by Maria Russo in Food Network Star, July 31, 2015
by Maria Russo in Food Network Star, Judges, July 30, 2015
Outdoor cooking, ingredient swaps, audience demos and even improv cooking. The finalists have faced nearly all aspects of Food Network Stardom in the past nine weeks, but on Sunday they're going to contend with perhaps the most-demanding one of all: live television. For the first time, this weekend the guys will come together to work on a live ensemble show, which means that not only will they be unable to enjoy the luxury of cuts and second tapes, but they'll also be sharing the spotlight with their fellow finalists.
Check out a sneak-peek photo above from Sunday's show. Jay, Eddie and Arnold come together over a particular dish, each surveying it intently before digging in. How do you think they're feeling as they endure a live production, and what could be going through their minds?
by Food Network Kitchen in Food Network Star, Recipes, July 29, 2015
As all of the previously eliminated Food Network Star finalists would likely attest, camera challenges are difficult — so much so that multiple takes may be needed in order to execute just one presentation. But on Sunday's brand-new episode of Food Network Star, the remaining rivals will learn that their past challenges were mere practice for the main event in television: live productions, where there's no such thing as a redo. Unpredictable in time and format, live TV requires personalities to think on their feet, especially when there are multiple hosts of a show on at the same time.
On Sunday the final four hopefuls will come together for their first ensemble-based live challenge, something the five castmates of The Kitchen know well. Two of those co-hosts, Jeff Mauro and Katie Lee, will be on hand Sunday as the cast attempts their first live demos, and we caught up with Jeff recently to find out what he's learned about live TV after six seasons of The Kitchen. "The No. 1 rule," he told us, is "the process of giving and taking, waiting for your moment and giving a moment." He says that finalists ought to do well if they have one key component: confidence. "Make sure whatever you’re cooking is practiced," he recommends, "because then it just becomes, you know, muscle memory." Read on below to hear more from Jeff as he shares "been there, done that" advice with the hopefuls.
What's it like balancing the efforts of an ensemble while claiming a bit of spotlight for yourself?
Jeff Mauro: It like it. I like being able to feed off other people and give and take, [like] the world of … improv and sketch comedy. That's, like, the No. 1 rule: the process of giving and taking, waiting for your moment and giving a moment. So that’s what I love about it. But then again, it’s also nice just to be in the spotlight too.
by Maria Russo in Food Network Star, Videos, July 29, 2015
This week, the five remaining Food Network Star contestants needed to nail their food POVs during the Mentor Challenge. Some struggled with the concept of their food brand (we’re talking to you, Dom), while others knew exactly who they were (Hi, Arnold!). Did anyone else notice how diverse the food was? Our final five took us on a journey around the globe with Middle Eastern (Alex), Italian (Dom), Caribbean (Eddie), Cajun (Jay) and Thai (Arnold) inspired dishes. So taking a cue from the finalists, here are some fun facts about ingredients common to each cuisine, but perhaps unfamiliar to some fans:
by Maria Russo in Behind the Scenes, Food Network Star, July 28, 2015
In true Star Salvation fashion, the name of the game this week was expect the unexpected, as Jeff Mauro told the finalists to get set for "a culinary curve ball." He and fellow judge Alex Guarnaschelli doled out three mystery bags, each stuffed with a mandatory product that the hopefuls had to demonstrate their mastery over by featuring it in their dishes.
For Dom it was all about his Italian point of view; he worked rosemary lavender into a creamy carbonara sauce. Emilia used her childhood nickname of "squash blossom" to talk about her ingredient — squash blossoms. And Rue, brand new to sorghum, approached her product with gusto and tried it in a chili.
If you had to cook with one of these three mystery ingredients (rosemary lavender, squash blossoms or sorghum), which would you choose? Cast your vote in the poll below, then click the play button on the video above to see how the hopefuls fared in this challenge.
by Jeff Mauro in Food Network Star, Recap, July 27, 2015
When the finalists started their Star journeys, the expansive hallowed halls of Food Star Kitchen were surely overwhelming and downright intimidating. But by the time the remaining rivals entered the arena Sunday night, eight weeks into the competition, they were surely (hopefully) well-accustomed to the surroundings, familiar with the kitchen's offerings and prepared to execute two challenges within its walls.
Star Talk was on set during the filming of Food Network Star, Season 11, and we checked in with the show's crew to find out more about how this over-the-top culinary workhorse was created. This massive set — a whopping 95 feet by 100 feet — took the team a day and a half to build, and it's outfitted with two kitchen spaces, multiple ovens, cooktops and refrigerators, plus an expansive pantry. Inside this alcove is where the finalists shop for their dry goods as well as secure the tools they may need for a particular cooking challenge. From grains and flour to oils, pots, pans and spatulas, it's all arranged neatly on dozens of shelves.
Read on below to see more exclusive snapshots inside Food Star Kitchen, and hear from the show's culinary producer, Dave, about what it takes to make the cooking challenges possible.
by Maria Russo in Food Network Star, Interviews, July 26, 2015
After Michelle's intentional exit last week, we are left with a complete and all-American five-man sausage fest. Mmmmmm.
We quickly learn about the ever-growing importance of culinary membership clubs from Bobby and Giada. The boys each have 30 minutes to prepare a dish that a home cook can prepare from a package of fresh ingredients, and each rival's dish must be indicative of his personal brand. Per usual, Dom doesn’t know squat from Shinola about his brand.
Jay is making blackened fish and grits; Dom is sticking to his Staten Island roots by making chicken Milanese. And Arnold wants to literally put himself (Arnold Myint) inside the box and jump out of it, surprising the recipient with champagne towers and Mylar balloons. Alex just re-quoted my four-year-old quotes about sandwiches. That being said, he is bringing a very intriguing kofte burger. It’s amateur hour by Eddie’s station, as he is overcrowding his pan with shrimp.
Time to present. Alex is up first and he needs a good day. Even with that pressure, my fellow sandwich man preformed beautifully. His burger, tasty. Jay’s cadence is off at first, but he finds his zydeco rhythm once he starts talking about his food, which Bobby and Giada loved. Arnold’s brand is still not clear to the judges, nor is his food. Dom is calm for a change and he clearly didn’t overthink his presentation this time. He had a fluid and charming on-camera portion and wowed the judges with his signature breadcrumb mixture. May I suggest marketing this product as “Dom Dust”? You’re welcome, Dom; I just want 25 percent off the top. An agreement is in the mail.
by Maria Russo in Food Network Star, July 24, 2015
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.
by Maria Russo in Food Network Star, Interviews, July 23, 2015
To some, burgers may be just that family-friendly, crowd-pleasing cookout classic, but to Bobby Flay, burgers are a beast unto their own. As the owner of more than a dozen successful Bobby's Burger Palace restaurants and a past Burger Bash champ, he knows just what to look for in a successful burger — and what to avoid.
Check out the sneak-peek photo above from Sunday's brand-new episode of Food Network Star. Before he and Giada De Laurentiis take a bite of the burger before them, Bobby studies a half of it, taking into account the apparent ingredient layers, color and texture inside. Given his serious-looking stare and all-business demeanor here, what do you imagine he's thinking about this burger? Do you predict that he and Giada will be impressed by it?
by Maria Russo in Food Network Star, Videos, July 22, 2015
It was only two years ago that Damaris Phillips was likely feeling many of the same emotions and anxieties that are plaguing Alex, Arnold, Dom, Eddie and Jay today. After championing through the remaining weeks of Season 9, she earned the coveted title of Food Network Star, and now, with multiple seasons of her own show, Southern at Heart, under her belt, she's returning to Food Star Kitchen this week to mentor this year's crop of hopefuls. Just in time for brand-building challenges and all-important camera tests, Damaris will be on hand to guide the finalists as they inch one step closer to potentially joining the ranks of Damaris and the other past winners.
Star Talk caught up with Damaris to find out what it's like for her to be returning to set not as a rival, but as a peer among Bobby and Giada. Find out what she had to say, and learn how her own experiences in the competition will affect her judging this weekend.
What's it like working with Bobby and Giada as a peer and not as a competition hopeful?
Damaris Phillips: It feels great. It feels so much better to be on the other side. Competition is awful. ... The part that I like about mentoring [is that] I feel like I actually have advice to give, which makes me feel really proud that in two years I’ve gone from literally being a hot mess to having advice that I think would help, and I mean that feels great, and I think a lot of it has to do with Bobby and Giada and their mentoring.
The Season 11 set is the exact same one you competed on two years ago, isn't it?
DP: The exact same set! Every time I go on, it is anxiety.
Just when the Star Salvation hopefuls thought there couldn't be any more surprises in store for them, they learned on Sunday night of one rival's unexpected decision to quit the contest — Michelle wanted to leave early to return to her family — which meant there'd be no fourth rival joining them this week. "Your numbers will thin from three to two," host Jeff Mauro warned the remaining contestants, Rue, Matthew and Emilia, as the three took their places for the ingredient innovation challenge.
The name of the game was all about embracing the flavors of a local ingredient: avocados. It was up to them to shine a light on this beloved produce and use it in new, transformational ways. In the end, one rival's over-the-top risk meant safety from elimination, while another's failure to meet the standards of the challenge caused a teary exit.