by Maria Russo in Food Network Star, Interviews, Judges, August 3, 2017
by Maria Russo in Food Network Star, Interviews, Judges, July 27, 2017
Each and every one of the Food Network Star challenges is important, of course, but perhaps none is so all-or-nothing as the Episode 10 Star Challenge, when the final four hopefuls — including the winner of Star Salvation — fight to earn three pilot spots. Eddie Jackson knows the pressure of this moment well; it was only two years ago that he too endured this same nailbiting test — and passed. He earned the right to film a pilot directed by Food Network pro Rachael Ray, and sure enough, just a week later he was crowned a Star.
This week, though, he's back in Food Star Kitchen, not as a hopeful finalist but as a judge who will evaluate the remaining Season 13 competitors' final dishes and presentations. We caught up with Eddie on set about what he needs to see in rivals' performances and what it's like to return to his roots of Stardom.
by Maria Russo in Food Network Star, Interviews, Judges, June 22, 2017
The Food Network Star competition has narrowed to just four remaining hopefuls, which means that this week, with just a few challenges left until the finale, the pressure will be on the competitors to deliver Star-worthy performances every step of the way. In addition to Bobby and Giada, two perfect-for-the-job judges will be on hand Sunday night to help evaluate finalists' presentations. ESPN's Jemele Hill and guest Jaymee Sire, who's set to be the floor reporter on the upcoming series Iron Chef Showdown, will join the Up Your Game Day Star Challenge, featuring a series of shared segments and culinary demos. To be successful in a livelike setting, the rivals must execute on multiple tasks at once, and no one knows the demands of that more than game-day enthusiasts Jemele and Jaymee. We caught up with them on set to get their take on the challenges ahead, their advice to guarantee game-day success and their own tailgating traditions at home.
Tell me a little bit about how food plays a role on game-day.
Jaymee Sire: I think food is the one thing that everybody can rally around. Everybody has their different team or their different players, but everybody can agree that you need good food on game day, and you need to fuel up, especially if you’re going to be drinking. It’s definitely something that everybody can rally around.
Jemele Hill: In a way, a game-day food is more challenging, because you’re taking fairly basic things and you have to find a way to make them special. Of course, at any game-day party — nachos. OK, basic dish, but what kind of nachos? How will your nachos be different? Will there be seven layers? Will there be three? Will there be no layers? You have to take some of the most-basic things and figure out a way to make them special, and the worst thing you can have, especially when people are trying to have a specific sports experience, is have a dish that bombs. If you have the dish that bombs that just chilling on the table that nobody’s eating, that’s so awkward.
by Maria Russo in Food Network Star, Interviews, Judges, June 1, 2017
Nearly four weeks into the Food Network Star competition, several finalists have already experienced the sting of elimination and left the contest in defeat — but perhaps they'll be back. Starting Sunday night immediately after the new episode of Food Network Star, which premieres at 9|8c, Alex Guarnaschelli and Jeff Mauro will come together to mentor those ousted competitors on Star Salvation. This web-exclusive series on FoodNetwork.com will feature six weeks of challenges for the finalists eliminated along the way, and in the end one hopeful will earn the ultimate redemption: a chance to return to Food Network Star and rejoin the competition.
We checked in with Alex and Jeff on the set of Salvation about what they're looking for in a Star hopeful and their own roads to Stardom on Food Network. Read on below to hear what they had to say.
You've both mentored on Star Salvation before. What have you learned before that you’re bringing to the competition this year?
Alex Guarnaschelli: My co-hosts always went to the culinary school of Food Network, so to speak. I think I bring the street smarts half, which is someone who offers advice about how to do a few fundamental things in front of the camera without having gone through this exact process. Plus a few totally impossible things that I actually learned from working with Bobby Flay: "Hey, relax and be yourself. Hey, if you don’t like the shirt you’re wearing, change into one that’s comfortable. Hey, if you make it like that at home, chances are you should have the nerve to make it here, in this competition, the exact same way."
Jeff Mauro: Follow my instincts and look for the complete package, and look for somebody who is maybe looked over because of a bad day or a bad dish, and see through that one flub.
by Maria Russo in Food Network Star, Interviews, Judges, May 31, 2017
On Sunday's Food Network Star premiere (set a reminder for 9|8c!), mentors Bobby Flay and Giada De Laurentiis will dole out what has the potential to be the most-important challenge of the season: the task of auditioning for them in person and on the plate in order to officially become finalists. Guest judges Robert Irvine and Monti Carlo will be on hand both to guide the competitors as they work through nerves and an immeasurable amount of pressure, and also to help Bobby and Giada as the mentors look out for early glimmers of Star power.
We caught up with Robert and Monti about Sunday's episode, and both noted the enormity of the competition. They're no strangers to all-important experiences, and their been-there advice will be key for the finalists as they hope to move forward. Read on below for an exclusive interview.
There's so much on the line in this competition, and all of the finalists want to make a strong first impression. What are some dos and don’ts for succeeding in something like this?
Robert Irvine: Well, I think succeeding in Food Network Star is two-fold. It’s not only the food — yes, the food, it’s Food Network — but I think you really have to impress the judges on who you are. You can’t pretend to be somebody else. You have to let your personality shine through right from the beginning. You can’t warm up and get to it. You have to get to it day one, cause if you don’t, you’re losing already. So I think what I would say to the contestants is: "Listen, put it all out on the line immediately. Don’t wait, cause if you, do you’ll fail. You’ll be going home."
Monti Carlo: In life, it’s always best to spread joy, especially if you’re a Food Network Star. Really what it all boils down to is people watch what you do because it gives them joy. So, my only suggestion for anybody entering this game is, spread joy and believe in yourself. Because you wouldn’t be here if somebody that is really important didn’t think it was worth it.
by Maria Russo in Food Network Star, Interviews, Judges, May 30, 2017
"I believe that I can see more of the heart and soul of a person. Where he sees it through their cooking, I see it in their eyes," Giada De Laurentiis says of the differences in the way she and Bobby Flay judge Food Network Star finalists. This judge-mentor duo is set to kick off Season 13 on Sunday, June 4 (at 9|8c), and immediately Giada and Bobby will be tasked with looking for the first glimmers of stardom among this year's hopefuls, both in person and on the plate.
In this brand-new, exclusive interview, Giada tells us how important it is for the finalists to enter the competition with a true sense of self, though she admits, "sometimes it takes a lifetime to get there." Read on below for her thoughts on self-confidence as well as some of the mistakes she's willing to overlook.
In recent years on Food Network Star, many of the challenges have been focused on digital trends and presentations. Have you changed the criteria you judge against as the show has evolved?
Giada De Laurentiis: I think TV has just changed with social media, but I don’t think that changes the fact that we’re looking for someone to be on television; we’re not looking for someone to do social media or to do a digital show. So, no, I don’t think the criteria have really changed at all. And we’re still looking for someone who has the skills to cook and someone who translates on camera, who connects. I think connection on social media is totally different than connection on television.
by Maria Russo in Food Network Star, Interviews, Judges, July 26, 2016
Just like his fellow Food Network Star mentor Giada De Laurentiis, Bobby Flay is the very kind of Star the finalists are hoping to become. When Season 13 kicks off on Sunday, June 4 (mark your calendars for a 9|8c premiere), an all-new crop of competitors will be looking to him for the kind of been-there-done-that advice and guidance that only he can offer, a mix of "honesty, tough love and true advice," he told us recently. To him, the secret to success in this contest, which essentially acts as an 11-week job interview for one of the most-coveted positions in the culinary industry, is simple. "They should avoid trying to be anybody else that’s already on the network," explained Bobby, who stressed the importance of individuality when it comes to leaving a positive impression on both him and Giada.
Read on below for to get more of Bobby's take on what's ahead on Food Network Star this season, plus his thoughts on his own evolution on TV and beyond.
You've said before that you tend to demand excellence in cooking more so than on camera. Why is that skill set especially important?
Bobby Flay: I always use this opportunity to find somebody who’s going to add something to the true flavor of the network. And by that, I mean what the food tastes like and what it looks like.
by Maria Russo in Food Network Star, Interviews, Judges, July 21, 2016
We're just days ahead of Sunday's Food Network Star finale and the announcement of this year's winner, and no one knows what the top-three hopefuls, Damiano, Jernard and Tregaye, are feeling right now better than Guy Fieri. Ten years ago this bona fide superstar was filming his own pilot and waiting in eager anticipation for the results, just like the Season 12 finalists are today. Now he's returned to the Food Network Star competition, not as a finalist, of course, but as the director of Damiano's, Jernard's and Tregaye's pilots. His past as a competitor and his decade of shining on Food Network on such fan-favorite series as Guy's Big Bite and Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives means that he has a unique perspective on the pilot process and what it takes to film a successful show.
We checked in with Guy to find out what it's like to be back on the show that launched his Stardom and get his take on his last 10 years on Food Network. Read on below for an exclusive one-on-one interview with him, then click the play button on the video above to hear more.
It was just 10 years ago that you were in these finalists' shoes, filming your pilot and going for the win. What’s it like to have the tables turned and to be right back where you started?
Guy Fieri: This round of Food Network Star — they just get better and better. Each year I think that people are watching the show, seeing how it works, upping their game. I mean, these three that I’ve had a chance to work with have upped their game so much. They would have beat me back in the day. The game gets tougher, the challenges are more difficult, and they’re really talented. I think you could have a show out of any one of them. I would tune in. ... My interest in it is how coachable they are, and they’re really enthusiastic, and they got good creds. Any one of them could do great.
by Maria Russo in Food Network Star, Judges, Videos, June 23, 2016
It was just a few years ago that Aarti Sequeira secured her future as a Food Network Star, besting her fellow finalists to earn the Season 6 crown. Now, with incomparable been-there-done-that wisdom and an acute realization of what the remaining Season 12 finalists are feeling at this point, she's set to return to Food Star Kitchen on Sunday to watch Damiano, Jernard, Tregaye and the returning Star Salvation victor compete for three pilot opportunities.
We caught up with her on set to hear what it's like to be back on Food Network Star and walk down competition-memory lane. Read on below for an exclusive interview with Aarti to get her take on what's ahead for the finalists this week.
What's it like to be on the other side of the competition, as a judge and not a finalist?
Aarti Sequeira: It feels way better to be on this side of it. ... It's so hard to actually put yourself back in that position, only because it feels like so long ago, and it kind of was so long ago. I remember that it was bittersweet at this point. Maybe it's my nature or maybe it's the nature of the competition, but you get so close to these people, you know what I mean? And you know what it would mean for them to win, you know obviously what it would mean for you to win. But you want only the best for them ... and it's hard because you know that it's a mutually exclusive deal. If you win, they don't. If they win, you don't. There's no gray area there, and so it's tough. It's a tough psychological place to be.
by Maria Russo in Food Network Star, Interviews, Judges, June 9, 2016
It might be time for this year's Food Network Star finalists to pack it up and head home, because we're pretty sure we just found the next faces of Food Network stardom: Nacho Flay and Bella De Laurentiis, cats to Bobby Flay and Giada De Laurentiis, respectively.
OK, so maybe these furry felines aren't quite ready to host their own shows, but they're indeed primed for the spotlight. Recently we caught up with them — and their parents — on the set of Food Network Star, and both cats were natural stars on camera. Check out the exclusive video interview above to learn all about Nacho's Instagram fame (he has almost 50,000 followers @NachoFlay), find out what Bella likes to eat for breakfast (hint: you might be having it for dinner tonight) and watch as Nacho takes his place on Bobby's back-turned-perch.
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.