Picture this: Multiple cameras are mere inches from your face. You're learning your way around an unfamiliar kitchen. Your dreams are riding on the success of your next move. Oh, and two of the biggest names of the food world are watching your every move. Nervous yet? So are many Food Network Star finalists as they endure these everyday competition pressures. But it turns out even Bobby Flay, an Iron Chef and one of the two mentors overseeing the finalists this year, feels those anxieties when he's working.
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When Food Network Star kicks off on May 22 (at 9|8c), mentors Bobby Flay and Giada De Laurentiis will have one job before them: Find Food Network's next famous face. It's up to them to guide the rivals through 11 weeks of competition, challenge them to grow and improve, and ultimately decide who among them has the bright light of Star power — just like the mentors have. Recently Star Talk chatted with Bobby and Giada, who looked ahead to what's in store for the finalists this season and reflected on their own roads to stardom — and how they've claimed the spotlight as their own.
Food Network Star, Season 12 kicks off in less than a month (tune in to the premiere on Sunday, May 22 at 9|8c), and just as the 12 finalists are anxiously awaiting the job interview of a lifetime, mentor-judges Bobby Flay and Giada De Laurentiis are preparing for their roles as the deciding factors in whose culinary dreams will be made true or ultimately ended. Their expert takes on both this contest and the job of a Food Network Star make them uniquely prepared for the 11-week journey they're undertaking with the finalists and for the challenges they're set to dole out.
Recently Star Talk caught up with Bobby to chat about how he balances his dual role of mentor-judge and the value he places on first impressions. Read on below to hear about his mentoring strategy and find out if his own participation in competitions like Beat Bobby Flay affects the way he judges. Plus, see what he thinks about the elusive Star power, and get his take on the job of a Food Network Star.
Just as the Food Network Star finalists ought to put their best dishes forward in an Italian-food challenge for Giada De Laurentiis, on Sunday they surely better bring the best of their brunch game in the Mentor Challenge, as Bobby Flay knows just what to look for in this beloved morning meal. From savory selects like scrambled eggs with ham and herbs to rich, sweet plates like cinnamon-laced pancakes with cherries, Bobby — the host of Brunch @ Bobby's and a longtime lover of brunch — is no stranger to creating craveworthy brunch dishes. So he'll expect to see finalists' most-impressive offerings come Sunday, especially since time is running out before a new Star will be crowned.
Ahead of Sunday's brand-new episode and the upcoming brunch challenge, Star Talk caught up with Bobby to find out what it takes to turn out a quality brunch plate. "Brunch takes a lot of attention to detail," he told us. "And that’s the key to brunch. It’s a casual eating event, but it takes a lot of attention to detail." He also noted that part of the essence of brunch is "all in the details," as the meal often depends on multiple components. "Cooking the eggs perfectly, making sure you have a lot of muffins and scones and things like that."
Bobby Flay and Giada De Laurentiis may be two of Food Network's most-iconic stars — after all, who better than established pros to lead the 12 hopeful finalists vying for a shot at stardom? — but their skills go beyond being shining TV personalities. With years of experience in the kitchen turning out both sweet and savory favorites, they've perfected their recipes and added to each their signature styles and bold flavors.
Just in time for next month's Food Network Star premiere (Sunday, June 7 at 9|8c), show off your culinary chops by trying your hand at some of the mentors' most-tried-and-true dishes, from Bobby's glazed grilled seafood and guacamole with a kick to Giada's cheesy pasta and next-level chocolate cookies. Click here to launch the gallery to see 20 of their must-try classics.
You heard it here first: Giada De Laurentiis and Bobby Flay are back to mentor 12 finalists through the ultimate job interview in the hopes of finding a glimmer of stardom within one worthy hopeful. The competition kicks off on June 7 at 9|8c, and in true Star fashion, the mentors have all-new challenges up their sleeves, each designed to showcase competitors' culinary chops and comfort in front of the all-important camera. Star Talk caught up with Bobby to get the dish on what fans can expect this season and to learn his take on what finalists ought to do to succeed in this grueling contest. Read on below for an exclusive interview.
What's the secret to success for a Food Network Star finalist?
Bobby Flay: They need to be who they are and not try to be somebody who is already on the network. A lot of times people try to copy something that we already have. And so I think it's important for them to just be that person, so hopefully they'll become — like, if their name is Tina, for example, now we have Tina, as opposed to the next Rachael Ray.
What do you find most surprising about this competition and what it asks of the finalists?
BF: It always surprises me when they make the same mistakes that they've been watching [other finalists make] for the last 11 years. Because obviously these people get savvier and savvier every year 'cause their homework is to watch Season 1 through 10. And so when they make the same blatant mistakes that other contestants have made, and have been eliminated as a result of those mistakes, that always surprises me. Read more
On last Sunday's episode of Food Network Star, finalists had to come up with their most-inventive takes on some favorite Fourth of July recipes. While some recipes produced smiles from the judges, others failed to impress. Want to wow your guests this holiday weekend? Inspired by the episode, Star Talk has rounded up the best takes on these dishes from Star judges Bobby, Giada and Alton.
Earlier this week Giada dished on her fellow judges and behind-the-scenes moments (read the interview here.) Now we're asking Bobby Flay about his time on Star, what it's like to be a judge, what mistakes he's tired of seeing and if he could have survived the show as a contestant.
Star Talk: What are you excited for this season on Star?
Bobby Flay: This is the 10th season of Food Network Star, and every season the most-exciting thing to me is meeting the new finalists — people who have a chance to be the next Star on Food Network. So as excited as they are, I'm excited to see who they are just as much.
Star Talk: From the first season until now, what has changed?
BF: I feel like every season the finalists get better and savvier than the last. A lot of it has to do with the fact that they get to watch the seasons prior and they become students of the sort. It's definitely a game. It's a game until you actually get the job. That's the way it works. I take my role of a judge very seriously. In a way, we're mentoring people, as well, we're not just saying yes or no. We're trying to give advice, but I want to add somebody to the roster of Food Network who is going to strengthen the network as a whole. I think of it as adding a new player to our team to make it better.
Now seven weeks into the competition, the remaining finalists are just now finding their footings in the Food Star Kitchen, and many are able to hold the attention of an audience on camera. They can turn out winning meals and garner high praises from focus groups, but their performances weren't always so star-worthy, and no one knows that better than the three people who've been face-to-face with the competitors' offerings from the very beginning: the judges, Alton, Bobby and Giada.
This Selection Committee has watched the contestants develop from day one, and in the last two months, the judges have experienced firsthand the exciting, disappointing, and simply odd plates and presentations shared with them. Given the surprises and sheer meltdowns they've seen from this year's competitors, then, it's no shock that the judges' faces through it all have been as wild and unpredictable as the antics they've witnessed. From Alton's furrowed brow and Bobby's cheeky grin to Giada's glaring side-eye, the judges don't hide what they're feeling well.
This past Sunday, the remaining contestants took a break from Food Star Kitchen and traveled to Cinépolis Theaters in California for a dinner-and-a-movie combo challenge that Bobby, Giada and Alton will never forget (relive the contestants trailers by watching them here). The episode got Star Talk editors thinking: What would be the ultimate combo using an existing movie? Elf and a big plate of spaghetti? Christmas Vacation and not-so-dry turkey?
Star Talk caught up with Food Network stars, including judge Bobby Flay, Star Salvation's Robert Irvine, Geoffrey Zakarian, Marc Murphy, Amanda Freitag, Guy Fieri, Jeff Mauro and Anne Burrell, as well as other famous faces, to ask that very question: “What’s your favorite dinner-and-a-movie combo?” Click the play button above to hear what each had to say.
Now tell us: What's your favorite dinner-and-a-movie combo? Share with Star Talk editors in the comments below.