The “Mama Orchid” Fan Club

by in Food Network Star, July 12, 2011
We'll miss you, Orchid.

Early front-runner and Star fan favorite Orchid Paulmeier was driven out of the competition on Sunday night after a sub-par food-truck performance. Judge Bob Tuschman told the barbecue-loving, restaurant-owning mom of three that she tends to “simmer” while other finalists “are at full boil” in the competition.

Immediately following the shocking elimination, comments on Food Network’s Facebook page and our Star blog indicated that you devoted Star fans questioned whether or not it was really her time to leave. Many wrote that “Orchid was robbed” and that the judges made “a bad call” in sending her home. Others “expected her to be in it pretty much until the very end” and were simply confused by her departure, noting that “Her food has been lackluster the last few weeks, but the judges still seemed to favor her.”

One viewer wrote that “Orchid was a pleasure to watch and her food appeared to be something I would be willing (and frequently eager) to attempt,” though others were not as enthusiastic about the Southern "Mama." Several commenters noted that “she hasn't blossomed and seems to lack confidence in herself and her cooking abilities.” Another felt that it “shouldn't have taken this long to get rid of Orchid.”

Hear from Orchid in her Exit Interview and learn her plans for the future. How do you feel about Orchid’s elimination? Should other finalists have been sent home before her? Join the conversation on Facebook and Star Talk, and tune in next Sunday at 9pm/8c to see who goes home after the season's midterm.

Who’s your favorite finalist so far? Cast your Fan Vote up to 10 times per day.

Oh, Orchid.

by in Food Network Star, July 11, 2011

Orchid Paulmeier

She’s gone and I’m sad.

Was I surprised by her elimination? I wasn’t, but I still hated to see her go. She started off as a front-runner in this competition and a fan favorite. But something happened. She began to change in the last couple of episodes. Did she start to lose confidence? Was she homesick? Were the other finalists intimidating her? Whatever the case, I had been hopeful that she would pull it together and bring back the Orchid we all loved. I guess it just wasn’t meant to be.

Sigh.

Breaking News: Orchid Responds

Caption It: Vegas-Style

by in Food Network Star, July 8, 2011
Your Caption Here

This Sunday on Star, tough guy Vic “Vegas” Moea dons big, dark glasses and a less intimidating baguette bat while filming the next Camera Challenge, a commercial advertising his food truck — bank robbery-themed, perhaps? Will guest judge and food-truck fanatic Tyler Florence and the selection committee approve?

Before you tune in this Sunday at 9pm/8c to watch Mr. Vegas in action, we’re challenging you, Star fans, to write your best captions (tastefully appropriate, please) for this macho moment in the comments below.

Who’s your favorite finalist so far? Cast your Fan Vote up to 10 times per day.

Melissa’s Insight: Keeping It Real

by in Food Network Star, July 7, 2011
Guy Fieri
To celebrate the 4th of July, the finalists faced Guy Fieri and live demos, which Melissa tells us are much harder than they look.

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.

Week five and Guy Fieri: First, live demos for the finalists are on the agenda, and this is a biggie, because they are much, much harder than they look. And, interestingly, a theme of the week emerges: authenticity. Some finalists rise to the occasion and share themselves organically: witty Whitney (who knew? hooray!), off-the-cuff Mary Beth (“I’m here all week … maybe not!”), charming Susie (thumb story a true gem), hilarious Jeff (despite my initial silent “ugh”), and tender Vic, who somehow managed to use that wig as a meaningful prop.

Some fall a little flatter. Penny tries too hard to pull off a crowd maneuver best left only to the Julie McCoys of this world, Jyll comes off as “eternally perky” according to Susie Fogelson, and Chris makes me squirm with Guy-isms. (I love Guy, but we have Guy.)

Being authentic and live demos: Let’s dive in.

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Star Spotlight: Focus on Fieri

by in Behind the Scenes, Food Network Star, July 6, 2011

Guy Fieri can identify with this season’s Star finalists better than most. As the winner of season 2, he is no stranger to Camera and Star Challenges and remembers the pressure and anxiety that go along with them. Well, that stress has done Guy well, as he has proven that super-stardom is super possible for the next Food Network Star.

Check out this behind-the-scenes video from Guy's visit to the Star set and learn how the show has changed since he was a finalist. Guy also shares his personal tricks for always being camera-ready and his idea for the ultimate Star challenge. Then, tune in this Sunday at 9pm/8c to watch the competition heat up and see who goes home next.

Who’s your favorite finalist so far? Cast your Fan Vote up to 10 times per day.

Holiday Recap

by in Food Network Star, July 4, 2011
Happy 4th of July!
Fireworks are on and off screen this weekend.

Happy Fourth of July, everyone! I hope you’re having an amazing weekend and that great food has been (or will be) included in your Independence Day celebrations. Enjoy!

Now, about last night’s Star episode — this is what I’ve been left thinking:

Justin D. – wow, what happened there? He got the boot and his performance definitely justified the elimination. I didn’t know what to make of the persona he put forth. That newly created hip-hop alter ego came out of nowhere. The judges had been asking him to show more of his personality, but that must have proved too difficult and he decided to make up a random one instead. It was strange and Justin had to go.

Penny, once again, stirred the pot. I find it amusing that she has spent five episodes being unfriendly to everyone in the house and yet became emotional when talking to the judges — almost insinuating she, herself, had been mistreated. Jyll with a “y” hit the nail on the head: Penny is self-entitled.

You know who really surprised me last night? Susie! She has previously been forgettable, but she came out swinging. I loved her in both challenges and I feel like I got to see more of Susie’s personality shine through. She’s one to watch.

And finally, Mr. Guy Fieri. He is the example of what this show can do for someone. Like Guy, one of these season 7 finalists will walk away from this experience with their life forever changed. I’m excited to see who that person is.

That’s it for this week. I need to prepare for this afternoon’s barbecue, so I’m keeping it short. Before you head to your festivities, tell me what you thought of the episode.

Caption It: Guy’s Watching You

by in Food Network Star, July 1, 2011
Your Caption Here

On this Sunday’s episode, Food Network superstar Guy Fieri — a Star alum from Season 2 — joins the remaining 10 contestants on location. Here, Guy offers Chris Nirschel some sage advice as he coaches the finalists through a unique camera challenge — one that's very close to Guy's heart. Will Chris get tripped up during filming or does his performance prove star-worthy?    

Before you tune in this Sunday at 9pm/8c to watch Guy in action, we’re challenging you, Star fans, to write your best captions (tastefully appropriate, please) for this mentoring moment in the comments below.

Melissa’s Finalist Pep Talks

by in Food Network Star, June 30, 2011
Melissa d’Arabian, Michael Symon, Bob Tuschman
Melissa judged this week’s Kellogg’s challenge with Iron Chef Michael Symon and Bob Tuschman.

Melissa d'Arabian won Star season 5 and has been loving her Food Network adventure ever since. Her show, Ten Dollar Dinners, premieres its fifth season this Sunday, July 3. As a Star veteran watching from her couch at home, Melissa shares her insider's take on what went down each week.

I’d love to sit down with each finalist and chat.

Orchid — I adore you. Code blue: brilliant. I’m going to try it on my four little daughters. Regarding the episode, I understand being starstruck. I felt that way many times during my season, and I have some wise words to share: Get over it. I’m (kind of) kidding. I still pinch myself when I look at the names on my phone’s speed dial.

Jyll — Your crab cakes were seriously delish, but I’m disappointed that you served something cliché to vegetarians: a salad. You missed an opportunity to serve something surprising or original. I had a similar missed opportunity during my season (Miami Beach Challenge), and to this day, I can still tell you what I would have made (spicy pecans) instead of what I did serve (awful chicken skewers). Mark Twain is right about regretting the things we didn’t do.

Justin D. — I thought the black bean with jalapeno was pretty tasty. I will not lie to you — I was alone. But I thought you should know. Oh, and can we call you just Justin without the D. now? I’ve confused that D and B more times than my 4-year-old daughter learning to read.

Chris — Let’s start off by bringing up the obvious question: Did you really say something was “whack” on national TV? Regarding your menu choice: Lamb shank that you usually spend 24 hours making in only 3 hours? Sounds like a recipe for disaster. Don’t choose recipes that have an 80 percent chance of failure before you even begin. Unless you happen to be …

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Star Commentary: The Great Debate

by in Food Network Star, June 29, 2011

A rare smile from super-serious Justin B.

Sunday’s episode of Star was jam-packed with surprises: celebrity guest appearances from the cast of Cougar Town, Southern queen Paula Deen, Iron Chef Michael Symon and season 5 Star winner Melissa d'Arabian. But perhaps the most unexpected moment of the night came not from the kitchen or behind the camera but during elimination: Justin Balmes was sent home.    

This week’s batch of fearless commenters on Food Network’s Facebook page and our Star blog are divided in their opinions on Justin B.’s exit. At the heart of this discussion lies one simple question: What is more important — a big television personality or rock-solid cooking chops? We’ve seen from the last six seasons of Star that the winners must find the coveted sweet spot: a point at which they’re completely themselves on camera while displaying culinary credibility.    

Of Justin B.’s exit and the camera vs. food debate, viewers wrote that “he could have been great” and that they “found his food the most exciting seen on this show since Guy.” Others noted that “It's obvious that Justin B. can ‘bang some pots’ but he REALLY had no stage personality or presence at all.”

And while some of you said that “his camera presence did not show any signs of growth or improvement,” another wrote simply, “I was disappointed that Justin B. left last night … I would have liked to watch a show of his because I probably could have learned a lot.”

Hear from Justin B. himself in his Exit Interview and learn his reaction to the elimination and plans for the future. Join the conversation on Facebook and Star Talk, and let us know what you thought of his final Star performance. And be sure to tune in this Sunday at 9pm/8c to see who goes home next.

Who’s your favorite finalist so far? Cast your Fan Vote up to 10 times per day.

Star Spotlight: It’s Paula, Y’all!

by in Behind the Scenes, June 28, 2011

Paula Deen

Behind the scenes of this week's Cougar Town challenge, we caught up with our favorite Southern cook. Paula's tips for being camera-ready? "Being rested...and of course, having the greatest makeup and hair people helps!"

The Star finalists were star-struck when they learned that this Food Network icon would be tasting their food, but who would Paula herself most like to cook for? Check out the video to find out — plus, the queen of comfort food tells us what she craves most after a long day.

What's your go-to comfort food? A Paula recipe, perhaps?