Team Alton: Down to Four

by in Food Network Star, May 15, 2012

Team Alton was the first to lose a member with the departure of Cristie Schoen in Sunday's premiere. Cristie, a movie-set caterer, came off as angry when she delivered her pitch for healthy eating (and a bland black-eyed pea and cabbage soup) in the Restaurant: Impossible challenge. She tried to redeem herself in the Producers' Challenge, but Bob and Susie ultimately felt that Josh had more staying power.

"I got confused and you lost me at the end. I don’t see the joy and the excitement that will excite an entire nation to eat healthy," Bob Tuschman told Cristie. She handled her early exit gracefully, but with regrets about her performance: "I’m really disappointed that I did not make it close to the top because I do have such an important message to share. I wasn’t able to communicate that message out."

Hear more from Alton, Bob and Cristie in her exclusive exit interview. Do you think she deserved to be the first to go? Read more

Your Pre-Season Picks, Revealed

by in Food Network Star, May 14, 2012

Martita Jara

The Pre-Season Fan Vote tally is in! Before viewing last night’s premiere, 20% of you cast your votes for Team Giada’s Martita Jara, a spunky interior designer who grew up in the restaurant business and loves to cook with her family's Mexican flavors.

Team Giada’s finalists seemed to give the best first impressions, as they swept the top three. Laid-back chef Ippy Aiona from Hawaii was right behind Martita with 19% of the vote, followed by South African cake artist Linkie Marais at 15%.

Did Team Giada live up to expectations in the premiere episode? Do you think the challenge-winning members of Team Bobby or the quirky underdogs from Team Alton deserve some recognition? The in-season Fan Vote resets each week, so make sure to cast your vote for your favorite finalist up to 10 times per day.

Check out the complete list of Pre-Premiere Fan Vote results: Read more

Aarti’s After Party: Episode 1 Recap

by in Food Network Star, May 14, 2012
Aarti Sequeira
An ecstatic Aarti hugs Bob Tuschman after learning that she won her season of Star.

Aarti Sequeira won Food Network Star season 6 and expanded her popular blog into a cooking show, Aarti Party (catch it on Food Network, Sundays at 7:30am/6:30c). As a Star veteran watching from her couch at home, Aarti shares her insider’s take on what went down each week.

I was hoping to tell you which of the contestants stood out to me in this episode, and I will, but with this caveat: I really shouldn’t.

The first episode is always the hardest to judge, not only because there are just so many gosh-darned finalists to acquaint yourself with, but also because the contestants themselves are still trying to get their sea legs.

At least, that’s how my first day went. It was surreal. First, meeting all the contestants, trying to figure out how I measured up alongside them and getting used to the idea that I’d be bunking with these complete strangers for the next several weeks.

Then, there was getting used to the crew: camera operators who followed me into the bathroom when I brushed my teeth; producers equipped with Secret Service-type walkie-talkies and earpieces who maintained an all business-attitude so that we didn’t get any inside information; having to ask said producers whether I could run to the restroom ; lining up in what seemed like a random order in the darkness behind set; whispering “good luck” to each other; waiting for what seemed like an eternity as my stomach dropped; and then suddenly being thrust into the too-bright lights with a battery of cameras in the corner aimed right at us, seemingly catching every tick, smile and frown.

All that before I even got to meet the Food Network personalities I’d spent years watching, learning from, analyzing. You’re star-struck. Your brain waves fizzle out as you take them in. Their faces look a little different, they look shorter, taller, smaller, bigger and — oh, wait — their lips are moving. Oh crap, what did they just say? I have to do what?! In how much time? For how many people? Wait...now?!

See what I mean? So go easy on the finalists, y’all. This is hard, and hard in a way that you can’t even begin to prepare yourself for. Read more

Eight Ways to Socialize With Star

by in Food Network Star, May 10, 2012

Food Network Star gameJust a few days remain until Saturday's Food Network Star casting special and Sunday’s season premiere, and you devoted fans already know that Season 8 is bigger and better than ever. Don’t get us wrong — we love each one of our talented past winners. But we’re willing to bet that Guy, Melissa, Aarti, Jeff and company are pretty envious of this year’s crop of finalists.

Three groups of five have been hand-picked by Alton Brown, Bobby Flay and Giada De Laurentiis and will be coached by their respective team leader all season long. Win or lose, working closely with one of these Food Network icons is the opportunity of a lifetime for any Star hopeful.

We want you fans at home to be a part of this exciting new season, too. Here’s a rundown of all the ways you can be part of the Star community throughout the season. Read more

Star-a-Day: Eric Lee

by in Food Network Star, May 10, 2012

Eric Lee

To give you a sneak peek at the personalities of Team Alton, Team Bobby and Team Giada, we’re introducing a finalist per day leading up to the bigger-than-ever Food Network Star premiere on Sunday, May 13, at 9pm/8c. Don’t miss the casting special on Saturday, May 12, at 9pm/8c for a behind-the-scenes glimpse at each finalist’s road to Star-dom, including footage of their final one-on-one auditions with their respective team leaders.

Last but not least, our final Star of the Day is Eric Lee from Team Bobby. Eric, 44, graduated from the Culinary Institute of America and now lives in Petaluma, California. He worked for 11 years as the executive chef of a winery before leaving to shoot Food Network Star.

Fun facts about Eric from Food Network Magazine:

  • Claim to fame: He has cooked for Al Roker on the Today show, demonstrating wine-friendly dishes he developed for Simi Winery in Sonoma, Calif., like bucatini with crab.
  • Dream-show concept: A travel and cooking show called "Fork in the Road." It's like Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives with ethnic restaurants.
  • Secret ingredient: Mushrooms. His favorite variety is the trumpet royale, which he wraps in prosciutto and grills.

Get to know Eric in his Star bio video: Read more

Star-a-Day: Josh Lyons

by in Food Network Star, May 9, 2012

Josh Lyons

To give you a sneak peek at the personalities of Team Alton, Team Bobby and Team Giada, we’re introducing a finalist per day leading up to the bigger-than-ever Food Network Star premiere on Sunday, May 13, at 9pm/8c. Don’t miss the casting special on Saturday, May 12, at 9pm/8c for a behind-the-scenes glimpse at each finalist’s road to Star-dom, including footage of their final one-on-one auditions with their respective team leaders.

Team Giada's Josh Lyons was a singer in a rock band when he decided to switch gears and enroll in culinary school. He lives in Jupiter, Florida, where he's now a sushi chef and restaurant consultant. Josh, 42, still writes songs and performs with his band on the side.

Fun facts about Josh from Food Network Magazine:

  • Claim to fame: He was the lead singer and songwriter of a rock band that signed with Maverick Records, a label founded by Madonna. He has opened for the Goo Goo Dolls, Kid Rock and Pearl Jam.
  • Dream-show concept: Sushi fusion. "I'm the love child of Paula Deen and Morimoto," he says. He makes Southern sushi rolls by wrapping fried chicken with collard greens.
  • Secret ingredient: Togarashi seven spice, a Japanese spice blend. He makes his own.

Get to know Josh in his Star bio video: Read more

Star-a-Day: Cristie Schoen

by in Food Network Star, May 8, 2012

Cristie Schoen

To give you a sneak peek at the personalities of Team Alton, Team Bobby and Team Giada, we’re introducing a finalist per day leading up to the bigger-than-ever Food Network Star premiere on Sunday, May 13, at 9pm/8c. Don’t miss the casting special on Saturday, May 12, at 9pm/8c for a behind-the-scenes glimpse at each finalist’s road to Star-dom, including footage of their final one-on-one auditions with their respective team leaders.

Today we spotlight the fifth member of Team Alton, 35-year-old Cristie Schoen. Growing up in a military family, Cristie loved cooking Cajun cuisine with her dad. Now she lives in New Orleans and aspires to open a cafe of her own, serving locally grown, nutritious cuisine.

Fun facts about Cristie from Food Network Magazine:

  • Claim to fame: She has been on both sides of the camera: She appeared in movies like the horror flick Babysitter Wanted and cooked for the cast and crew of the TV series Big Love.
  • Dream-show concept: "Homegrown with Cristie Schoen." She'd follow food from the farm to the kitchen, and focus on healthful, kid-friendly cooking.
  • Secret ingredient: Hemp seeds. She loves the nutty flavor and sprinkles them on soup, chili and salad.

Get to know Cristie in her Star bio video: Read more

Star-a-Day: Kara Sigle

by in Food Network Star, May 7, 2012

Kara Sigle

To give you a sneak peek at the personalities of Team Alton, Team Bobby and Team Giada, we’re introducing a finalist per day leading up to the bigger-than-ever Food Network Star premiere on Sunday, May 13, at 9pm/8c. Don’t miss the casting special on Saturday, May 12, at 9pm/8c for a behind-the-scenes glimpse at each finalist’s road to Star-dom, including footage of their final one-on-one auditions with their respective team leaders.

Team Bobby's Kara Sigle is a 31-year-old caterer and fitness guru from Chicago. She learned to cook from her mom and likes to put a healthy spin on favorite tried-and-true dishes.

Fun facts about Kara from Food Network Magazine:

  • Claim to fame: She is a former San Francisco 49ers cheerleader.
  • Dream-show concept: Retro cooking. She'll dress up classic dishes like iceberg-lettuce wedge salad with homemade Thousand Island dressing.
  • Secret ingredient: Butter-flavored shortening. Kara uses it in her pie crusts. "It's a texture thing. It's flaky and has nice butter flavor, like old-fashioned Southern pie."

Get to know Kara in her Star bio video: Read more

Star-a-Day: Linkie Marais

by in Food Network Star, May 6, 2012

Linkie Marais

To give you a sneak peek at the personalities of Team Alton, Team Bobby and Team Giada, we’re introducing a finalist per day leading up to the bigger-than-ever Food Network Star premiere on Sunday, May 13, at 9pm/8c. Don’t miss the casting special on Saturday, May 12, at 9pm/8c for a behind-the-scenes glimpse at each finalist’s road to Star-dom, including footage of their final one-on-one auditions with their respective team leaders.

Twenty-eight-year-old Linkie Marais is Team Giada's resident baking queen. Linkie grew up in South Africa and moved with her family to Mississippi at age 16. This trained pastry chef and wedding cake expert now lives in Massachusetts.

Fun facts about Linkie from Food Network Magazine:

  • Claim to fame: She has decorated cakes for celebrity clients like Patrick Kennedy and Frankie Valli. The most challenging cake she ever made looked like a life-sized golf bag.
  • Dream-show concept: Do-it-yourself cake decorating. "People have a hard time affording elaborate cakes," she says. She'd demonstrate all the essentials: how to ice, create borders and work with fondant.
  • Secret ingredient: Butter. "I think I love butter more than Paula Deen does."

Get to know Linkie in her Star bio video: Read more

Star-a-Day: Emily Ellyn

by in Food Network Star, May 5, 2012

Emily Ellyn

To give you a sneak peek at the personalities of Team Alton, Team Bobby and Team Giada, we’re introducing a finalist per day leading up to the bigger-than-ever Food Network Star premiere on Sunday, May 13, at 9pm/8c. Don’t miss the casting special on Saturday, May 12, at 9pm/8c for a behind-the-scenes glimpse at each finalist’s road to Star-dom, including footage of their final one-on-one auditions with their respective team leaders.

Today we meet Team Alton's quirky retro gal, 29-year-old Emily Ellyn. Emily grew up on a farm, trained at the Culinary Institute of America and Academie Internationale de Management in Paris and is now pursuing her Ph.D. in hospitality management.

Fun facts about Emily from Food Network Magazine:

  • Claim to fame: She's expanding Georgia-based Sublime Doughnuts into a worldwide franchise. She's working on opening shops in Bangkok and South Korea.
  • Dream-show concept: "What's Cookin', Good Lookin'?", a show about cooking for loved ones. She grew up on a Christmas-tree farm and is very family-oriented.
  • Secret ingredient: Bacon. She finds a way to put it in everything, including the crust for her pecan pie.

Get to know Emily in her Star bio video: Read more

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