Surprise, Dom’s back! Our unsuspecting final three contestants, Eddie, Jay and Arnold, were all shocked to see the scrappy Star Salvation winner return for one last battle. Dom impressed the judges with his homemade agnolotti pasta and best on-camera appearance yet, and he edged Arnold out and joined Eddie and Jay for a final spot to make a pilot.
We were excited to see that New York City’s amazing restaurant and food diversity was inspiration for all of three of the guys' pilots. We share the same enthusiasm and are super-lucky that Food Network Kitchen lives inside Chelsea Market, an indoor food hall with more than 35 food vendors! Needless to say, it’s food paradise. So, inspired by Dom’s delicate little agnolotti, we wandered down to Giovanni Rana — makers of beautiful, high-quality fresh pasta — to find some other stuffed versions. We also visited Russo's Mozzarella and Pasta in the East Village to pick up some of their agnolotti and tortellini.
Here’s what we learned about each (clockwise from top left):
"My proudest moment would be Dom coming back from Star Salvation. I think that for the first time in all of these years, I actually feel like Bobby and I actually mentored somebody, like truly mentored them," said Giada De Laurentiis, one half of the powerhouse mentoring duo that she makes up with Bobby Flay. Star Talk caught up with Giada on the set of Food Network Star, just moments after Dom Tesoriero, previously ousted in Week 8, rejoined the competition. She told us about how, with solid mentoring, he was ultimately able to find his way into the top three and what his strengths were following that transformation.
Dom, Eddie and Jay all completed multiple challenges during their runs on Food Network Star — some with great success and others with disappointing outcomes — but perhaps their most-important task didn't come in Food Star Kitchen. In New York City last week, the top three each worked with Rachael Ray as they filmed the pilots they would like to do for their would-be shows on Food Network. From Dom's authentic Italian point of view to Eddie's love of barbecue to Jay's penchant for deep-fried delights, each of the guys created a camera-ready concept, but their tapings wouldn't have been possible without Rachael’s mentoring. This Food Network legend knows the ins and outs of food television, and she's surely filmed multiple successful pilots for Food Network.
Star Talk caught up with Rachael on the set of the guys' pilots, and she told us all about what goes into shooting a video like this. Read on below for her advice to the top three, plus her reflections on how her show 30 Minute Meals came to be.
What’s been your greatest lesson learned after all of these years on Food Network? Rachael Ray: I don’t really know anything, and I think that that’s what makes our shows popular, you know? It’s a conversation, and I like to learn. … And I think that most genuine television is about sharing, and, you know, I don’t know if I’m any better at it … 15, 20 years in than I was when I started, but I try and be curious and dedicated and authentic when I go to work.
My season of Food Network Star did not have this nifty little competition sub-series known as Star Salvation, and you know what? I am quite glad we didn't! It’s one thing to compete against other finalists hungry for a chance at their own Food Network show; it’s another thing to compete against a finalist who’s tasted defeat and then got a miraculous second chance. The winner of Star Salvation will be a battle-hardened warrior ready to slay anyone in his or her path. The Salvation winner might as well be a half-human, half-cyborg soldier sent back from the future to take down the POV mainframe and save the planet from the destruction caused by the wrong finalist winning Food Network Star. The winner of Salvation may just win it all. It’s like the montage scene in every sports movie ever, especially Rocky IV: They lost, they got back on their feet, they trained harder than ever by lifting giant logs in the Russian tundra and doing inverted sit-ups in a dusty Soviet barn. They are now ripped and ready to step back into the ring.
This is why I’m glad my season did not have Star Salvation. It was hard enough trying to beat the normal contestants, let alone these reincarnated-zombie contestants who came back from the dead to destroy you.
Pound for pound, every finalist had majorly improved from his or her time on the big show. Emilia, Rue and even Grunwald were all a bit more refined in their presentations and cooking. Rosa seemed sharper, and I could tell instantly that Christina wanted this more than anything. We start Round 1 with the first four eliminated — Christina, Grunwald, Sita and Rosa. When Alex Guarnaschelli (my lovely co-host) and I walk in, I’m sure there are quite a few things going through their heads — mainly that there is a definitely a good-cop/bad-cop situation going on here. Sure, Alex may be known as a tough critic, and I may be known as a goofball, but rest assured, we both took this job very seriously. I wanted the right person to win Star Salvation, and I wasn’t going to make it easy.
It's the nature of the Food Network Star beast that even though no matter how badly finalists want to achieve their dreams of stardom, ultimately only one can win the coveted title, and with that, 11 finalists will be going home. Every week Star Talk will bring you the first exclusive interview with the most-recently eliminated finalist. From thoughts on mentors' critiques to reflections on past challenges and hopes for the future, be sure to check back every Sunday night for the latest one-on-one chat. We're about to break down the ins and outs of tonight's new episode and reveal who went home, so if you've yet to watch the show, read no further until then.
It was just 10 weeks ago when 12 hopeful finalists took their first steps into the culinary spotlight in Food Star Kitchen, full of dreams and anticipation — and anxiety over what the future held. Now, just one week before the finale, there are only three rivals remaining, and on Sunday, a fourth will join their ranks, as the champion of Star Salvation will return for a second chance to claim the coveted title. It will be up to these four finalists to pitch themselves to the Selection Committee before the panel must select the competitor most worthy of filming a pilot.
Take a peek at the first-look photo above from Sunday's brand-new episode. Rachael Ray will be on hand to guide the hopefuls through the pilot process, and surely no one could better serve as the lead director than her, a Food Network legend and the maker of numerous successful series. What kind of advice do you imagine Rachael is dishing out, and what key points do you think she's stressing to the finalists?
After making hot ramen for a summertime family reunion and failing to explain exactly why he went with that seemingly oddball dish, Alex was eliminated from the competition, though he indeed has a chance at redemption. He joined Dom and Rue in the sixth and final Star Salvation battle, and for the last challenge of their journey, Alex Guarnaschelli and Jeff Mauro tasked the top three with plating and presenting "one last bite," according to Alex.
In keeping with their POVs, Alex tackled a cheesy sandwich — inspired by one from his travels in London — while Dom kept it Italian with grilled lamb chops and Rue focused on seafood with a poached salmon plate. Now, after screening each hopeful's video and tasting their dishes, it's up to Alex and Jeff to choose who among them is most worthy of a second chance at Stardom. Before you tune in Sunday to find out who's returning to Food Network Star, Star Talk wants to hear whom you, the fans watching at home, want to see earn redemption. Cast your vote in the poll below.
From one finalist's oddball first impression on Day One of the competition to another rival's unprecedented decision to quit, Season 11 of Food Network Star had no shortage of jaw-dropping moments — or unforgettable personalities. Ahead of Sunday's brand-new episode, in which the top-three hopefuls will film their pilots, look back at the most-memorable events.
The name of the game was live TV on Sunday night's episode of Food Network Star, from a quick demo with Catherine McCord to an ensemble live television special — Summer Live — a la The Kitchen. Katie Lee and Jeff Mauro, both veterans of The Kitchen and no strangers to live productions, stopped by to judge the final four competitors as they tackled their Summer Live segments, offering them advice and been-there knowledge on how to deliver a succinct, engaging presentation. Star Talk caught up with Katie on set to find out more about how she approaches the shared segments on The Kitchen, plus her tips for multitasking in the kitchen, both at the stove with the camera and with her co-hosts. Read on below to hear from Katie, and learn what one live-TV snafu she'll "never forget."
What’s it like to share the spotlight? Katie Lee: I don’t ever think of it as one person being in the spotlight. We really are a collaborative group, and I think that when one of us looks good, we all look good. So it’s about lifting each other up and having a good time. There are definitely moments where you have to take control, like if you’re doing the demo; then it becomes yours because it’s your recipe, but it’s still about interacting with each other, and with our audience and viewers.
Did it take the five of you long to find your groove when you first started filming The Kitchen? KL: One of our biggest challenges when we first started was talking over each other, because it’s a natural way to speak. You know, if you’re at a dinner party, everybody’s talking over each other, and it’s just the way that people naturally talk. So, we really had to learn how to let the other person speak and naturally interject without talking over.
We’re down to our final three! Well, for now, that is, until we find out who's coming back from Star Salvation and rejoining Eddie, Jay and Arnold next week. This week’s competition was all about television presence, and some did better than others on camera. Eddie and Jay were clear standouts during the ensemble cooking-show challenge, and Jay knocked the judges’ socks off when he wrapped up the show with a Strawberry, Bourbon-Basil Smash. We applaud him too! This historic cocktail has such versatility — since there’s no strict way to make one, the combinations are endless. A smash just needs a seasonal fruit, an herb (mint is traditional), sugar, booze and ice, plus a muddler with which to smash the fruit and herbs, drawing out all of their flavor. We like to add a squeeze of citrus for balance.
Follow our pictogram recipe above and experiment with your own smashes. We were in the mood for a Blackberry, Basil and Vodka version (with lemon juice), which is pictured below. Have fun and share your favorite combinations in the comments section.