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.
This season, Alton, Bobby and Giada are playing two roles: mentors and judges. When they're not sharing their expert advice with the remaining contestants during challenges, they're making the tough decisions — who stays and who goes each week. While they work together as a team to make these verdicts, each judge has his and her own personality and point of view that will help shape these decisions.
During Season 8 of Star, viewers saw even more of their characters come out as Alton, Giada and Bobby had to compete against each other for the first time. Both Bobby and Alton have admitted that while Giada is sweet, she loves to win and is a serious competitor. Bobby certainly has the cooking chops, and as Chad said earlier this season, "Alton knows just a little bit more about everything than you do." So that leads Star Talk to ask fans this question: Who's your favorite Star judge? Vote in the poll.
Each episode of Star takes hours to tape, so it's no surprise that not every moment and reaction is captured in the 60 minutes fans get to see on air. Every week, Star Talk will give readers an insider's look at what goes down on the set of Food Network Star — from the judges to the contestants to the environments in which they cook and present.
Three of Food Network's longest-standing chefs, Alton Brown, Bobby Flay and Giada De Laurentiis, are no strangers to the demands of stardom, now having years of experience multitasking in front of the camera and cooking. But before they were industry professionals, Alton, Bobby and Giada, too, once had to learn the ins and outs of what this job entails, much like Star finalists will in the early weeks on set. As Star Talk gets ready to kick off an all-new ninth season of Food Network Star, we'll be taking a look back at each judge-mentor's earliest days on the network, revisiting their earliest shows and exploring how they turned their passion for food into a full-time job.
Although he's now the host of Bobby's Barbecue Addiction and Barbecue with Bobby Flay, this New York City chef's range in the industry reaches far beyond outdoor grilling. A longtime Iron Chef, Bobby has been competing on the Chairman's elite team of culinary masters since Iron Chef America's inception in 2005, although he partook in several face-offs with Iron Chef Masaharu Morimoto, an Iron Chef in Japan, before he, too, joined the ranks of Kitchen Stadium stateside.
This was a tough week for Team Bobby, with two finalists going head-to-head in a Producers' Challenge battle of cocktails. No matter how it shook out, Bobby would lose a member of his team. He was hesitant to say anything at all in the pitch room (or pitch beach, as it was this week): "I didn't want to sway the judges one way or the other based on my comments."
In the end, Bob and Susie decided to send Malcolm Mitchell home. Despite food that consistently impressed them, Malcolm was never fully able to hone his "soulful" POV. "Malcolm's POV was confusing," Susie says. "After eight weeks, we need to know who he is through his food."
Malcolm left the competition in good spirits: "I leave happy. I wanted to win it, but at the end of the day, I did everything that I could do. I was real."
Hear more from Susie and Malcolm in his exclusive exit interview. Did you think Malcolm should have gone home over Michele?
Star fans, buckle up. This season is a game-changer. In addition to 15 passionate hopefuls vying for their shot at a Food Network show, three all-star producers are also facing off as team leaders. You may have heard of them: None other than Alton Brown, Bobby Flay and Giada De Laurentiis will each coach five finalists through the intense competition, each striving for one of their own to make it into the network's lineup.
While we wait patiently for the premiere on Sunday, May 13, we're asking for your predictions. Whose team do you see as the force to be reckoned with? Which of these three Food Network icons will make the best teacher and produce our next Star?
Obviously, we'd love for you to be there too. Here’s how: Follow @FoodNetwork on Twitter during the super-sized two-hour Star premiere on Sunday, June 5, at 9pm/8c. Use #Star in your tweets to join and track the conversation.
Can't wait two more days? We understand — we're getting antsy, too. Get a sneak peek here, check out all the finalists and support your early favorites in our Fan Forecast vote.
After shooting episode six at Frank Sinatra's former home, Bobby recognizes that Star is falling down to the wire. "Consistency, to me, is very important when you're trying to put forth what your food point of view is," he says in a FoodNetwork.com exclusive vlog, reacting to Aarti's Camera Challenge and explaining his appreciation for her smoked salmon canapes.
Less impressed with Aria's shrimp-as-pig-in-blanket (she threw the pig out the window!), Bobby knows what she should have done--or at least he is sharing what he might have done, his Re-Flay. "Imagine pork belly wrapped in phyllo or puff pastry or something very light, and then..." Watch Bobby now, in his own words. Cue the mouthwatering.
Midterm exam time. Who sailed, who failed? And what made Paula Deen bring up her string bikini and the quality of her grandchild's cooking ability? Who came out on top--Team Serena or Team Brianna? Did Herb get back on track or crash and burn? Oh the suspense! There was too much drama to fit into an hour this week, so we got extra time and a bonus live chat with season four finalist and Food Network star and funnyman Adam Gertler. Like a Kid in a Candy Store--that's his sweet new show--Gertler zinged fans with running commentary and an admiration for all things Serena. Even Mr. Flay joined the fray with live tweets. The finalists faced two challenges: First, create "you in a jar" and present it to a big-ole live audience. Then they had to team up and run a food truck. That's when the twists and turns arrived. Some happy surprises--two chicks seemed to reach detente ("The empanada, y'all, is really good," Paula said), for now, which bizarrely disappointed chatting fans. Check out the chat below for details, then jump behind the scenes for Bobby's recipe makeover of finalists' dishes (would love his pointers!) and vlogs from Bob, Susie and Giada. Then vote for your favorite finalist, up to ten times per day. Meantime, I'll be wondering if Brad should let dark horse Tom borrow his lucky hat, and if Adam might borrow one of Bobby's ties. A+ episode, everyone.