Star-a-Day: Monterey Salka

by in Food Network Star, Interviews, April 12, 2016

Monterey SalkaIt was only recently that Star Talk broke the news that an unprecedented 12th season of Food Network Star is set to unfold this summer. For the first time ever, a prequel competition — Comeback Kitchen — will bring together seven past Star contestants for a no-holds-barred battle. The winner of this three-week tournament will join the dozen first-time Food Network Star finalists in the premiere episode on Sunday, May 22 at 9|8c. But before the new season kicks off, we're introducing all 12 of the hopeful rivals in exclusive, one-on-one interviews. Keep checking back every day to meet a new member of the cast. Today we'd like you to meet Monterey Salka.

Having deprived herself of culinary indulgences for so many years as a model, Monterey, 26 (Nashville), decided enough was enough and finally gave in to her one true love: food. Holding onto skills and confidence gained through trial and error as a chef and caterer, Monterey knows that food isn’t something to be scared of — it’s meant to be celebrated. Inspired by her unrelenting culinary wanderlust and her jet-setting past, Monterey has discovered that her best dishes are made from the adventures and flavors she’s experienced during her travels.

Describe your culinary POV in one sentence.
Monterey Salka: I like to bring extraordinary flavors into my ordinary kitchen.

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Star-a-Day: Melissa Pfeister

by in Food Network Star, Interviews, April 11, 2016

Food Network Star, Season 12It was only recently that Star Talk broke the news that an unprecedented 12th season of Food Network Star is set to unfold this summer. For the first time ever, a prequel competition — Comeback Kitchen — will bring together seven past Star contestants for a no-holds-barred battle. The winner of this three-week tournament will join the dozen first-time Food Network Star finalists in the premiere episode on Sunday, May 22 at 9|8c. But before the new season kicks off, we're introducing all 12 of the hopeful rivals in exclusive, one-on-one interviews. Keep checking back every day to meet a new member of the cast. Today we'd like you to meet Melissa Pfeister.

Melissa, 34 (Los Angeles), trained for her whole life to play basketball, but when an injury ended her career, she turned to cooking for inspiration. Melissa now takes the everyday foods we love and re-creates them in healthy and delicious ways. Melissa moved from Ohio to Los Angeles to pursue her culinary dream, and she would love to combine her passion for food and sports on her own Food Network show.

Describe your culinary POV in one sentence.
Melissa Pfeister: I take foods that maybe aren’t the best for you and re-create them in a healthy way.

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Star-a-Day: Joy Thompson

by in Food Network Star, Interviews, April 10, 2016

Food Network Star, Season 12It was only recently that Star Talk broke the news that an unprecedented 12th season of Food Network Star is set to unfold this summer. For the first time ever, a prequel competition — Comeback Kitchen — will bring together seven past Star contestants for a no-holds-barred battle. The winner of this three-week tournament will join the dozen first-time Food Network Star finalists in the premiere episode on Sunday, May 22 at 9|8c. But before the new season kicks off, we're introducing all 12 of the hopeful rivals in exclusive, one-on-one interviews. Keep checking back every day to meet a new member of the cast. Today we'd like you to meet Joy Thompson.

Amid owning a restaurant and bakery, and wrangling her five children, Joy, 40 (Thomasville, N.C.), has a lot going on. She draws inspiration from her childhood and manages to maintain a self-deprecating wit through all the chaos, creating upscale Southern food that looks good but also satisfies, such as fried green tomatoes and chicken and waffles. Joy is ready to teach accessible Southern cooking without any of the stuffiness.

Describe your culinary POV in one sentence.
Joy Thompson: My POV is modern Southern, so traditional Southern flavors with a little modern flair.

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Star-a-Day: Jernard Wells

by in Food Network Star, Interviews, April 9, 2016

Food Network Star, Season 12It was only recently that Star Talk broke the news that an unprecedented 12th season of Food Network Star is set to unfold this summer. For the first time ever, a prequel competition — Comeback Kitchen — will bring together seven past Star contestants for a no-holds-barred battle. The winner of this three-week tournament will join the dozen first-time Food Network Star finalists in the premiere episode on Sunday, May 22 at 9|8c. But before the new season kicks off, we're introducing all 12 of the hopeful rivals in exclusive, one-on-one interviews. Keep checking back every day to meet a new member of the cast. Today we'd like you to meet Jernard Wells.

With a wife of 16 years and nine children, Jernard, 37 (Atlanta), has deemed himself “The Chef of Love.” He believes food and love go hand in hand and wants everyone to know how easy cooking can be — and how much excitement it can add to your life. As an executive chef, Jernard has traveled all over the world, including cooking for Tyler Perry, and has even published three cookbooks. Currently the general manager of a tavern in Georgia, Jernard loves to infuse any dish with his Southern flavors and a Cajun twist.

Describe your culinary POV in one sentence.
Jernard Wells: My culinary POV is about food, family and fun. And what that consists of, in short, is comfort food, but my goal is to show people how to connect and bring everything together with those three key elements. Everything we do, whether it’s your friend [or not], they’re considered your family. And cooking is all about having fun and enjoying it with the people that are around you, because that’s when we enjoy it the most is when we got friends and family around us. That’s when we have the best fun when it comes to food.

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Star-a-Day: Havird Usry

by in Food Network Star, Interviews, April 8, 2016

Food Network Star, Season 12It was only recently that Star Talk broke the news that an unprecedented 12th season of Food Network Star is set to unfold this summer. For the first time ever, a prequel competition — Comeback Kitchen — will bring together seven past Star contestants for a no-holds-barred battle. The winner of this three-week tournament will join the dozen first-time Food Network Star finalists in the premiere episode on Sunday, May 22 at 9|8c. But before the new season kicks off, we're introducing all 12 of the hopeful rivals in exclusive, one-on-one interviews. Keep checking back every day to meet a new member of the cast. Today we'd like you to meet Havird Usry.

Havird, 28 (Augusta, Ga.), took over his family business, running one of Augusta’s most-popular restaurants since the ‘40s. He grew up learning how to cook in the family restaurant and received a formal culinary degree from Helm’s College, where he graduated first in his class. With a focus on modern Southern cuisine, Havird creates fresh, modern dishes from staples such as fried chicken and shrimp and grits. Ultra-competitive, he won’t hold back when it comes to going after what he wants.

Describe your culinary POV in one sentence.
Havird Usry: I am modern Southern cuisine.

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Star-a-Day: Erin Campbell

by in Food Network Star, Interviews, April 7, 2016

Food Network Star, Season 12It was only recently that Star Talk broke the news that an unprecedented 12th season of Food Network Star is set to unfold this summer. For the first time ever, a prequel competition — Comeback Kitchen — will bring together seven past Star contestants for a no-holds-barred battle. The winner of this three-week tournament will join the dozen first-time Food Network Star finalists in the premiere episode on Sunday, May 22 at 9|8c. But before the new season kicks off, we're introducing all 12 of the hopeful rivals in exclusive, one-on-one interviews. Keep checking back every day to meet a new member of the cast. Today we'd like you to meet Erin Campbell.

Erin, 24 (Woodbury, Minn.), was introduced to a vast array of food types during childhood but eventually realized that sweets were her calling, learning how to decorate cakes in her grandmother’s kitchen. After graduating from pastry school and working at a variety of bakeries, this California girl moved to snowy Minnesota to run her bakery’s flagship store. While she loves sweets, she also cooks flavorful comfort food, which she describes as “Grandma food kicked up a notch.”

Describe your culinary POV in one sentence.
Erin Campbell: My culinary point of view is just keep it simple, keep it memorable and keep it fun.

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Star-a-Day: Damiano Carrara

by in Food Network Star, Interviews, April 6, 2016

Food Network Star, Season 12It was only recently that Star Talk broke the news that an unprecedented 12th season of Food Network Star is set to unfold this summer. For the first time ever, a prequel competition — Comeback Kitchen — will bring together seven past Star contestants for a no-holds-barred battle. The winner of this three-week tournament will join the dozen first-time Food Network Star finalists in the premiere episode on Sunday, May 22 at 9|8c. But before the new season kicks off, we're introducing all 12 of the hopeful rivals in exclusive, one-on-one interviews. Keep checking back every day to meet a new member of the cast. Today we'd like you to meet Damiano Carrara.

Growing up in the Tuscan city of Lucca in Italy, Damiano, 30 (Moorpark, Calif.), spent most of his childhood in the kitchen cooking alongside his brother. The two brothers always dreamed of opening their own business together, and they left the Italian countryside for California in 2009 to follow their dreams of opening an authentic Italian pasticceria. Sticking to his roots with traditional Italian recipes, Damiano wants to share his vast knowledge of Italian cooking with a wide audience.

Describe your culinary POV in one sentence.
Damiano Carrara: Complicated. My point of view, it's pastries. It's desserts, pastries. But I also like to cook. I grew up in Italy, in Tuscany, with fields around me, fresh vegetables, fresh fruit, fresh chickens and everything. So, growing up over there, because of all the fresh ingredients, I grew up cooking fresh farm food, so I love to cook that. But then on top of that, I like to do desserts too.

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Star-a-Day: Ana Quincoces

by in Food Network Star, Interviews, April 5, 2016

Food Network Star, Season 12It was only recently that Star Talk broke the news that an unprecedented 12th season of Food Network Star is set to unfold this summer. For the first time ever, a prequel competition — Comeback Kitchen — will bring together seven past Star contestants for a no-holds-barred battle. The winner of this three-week tournament will join the dozen first-time Food Network Star finalists in the premiere episode on Sunday, May 22 at 9|8c. But before the new season kicks off, we're introducing all 12 of the hopeful rivals in exclusive, one-on-one interviews. Keep checking back every day to meet a new member of the cast. Today we'd like you to meet Ana Quincoces.

A former lawyer with 20 years of experience, Ana, 49 (Coral Gables, Fla.), dreams of winning her own Food Network show, and she's confident she is the one thing Food Network is missing. Ana is passionate about showing viewers how to spice up their dishes with Cuban flair; she has written Cuban cookbooks and currently produces her own Latin-inspired food line.

Describe your culinary POV in one sentence.
Ana Quincoces: It's really enhancing everyday foods with Latin flavors.

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Star-a-Day: Aaron Crumbaugh

by in Food Network Star, Interviews, April 4, 2016

Food Network Star, Season 12It was only recently that Star Talk broke the news that an unprecedented 12th season of Food Network Star is set to unfold this summer. For the first time ever, a prequel competition — Comeback Kitchen — will bring together seven past Star contestants for a no-holds-barred battle. The winner of this three-week tournament will join the dozen first-time Food Network Star finalists in the premiere episode on Sunday, May 22 at 9|8c. But before the new season kicks off, we're introducing all 12 of the hopeful rivals in exclusive, one-on-one interviews. Keep checking back every day to meet a new member of the cast. Today we'd like you to meet Aaron Crumbaugh.

Aaron, 36 (Spokane), grew up in a small town and spent a lot of time working on his grandparents’ farm. He learned to cook at the age of 5, when he would make meals for his family. Since graduating culinary school, he’s had a successful career in Chicago working in restaurants, and he's now in Spokane, running his own catering company. Aaron’s determined to go after what he wants, and he wants to be on Food Network!

Describe your culinary POV in one sentence.
Aaron Crumbaugh: I love meat.

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Food Network Star, Season 12: 1 Game-Changing Prequel, 13 Formidable Rivals and 2 Expert Judges

by in Food Network Star, March 31, 2016

Food Network Star, Season 12You heard it here first: Food Network Star is returning this summer, and just when you thought you knew what to expect from a summer of Stardom, this season is here to change the game. Before this year's hopeful finalists meet mentors Bobby Flay and Giada De Laurentiis to kick off their quest for Stardom, a whole other competition — Comeback Kitchen — will take place in Food Star Kitchen that will transform Star as you know it.

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