimming with superstardom this weekend as the finalists endured two rounds of challenges: one to turn leftovers into family dinners and another to bake up savory sweets. Alex was on hand during the Star Challenge's baking task, and in true Chopped judge fashion, she doled out constructive criticism to the 11 remaining rivals and ultimately deliberated with Bobby and Giada about who should go home.

Star Talk recently caught up with Alex to get the dish on her experience both in the judge's seat and in the arena as a contestant. Read on below for an exclusive interview, then click the play button above to get her take on the finalists' best baked offerings.

Not only have you judged competitions before, but you've also competed on Chopped All-Stars, The Next Iron Chef and Cutthroat Kitchen, among other shows. Do those experiences affect the way you look at the finalists who are going through this journey for the first time?
Alex Guarnaschelli: Of course. It’s just like being a chef in a restaurant. If you’ve been a busboy and a dishwasher and a cook and a sous chef, then when you’re the chef, you have empathy and understanding of each part that’s played to make something successful. The same is true in a competition show. I’ve competed, I’ve judged, I’ve watched, I’ve cried, I’ve laughed, I’ve won, I’ve lost. When someone walks in front of me and starts cooking, I know already how this is going to go.

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“Food Network Star Finalists, I Support You in Pursuing Your Dreams:” A Letter from a Former Winner and Guest Judge

by in Food Network Star, Judges, June 16, 2015

Melissa d'ArabianOn Sunday night, I judged a challenge on Food Network Star. Returning to where it all started for me is more emotional than one might expect. I arrived at my hotel well after 1 a.m., exhausted from a full day of work. I set my alarm for 5:15 a.m. and tried to sleep — but I couldn’t. I couldn’t help but put myself in the finalists’ position. I remembered all too well tossing and turning in the bunk bed that was my home for weeks during the filming of my own season of Food Network Star. I could almost feel myself lying there only inches from the ceiling (I had the top bunk), waxy earplugs wedged into my ears to blot out evidence of the other female finalists who were both my competitors and my roommates. I would lie there, trying to quiet my mind with focused breathing, doing my best to stamp out thoughts about whatever had happened in the latest challenge or elimination, only to find myself speculating on what challenge might lie ahead, or even, what time we would be awakened with the next task.

I feel for these finalists, and I know how deeply they want to succeed. They have left behind careers and families to pursue their dream job, and missing the mark on a challenge can feel like ultimate failure in the moment. Hearts are broken and character is built. It is about so much more than just cooking. It is harder than it looks.

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“In the End, It Came Down to a Simple Question” — Alton’s Post-Star Rundown

by in Judges, August 3, 2014

Every week, Alton Brown is joining the Star Talk roster to talk about the most-recent elimination and the thoughts behind each difficult decision from the judges' perspective.

Click play on the video above to find out why Alton voted the way he did. (Spoiler alert: The latest finalist sent home is revealed in the video.)

 

“You’ve Got to Be an Expert, You Have to Be Able to Teach” — Alton’s Post-Star Rundown

by in Judges, July 27, 2014

Every week, Alton Brown is joining the Star Talk roster to talk about the most-recent elimination and the thoughts behind each difficult decision from the judges' perspective.

Click play on the video above to find out why Alton voted the way he did. (Spoiler alert: The latest finalist sent home is revealed in the video.)

 

“So That Wasn’t Very Easy” — Alton’s Post-Star Rundown

by in Judges, July 20, 2014



Every week, Alton Brown is joining the Star Talk roster to talk about the most-recent elimination and the thoughts behind each difficult decision from the judges' perspective.

Click play on the video above to find out why Alton voted the way he did. (Spoiler alert: The latest finalist sent home is revealed in the video.)

“That’s Why It’s Called Food Network” — Alton’s Post-Star Rundown

by in Judges, July 13, 2014

Every week, Alton Brown is joining the Star Talk roster to talk about the most-recent elimination and the thoughts behind each difficult decision from the judges' perspective.

Click play on the video above to find out why Alton voted the way he did. (Spoiler alert: The latest finalist sent home is revealed in the video.)