It was just 10 weeks ago when 12 hopeful finalists took their first steps into the culinary spotlight in Food Star Kitchen, full of dreams and anticipation — and anxiety over what the future held. Now, just one week before the finale, there are only three rivals remaining, and on Sunday, a fourth will join their ranks, as the champion of Star Salvation will return for a second chance to claim the coveted title. It will be up to these four finalists to pitch themselves to the Selection Committee before the panel must select the competitor most worthy of filming a pilot.
Take a peek at the first-look photo above from Sunday's brand-new episode. Rachael Ray will be on hand to guide the hopefuls through the pilot process, and surely no one could better serve as the lead director than her, a Food Network legend and the maker of numerous successful series. What kind of advice do you imagine Rachael is dishing out, and what key points do you think she's stressing to the finalists?
After making hot ramen for a summertime family reunion and failing to explain exactly why he went with that seemingly oddball dish, Alex was eliminated from the competition, though he indeed has a chance at redemption. He joined Dom and Rue in the sixth and final Star Salvation battle, and for the last challenge of their journey, Alex Guarnaschelli and Jeff Mauro tasked the top three with plating and presenting "one last bite," according to Alex.
In keeping with their POVs, Alex tackled a cheesy sandwich — inspired by one from his travels in London — while Dom kept it Italian with grilled lamb chops and Rue focused on seafood with a poached salmon plate. Now, after screening each hopeful's video and tasting their dishes, it's up to Alex and Jeff to choose who among them is most worthy of a second chance at Stardom. Before you tune in Sunday to find out who's returning to Food Network Star, Star Talk wants to hear whom you, the fans watching at home, want to see earn redemption. Cast your vote in the poll below.
From one finalist's oddball first impression on Day One of the competition to another rival's unprecedented decision to quit, Season 11 of Food Network Star had no shortage of jaw-dropping moments — or unforgettable personalities. Ahead of Sunday's brand-new episode, in which the top-three hopefuls will film their pilots, look back at the most-memorable events.
The name of the game was live TV on Sunday night's episode of Food Network Star, from a quick demo with Catherine McCord to an ensemble live television special — Summer Live — a la The Kitchen. Katie Lee and Jeff Mauro, both veterans of The Kitchen and no strangers to live productions, stopped by to judge the final four competitors as they tackled their Summer Live segments, offering them advice and been-there knowledge on how to deliver a succinct, engaging presentation. Star Talk caught up with Katie on set to find out more about how she approaches the shared segments on The Kitchen, plus her tips for multitasking in the kitchen, both at the stove with the camera and with her co-hosts. Read on below to hear from Katie, and learn what one live-TV snafu she'll "never forget."
What’s it like to share the spotlight? Katie Lee: I don’t ever think of it as one person being in the spotlight. We really are a collaborative group, and I think that when one of us looks good, we all look good. So it’s about lifting each other up and having a good time. There are definitely moments where you have to take control, like if you’re doing the demo; then it becomes yours because it’s your recipe, but it’s still about interacting with each other, and with our audience and viewers.
Did it take the five of you long to find your groove when you first started filming The Kitchen? KL: One of our biggest challenges when we first started was talking over each other, because it’s a natural way to speak. You know, if you’re at a dinner party, everybody’s talking over each other, and it’s just the way that people naturally talk. So, we really had to learn how to let the other person speak and naturally interject without talking over.
We’re down to our final three! Well, for now, that is, until we find out who's coming back from Star Salvation and rejoining Eddie, Jay and Arnold next week. This week’s competition was all about television presence, and some did better than others on camera. Eddie and Jay were clear standouts during the ensemble cooking-show challenge, and Jay knocked the judges’ socks off when he wrapped up the show with a Strawberry, Bourbon-Basil Smash. We applaud him too! This historic cocktail has such versatility — since there’s no strict way to make one, the combinations are endless. A smash just needs a seasonal fruit, an herb (mint is traditional), sugar, booze and ice, plus a muddler with which to smash the fruit and herbs, drawing out all of their flavor. We like to add a squeeze of citrus for balance.
Follow our pictogram recipe above and experiment with your own smashes. We were in the mood for a Blackberry, Basil and Vodka version (with lemon juice), which is pictured below. Have fun and share your favorite combinations in the comments section.
It’s a Dom-free week here on Food Network Star, and his personality and great narration will be missed. His witty every-man narrations were a large part of the previous eight episodes, and I’m curious to see how the episode flows without them.
We are left with the final four, and they are faced with a challenge involving live TV. In walks television’s own Catherine McCord to help guide the guys through the unpredictable wilderness of live television. Per usual, Eddie gets very excited at the site of a real-life woman. Because of this, I am confident Eddie will nail this first challenge.
They get assigned various themes: Eddie gets burgers, Jay gets after-school-snacks, Alex gets a hot date, and Arnold gets to make yet another yummy breakfast.
The 30-minute cooking session begins and the vibe is tense. Everybody is going for the gold here, except Jay, who is keeping it simple and concise, just like an after-school snack should be.
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.
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?
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.
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: