by Alex Guarnaschelli in Food Network Star, Recap, June 26, 2016
by Alex Guarnaschelli in Food Network Star, Recap, June 20, 2016
The pressure mounts. The finalists dwindle in numbers. The nerves are frayed. Want the truth? I have picked my potential winner. That’s right. And I’m wondering if you’ve picked yours. (Tell me in the comments, if so!) But don’t think it’s so easy to tell whom my money is on for the win.
by Alex Guarnaschelli in Food Network Star, Recap, June 13, 2016
To kick off this episode of Food Network Star, we dive into the world of food hacks. A food "hack" is when you use a utensil for a purpose other than for what it is intended. I feel like we all have our own food hacks at home, such as using an iron as a panini sandwich press or repurposing a wine bottle as a rolling pin. This challenge revolves around one of the most-important skills for a food star: how to think quickly on your feet and be resourceful. My hack? Use a stovetop burner as a makeshift broiler and char whole bell peppers (on all sides). Peel the skin and toss the pepper with a little red wine vinegar, oregano and olive oil. Delicious. Sometimes you can make great food by "burning" it and making it your own, and sometimes, well, you just get burned. (Check out more of my ideas for kitchen hacks above: rubber-banded pickle jars, floating eggs and others.)
by Maria Russo in Food Network Star, Interviews, Judges, June 8, 2016
What's more nerve-racking than live TV? On Food Network, I can handily say, not much. You make a mistake, you miss a line, you don't describe your food ... guess what? You don't get a second chance. It's out there forever, and I don't think our Food Network Star finalists are ready for writing their story in indelible ink. Food Network is an ever-changing hotbed of cooking trends and new ingredients. For the initial challenge, Bobby Flay and Giada De Laurentiis divide the remaining nine finalists into three groups of three. Ana, Erin and Rob tackle the hot list of new spices and ingredients, while Jernard, Yaku and Monterey are in the "Frugal Is Fashionable" department and cook with a portion of ingredients we Americans might commonly throw away, such as broccoli stems, cauliflower cores and stems. The third team, comprised of Damiano, Joy and Tregaye, has to cook a whole meal on one sheet pan.
The moment of truth?
by Alex Guarnaschelli in Food Network Star, Recap, June 6, 2016
You hear from Alex Guarnaschelli in her weekly Star Reports, where she breaks down the Food Network Star competition like only a veteran judge can. Now, starting this Sunday night after the all-new episode, she and Eddie Jackson, last year's winner of Star, will join forces to judge Star Salvation. Together they'll challenge this season's ousted finalists to both camera and cooking tests over six weeks in the hopes of finding one hopeful worthy of re-entering the Food Network Star competition.
We caught up with Alex to find out what skills she'll be looking for in the eventual winner and learn her approach to mentoring the competition. Read on for an exclusive one-on-one interview with her, then hear from Eddie.
What do you need to see in them in terms of camera skills and cooking chops in order to find your winner?
Alex Guarnaschelli: I’ll tell you the No. 1 thing is that I have to believe them. I think that it’s really, really hard to let your nerves go and to say, "Wow, maybe what I’m saying isn’t exciting enough, or I should be doing this or that and just putting it out there." Sometimes when you just honestly and transparently admit what’s going on around you and relate it to how you live your life, that’s actually the stuff that separates you from the pack because people aren’t able to do that.
by Alex Guarnaschelli in Food Network Star, Recap, May 30, 2016
This week’s Food Network Star integrates the important world of Food Network Magazine with developing an important muscle for any burgeoning food star. That muscle? "Flexing" written recipes and food images to engage viewers and make them eat with their eyes. The challenge? Create an "original" dish based on a proposed recipe title. Giada and Bobby offered the following titles: "Batter Up" (Joy), "Crab Appeal" (Yaku), "Mount Everzest (Tregaye), "Better Off Bread" (Monterey), "Meat Me Halfway" (Martita), "For Heaven’s Flake" (Erin), "Cold-Hearted Cake" (Rob), "Hot or Not" (Damiano), "Sea and Be Seen" (Jernard) and "Carved for Attention" (Ana). I definitely felt some of these were harder to visually convey with food. While "Cold-Hearted Cake" could be illustrated with heart-shaped cake, and "Mount Everzest" could be sculpted into something mountainous with lots of citrus zests, "Sea and Be Seen" and "Meat Me Halfway" were not good matches for Jernard or Martita, respectively. The added catch? If esteemed judge and Food Network Magazine Editor-in-Chief Maile Carpenter didn’t connect the title and the food, the judges wouldn’t taste it! That’s rough. Can you imagine if you made a dish and no one ate it? Jernard, Martita and Monterey suffered this fate. The winner? Tregaye. Her tasty Lobster Bread Pudding gave the judges the clearest connection among the title, food and ingredients. This challenge win left Tregaye with an advantage.
by Alex Guarnaschelli in Food Network Star, Recap, May 23, 2016
What a mash-up of an episode! A challenge where our beloved Food Network Star finalists work in pairs? Fun, right? Just hide behind your teammate if your food or presentation is weak. That sounds good, right? Hmmm. Maybe. If you haven't seen the premiere episode yet, we're about to break down each finalist's performance, so don't read any further until you watch.
by Alex Guarnaschelli in Food Network Star, May 17, 2016
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!
by Maria Russo in Food Network Star, Interviews, Judges, June 25, 2015
Can you imagine trying to become the next Food Network Star? It takes me straight back to my own cooking competition experiences. (Hello, Chopped All-Stars. Hello, The Next Iron Chef. Hello, The Next Iron Chef again.) And I relive those moments in the shower most mornings: I am standing in a row of super-talented people, not really breathing, heart pounding away, enduring a judge’s stare and praying no one tells me to go home. Ever wanted to melt into the floor?
by Maria Russo in Food Network Star, Interviews, Judges, June 17, 2015
While three Food Network Star finalists have already met their fate at elimination — and another one will do the same this week — all hope is not lost for those competitors, or for the next few to follow in the coming weeks. Beginning this Sunday night, ousted rivals will have the chance to rejoin the competition, but only if they can survive a six-week journey on Star Salvation, a Web-exclusive contest hosted by Jeff Mauro and Alex Guarnaschelli. At the end of boot camp, one rival will have verified his or her worth, and will ultimately return to the on-air competition with the finalists that remain.
Ahead of Sunday's premiere Salvation battle, Star Talk is catching up with Jeff and Alex for the inside details on what they have in store for the contestants, and what it will be like for this dynamic duo to work together as both mentors and judges. Read on below to hear from Alex about how her past competition experiences will influence her judgment on Salvation, then click here to hear from Jeff.
What's it going to be like working with Jeff? What's your professional relationship like?
Alex Guarnaschelli: We are like Starsky and Hutch. We are like Rizzoli and Isles. ... We have a really great relationship because we both use a lot of humor in what we do, and yet we take food super seriously. We know that there's so much at stake for these contestants that we want to be the perfect balance of lighthearted where the contestants are open to learning and hearing from us, and yet also critical enough that they can grow and kind of sculpt themselves, give themselves clarity, fill in the blanks, color in the lines, curate their own personality. That's what Food Network is all about: growing really good flowers. Start with a seed, some dirt, some water, and just keep on going with that sunshine.
From mentors Bobby Flay and Giada De Laurentiis to guest judges Melissa d'Arabian and Alex Guarnaschelli, the competition was brimming with superstardom this weekend as the finalists endured two rounds of challenges: one to turn leftovers into family dinners and another to bake up savory sweets. Alex was on hand during the Star Challenge's baking task, and in true Chopped judge fashion, she doled out constructive criticism to the 11 remaining rivals and ultimately deliberated with Bobby and Giada about who should go home.
Star Talk recently caught up with Alex to get the dish on her experience both in the judge's seat and in the arena as a contestant. Read on below for an exclusive interview, then click the play button above to get her take on the finalists' best baked offerings.
Not only have you judged competitions before, but you've also competed on Chopped All-Stars, The Next Iron Chef and Cutthroat Kitchen, among other shows. Do those experiences affect the way you look at the finalists who are going through this journey for the first time?
Alex Guarnaschelli: Of course. It’s just like being a chef in a restaurant. If you’ve been a busboy and a dishwasher and a cook and a sous chef, then when you’re the chef, you have empathy and understanding of each part that’s played to make something successful. The same is true in a competition show. I’ve competed, I’ve judged, I’ve watched, I’ve cried, I’ve laughed, I’ve won, I’ve lost. When someone walks in front of me and starts cooking, I know already how this is going to go.