by Maria Russo in Food Network Star, Videos, July 27, 2016
by Maria Russo in Food Network Star, Videos, July 20, 2016
Each and every one of the challenges on Food Network Star was important this season, from the finalists' first attempts at cold-open videos in the premiere episode to the holiday parties that took place in Week 9. But Sunday night's very last face-off was indeed the most-crucial one for Damiano, Jernard, Tregaye and Yaku, the competitors still remaining at that point, as Giada told them, "Each of you will have 60 minutes to cook the dish of your life." The mentors would be tasting those dishes and watching their corresponding videos before doling out just three pilot opportunities, so all the finalists realized the higher-than-ever stakes at hand.
All four hopefuls welcomed help from sous chefs as they worked on their dishes, but for Damiano, baking alongside Rob quickly turned into more of a burden than a blessing. He was set on making St. Honoré cake, which he called "the best dessert you can make," and he looked to Rob for assistance in executing it. But thanks to Rob's unfamiliarity with baking, he only managed to cause Damiano stress. "I'm a guy that prides himself on re-creating leftovers and making comfort food. I've never used a scale," Rob declared after Damiano saddled him with taking metric measurements for a series of ingredients. What ensued was a tense — albeit downright hilarious — back-and-forth between Damiano and Rob as they attempted to work together to complete Damiano's dish on time.
by Maria Russo in Food Network Star, Videos, July 19, 2016
This is it. After five weeks of culinary and camera challenges, Star Salvation hosts Alex Guarnaschelli and Eddie Jackson have just one battle left to judge before selecting the finalist who's most worthy of returning to the Food Network Star competition. Monterey, Yaku and this week's newcomer, Ana, are set to showcase classic dishes reminiscent of their hometowns after taking in an expert food demo by none other than one of their mentors, Alex. It's up to each of them to not only demonstrate their expertise and authority in the kitchen, but also convey a presence on camera that's both easygoing and commanding. Ultimately two of these hopefuls will fall in a final effort to continue on the road to Stardom, while one will rejoin the Season 12 cast in Sunday's penultimate episode of Food Network Star.
Click the play button on the video above to watch Monterey, Yaku and Ana face off for the last time, and tune in to Food Network Star on Sunday at 9|8c to find out who's earned Salvation.
by Maria Russo in Food Network Star, Videos, July 13, 2016
Remember the unexpected twists that came in Week 4's hotel challenge when VIP guests Jesse Tyler Ferguson and Hannah Hart made special meal requests? Or the shock in Week 5 when Robert Irvine stole 10 minutes from the finalists' prep time? Or the curve ball in Week 7 when competitors had to use frozen ingredients for a baking challenge? All of these unforeseen obstacles were ultimately learning moments for the Food Network Star finalists, but that doesn't mean they were any less tricky (or frustrating) to contend with. On Sunday night's new episode, mentors Bobby Flay and Giada De Laurentiis once again gave the contestants a game-changing surprise, but this one was far happier and more welcome than the others.
by Maria Russo in Food Network Star, Videos, July 12, 2016
The penultimate battle of Star Salvation kicked off not with a taste of food but with a whiff of it. Returning hopefuls Monterey and Yaku welcomed newcomer Erin, and all three sniffed some seemingly simple picks, such as fennel pollen and kumquats, but they were stumped on more than a few. And in true Star Salvation fashion, the challenge didn't stop there. The finalists were also tasked with preparing a dish that brought together nearly all of the ingredients they smelled — a whopping five seemingly dissimilar items that had to be fused into a dish. While Erin and Monterey had the same idea of combining ginger and kumquats in a sauce, Yaku put herbs and spices to work for a salmon-based dish. Ultimately, though, after what mentor Alex Guarnaschelli deemed "neck and neck" showings, one hopeful was sent home from the competition for good this week.
Click the play button on the video above to see whose Salvation journey ended, and find out which two finalists advanced to next week's finale.
by Maria Russo in Food Network Star, Videos, July 7, 2016
For baker Erin, the task of prepping the dessert course in this week's Guilty Pleasures-themed dinner had the potential to be a slam dunk, home run, hole in one for her. She set out to make a chocolate chip cookie-focused plate, rounded out with chocolate ganache and mousse. She was confident in her choices and pleased with the way her dessert came together, and she believed in its decadence. "What's so over the top about this dessert is chocolate," she explained. Her fellow Food Network Star finalists, however, weren't convinced — but they didn't tell her that. "This doesn't say decadence, guilty pleasure to me," Ana later noted.
Sure enough, when Erin presented her dish, she pitched it as "very, very decadent," but that's not how the judges found the finished offering to be. "When I think about a rich chocolate dessert, I'm thinking, like, so rich in chocolate that, like, you can feel, like, the pimples coming out on your face. That was not the case there at all," Bobby told Erin at evaluations, and she was immediately dumbfounded at the feedback. "I sell thousands of those cookies. Thousands of them. And I make that ganache almost every day, and it was extremely rich," she quipped back at him in an emotionally wrought scene that left the other finalists and the mentors in shock.
Click the play button on the video above to watch what unfolded, and see more of Erin's reaction to Bobby's critique. Read more
by Maria Russo in Food Network Star, Videos, July 6, 2016
In this seventh week of Food Network Star, the competition among the finalists is more intense and the rivalries more poignant than ever. Sunday night's elimination was the first decidedly emotional exit this season — and for more than just the ousted hopeful. In a shocking announcement, Joy was sent home following a fried-chicken flop and a lackluster onstage performance during the tiki party challenge, whereas Ana, her challenge teammate, was spared yet again. While the rest of Ana's remaining rivals were surprised to learn she'd been deemed safe, Ana was simply "grateful," as she said through tears afterward. But she was also keenly aware of the way others were looking at her and her place in the competition, and she was quick to use that to her advantage. "The other finalists, they're shooting daggers at me," she noted. "The reason that they're upset — it's finally dawned on them. I'm real competition. I'm a real threat to them."
Click the play button on the video above to watch as the remaining hopefuls react to Ana's rescue, and see how Ana sets her sights on victory with only three weeks left in the contest.
by Maria Russo in Food Network Star, Videos, June 29, 2016
This marks the halfway point of the Star Salvation competition, which means that the remaining hopefuls are just three weeks away from one person claiming redemption and returning to Food Network Star, and in true Salvation fashion, the contest is only getting more demanding.
Trends were the name of the game in this fourth battle, when Joy joined Monterey and Yaku in blending of-the-moment ingredients and showcasing a complementary technique. To successfully marry seaweed, coconut sugar, rainbow carrots and steel-cut oats, they'd have to reimagine traditional uses for these items — and then sell their dishes to judges Alex Guarnaschelli and Eddie Jackson, of course.
Click the play button on the video above to watch what unfolded and see which finalist was sent home for good. Read more
by Maria Russo in Food Network Star, Videos, June 28, 2016
Let's be honest: There was pretty much no chance that Rhett and Link's Wheel of Mythicality was going to yield such friendly "Will It" combos as peanut butter and jelly or strawberries and cream on Sunday's latest episode of Food Network Star. But the pairings that resulted from a quick spin of this diabolical wheel turned out such shocking and oddball mash-ups that some finalists could hardly handle it. Kimchi and bread pudding, anyone? How about octopus and macaroni and cheese? Those were the combinations that Joy and Tregaye were saddled with, respectively — and they didn't take too kindly to them.
Click the play button on the video above to watch the pairings get dealt one spin at a time, and see how the competitors reacted to receiving these unexpected combinations.
by Maria Russo in Food Network Star, Judges, Videos, June 23, 2016
Just as the remaining Food Network Star finalists worked with their own food wheel this week (remember when the wheel matched bread pudding and kimchi, octopus and macaroni and cheese?), so did the hopefuls on Star Salvation. Host Eddie Jackson unveiled what he called "the wheel of innovation," which meant that the name of the game was transformation, giving new life and reinventing an everyday ingredient. While Yaku and Rob worked with different boxed items, Monterey was saddled with canned liver pâté. It was up to her to turn this less-than-desirable ingredient into something craveable. Her solution: noodles. And the results were anything but what you'd expect.
Click the play button on the video above to see how Monterey handled the pâté, and find out which competitor was sent home for good this week.
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.