Fans saw Russell make an incredible comeback this past Sunday night on Star with his bacon-bourbon marmalade burger. But when it comes to Russell's point of view, viewers are still stuck on this one question: What exactly is an underground chef?
Let's start here: Subculture dining is a version of an underground supper club. Simply put, it's an exclusive dining experience, almost like a dinner party where the guests have an intimate experience with the chef. It's a time for the chef to try new dishes, think outside the box and create something different from the usual dining experience. Just because you hear "underground chef" or "underground supper club," doesn't necessarily mean the meal takes place in the basement of a space or "underground."
Underground (n): a secret operation.
After arriving at The Culver Studios Mansion to find an array of ground meats, plus various cheeses, buns and condiments, the contestants weren't surprised when the mentors revealed this week's challenge to be burger-themed. They had one hour to prepare a signature burger, which they demoed in front of a 100-person audience. Browse these behind-the-scenes photos to see the mansion up close, the pantry outside of Star Kitchen and what it looks like when the cameras are turned.
Click here to browse the entire gallery of photos from Episode 2 now
Click here for behind-the-scenes photos
It’s the second week of a live-action job interview. Eleven contestants pile into their Buicks and head to the mansion where Gone with the Wind was filmed. I couldn’t help but see the irony, as one more of the contestants will be gone with the wind by day’s end.
1. Informal: A heavy, crushing blow.
2. Slang: A celebration; a party.
Yes, someone got crushed last night, and to the rest, it was a party.
Every Sunday, Bobby, Giada and Alton take on the difficult task of eliminating one finalist in the quest to help guide fans to vote for Food Network's next sensation. And this is no easy task. Check back here every week to read Star Talk's exclusive exit interview with the latest Star hopeful to leave Star Kitchen.
If you missed the show and recorded it, don’t read any further — Star Talk is about to chat with the latest finalist to go home.
SPOILER ALERT: Find out who went home
The first episode of Star encompasses so much information: fans meet the finalists, they're introduced to the finalists' POVs, which may or may not change throughout the season, and, most-intriguing, fans get a good grip on individual personalities. Which Star contestant will have the most spirit? Which one will act as the mom of the group? And which will cause the most trouble?
With a lineup of finalists who have competed on Chopped, Iron Chef America and Extreme Chef, just to name a few, the competition is more cutthroat than ever, and with that brings natural rivalries. In the first episode, two pairs of rivalries were quickly established: Danushka vs. Lovely and Russell vs. Viet.
Viewers spoke their minds about the 12 new hopefuls on Twitter by using hashtag #FoodNetworkStar throughout the premiere, as well as the Fan Feed.
Now Star Talk wants to know: What are your early season rivalry predictions? Do you think they'll be game-changers? Tell us your thoughts in the comments below. Come back to Star Talk later in the season to see if you were right.
Click here for a sneak peek at Episode 2
With only 11 weeks of competition between their premiere performances and the finale, Food Network Star hopefuls have the narrowest of windows to leave a lasting impression on the Selection Committee. It's up to them to find their culinary hooks quickly, sharpen their kitchen skills and ultimately convince the mentors of their staying power on the network. With Daniela's early departure last week, the contestants learned that most will not enjoy the time they need to prove their progress, and come Sunday, their star potential will be tested in a new way during live demonstrations at a Burger Bash-inspired event.
Check out the sneak-peek photo above from this weekend's episode: Alton's delivering what appears to be a not-so-gentle remark to the competitors during evaluation. Do you think he's speaking to the entire group, or is he singling out one finalist who's especially struggling? After just two weeks of competition, should the mentors demand progress, or should they understand the time it takes to learn and improve? How long is too long to wait for a finalist to demonstrate growth, on the plate, on camera and on stage?
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If this season's Food Network Star contestants want to take home the ultimate title in a few months, they'll need more than just fancy knife skills and a winning smile; hopefuls must dress the part of a star as well, showing off their individuality and signature style with clothes and accessories both on camera and off.
Last week, fans met the finalists for the first time, and even after just one episode, it's clear that each of the competitors lets his or her personality shine through their wardrobe in the form of bold prints, bright colors, soft fabrics and flirty footwear. Former rock 'n' roller Rodney sported a feathered top hat, while Viet donned dark-rimmed specs and a sleek sport coat and Russell embraced a casual, comfortable collection of T-shirts and sweaters. The ladies, too, modeled an array of pieces, including a red-and-black leopard-print blouse worn by Lovely, a fringed vest on Daniela and sky-high ankle boots on Stacey.
Vote for the most-fashionable finalist
Each episode of Star takes hours to tape, so it's no surprise that not every moment and reaction is captured in the 60 minutes fans get to see on air. Every week, Star Talk will give readers an insider's look at what goes down on the set of Food Network Star — from the judges to the contestants to the environments in which they cook and present.
Click here to browse the entire gallery of photos from Episode 1 now
Click here for behind the scenes photos
As Sunday afternoons turn to evenings and the hours until the next episode of Food Network Star tick away, how do you settle in to watch the latest premiere? No matter who you're with or where you're watching from, you surely have on hand a spread of eats and drinks to last you through the episode, right? Here at Star Talk, we want to see what you're munching on. Every Wednesday, check back for a themed menu to get you ready for the episode ahead, and on Sunday nights, snap photos of your spread and share them with @FoodNetwork via Twitter and Instagram using #FoodNetworkStar.
The finalists will be given their meatiest challenge to date on Sunday: host a Burger Bash for 100 hungry guests and present their best between-bun creation to a live audience. As they're tackling the heat of the grill and the demands of cooking for a crowd, host your own scaled-down version of the bash at home. Follow Tyler Florence's lead and set up a Burger Bar (pictured above), featuring a spread of juicy, tender patties, plus an array of toppings and condiments. After taking the burgers off the grill with the deliciously gooey melted cheese on top, arrange them on a platter alongside the fixings, and let everyone build their ultimate burger. Whether you're entertaining partygoers or simply trying to cater to a few picky eaters, inviting guests to assemble their meal to their liking ensures they will get the burger they're craving — no extraneous toppings to pick off or eat around.
Show us what you're cooking
The newest season of Star kicked off this past Sunday night, and along with 12 new contestants, there are a couple of new features added to the show that may be unfamiliar to fans. This handy little guide should help navigate you through the next 10 weeks of competition.
Challenges: This season there are two different challenges that can occur in each episode. If an episode includes a Mentor Challenge, that means Alton, Bobby and/or Giada will help guide the finalists through that day's events. The mentors will share their advice and raise any possible concerns they may have. After the Mentor Challenge, finalists will be faced with a Star Challenge. This can consist of cooking demonstrations or presenting to a focus group.
Finalists: This year the mentors are tasking 12 hopefuls with weekly challenges in the ultimate multi-month interview for the chance to earn their dream television job. The contestants bring with them a mix of backgrounds, including culinary school, restaurant management, private chef and food blogging.