by Maria Russo in Food Network Star, Interviews, Judges, July 21, 2016
by Maria Russo in Food Network Star, Videos, July 20, 2016
It was just a few years ago that Aarti Sequeira secured her future as a Food Network Star, besting her fellow finalists to earn the Season 6 crown. Now, with incomparable been-there-done-that wisdom and an acute realization of what the remaining Season 12 finalists are feeling at this point, she's set to return to Food Star Kitchen on Sunday to watch Damiano, Jernard, Tregaye and the returning Star Salvation victor compete for three pilot opportunities.
We caught up with her on set to hear what it's like to be back on Food Network Star and walk down competition-memory lane. Read on below for an exclusive interview with Aarti to get her take on what's ahead for the finalists this week.
What's it like to be on the other side of the competition, as a judge and not a finalist?
Aarti Sequeira: It feels way better to be on this side of it. ... It's so hard to actually put yourself back in that position, only because it feels like so long ago, and it kind of was so long ago. I remember that it was bittersweet at this point. Maybe it's my nature or maybe it's the nature of the competition, but you get so close to these people, you know what I mean? And you know what it would mean for them to win, you know obviously what it would mean for you to win. But you want only the best for them ... and it's hard because you know that it's a mutually exclusive deal. If you win, they don't. If they win, you don't. There's no gray area there, and so it's tough. It's a tough psychological place to be.
by Maria Russo in Food Network Star, Videos, July 19, 2016
This is it. After five weeks of culinary and camera challenges, Star Salvation hosts Alex Guarnaschelli and Eddie Jackson have just one battle left to judge before selecting the finalist who's most worthy of returning to the Food Network Star competition. Monterey, Yaku and this week's newcomer, Ana, are set to showcase classic dishes reminiscent of their hometowns after taking in an expert food demo by none other than one of their mentors, Alex. It's up to each of them to not only demonstrate their expertise and authority in the kitchen, but also convey a presence on camera that's both easygoing and commanding. Ultimately two of these hopefuls will fall in a final effort to continue on the road to Stardom, while one will rejoin the Season 12 cast in Sunday's penultimate episode of Food Network Star.
Click the play button on the video above to watch Monterey, Yaku and Ana face off for the last time, and tune in to Food Network Star on Sunday at 9|8c to find out who's earned Salvation.
by Alex Guarnaschelli in Food Network Star, Recap, July 18, 2016
Remember the unexpected twists that came in Week 4's hotel challenge when VIP guests Jesse Tyler Ferguson and Hannah Hart made special meal requests? Or the shock in Week 5 when Robert Irvine stole 10 minutes from the finalists' prep time? Or the curve ball in Week 7 when competitors had to use frozen ingredients for a baking challenge? All of these unforeseen obstacles were ultimately learning moments for the Food Network Star finalists, but that doesn't mean they were any less tricky (or frustrating) to contend with. On Sunday night's new episode, mentors Bobby Flay and Giada De Laurentiis once again gave the contestants a game-changing surprise, but this one was far happier and more welcome than the others.
by Maria Russo in Food Network Star, Interviews, July 17, 2016
“I have the most clearly defined culinary point of view,” boasts Ana in the beginning of this tense episode of Food Network Star. “I don’t know what ‘fun, fusion, fleek’ — that's not a culinary point of view,” she says, throwing shade in Tregaye’s direction. What a way to begin. There’s no denying Tregaye has been a trailblazer these past few weeks. Building momentum with Giada and Bobby is critical, and we are down to a small enough group that mentor support is either obviously there or about to end. We begin the Mentor Challenge by picking dates (and their corresponding national food holidays). Each finalist has to make a dish and do a live streaming event with a surprise guest and questions from viewers in the mix. This is like a seven-ball juggling act!
by Maria Russo in Food Network Star, July 15, 2016
With only 11 short weeks to ready finalists before a winner will be chosen, the Food Network Star beast is such that week after week, hopeful competitors will fall, faced with the crushing disappointment of elimination. Here on Star Talk, we'll be bringing you the first exclusive exit interviews with the ousted finalists as they're sent home. Check back here every Sunday night for new one-on-one chats to hear from the just-eliminated competitors, learn their thoughts on the competition, and find out how they feel about the mentors' critiques of their final dishes and presentations. We're about to break down the ins and outs of tonight's new episodes 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, Recipes, July 14, 2016
What started as a competition of 13 eager hopefuls has narrowed to just the final-four contestants. Ana, Damiano, Jernard and Tregaye have proved to be the strongest of the bunch — but they're not finished yet. As they look ahead to their next Food Network Star challenges, they'll be faced with their most-demanding tasks yet, and it will be up to them to prove they have the chops to rise to the occasion.
Take a sneak peek at the above photo from Sunday's new episode. With no time to waste, the hopefuls are set to sprint through the kitchen to get started on their latest challenge. After all, in true Food Network Star fashion, prep time is almost always tight, so running is surely in order. What do you think they're racing toward, and who is the speediest of the bunch?
by Maria Russo in Food Network Star, Videos, July 13, 2016
After the Week 8 challenges kicked off with a task to reinvent regional specialties, the Food Network Star mentors put the spotlight on guilty pleasures — those decadent, indulgent, over-the-top dishes that are almost too wonderfully sweet, salty and buttery to be real. From a pork-focused appetizer to starter courses of seafood and pasta, then a beefy entree and a cookie dessert, mentors Bobby Flay and Giada De Laurentiis, plus guest judges Alex Guarnaschelli and Trisha Yearwood, were in for five courses of comforting fare.
We rounded up the best recipes from both challenges so you can make them at home. Learn how to make Tregaye's take on traditional loco moco, featuring a fried egg on top, or indulge your Italian cravings with Damiano's succulent tagliolini pasta with sea urchin. Check out the winning dishes below, then learn how to make all of the mentors' favorite dishes from past episodes.
by Maria Russo in Food Network Star, Videos, July 12, 2016
The penultimate battle of Star Salvation kicked off not with a taste of food but with a whiff of it. Returning hopefuls Monterey and Yaku welcomed newcomer Erin, and all three sniffed some seemingly simple picks, such as fennel pollen and kumquats, but they were stumped on more than a few. And in true Star Salvation fashion, the challenge didn't stop there. The finalists were also tasked with preparing a dish that brought together nearly all of the ingredients they smelled — a whopping five seemingly dissimilar items that had to be fused into a dish. While Erin and Monterey had the same idea of combining ginger and kumquats in a sauce, Yaku put herbs and spices to work for a salmon-based dish. Ultimately, though, after what mentor Alex Guarnaschelli deemed "neck and neck" showings, one hopeful was sent home from the competition for good this week.
Click the play button on the video above to see whose Salvation journey ended, and find out which two finalists advanced to next week's finale.
by Alex Guarnaschelli in Food Network Star, Recipes, July 11, 2016
For baker Erin, the task of prepping the dessert course in this week's Guilty Pleasures-themed dinner had the potential to be a slam dunk, home run, hole in one for her. She set out to make a chocolate chip cookie-focused plate, rounded out with chocolate ganache and mousse. She was confident in her choices and pleased with the way her dessert came together, and she believed in its decadence. "What's so over the top about this dessert is chocolate," she explained. Her fellow Food Network Star finalists, however, weren't convinced — but they didn't tell her that. "This doesn't say decadence, guilty pleasure to me," Ana later noted.
Sure enough, when Erin presented her dish, she pitched it as "very, very decadent," but that's not how the judges found the finished offering to be. "When I think about a rich chocolate dessert, I'm thinking, like, so rich in chocolate that, like, you can feel, like, the pimples coming out on your face. That was not the case there at all," Bobby told Erin at evaluations, and she was immediately dumbfounded at the feedback. "I sell thousands of those cookies. Thousands of them. And I make that ganache almost every day, and it was extremely rich," she quipped back at him in an emotionally wrought scene that left the other finalists and the mentors in shock.
Click the play button on the video above to watch what unfolded, and see more of Erin's reaction to Bobby's critique. Read more
"Ana's demeanor is kind of relaxed and calm, and we have plenty of people who are stars on the network who have sort of that same level," Bobby Flay has said of Ana. Hmmm. While Ana may be calm, things are heating up between her and Tregaye. While I am never surprised at the frayed nerves, undercooked chickens or overbaked cookies, the tension between finalists here is running shockingly high!