It was only last week that the Food Network Star finalists, in the competition for all of a few minutes, received the first of many surprises when Martita, a former finalist and the winner of Comeback Kitchen, joined the cast. And this week they're about to receive yet another unexpected shock: a double elimination. But before two hopefuls will say goodbye, the contestants will endure their first team challenge and enjoy a mash-up rap battle at the hands of the mash-up master himself, Rev Run.
As the host of Cooking Channel's The Real Girl's Kitchen, Haylie Duff is familiar with heading out of her kitchen and going on location to chat with local chefs. On Sunday's new episode of Food Network Star, finalists will do something similar as they create their own travelogues; Haylie, who's set to guest-judge that challenge, knows just what it takes to pull off a successful report. Recently we caught up with her to find out about her appearance on the show, and she dished on the nerves she feels as a judge. Read on below to hear what she had to say.
After three weeks of hard-fought competition on Comeback Kitchen, Martita, a Season 8 finalist, earned the right to join the cast of Food Network Star, Season 12 and kick off yet another journey to Stardom. Just when her would-be rivals were least expecting it, mentors Bobby Flay and Giada De Laurentiis shocked them with the news that she'd be joining them in the contest. And the reactions were ... interesting. While seemingly everyone was shocked by Martita's surprise appearance, a few were downright upset at the prospect of yet another competitor, though Jernard was quick to admit, "I'm not sweating at all."
Click the play button on the video above to watch what went down.
A no-nonsense first challenge, a surprise 13th finalist and a pan set ablaze in the kitchen — Sunday's Food Network Star premiere was full of flare-ups and near meltdowns that kept the competitors guessing at every turn. But while the action was unfolding on-screen, there was no shortage of antics taking place behind the scenes either. Check out these insider photos from the set to see what the cast, mentors and crew were up to between takes, and find out what it takes to make this show possible.
The Comeback Kitchen competition came full circle for mentors Tyler Florence and Valerie Bertinelli on Sunday night, when they guest-judged the premiere of Food Network Star, Season 12. Martita, the winner of the three-week journey to redemption, took her place among the other 12 hopefuls. And Tyler and Valerie were on hand to see the fruits of their training and their hard work pay off when she delivered a strong first bite of food and a solid presentation.
There’s always so much hype and nerves when a competition gets off the ground. You sit in the greenroom with all the other contestants, laughing (and, in my case, devouring several bags of BBQ potato chips ... ) and chatting about where you’re from and what you cook. A blast of chilled air runs through the room as soon as the producer enters. It goes from a fun little meet 'n' greet to an unsolved "whodunit" mystery in a hot second. The most-important aspect of the first episode is getting a look at each contender before elimination. What difference does elimination make, you wonder? Well, as soon as someone gets sent home, a door on complete, free expression and disclosure closes. Contestants fear every little comment they make to the judges. Every sprig of parsley, every lemon wedge could be the wrong move and land them on the next flight home. And, let’s face it: Being the first person sent home is always an added kicker. Contestants on Chopped will say to the judges: "I don’t mind not winning. I just don’t want to go home in the first round." That’s only partially true. EVERYONE wants to win. The stakes are particularly high here because the winner has accolades, bragging rights and a shot at a great culinary future on television!
Martita, 39 (San Diego), showcased her talent on Season 8 of Food Network Star. She began working in her family’s restaurant business at a young age, with her mom’s authentic Mexican home cooking inspiring her culinary passion. Martita's parents moved to the United States two years before she was born, and she credits them with her work ethic and perseverance. Martita attended a few semesters of culinary school, but most of her skills are self-taught. She loves to entertain and cooks with loads of Mexican flavor!
Describe your culinary POV in one sentence.
Martita Jara: I cook with the flavors of Mexico with a California twist.
With only 11 short weeks to ready finalists before a winner will be chosen, the Food Network Star beast is such that week after week, hopeful competitors will fall, faced with the crushing disappointment of elimination. Here on Star Talk, we'll be bringing you the first exclusive exit interviews with the ousted finalists as they're sent home. Check back here every Sunday night for new one-on-one chats to hear from the just-eliminated competitors, learn their thoughts on the competition, and find out how they feel about the mentors' critiques of their final dishes and presentations. We're about to break down the ins and outs of tonight's new episodes and reveal who went home, so if you've yet to watch the show, read no further until then.
Comeback. Accomplished. After an intense three-week journey on Comeback Kitchen, one previously ousted Food Network Star finalist claimed the crown tonight and secured a spot in the cast of Food Network Star, Season 12. With that coveted opportunity in hand, this person is set to begin yet another journey, this time to potential Stardom. We're about to chat with the winner, so if you haven't watched the episode, don't read any further yet.
While the Food Network Star competition is 11 weeks long, finalists have but one single opportunity to make a positive first impression on Bobby Flay and Giada De Laurentiis. Recently both mentors told us the importance of these initial meetings, as Giada explained: "That first day, that first impression, we keep going back to. And sometimes it saves you and pushes you through." Bobby said, "I don’t think you ever forget the first impression of somebody," though he was quick to note that there's room to grow later if need be. "I’m very open in terms of making people evolve," he added.