Tag: episode 2

What Does It Take to Impress Alex Guarnaschelli? The Judge’s First Impressions, Plus Lessons Learned

by in Food Network Star, Interviews, Judges, June 17, 2015

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.

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“Food Network Star Finalists, I Support You in Pursuing Your Dreams:” A Letter from a Former Winner and Guest Judge

by in Food Network Star, Judges, June 16, 2015

Melissa d'ArabianOn Sunday night, I judged a challenge on Food Network Star. Returning to where it all started for me is more emotional than one might expect. I arrived at my hotel well after 1 a.m., exhausted from a full day of work. I set my alarm for 5:15 a.m. and tried to sleep — but I couldn’t. I couldn’t help but put myself in the finalists’ position. I remembered all too well tossing and turning in the bunk bed that was my home for weeks during the filming of my own season of Food Network Star. I could almost feel myself lying there only inches from the ceiling (I had the top bunk), waxy earplugs wedged into my ears to blot out evidence of the other female finalists who were both my competitors and my roommates. I would lie there, trying to quiet my mind with focused breathing, doing my best to stamp out thoughts about whatever had happened in the latest challenge or elimination, only to find myself speculating on what challenge might lie ahead, or even, what time we would be awakened with the next task.

I feel for these finalists, and I know how deeply they want to succeed. They have left behind careers and families to pursue their dream job, and missing the mark on a challenge can feel like ultimate failure in the moment. Hearts are broken and character is built. It is about so much more than just cooking. It is harder than it looks.

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“You’re a Beast:” Avoid This Phrase, and 6 Other Savvy Rules of Star — Jeff’s Star Report

by in Food Network Star, Recap, June 15, 2015

“You're a Beast:” Avoid This Phrase, and 6 Other Savvy Rules of Star

We begin this episode Christina-free. That first elimination is always quite humbling; you realize quickly that anyone at any time can easily have a bad day and, in turn, get the ol’ boot. Nobody wants to be the first gone, and now that the remaining finalists are 100 percent not the first eliminated, they can start fresh and tackle the day’s challenges, starting with …

… What's for dinner?! A classic leftover challenge. Jay is evidently a licensed food psychic, because he called it from the very beginning! This is an indispensable gift to have during Food Network Star. I hope he uses this talent only for good.

My sister-from-another-mister Melissa d’Arabian walks in, and, per usual, the room ignites with class and brightness. She guest-judges these dishes, and she guest-judged my dish during my season too. To be honest, when she judged one of my Star Challenges, she did not like me too much. Rightfully so — this was the second episode and I was still a foul-mouthed ugly duckling, not yet a glorious swan. So there is hope yet for those who biff this challenge.

The finalists charge toward the fridge to fight for that specific leftover they MUST have in order to craft the perfect dish. Sita wants some chicken and cuts whoever gets in her way. Eddie grabs the pasta that evidently belongs to Rosa. Emilia gets Sita’s chicken. Nobody gets what they wanted, and everybody is scrambling.

In my opinion, there is nothing like the melee that surrounds the fridge and pantry during one of these challenges. It’s "eat or be eaten," and sometimes you just grab anything and everything; think later and adapt quickly. Don’t blame the ingredients! Ever! On with the presentations. Read more

One-on-One with the Latest Food Network Star Finalist to Go Home

by in Food Network Star, Interviews, June 14, 2015

Food Network StarIt'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.

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Caption It: Reactions Speak Louder Than Words

by in Food Network Star, June 12, 2015

Food Network StarIf the premiere was all about first impressions, then this Sunday's Episode 2 is set to show which finalists have the chops to go the distance in this competition and who, perhaps, was simply gifted a bit of beginner's luck last week. Not only will the contestants have to impress judge-mentors Bobby Flay and Giada De Laurentiis in two tougher-than-ever challenges on Sunday, but they'll also come face to face with two other superstars — Melissa d'Arabian and Alex Guarnaschelli — both of whom know all too well what it takes to succeed in a culinary competition.

Melissa's the Season 5 Star winner, so she's uniquely aware of the anxieties and pressures affecting the finalists right now; it's up to her to not only judge them but also offer the finalists been-there-done-that words of wisdom that only a fellow Star rival would understand. Alex, too, knows the best bets for finalists hoping to wow a judge — after all, she is a frequent judge on Chopped and a notoriously no-nonsense one at that.

Check out the sneak-peek photo above to get the first look at Sunday's all-new episode. While Rue, Sita and Jay look somewhat pleased at what's going down before them, Emilia appears downright shocked and Matthew looks on with a blank stare. What do you think they're reacting to?

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A Star Returns: Melissa Previews Sunday’s New Episode As a Guest Judge

by in Food Network Star, Interviews, June 11, 2015

Melissa d'ArabianFor the remaining 11 finalists vying for StardomGuy Fieri, Melissa d'Arabian and Jeff Mauro are proof that it is indeed possible to graduate from the group of Star hopefuls to the ranks of superstardom on television. On Sunday's all-new episode, the competitors will receive the shock of a lifetime when they see one of these been-there-done-that survivors return to Food Star Kitchen. Melissa, the Season 5 winner, will enter the arena not as a hopeful, of course, but as a guest judge and Committee member who's all too aware of what the rivals are experiencing on their journey to Star glory.

Star Talk caught up with Melissa recently to get the dish on her upcoming appearance, and she spoke of her feelings for the finalists. "I feel nervous for them because I know how nervous I was. And I know how much you want it," she explained. Keep reading below to hear more from Melissa in an exclusive interview, then tune in on Sunday to see what she thinks of the Season 11 contestants.

Will you judge the competitors differently having been in the competition before?
Melissa d'Arabian: Absolutely! I think that it should be a requirement that before you can judge anybody else cooking under these circumstances, that you do it once or twice, because it’s hard, and there’s a lot of stuff that’s at play.

Do you sympathize with what the finalists are going through, or do you believe that if you survived it, then they can too?
MdA: I really feel for them. I feel nervous for them because I know how nervous I was. And I know how much you want it. I remember that moment of anticipation where the guest walks out and you’re waiting to see who it is and if you relate, and what you think, you know. It’s all as clear as day to me. I remember that emotional feeling. I remember it all. And, yeah, I get it. I feel very much. I feel very deeply for these contestants — very much.

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“This Challenge Was Like a 20-Layer Sandwich.” — An Interview with Alex Guarnaschelli

by in Interviews, June 10, 2014

An Interview with Alex Guarnaschelli, Season 10 Food Network StarAlex Guarnaschelli is no stranger to Food Network Star. We've seen her dish out her opinions on the judging panel of two Chopped-themed episodes during seasons 8 and 9. But this past Sunday, Alex took off her judge's hat and took to the kitchen. During the Star Challenge, the remaining finalists were tasked with taping a 15-minute demo explaining how to make a simple dish with pantry ingredients in a separate prep kitchen. So where's the twist? Iron Chef Guarnaschelli was in Star Kitchen watching their demos in real time, attempting to make the same dish, as Bobby, Giada and Alton looked on.

Star Talk caught up with the Iron Chef right after the show to talk about being in the kitchen versus being a judge, and what Bobby, Giada and Alton are really like.

This is your third time on Food Network Star, and this time they put you into the mix of cooking, and you even said that you feel like you’re a part of the cooking audition yourself!
Alex Guarnaschelli: It’s true. I’ve been through a number of shows and I’ve done a lot of this stuff before, so theoretically this is not my first or even my fifth rodeo, but it feels as nerve-racking and as fresh as the first time. And when you realize that, you catch a glimpse into what the stakes are like for these competitors. I mean, they’re standing in front of a trio of people that have enough producing and camera experience to catapult you all the way to the top. How much can you sort out? How much can you really hear them? How do you separate yourself from the pack? On top of being on camera, they have to cook for Bobby, Giada and Alton. I mean that — that’s some cherry and whipped cream on that sundae right there, right?

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Certifiably Awkward Moments — Justin’s Rebel Recap

by in Recap, June 9, 2014

Justin's Rebel Recap - Episode 2Last week we saw the first elimination of Season 10. Donna was shown the door, while Emma and Sarah were dragged to the next round, like babies attached to the wedding dress of stardom.

Alton's Teacher Challenge

The gang is split into two: Team Green Bean Casserole and Team Chicken-Fried Steak. The kicker is each finalist must talk Alton through a few steps of the recipe. I anticipated a few hiccups, but what ensues is embarrassment and certifiably awkward moments:

  • While Mr. Brown is Hulk-smashing green beans and throwing them into boiling water, Lenny, who sees through Mr. Brown's shenanigans, delivers a smart tip: "If you are going to chuck things in to boiling water, chuck them away from you, so as to scald your competition."
  • I would like to adopt Christopher for the holidays and show that man what a can of French's French Fried Onions looks like. Diced and sauteed onions on a green bean casserole is like putting ketchup on a hot dog in New York.
  • Seizing the opportunity, Sarah Zambonis Christopher's mistake and leaves a glistening, slick recipe for Luca.
  • Reuben forgets to make a roux. Rouxben. I bet he rues this mistake.
  • Aryen has to deal with Rouxben's folly. Lenny talks her through it and she overcomes, but Lenny is bummed she's getting credit for his clever solution.
  • Nicole navigates the sometimes-tricky world of breading a country-fried steak. She advises that Alton keep one hand for eggs and another for flour. I kind of wish she didn't because it would be very funny to see Alton with battered clubs for hands.

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The Infamous Shimmy: Duck Fat Will Never Be the Same Again

by in Community, Videos, June 13, 2013

After watching Damaris Phillips' premiere performance last week, judge-mentor Bobby Flay had but one piece of advice for her: "Don't try to seduce us." It appeared as though she took that instruction to heart, but, unfortunately she let history repeat itself this week during the Burger Bash challenge, and it almost forced her week-two elimination.

Not long into her live cooking demonstration in front of the Selection Committee and an audience of 100 guests, Damaris once again resorted to uncomfortably suggestive body language as she described a key ingredient in her dish. She revealed duck fat to be the must-have addition to her pimento cheese burger, and she accompanied the announcement with a shoulder shake and shimmy that left the audience both grimacing and laughing — "at her," no less, according to Alton Brown.

Damaris realized almost immediately the mistake she'd made, explaining, "When I get nervous, I default to being awkwardly sexy sometimes." Come evaluation, she knew she'd be in for harsh feedback: "My presentation was crap. I went up there and did exactly what the Selection Committee told me not to do." Bobby indeed doled out hard-to-hear criticisms, among them that her demonstration was "a little off-putting," and Damaris was simply unable to hold back tears in front of her peers and the mentors.

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