When Food Network Star premieres on Sunday, May 22 at 9|8c, this year's cast of hopefuls will quickly learn that when it comes to succeeding at Stardom, there's no such thing as "good enough." Both on the camera and on the plate, they'll be expected to demonstrate mastery and confidence — just as their mentors Bobby Flay and Giada De Laurentiis do on-air and in their dishes. This all-star duo knows just what it takes to not only wow an audience on TV but also to combine flavors, highlight the simplicity of fresh ingredients and teach others how to do the same with their go-to recipes.
By Leah Brickley
Surprise, Dom’s back! Our unsuspecting final three contestants, Eddie, Jay and Arnold, were all shocked to see the scrappy Star Salvation winner return for one last battle. Dom impressed the judges with his homemade agnolotti pasta and best on-camera appearance yet, and he edged Arnold out and joined Eddie and Jay for a final spot to make a pilot.
We were excited to see that New York City’s amazing restaurant and food diversity was inspiration for all of three of the guys' pilots. We share the same enthusiasm and are super-lucky that Food Network Kitchen lives inside Chelsea Market, an indoor food hall with more than 35 food vendors! Needless to say, it’s food paradise. So, inspired by Dom’s delicate little agnolotti, we wandered down to Giovanni Rana — makers of beautiful, high-quality fresh pasta — to find some other stuffed versions. We also visited Russo's Mozzarella and Pasta in the East Village to pick up some of their agnolotti and tortellini.
Here’s what we learned about each (clockwise from top left):
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.
By Leah Brickley
And they’re off! This week we met the 12 contestants from the 11th season of Food Network Star, and the competition is sure to be fierce. Along with presenting their food, the contestants also had to present 30-second promo videos to hook the judges and 100 cocktail party guests. There were definitely some food fails and wins — as well as shaky nerves! We loved the concept of the olive oil-poached shrimp appetizer made by Staten Island native and food truck owner Dom Tesoriero, and the judges thought it was delicious, so we headed to the Food Network Kitchen to develop a recipe for you to try at home. They’re super-simple, luscious and tender.
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.
After watching 10 weeks of competition and making your voices heard in this season's finale vote, you, Star fans, are just days away from meeting the newest Food Network Star. No matter if you're rooting for Damaris and her Southern-inspired Eat, Date, Love idea, for Rodney's pie-focused pilot Pie Style or for Russell's deliciously sinful Guilty Pleasures concept, anxiety will be at an all-time high on Sunday night, when one hopeful will earn the job of a lifetime.
Even if you're a frequent restaurant diner, there are surely times when you want to dig in to dinner in the comfort of your home, and on these nights, you shouldn't have to settle for average, predictable dishes. You can indeed turn out restaurant-style meals — like the ones the finalists reinvented during last week's Star Challenge — with quick, simple recipes. This week, Food Network Star mentors are sharing their can-do versions of a few of the meals the competitors made over at Phil Trani's restaurant. Try Giada's, Bobby's and Alton's top-rated recipes for chicken cacciatore, salmon and steak to enjoy professional chef-quality plates in your own kitchen.
Rodney transformed the chicken cacciatore at Phil's into a pie, but Giada's Chicken Cacciatore (pictured above) is a tried-and-true classic that's full of traditional flavor and texture. After quickly browning chicken breasts and thighs, Giada simmers them in a bold white wine-tomato sauce with sweet bell peppers, onions and briny capers until the meat is cooked and tender.
When it comes to cooking in the Food Star Kitchen, mediocrity will never suffice. Week after week, Star finalists must turn out camera-worthy meals that are both deliciously inspired and intelligently presented. But just because mentors demand excellence on the plate doesn’t mean the rivals have to concoct complicated dishes that take hours to prepare; easy-to-make, quick-cooking offerings are also acceptable, and the finalists proved that with their preparations of classic pasta dishes during last week's episode.
Damaris', Stacey's and Nikki's pastas were among the simplest prepared during the Mentor Challenge, so much so that you can make them easily in your home kitchen. Nikki's Fire Island Burst Tomato Pasta with Lemon Herbed Goat Cheese Balls is a family-friendly plate that puts seasonal cherry tomatoes to work. Nikki starts by sauteing the tomatoes with garlic until they're soft and sweet, then she tosses the sauce with linguini and tops it with a sprinkle of fragrant basil and mint. For an indulgent finish, she studs each plate with a few goat cheese balls, which she's rolled with bright lemon zest and fragrant basil, mint, rosemary and thyme.
Each week viewers watch contestants put out dish after dish, many successful, others not so much. Those that do get high praises from the judges and focus group members are drool-worthy. Did you know you can make them at home? Get the recipes for the most memorable meals featured on Food Network Star, like Nikki's Potato, Cauliflower and Parsnip Soup (pictured above) from Episode 1.
For the bus tour challenge, Team Giada ended up right in their mentor's comfort zone: Arthur Avenue, the Bronx's answer to Little Italy. Maybe this added a little pressure — as Team Giada, they couldn't mess up Italian food! They stepped it up, made some tasty food and won the challenge.