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 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 she grew up with a passion for cooking in a food-minded family (her grandfather Dino De Laurentiis owned a specialty foods shop), Giada De Laurentiis never intended to enter the culinary industry and even pursued a career outside of the world of television by earning a degree in anthropology. Despite her best intentions, however, Giada, of course, succumbed to her love of all things culinary and enrolled in Paris' Le Cordon Bleu cooking school. It was only after founding her own catering company in Los Angeles that Giada began work at Food Network, not on some of her now-most-popular series, like Food Network Star and Giada at Home, but on Everyday Italian, her premiere in-the-kitchen show.
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?
This season is Giada De Laurentiis’ first as a full-time judge on Food Network Star. The Giada at Home star and cookbook author came on board last year as a mentor for the finalists and then moved into a seat on the selection committee with Bob, Bobby and Susie.
Giada was actually discovered by one of her fellow judges almost a decade ago: Back in 2002, Bob Tuschman saw a magazine article about her and her food-loving Italian family and was intrigued. He gave her a call and soon thereafter Giada had her first show, Everyday Italian.
As someone who once feared the camera herself, Giada has a unique perspective on what it takes to be a star. Even though she’s no longer their official mentor, she has some sage advice for the finalists. Check out our behind-the-scenes interview with Giada to hear her best tips for the finalists and which of the hopefuls reminds her most of herself! Do you see similarities, Star fans?
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.
Is the Serena-Brianna dramarama done? Have they reached detente? Not that long ago Serena was in tears after a kitchen collision and a foot injury--with Brianna to blame.
When the pair partnered in a food truck challenge this week, they fought like sisters, "but in a good way," Brianna told the Selection Committee. They hugged it out, learning that their dishes--empanadas and panini and gyros--scored a win. As the intensity is upped, can they keep it civil?
Brianna's facing heat for her cool approach. Bob T talks in his vlog about how the audience in the live demo simply disengaged: "Brianna was probably the biggest offender there; her presentation just left them flat." But in her vlog, Giada counters that Serena "is stuck in what she wants to do," rather than connecting with the audience and judges. (Funny, that's not the impression you get over on Food2, where Serena debuted, in a way, before Star was a twinkle in her eye.) Given that they both, like the other finalists, have work to do, it might be best for them both to go ahead and get along instead of resorting to schoolgirl spats.
Then again, maybe not. Don't you get fired up by people who rub you the wrong way? Doesn't the next Star need passion and intensity and strength? Could it be strategic to set your competitors off their game by distracting them with faux, or real, ire? I'm guessing I'm not the only one who is hungry for more, because it is, after all, entertaining.
Hug. It. Out.
Now it's your turn. You make the call: Should Serena and Brianna stay frenemies or foes or become BFFs? We want to see your comments (though the comments you've shared toward them in the past few weeks indicate you prefer warm and fuzzy to too cool for school). Tell us what you think.
Hey, hope you enjoyed the first show--we sure did. During the premiere, Susie Fogelson joined a few of us Food Network worker bees plus a whole bunch of Star fans in a live chat, talking about the finalists, the judging, Bobby's ties and Susie's hair. There were a few words, you can imagine, about injured eyes and underwhelming doughnuts and crazy props and flocks of raw chicken. We know the fans savored Susie's sage comments about shooting and the selection process (Brooklyn wi-fi hiccups not a worry!). Susie solicited their opinions, too: Yes, Bobby Flay looked snappy, in case you're wondering. You can look at who said what below. No extra charge for spoilers. Meantime, vote for your favorite finalist so far and get all the recipes.