by Maria Russo in Food Network Star, Interviews, Judges, May 3, 2016
by Maria Russo in Food Network Star, Interviews, Judges, April 26, 2016
The countdown. Is. On. There are just days left until the premiere of Comeback Kitchen (on Sunday at 8|7c), when seven Food Network Star alumni return to the starting line for the redo of a lifetime. Recently Star Talk caught up with Tyler Florence, one of the two judge-mentors who will ultimately decide which hopeful rival will earn that coveted second chance at Stardom. Tyler has nearly two decades of experience on Food Network, so he knows just what it takes to succeed in the job these hopefuls are fighting for. Read on below to find out what he thinks the finalists ought to do to grow in this contest, and hear his been-there-done-that advice to the returning rivals. Plus, hear from Valerie in an exclusive interview to get her take as well.
Comeback Kitchen has never been done before, and there’s so much at stake. What are you most excited about in being part of this new series?
Tyler Florence: I always pull for the underdog — somebody who has all the heart and soul and potential in the world, and occasionally they miss it by a point or two when they [don't] win. It's really nice to see a whole very enthusiastic group of people that have already been through it once, and Valerie and I have a ball, hanging out together. She’s got a very unique perspective on television, with a career as long as she’s been doing [this]. … It is just amazing to get a chance to actually coach a very talented group of people and really polish them up so they are prepared for this next competition.
by Maria Russo in Food Network Star, Interviews, Judges, April 25, 2016
Just yesterday we brought you the first exclusive interview with Bobby Flay, one half of the mentoring duo that will make up the judges' panel on Food Network Star, Season 12. Today it's all about Giada De Laurentiis, who will join Bobby in both guiding the finalists through the competition and ultimately sending them home week by week.
Read on below to hear from Giada about what she sees as similarities among the past winners of the show and how she's come to master the craft of Stardom. Plus, find out how the first impressions finalists leave on her and Bobby have lasting consequences for the hopefuls.
by Maria Russo in Interviews, Judges, April 15, 2016
Food Network Star, Season 12 kicks off in less than a month (tune in to the premiere on Sunday, May 22 at 9|8c), and just as the 12 finalists are anxiously awaiting the job interview of a lifetime, mentor-judges Bobby Flay and Giada De Laurentiis are preparing for their roles as the deciding factors in whose culinary dreams will be made true or ultimately ended. Their expert takes on both this contest and the job of a Food Network Star make them uniquely prepared for the 11-week journey they're undertaking with the finalists and for the challenges they're set to dole out.
Recently Star Talk caught up with Bobby to chat about how he balances his dual role of mentor-judge and the value he places on first impressions. Read on below to hear about his mentoring strategy and find out if his own participation in competitions like Beat Bobby Flay affects the way he judges. Plus, see what he thinks about the elusive Star power, and get his take on the job of a Food Network Star.
by Maria Russo in Food Network Star, Interviews, Judges, August 12, 2015
There are fierce competitions, sure. And then there's Food Network Star, the ultimate in culinary showdowns, a battle so great that it has the potential to redefine a person's life forever. There's perhaps no contest with greater stakes than Food Network Star — except, perhaps, Comeback Kitchen, as this prequel series gives just one person the chance to be among those lucky finalists in the running for glory on Food Network Star. Television veterans Tyler Florence and Valerie Bertinelli will be on hand this May to judge the hopefuls on the first-ever installment of Comeback Kitchen. It's up to them not just to pick a winner of the three-week series, but to find the one person among the cast of seven returning Star alumnae that has the culinary chops and on-camera charisma to be a formidable Star candidate once again. High stakes — not just for the contestants, right?
by Maria Russo in Food Network Star, Judges, August 4, 2015
"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.
by Maria Russo in Food Network Star, Judges, July 30, 2015
The name of the game was live TV on Sunday night's episode of Food Network Star, from a quick demo with Catherine McCord to an ensemble live television special — Summer Live — a la The Kitchen. Katie Lee and Jeff Mauro, both veterans of The Kitchen and no strangers to live productions, stopped by to judge the final four competitors as they tackled their Summer Live segments, offering them advice and been-there knowledge on how to deliver a succinct, engaging presentation. Star Talk caught up with Katie on set to find out more about how she approaches the shared segments on The Kitchen, plus her tips for multitasking in the kitchen, both at the stove with the camera and with her co-hosts. Read on below to hear from Katie, and learn what one live-TV snafu she'll "never forget."
What’s it like to share the spotlight?
Katie Lee: I don’t ever think of it as one person being in the spotlight. We really are a collaborative group, and I think that when one of us looks good, we all look good. So it’s about lifting each other up and having a good time. There are definitely moments where you have to take control, like if you’re doing the demo; then it becomes yours because it’s your recipe, but it’s still about interacting with each other, and with our audience and viewers.
Did it take the five of you long to find your groove when you first started filming The Kitchen?
KL: One of our biggest challenges when we first started was talking over each other, because it’s a natural way to speak. You know, if you’re at a dinner party, everybody’s talking over each other, and it’s just the way that people naturally talk. So, we really had to learn how to let the other person speak and naturally interject without talking over.
by Maria Russo in Food Network Star, Interviews, Judges, July 16, 2015
As all of the previously eliminated Food Network Star finalists would likely attest, camera challenges are difficult — so much so that multiple takes may be needed in order to execute just one presentation. But on Sunday's brand-new episode of Food Network Star, the remaining rivals will learn that their past challenges were mere practice for the main event in television: live productions, where there's no such thing as a redo. Unpredictable in time and format, live TV requires personalities to think on their feet, especially when there are multiple hosts of a show on at the same time.
On Sunday the final four hopefuls will come together for their first ensemble-based live challenge, something the five castmates of The Kitchen know well. Two of those co-hosts, Jeff Mauro and Katie Lee, will be on hand Sunday as the cast attempts their first live demos, and we caught up with Jeff recently to find out what he's learned about live TV after six seasons of The Kitchen. "The No. 1 rule," he told us, is "the process of giving and taking, waiting for your moment and giving a moment." He says that finalists ought to do well if they have one key component: confidence. "Make sure whatever you’re cooking is practiced," he recommends, "because then it just becomes, you know, muscle memory." Read on below to hear more from Jeff as he shares "been there, done that" advice with the hopefuls.
What's it like balancing the efforts of an ensemble while claiming a bit of spotlight for yourself?
Jeff Mauro: It like it. I like being able to feed off other people and give and take, [like] the world of … improv and sketch comedy. That's, like, the No. 1 rule: the process of giving and taking, waiting for your moment and giving a moment. So that’s what I love about it. But then again, it’s also nice just to be in the spotlight too.
by Maria Russo in Food Network Star, Interviews, Judges, July 2, 2015
Just as the Food Network Star finalists ought to put their best dishes forward in an Italian-food challenge for Giada De Laurentiis, on Sunday they surely better bring the best of their brunch game in the Mentor Challenge, as Bobby Flay knows just what to look for in this beloved morning meal. From savory selects like scrambled eggs with ham and herbs to rich, sweet plates like cinnamon-laced pancakes with cherries, Bobby — the host of Brunch @ Bobby's and a longtime lover of brunch — is no stranger to creating craveworthy brunch dishes. So he'll expect to see finalists' most-impressive offerings come Sunday, especially since time is running out before a new Star will be crowned.
Ahead of Sunday's brand-new episode and the upcoming brunch challenge, Star Talk caught up with Bobby to find out what it takes to turn out a quality brunch plate. "Brunch takes a lot of attention to detail," he told us. "And that’s the key to brunch. It’s a casual eating event, but it takes a lot of attention to detail." He also noted that part of the essence of brunch is "all in the details," as the meal often depends on multiple components. "Cooking the eggs perfectly, making sure you have a lot of muffins and scones and things like that."
by Maria Russo in Food Network Star, Interviews, Judges, June 25, 2015
On 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.
While 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.