You heard it here first: Food Network Star is kicking off an all-new ninth season on Sunday, June 2 at 9pm/8c, and returning judge-mentors Alton Brown, Bobby Flay and Giada De Laurentiis will be there at the helm. This year the mentors are tasking 12 hopefuls with weekly Mentor and Star Challenges in the ultimate multi-month interview for the chance to earn their dream television job: their own show on Food Network. While the contestants bring with them a mix of backgrounds — including culinary school, restaurant management, private chef and food blogging — they have but one dream, which is to become the next Food Network Star. From now until next month's premiere, Star Talk will introduce one finalist a day until you, Star fans, meet them on camera during the show.
After graduating from culinary school, Damaris Phillips, 32, worked front- and back-of-house restaurant jobs before returning to the same college to teach the next generation of chefs. Now living in Louisville, Ky., this self-described Southern spitfire grew up cooking dinners for her large family, and she is known for her unmistakable trademark wit.