Giada Reveals Why Food Network Star Is So Hard and What Finalists Should Do Before They Get Here

by in Food Network Star, Interviews, Judges, May 31, 2017

Food Network Star"I believe that I can see more of the heart and soul of a person. Where he sees it through their cooking, I see it in their eyes," Giada De Laurentiis says of the differences in the way she and Bobby Flay judge Food Network Star finalists. This judge-mentor duo is set to kick off Season 13 on Sunday, June 4 (at 9|8c), and immediately Giada and Bobby will be tasked with looking for the first glimmers of stardom among this year's hopefuls, both in person and on the plate.

In this brand-new, exclusive interview, Giada tells us how important it is for the finalists to enter the competition with a true sense of self, though she admits, "sometimes it takes a lifetime to get there." Read on below for her thoughts on self-confidence as well as some of the mistakes she's willing to overlook.

In recent years on Food Network Star, many of the challenges have been focused on digital trends and presentations. Have you changed the criteria you judge against as the show has evolved?
Giada De Laurentiis: I think TV has just changed with social media, but I don’t think that changes the fact that we’re looking for someone to be on television; we’re not looking for someone to do social media or to do a digital show. So, no, I don’t think the criteria have really changed at all. And we’re still looking for someone who has the skills to cook and someone who translates on camera, who connects. I think connection on social media is totally different than connection on television.

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“Honesty, Tough Love and True Advice” — Bobby Shares What He Can Offer the Food Network Star Finalists

by in Food Network Star, Interviews, Judges, May 30, 2017

Food Network StarJust like his fellow Food Network Star mentor Giada De Laurentiis, Bobby Flay is the very kind of Star the finalists are hoping to become. When Season 13 kicks off on Sunday, June 4 (mark your calendars for a 9|8c premiere), an all-new crop of competitors will be looking to him for the kind of been-there-done-that advice and guidance that only he can offer, a mix of "honesty, tough love and true advice," he told us recently. To him, the secret to success in this contest, which essentially acts as an 11-week job interview for one of the most-coveted positions in the culinary industry, is simple. "They should avoid trying to be anybody else that’s already on the network," explained Bobby, who stressed the importance of individuality when it comes to leaving a positive impression on both him and Giada.

Read on below for to get more of Bobby's take on what's ahead on Food Network Star this season, plus his thoughts on his own evolution on TV and beyond.

You've said before that you tend to demand excellence in cooking more so than on camera. Why is that skill set especially important?
Bobby Flay: I always use this opportunity to find somebody who’s going to add something to the true flavor of the network. And by that, I mean what the food tastes like and what it looks like.

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Star-a-Day: Trace Barnett

by in Food Network Star, Interviews, April 28, 2017

Trace BarnettIt was just last week that we here at Star Talk broke the news about the upcoming season of Food Network Star, which kicks off on Sunday, June 4 at 9|8c. Among a crop of talented hopefuls judge-mentors extraordinaire Bobby Flay and Giada De Laurentiis will search for that one contender who has the coveted combo of culinary chops and on-camera charm. Each of the 12 finalists comes to the Star stage with unique personalities and kitchen experiences, and in the coming days, we'll introduce you to all of them. Today we'd like you to meet Trace Barnett.

Known for his Southern twist on deliciously quick and easy recipes, Trace, 27, holds a degree in food and nutrition from the University of Alabama. Working as an event planner, Trace handles everything from intimate dinners for two to exuberant weddings for hundreds. Trace is also the founder of a culinary and lifestyle blog, and he teaches online cooking classes. Trace’s mission is to make cooking and entertaining accessible to the masses.

Describe your culinary POV in one sentence.
Trace Barnett: My culinary point of view is budget-friendly, schedule-conscious and very consistent with Southern fare, but in a lighter, fresher way.

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Star-a-Day: Toya Boudy

by in Food Network Star, Interviews, April 27, 2017

Food Network StarIt was just last week that we here at Star Talk broke the news about the upcoming season of Food Network Star, which kicks off on Sunday, June 4 at 9|8c. Among a crop of talented hopefuls judge-mentors extraordinaire Bobby Flay and Giada De Laurentiis will search for that one contender who has the coveted combo of culinary chops and on-camera charm. Each of the 12 finalists comes to the Star stage with unique personalities and kitchen experiences, and in the coming days, we'll introduce you to all of them. Today we'd like you to meet Toya Boudy.

A personal chef and mother of three, Toya, 34, exemplifies her native city of New Orleans, not just through her Cajun and Creole cuisine, but with her zest for life and personality. Growing up surrounded by parents who cooked traditional New Orleans food, Toya started practicing in the kitchen by the age of eight and was previously a culinary instructor at a local cooking school. From her deep-fried catfish to her bananas foster with fried cake and ice cream, this firecracker of a chef empowers viewers to have fun with their food.

Describe your culinary POV in one sentence.
Toya Boudy: Cajun and Creole cuisine made simple.

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Star-a-Day: Suzanne Lossia

by in Food Network Star, Interviews, April 26, 2017

Food Network StarIt was just last week that we here at Star Talk broke the news about the upcoming season of Food Network Star, which kicks off on Sunday, June 4 at 9|8c. Among a crop of talented hopefuls judge-mentors extraordinaire Bobby Flay and Giada De Laurentiis will search for that one contender who has the coveted combo of culinary chops and on-camera charm. Each of the 12 finalists comes to the Star stage with unique personalities and kitchen experiences, and in the coming days, we'll introduce you to all of them. Today we'd like you to meet Suzanne Lossia.

Suzanne, 42, is a first-generation Chaldean-American born and raised in Detroit. Growing up the only girl among four children, Suzanne participated in all the family cooking starting at the age of 10. This single mother of two loves to entertain and bring friends together for all occasions with her Middle Eastern dishes. Suzanne is an author, operates a charity and was previously a winner on Food Network’s Cutthroat Kitchen.

Describe your culinary POV in one sentence.
Suzanne Lossia: Turning Middle Eastern into American flare, turning it into an American way of looking at it, because when you go into Middle Eastern, you don’t even really know what that is, but I have a way of twisting it so you know what it looks like when you’re eating it.

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Star-a-Day: Rusty Hamlin

by in Food Network Star, Interviews, April 25, 2017

Food Network StarIt was just last week that we here at Star Talk broke the news about the upcoming season of Food Network Star, which kicks off on Sunday, June 4 at 9|8c. Among a crop of talented hopefuls judge-mentors extraordinaire Bobby Flay and Giada De Laurentiis will search for that one contender who has the coveted combo of culinary chops and on-camera charm. Each of the 12 finalists comes to the Star stage with unique personalities and kitchen experiences, and in the coming days, we'll introduce you to all of them. Today we'd like you to meet Rusty Hamlin.

Rusty's love of food started as a child, soaking up Cajun flavors in Louisiana. A Culinary Arts Institute of Louisiana graduate and a Georgia resident, Rusty’s cooking is rooted in Southern flavor. As the Executive Chef for three-time Grammy Award-winning Zac Brown Band and executive chef and partner of a restaurant in Smyrna, Georgia, Rusty truly does it all. Although he is known for his big-hearted personality and making those around him laugh, Rusty will show just how serious he is to be the next Food Network Star.

Describe your culinary POV in one sentence.
Rusty Hamlin: I am a Southern-inspired chef with Louisiana Cajun Creole roots who goes around the country and does what I call cooking off the cuff — whatever’s local and whatever’s coming out of the ground, the sea, the refrigerator, the cabinets is what we’re going to make an amazing meal with.

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Star-a-Day: Nancy Manlove

by in Food Network Star, Interviews, April 24, 2017

Food Network StarIt was just last week that we here at Star Talk broke the news about the upcoming season of Food Network Star, which kicks off on Sunday, June 4 at 9|8c. Among a crop of talented hopefuls judge-mentors extraordinaire Bobby Flay and Giada De Laurentiis will search for that one contender who has the coveted combo of culinary chops and on-camera charm. Each of the 12 finalists comes to the Star stage with unique personalities and kitchen experiences, and in the coming days, we'll introduce you to all of them. Today we'd like you to meet Nancy Manlove.

Known among her family and friends for her abundance of energy, Nancy, 65, can lighten up any room. After previously working for NASA, Nancy decided a career change was in order and went back to school to receive her culinary arts degree. Having won food competitions and currently the chef de cuisine at a farm-to-table restaurant, Nancy wants to get cooks of all ages into the kitchen and prove that you are never too late to follow your dreams.

Describe your culinary POV in one sentence.
Nancy Manlove: It is Nanna in the kitchen. I’m going to hopefully inspire other generations to pick up a spatula, turn an egg, cook some bacon, maybe visit with other nanas and gigis and grandmothers. We all learn from moms and grandmothers, and I want to instill that in a cooking show.

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Star-a-Day: Jason Smith

by in Food Network Star, Interviews, April 23, 2017

Food Network StarIt was just last week that we here at Star Talk broke the news about the upcoming season of Food Network Star, which kicks off on Sunday, June 4 at 9|8c. Among a crop of talented hopefuls judge-mentors extraordinaire Bobby Flay and Giada De Laurentiis will search for that one contender who has the coveted combo of culinary chops and on-camera charm. Each of the 12 finalists comes to the Star stage with unique personalities and kitchen experiences, and in the coming days, we'll introduce you to all of them. Today we'd like you to meet Jason Smith.

From his bright and vibrant outfits to his off-the-cuff sayings, Jason, 39, describes himself as the down-home chef. A school cafeteria cooking manager and caterer, Jason has been cooking his entire life, with his modern, elevated recipes not only tasting delicious, but also being budget friendly. A self-taught chef and baker who previously competed on and won Food Network’s Holiday Baking Championship, Jason shows viewers you don’t have to be a professional chef to cook delicious food.

Describe your culinary POV in one sentence.
Jason Smith: My culinary POV is country bling. Now, that’s not where I’m cooking with rhinestones on my jeans. What that is, is I take old, dying country recipes, and I bring them back to life and make them modern, elevated and fancied up a little bit.

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Star-a-Day: David Rose

by in Food Network Star, Interviews, April 22, 2017

Food Network StarIt was just last week that we here at Star Talk broke the news about the upcoming season of Food Network Star, which kicks off on Sunday, June 4 at 9|8c. Among a crop of talented hopefuls judge-mentors extraordinaire Bobby Flay and Giada De Laurentiis will search for that one contender who has the coveted combo of culinary chops and on-camera charm. Each of the 12 finalists comes to the Star stage with unique personalities and kitchen experiences, and in the coming days, we'll introduce you to all of them. Today we'd like you to meet David Rose.

Growing up the youngest of eight siblings, David, 35, learned the love of food at an early age. A graduate of Le Cordon Bleu, David can make refined and beautiful dishes, creating a fusion of Southern, French, Asian and Caribbean cuisines. Currently the owner of a special events, catering and culinary consulting company, David is also a food columnist and is an avid motorcycle rider who goes by “The Biker Chef.”

Describe your culinary POV in one sentence.
David Rose: I'd describe my culinary POV as French-Jamaican-Southern fusion. My family’s Jamaican. I live in Atlanta, Georgia, and I was trained at Le Cordon Bleu in classical French cuisine.

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Star-a-Day: Cory Bahr

by in Food Network Star, Interviews, April 21, 2017

Food Network StarIt was just last week that we here at Star Talk broke the news about the upcoming season of Food Network Star, which kicks off on Sunday, June 4 at 9|8c. Among a crop of talented hopefuls judge-mentors extraordinaire Bobby Flay and Giada De Laurentiis will search for that one contender who has the coveted combo of culinary chops and on-camera charm. Each of the 12 finalists comes to the Star stage with unique personalities and kitchen experiences, and in the coming days, we'll introduce you to all of them. Today we'd like you to meet Cory Bahr.

Growing up in a small town in Louisiana, Cory, 40, inherited a passion for the great outdoors and cooking. At 16, Cory discovered his love for cooking while taking a job waiting tables, and he has been in the restaurant industry ever since. Named the “King of Louisiana Seafood” in 2011, Cory is a restauranteur, private chef and owner of a catering company, and he has been named Food & Wine’s “People’s Best New Chef.” No one can resist Cory’s Southern charm, or his cooking!

Describe your culinary POV in one sentence.
Cory Bahr: My culinary point of view is seasonal, regional, as local as you can get. Just keeping it simple, stupid.

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