All Posts In Judges

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.)

 

 

It Was Two Votes to One — Alton’s Post-Star Rundown

by in Judges, June 29, 2014

Alton's Post-Star Rundown, Episode 5Every 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.

As far as I'm concerned, this challenge got down to the nitty-gritty — the real skills required to do the actual job of being a Food Network Star. The finalists had an hour to concoct a crowd-pleasing dish based on a classic summer pairing. Then they had to demo that dish to a crowd of roughly 400 food fans. The food was as up and down as the rides at Knott's Berry Farm. When it came to the demo, two finalists were clearly on the bottom: Reuben and Christopher.

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It Came Down to a Tiebreaking Decision — Alton’s Post-Star Rundown

by in Judges, June 22, 2014

Alton's Post-Star Rundown, Episode 4Every 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.

When it comes to eliminations,I'd say that eight times of 10, Bobby, Giada and I talk it out and come to a unanimous decision, but not this time. Granted, the challenge was tough on everyone, forcing them to put themselves out there as conceptualists and performers. This also made it very tough for those of us on the Selection Committee.

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“He Missed Major Opportunities.” — Alton’s Post-Star Rundown

by in Judges, June 15, 2014

Alton's Post-Star Rundown, Episode 3Every 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.

It's no surprise that this is my favorite episode this season — it's Food Network Star, Cutthroat style! The evilicious game play conjured new weaknesses and strengths from the finalists, and when the smoke cleared from both heats, Emma and Christopher were clearly at the top of the heap while Chris, Loreal and Kenny were sucking wind and hoping for survival. Each had serious issues on the plate and in their presentations, but it was clear to Bobby and I that the time for Kenny to go had come.

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“This Was Especially Disappointing” — Alton’s Post-Star Rundown

by in Judges, June 8, 2014

Alton's Post-Star Rundown - Episode 2
Every week, Alton Brown is joining the Star Talk roster to talk about the most-recent elimination and the thoughts that went behind each difficult decision from the judges' perspective.

Moving into the second episode, Bobby, Giada and I decided to switch the emphasis to communication and teaching skills. For the Mentor Challenge, I revisited a scenario I used to select my team for Season 8 in which the finalists had to walk me through the preparation of a couple of dishes. You'd be surprised how tough it is to get a dish on a plate when all you can use is words. That said, most of the finalists managed to get through it, but when faced with the Star Challenge, three finalists quickly sank to the bottom of the pack.

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