On Sunday, 12 hopeful rivals will kick off their journey to stardom. And although how they portray themselves on camera and what dishes they prepare in Food Star Kitchen is ultimately up to them, they're not alone in the contest: Mentors Bobby Flay and Giada De Laurentiis will be there throughout the competition, not only as judges but also as mentors tasked with fostering the finalists' budding Star power.
Recently Star Talk caught up with Giada to find out what it's like for her to mentor these rivals and how her approach to the responsibility differs from Bobby's method. "We have very different mentoring styles," Giada told us in an exclusive interview. "I'm more of a mom in the sense that I really want to get to the core of a person. And I really want to instill in them a sense of empowerment. I feel cooking is — for me, anyway — has always been part of an empowerment. I feel strong when I'm cooking. Everybody here who loves to cook feels strong when they're cooking."
Bobby Flay and Giada De Laurentiis may be two of Food Network's most-iconic stars — after all, who better than established pros to lead the 12 hopeful finalists vying for a shot at stardom? — but their skills go beyond being shining TV personalities. With years of experience in the kitchen turning out both sweet and savory favorites, they've perfected their recipes and added to each their signature styles and bold flavors.
Just in time for next month's Food Network Star premiere (Sunday, June 7 at 9|8c), show off your culinary chops by trying your hand at some of the mentors' most-tried-and-true dishes, from Bobby's glazed grilled seafood and guacamole with a kick to Giada's cheesy pasta and next-level chocolate cookies. Click here to launch the gallery to see 20 of their must-try classics.
Beginning this summer, on June 7 at 9|8c, 12 eager Star hopefuls will strut their stuff on food's most-inspiring stage, but of course only one worthy rival will be crowed the victor and Food Network's newest Star at the end of the journey. Bobby Flay and Giada De Laurentiis are back to mentor the finalists through telling challenges, and together they'll work to discern who has the chops both in the kitchen and on camera, and who simply can't cut it. Star Talk recently caught up with Giada, and she dished on what the Star experience is really like for the finalists and what fans should know about the competition. Read on below for her exclusive interview, then check out this insider chat with Bobby.
After mentoring for so many seasons, are you still amazed at the transition that needs to take place in order to find that glimmer of Star power within someone? Giada De Laurentiis: I'm surprised that somebody actually makes the transition that fast. For Bobby and myself, it took a while to get comfortable. It takes a while to sort of understand yourself on camera and who you are and figure it all out. So I'm always surprised that in this short amount of time, someone can actually make that transition. It's pretty cool. I mean, of course Bobby and I didn't have mentors like what we're doing with them, but I think it's shocking.
On last Sunday's episode of Food Network Star, finalists had to come up with their most-inventive takes on some favorite Fourth of July recipes. While some recipes produced smiles from the judges, others failed to impress. Want to wow your guests this holiday weekend? Inspired by the episode, Star Talk has rounded up the best takes on these dishes from Star judges Bobby, Giada and Alton.
Before Season 10 kicks off, the editors of Star Talk wanted to sit down with show's ultimate trio of stars, Giada, Bobby and Alton, to talk about what fans can expect, their favorite elements of the show, as well as what they think of each other. First up, Giada De Laurentiis.
Star Talk: How has the show evolved? Giada De Laurentiis: I think that the finalists have become more savvy. Each time the viewers are able to watch the show, they start to understand what we're looking for. Although, having said that, each time Bobby, Alton and I meet a new group of finalists, they tend to have the same issues. I think they're getting savvier, but they're still missing the point as to what we're looking for. I think they think they're polished, but they're not quite as polished as they need to be. I think people think this job is very, very simple, when actually it's a bit more complicated than they anticipated once they get into it.
Star Talk: What are the most-common mistakes you see in finalists? GDL: I think there are several. One is too polished and media trained. Second, I think that they all come in thinking that they're going to pitch their point of view. They're passionate, so of course they think they should be the next Food Network Star — as if that's enough to get you this job, which we all know it goes way deeper than that. We're looking for charisma. I think the finalists need to feel empowered, show they can be a leader, be an authority and also be a little spontaneous so we never get bored.
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?