Mentors’ Restaurant-Style Meals to Make at Home

by in Recipes, July 31, 2013

Chicken CacciatoreEven if you're a frequent restaurant diner, there are surely times when you want to dig in to dinner in the comfort of your home, and on these nights, you shouldn't have to settle for average, predictable dishes. You can indeed turn out restaurant-style meals — like the ones the finalists reinvented during last week's Star Challenge — with quick, simple recipes. This week, Food Network Star mentors are sharing their can-do versions of a few of the meals the competitors made over at Phil Trani's restaurant. Try Giada's, Bobby's and Alton's top-rated recipes for chicken cacciatore, salmon and steak to enjoy professional chef-quality plates in your own kitchen.

Rodney transformed the chicken cacciatore at Phil's into a pie, but Giada's Chicken Cacciatore (pictured above) is a tried-and-true classic that's full of traditional flavor and texture. After quickly browning chicken breasts and thighs, Giada simmers them in a bold white wine-tomato sauce with sweet bell peppers, onions and briny capers until the meat is cooked and tender.

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The Epic Battle of Stacey vs. Nikki — Justin’s Rebel Recap

by in Recap, July 29, 2013

The Epic Battle of Stacey vs. Nikki - Justin's Rebel RecapA week ago, we watched as our six hopefuls scraped through a foodie field piece. This week, with five left, the tension is higher than Anne Burrell's hair. I think we've all been waiting to see this year's Donner Party moment, and it's finally upon us: the epic battle of Nikki vs. Stacey.

Mentor Challenge

This is a challenge I can get behind because I love playing MacGyver in my pantry, and I feel that home cooks don't do enough improv cooking.

  • Nikki: From minute one, Nikki's been able to climb out of any culinary ditch with her golden stepladder of camera presence, and today was no different. You should go back and watch the look on Stacey's face.
  • Rodney: Rodney uses the sweet 'n' salty chips to make — wait for it — a pie crust. On camera, Rodney was as controlled and un-shticky as we've ever seen him. There wasn't a guitar in sight.

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One-on-One with the Latest Star Contestant to Go Home

by in Interviews, July 28, 2013

Stacey, Russell and Nikki - Food Network Season 9Every Sunday, Bobby, Giada and Alton take on the difficult task of eliminating one finalist in the quest to help guide fans to vote for Food Network's next sensation. And this is no easy task. Check back here every week to read Star Talk's exclusive exit interview with the latest Star hopeful to leave Food Star Kitchen.

If you missed the show and recorded it, don't read any further — Star Talk is about to chat with the latest finalist to go home.

SPOILER ALERT: Find out who went home

Poll: Did the Right Finalist Earn Salvation?

by in Community, July 26, 2013

Chad Rosenthal and Lovely JacksonDuring last Sunday's episode, Lovely made a surprise return to the on-air contest after besting six previously fallen competitors on Star Salvation. Maintaining her "party on a plate" point of view during the exclusive Web series, she proved to host Robert Irvine her culinary chops and commitment to the competition. But now, looking back on her performance and her rivals', do you think Lovely was the correct finalist to earn a second chance at stardom?

Do you think Daniela or Andres — the first two ousted contestants — warranted more time to show off their skills, or should Danushka have stayed, on account of her one-of-a-kind attitude? Would you have liked to have seen more from restaurant chefs Viet, Chris or Chad, or was Lovely indeed worthy of redemption? Tell Star Talk by voting below for the competitor you think most deserved salvation.

Cast your vote

Star-Worthy Pastas to Make at Home

by in Recipes, July 24, 2013

Nikki DinkiWhen it comes to cooking in the Food Star Kitchen, mediocrity will never suffice. Week after week, Star finalists must turn out camera-worthy meals that are both deliciously inspired and intelligently presented. But just because mentors demand excellence on the plate doesn’t mean the rivals have to concoct complicated dishes that take hours to prepare; easy-to-make, quick-cooking offerings are also acceptable, and the finalists proved that with their preparations of classic pasta dishes during last week's episode.

Damaris PhillipsDamaris', Stacey's and Nikki's pastas were among the simplest prepared during the Mentor Challenge, so much so that you can make them easily in your home kitchen. Nikki's Fire Island Burst Tomato Pasta with Lemon Herbed Goat Cheese Balls is a family-friendly plate that puts seasonal cherry tomatoes to work. Nikki starts by sauteing the tomatoes with garlic until they're soft and sweet, then she tosses the sauce with linguini and tops it with a sprinkle of fragrant basil and mint. For an indulgent finish, she studs each plate with a few goat cheese balls, which she's rolled with bright lemon zest and fragrant basil, mint, rosemary and thyme.

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One-on-One with the Latest Star Contestant to Go Home

by in Interviews, July 23, 2013

Rodney and Lovely - Food Network Star EliminationEvery Sunday, Bobby, Giada and Alton take on the difficult task of eliminating one finalist in the quest to help guide fans to vote for Food Network's next sensation. And this is no easy task. Check back here every week to read Star Talk's exclusive exit interview with the latest Star hopeful to leave Food Star Kitchen.

If you missed the show and recorded it, don't read any further — Star Talk is about to chat with the latest finalist to go home.

SPOILER ALERT: Find out who went home

It’s About to Get Pazza in Here — Justin’s Rebel Recap

by in Recap, July 21, 2013

Russell Jackson - Food Network Star Season 9Martie Duncan and I used to say, "When one door closes, it's time to get out the jackhammer."

Since her elimination from this contest, Lovely Jackson, with help from Robert Irvine, has been the architect of her own reconstruction — drilling through six other competitors to regain a cutting board in the Food Star Kitchen.

With pizza doughnuts well behind us, the gang, now including Lovely, is to make a pa-sta deesh, for Gee-ah-da and her Food Network fratelli. That's not all. After the competitors cook their dishes, they have to describe with edible eloquence the dishes of their rivals. It's about to get pazza in here.

Spoiler Alert: Keep reading

POLL: Which Finalist Do You Think Is Returning This Sunday?

by in Community, July 20, 2013

This Sunday, in a dramatic and shocking twist to the season, Chad or Lovely will re-enter Food Star Kitchen. For the past four weeks, previously eliminated contestants have been given a second chance in a Web series called Star Salvation, presented by Buitoni.

Lovely's managed to out-perform five other talented contestants in the first three episodes. But will Chad finally put an end to her streak?

Before the winner is revealed Sunday night (9pm/8c), relive the journey to salvation, and share your predictions in Star Talk's poll.

Vote now

Caption It: Taste Tester

by in Community, July 19, 2013

Alton BrownFrom private chefs and culinary instructors to restaurant owners, underground chefs and James Beard Award semifinalists, this year's cast of Star finalists boasts a long and impressive kitchen resume. They're keenly aware of what it takes to turn out balanced and full-flavored dishes, but thanks to the pressure of cooking on camera and against the clock — for a panel of esteemed food stars, no less — some of the rivals' offerings have proven disappointing, some even inedible. While the Selection Committee has demanded culinary excellence from day one of the competition, now nearly two months into the contest, the judges are finally starting to see consistently stellar plates.

In the sneak-peek photo above from Sunday's all-new episode, it looks as if Alton's come across a dish he especially likes. No need for utensils or a tasting table here: He's gone hands first into a pot of one finalist's offering, picking at it while looking over his shoulder with a serious side-eye. What kind of food do you think is waiting for Alton in that pan, and who do you think made this sample-worthy meal?

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Photos: Mentors’ Most Memorable Facial Expressions

by in Judges, July 18, 2013

Alton Brown and Giada De LaurentiisNow seven weeks into the competition, the remaining finalists are just now finding their footings in the Food Star Kitchen, and many are able to hold the attention of an audience on camera. They can turn out winning meals and garner high praises from focus groups, but their performances weren't always so star-worthy, and no one knows that better than the three people who've been face-to-face with the competitors' offerings from the very beginning: the judges, Alton, Bobby and Giada.

This Selection Committee has watched the contestants develop from day one, and in the last two months, the judges have experienced firsthand the exciting, disappointing, and simply odd plates and presentations shared with them. Given the surprises and sheer meltdowns they've seen from this year's competitors, then, it's no shock that the judges' faces through it all have been as wild and unpredictable as the antics they've witnessed. From Alton's furrowed brow and Bobby's cheeky grin to Giada's glaring side-eye, the judges don't hide what they're feeling well.

Browse this photo gallery to see the mentors' most memorable facial expressions, then tell Star Talk in the comments: What is your favorite moment from the season so far?