Star Scrapbooks: A Look Back

by in Behind the Scenes, Food Network Star, August 19, 2011

Star Journals

We started with 15 finalists in Los Angeles. Six moved on to New York City. And last Sunday night, a winner was crowned: Jeff Mauro is our new Sandwich King!

To put this exciting and exhausting journey in perspective, take a look back through the finalists’ scrapbooks from the competition. Upon arrival in L.A., each contender was given a Food Network journal and a digital camera. We compiled their best pages and photos to give you a behind-the-scenes look at the unique experience of each Star finalist.

Who filled page after page with heartfelt reflections? Who drew lifelike sketches of their dishes and who wrote meticulous prep lists? Who took hilarious snapshots in the Star house? Flip through the pages of the finalists’ scrapbooks to see.

Jeff's journal

Jeff Mauro (Winner!)

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Winner-to-Winner: Melissa’s Insight

by in Food Network Star, August 18, 2011

Jeff Mauro's winning moment

Melissa d'Arabian won Star season 5 and has been loving her Food Network adventure ever since. You can catch new episodes of her show, Ten Dollar Dinners on Sunday mornings at 9am/8c. As a Star veteran watching from her couch at home, Melissa shares her insider's take on what went down each week.

Congratulations, Jeff, on the big win!

I’ve spent the past couple of months sharing some of my BTDT (been there done that) advice with the finalists.  Last week, I talked about the art of losing.

Now, for the winner, here are some insights I’d like to share about your new world:

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Star Commentary: Cheers to Jeff!

by in Food Network Star, August 16, 2011

Jeff Mauro's winning moment

After a neck-and-neck race to the finish line, Jeff Mauro inched out fellow finalist Susie Jimenez to become the season 7 winner of Food Network Star. Dedicated viewers and opinionated commenters on Food Network’s Facebook page and our Star blog offered countless hearty congratulations to the newly crowned Sandwich King.

Many complimented his vibrant “charisma & personality” and obvious “talent.” Another wrote that he was simply a “favorite from day one and the obvious choice” for the winner. One ardent admirer left a message for Jeff: “Congrats! You have a little Mt. Prospect/Park Ridge fan club here, and we were cheering for you the whole way ... Stay true to yourself, don't get a big head and remember where you came from! We love you, and we'll be watching!”

Other supporters write that Jeff’s pilot was “joyfully heartwarming and happy” and that they promise to “be loyal fans of his show.” Viewers “can't wait for [Jeff] to get started,” as many realize he has a unique “opportunity to create a new perception of the ‘sandwich.’”

What's your favorite sandwich, and what kind would you like to watch Jeff make? Tell us on Facebook and Star Talk. Don’t miss Jeff’s premiere episode of Sandwich King this Sunday, August 21st at 11:30am/10:30c.

Though a Star has been chosen, you can still help your favorite finalist win the Fan Vote by voting for him or her up to 10 times per day.

Sandwich King

by in Food Network Star, August 15, 2011

Sandwich King Jeff Mauro

We have a winner! Jeff Mauro is Food Network's Star. Congratulations, Jeff — you've earned every bit of your success.

Fans, thank you so much for watching this season and for your participation here at the Star Blog. Good, bad and indifferent — you have let us know exactly what you're thinking. The team at Food Network has enjoyed hearing from all of you.

Be sure to join Jeff for a live chat on Food Network's Facebook wall Wednesday at 1:15pm/12:15c. And, of course, watch the series premiere of Jeff's new show, Sandwich King, Sunday at 11:30am/10:30c.
 

Caption It: Guy’s Big Advice

by in Food Network Star, August 12, 2011
Guy Fieri
Your Caption Here

The competition wraps up this Sunday night, but before the next Food Network Star is chosen, two of the remaining three finalists will film their show pilots to be reviewed by the selection committee and an esteemed (and opinionated) focus group: the previously eliminated contestants.

Who better to coach the lucky two as they attempt a show pilot? Camera pro and season 2 winner Guy Fieri, of course. In this sneak peek shot, Guy shares some tricks of the trade and tells of his experience filming his own first pilot just five years ago. Will this season’s finalists heed Guy’s advice or stumble under the pressure of their most important Camera Challenge yet?

Before you tune in this Sunday at 9pm/8c to see who is crowned the next Food Network Star, we’re challenging you, Star fans, to write your best captions (tastefully appropriate, please) for this teaching moment in the comments below.

Don’t forget to tune in to a special Star reunion episode Sunday at 8pm/7c.

Last chance! Cast your Fan Favorite Vote up to 10 times per day.

Melissa’s Insight: The Art of Losing

by in Food Network Star, August 11, 2011

Mary Beth and Jeff

Melissa d'Arabian won Star season 5 and has been loving her Food Network adventure ever since. You can catch new episodes of her show, Ten Dollar Dinners on Sunday mornings at 9am/8c. As a Star veteran watching from her couch at home, Melissa shares her insider's take on what went down each week.

Today I’m dedicating my blog to losing. Yes, losing. Next week at this time, we will be focused on who won, so now’s our chance to talk about not winning. Believe me, I’ve earned the air I breathe around this subject. While I did win my season of Star, I know what it’s like to watch someone else get something I wanted so badly, something I believed was my destiny. I’ve had to step aside with a graceful smile and applaud the victories of others. And I’ve replayed events over and over in my mind, wondering if there was a key moment where I lost and, more importantly, what could I have done to avoid it.

I’ve learned more by losing than by winning. When I lose, I try to nurse my hurt ego for a short time and then set it aside. Only then can I see losing as the valuable feedback it is. I evaluate and adjust course. In my experience, losing is a speed bump on the way to winning.

I believe that any given moment, I am right where I am supposed to be, good or bad. If it weren’t uncomfortable, then where would I find the motivation to try something different? Besides, discomfort tells me that life is in session. And that’s a good problem to have.

Here are some truths that have become apparent to me, through the gift of losing:

You are always auditioning for life, never just for the job. Think how many people have lost out on the prize in front of them only to go on to succeed in ways unimaginable. Do you think Jennifer Hudson imagined winning an Oscar when she was sent home from American Idol? My advice: When you lose, impress anyway. Be graceful. Be so good that people can’t imagine not calling you when they are looking for someone with your skill set. Mary Beth may not be the best cook Food Network has seen, but I will be very surprised if she ever has to seek work again as a writer. She’s great at that, and she showed what a class act she is. (Her parting words, “A lot of people don’t ever find their passion; how could I be anything but grateful?” show exactly why she will be successful.)

Penny Davidi

Make people want to pick you first for the big dodge ball game of life. Which makes Penny’s decision to phone in her work this week such a crime — not against Mary Beth because I think she would have been edged out anyway — but Penny robbed herself of the opportunity to turn it all around. Imagine if she had just knocked herself out for her teammate? What could have come from that? We’ll never know, and sadly neither will she.

Your life mission is not becoming a Food Network Star, even if it feels that way. You weekly readers know how I feel about having a personal life mission — it’s critical. Indeed, knowing what small mark I want to leave on the world gets me up in the morning. Here is the secret: If a life mission is about winning a contest (or job or any achievement), then consider the possibility that you aren’t thinking big enough for your life’s mission. As much as I wanted to win FNS (a lot), and as much as I knew why I wanted to win (to pursue my life’s mission), I also knew that my life’s mission could be served without winning. Making the mark is more important than doing it exactly the way I imagined. My life’s mission is helped along by my TV career, certainly, but my TV career is not the mission itself. Means versus ends.

Making peace with not winning is actually pretty simple. Know why you are playing (meaning know your life mission), play a game you can win (for instance, no one can bring Susie’s family recipes to life like she can), put in the work to win that game (no shortcuts), and then let the results fall where they may, accepting you are right where you are supposed to be at the end of it, win or lose.

Lastly, I remember the Olympic creed, which states that the most important thing is not to win but to take part — just as the most important thing in life is not the triumph, but the struggle. The essential thing is not to have conquered, but to have fought well.

Good luck Vic, Susie and Jeff. Winning the FNS finale is not as important as what it took to get there, nor as important as where you will go after. Whoever wins, though, call me, and we’ll chat about winning, and your new life. Because it’s all about to change.

See what Melissa’s cooking up on Ten Dollar Dinners, check out her Facebook Fan Page and follow her on Twitter (@melissadarabian).

Poll: Who’s Your Least Favorite Finalist?

by in Community, August 10, 2011

Season 7 Finalists

We're down to three Star finalists remaining and just one episode to go until one of them has a new show on Food Network. You've been voting for your Fan Favorite all season, but now we've got another question. Of the 12 eliminated finalists, who was your least favorite? Cast your vote for the finalist who you were relieved to see go home.

Star Commentary: Finale Loyalties

by in Food Network Star, August 9, 2011

Vic, Susie and Jeff

Well, there’s only one episode left. Come Sunday night,  Vic "Vegas" Moea, Susie Jimenez or Jeff Mauro will officially be named the next Food Network Star. After 10 episodes of trying challenges, dramatic exchanges and emotional moments, loyal viewers and eager commenters on Food Network’s Facebook page and our Star blog have become attached to the finalists, particularly the remaining three, and are fervently rooting for their favorite.

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And Then There Were 3 (Finale Bound)

by in Food Network Star, August 8, 2011

The Remaining Four Finalists

Mary Beth’s elimination was tough. I liked her so much! Her food may have been unremarkable (and I do understand that’s kind of the point), but her personality was sparkly. I think I was most taken with her genuineness — every word out of her mouth was honest and authentic. Even her parting words to the judges were endearing. Mary Beth can leave this competition with her head held high. As a side note, her line of having to work with Penny again was amazing: “Like a horror movie villain who you think is gone, she comes back.” Loved that.

I’m sort of stunned that Vic has made it to the finale. Yes, it’s impossible to dislike the guy, but he has had some memorable fumbles throughout this competition. But hey, how you recover from your fumbles is what people respect. My hat goes off to the “Mama’s Boy.”

Susie has a smile that lights up a room. Apparently her food is pleasing too, but that smile is unforgettable. As for Jeff, he’s a powerhouse and has been on a strong roll. The judges love his sandwiches, his personality and the guy even won over Alton — if he does nothing else, that alone is out-of-this-world impressive.

Next Sunday is a biggie. The reunion show starts at 8pm/7c followed by the finale at 9. I can't believe we're about to wrap this up (and crown a new star). Exciting stuff. I hope no one gets hurt at the reunion. Maybe Penny ought to come with bodyguards?

Caption It: Look Who’s Back

by in Food Network Star, August 5, 2011
Iron Chef battle sous chefs
Your Caption Here

No, this is not a recycled image from a previous episode. This sneak peek shot was taken on the set of Sunday’s episode of Star, during which the most recently eliminated contestants – Chris, Penny, Jyll and Whitney – return as their former fellow finalists’ sous chefs in an Iron Chef battle.

Don’t let their calm demeanor here fool you, though. The competition gets heated in Kitchen Stadium as these four join forces with their once-rivals in order to impress Iron Chef Michael Symon, Alton Brown and the selection committee. Will the remaining contestants be satisfied with their sous chefs, or will the latter add chaos and distraction to the already-complicated challenge?

Before you tune in this Sunday at 9pm/8c to see whose cuisine reigns supreme, we’re challenging you, Star fans, to write your best captions (tastefully appropriate, please) for this Kitchen Stadium moment in the comments below.

Only two episodes to go! You can still cast your Fan Favorite Vote up to 10 times per day.

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