It's hard to believe that it's been seven years since Guy Fieri won the second season of Food Network Star. Since that unforgettable moment, he's dominated homegrown eats on Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives and cooked up a storm on Guy's Big Bite — he's the ideal example of Star success.
Last Sunday night, the final three finalists — Damaris, Rodney and Russell — had the opportunity of a lifetime. They got to pick Guy's brain for tips and tricks. No stranger to filming a pilot, Guy mentored the finalists through their tapes.
Star Talk recently caught up with Guy to ask him about his time with the finalists and what the winner will need in the future.
What was your experience like on Star this season?? GF: I had a really nice time with all of them while I was producing their pilots for Episode 10, and they all have so much talent that I think the gain — the expectation for the next Food Network Star competitors — is that the bar has been raised so high. I mean, you have to be the best of the best.
Time is running out to vote (voting is now closed) for this year's newest Food Network Star. Will you join Damaris on her journey in helping guys woo their mates with Southern food on Eat, Date, Love? Will you get Pie Style with Rodney? Or will you channel your inner culinary sins and indulge with Russell on Guilty Pleasures?
Ladies and germs, the time is upon us: the final showdown! We've seen this batch be flummoxed by chips and dip, serve golf balls as doughnuts and get tipsy on the Fourth of July (don't we all, though?). Indeed it's been one heck of a ride for our final four, and now for just one of them, the real road trip is about to begin.
Giada, Bobby and Alton have been sitting on these eggs for 10 straight weeks. After one final meeting with the mentors, it's time for these eggs to hatch and meet the big birds, Bob Tuschman and Susie Fogelson, one more time.
Stacey has seen firsthand the transformative power of a helping hand in the kitchen. Stacey was a woman who was once in debt, running a restaurant and raising a family. Robert Irvine jump-started her stalled vehicle on the road to success, and it hasn't stopped running since. Now at the top of her game, Stacey wants to help transform the dishes and, ultimately, lives of Americans by throwing some rims on their hoopty recipes, and turn their stroganoff into a fashionable hand-bag pattern. Obviously I can get behind that. Heartbreakingly, her pitch was too melancholy to sway the selection committee. Regardless, I do not see Stacey Poon-Kinney slumping in a corner in San Diego. I see Stacey kicking butt, as she's done for 10 weeks now.
All season long the mentors have guided this very decision, and now you, Food Network Star fans, get to make the final and most important decision. Will you join Damaris on her journey in helping guys woo their mates with Southern food on Eat, Date Love? Will you get Pie Style with Rodney? Or will you channel your inner culinary sins and indulge with Russell on Guilty Pleasures?
Food Network's newest sensation is up to you: Cast your vote now (voting is now closed).
It's down to the nitty-gritty: the final four finalists. Damaris, Rodney, Russell and Stacey have endured nine weeks of grueling tasks, surviving on-camera and cooking challenges, and now one is just eight days closer to stardom.
If you had to vote now, who would you pick as your next Food Network Star?
Come Sunday night, the final four competitors will face their last and most critical challenge of the competition: Convince Bob and Susie that their pilots should be green-lighted. In all-or-nothing pitches, Damaris, Rodney, Russell and Stacey will convey their show concepts to the network, but ultimately only three will be given the go-ahead. For the fallen rival, it will be the end of a 10-week journey, but for the hopefuls advancing, the most exciting experience will be yet to come. They'll film exclusive, never-before-seen tapes illustrating their would-be series on Food Network, and it's these pilots that you, fans, will watch when deciding who to vote for on Sunday night.
Check out the sneak-peek photo above from Sunday's episode: Guy Fieri is making a guest appearance, coaching the rivals through the filming process. Perhaps the ultimate pilot mentor, Guy won Star Season 2, so he's well-aware of the anxiety, stresses and obstacles that surely accompany this stage of the competition. Do you think he'll share sage wisdom with the contestants or stories from his own days filming a pilot?
Even 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.
A 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.
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.
Every 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.
During 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.