Tag: Season 7

Star Scrapbooks: A Look Back

by in Behind the Scenes, Food Network Star, August 19, 2011

Star Journals

We started with 15 finalists in Los Angeles. Six moved on to New York City. And last Sunday night, a winner was crowned: Jeff Mauro is our new Sandwich King!

To put this exciting and exhausting journey in perspective, take a look back through the finalists’ scrapbooks from the competition. Upon arrival in L.A., each contender was given a Food Network journal and a digital camera. We compiled their best pages and photos to give you a behind-the-scenes look at the unique experience of each Star finalist.

Who filled page after page with heartfelt reflections? Who drew lifelike sketches of their dishes and who wrote meticulous prep lists? Who took hilarious snapshots in the Star house? Flip through the pages of the finalists’ scrapbooks to see.

Jeff's journal

Jeff Mauro (Winner!)

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Caption It: And Then There Were 6

by in Behind the Scenes, Food Network Star, July 22, 2011
Your Caption Here

How do you top last week’s shocking double elimination on Star? With a trip to New York City, a visit from Ina Garten and an on-air spot on the Rachael Ray show, of course. This Sunday, the top six hit the Big Apple and face their next round of Camera and Star Challenges, which include a cooking demonstration in front of a live studio audience.

In this behind-the-scenes sneak peek, some finalists look pretty fired up. Who or what is in front of them? Tune in this Sunday at 9pm/8c to find out. In the meantime, we’re challenging you, Star fans, to write your best captions (tastefully appropriate, please) for this moment in the comments below.

Who’s your favorite finalist so far? Cast your Fan Vote up to 10 times per day.

Star Commentary: Aaaaand She’s Out

by in Food Network Star, July 20, 2011
It’s been fun, Penny.

Well, it finally happened. The moment many of you have been waiting for came on Sunday night: Penny Davidi, the Middle Eastern Mama, was sent home. But not necessarily because of her food. After seven weeks of mostly stellar dishes that the judges described as “great,” “very well-seasoned” and having “lots of great flavors and textures,” the likeability factor — or lack thereof — sent Penny packing.

While the comments on Food Network’s Facebook page and our Star blog are largely in support of the judges’ decision to eliminate Penny, many of you cannot deny her unique culinary point of view and have expressed interest in learning Middle Eastern recipes. One viewer wrote that she “felt sorry for Penny last night,” while another thinks “it [is] a shame that Penny had to go home” because she has “warmed up to her over the past few weeks” and because “Penny brought something Food Network is lacking.”

Other commenters noted that despite Penny's “awkward personality,” she may have been “worth keeping around,” given the judges’ apparent praise for her food. Another viewer wrote that she “would appreciate some education” on Middle Eastern and Mediterranean flavors but “couldn't imagine watching Penny to receive that education even though her food was so appealing.”

And then there are those of you who are simply gleeful over Penny’s departure. Viewers wrote that “Happy days are here again” and that “It is about time,” while another told Food Network, “Thank you, thank you, thank you for getting rid of Penny!!” It seems that Penny’s “penchant for drama,” about which you have been complaining since the second episode, is what most viewers found so frustrating and unappealing. Many wrote that “she was harsh,” “her attitude stinks” and that she showed “disrespect to all those around her.”

Given her previous tense moments, many of you were shocked at how Penny’s demeanor seemed to have changed during her final week as she handled her own dismissal. Several of you wrote that she “was a good sport,” showed “grace,” “behaved civilly” and was “more compelling this week than ever.”

Do you think that this week could have been a turning point for the Middle Eastern Mama, that, if given just a little more time, she could have become more personable, both on camera and off? Hear from Penny herself in her Exit Interview and learn her thoughts about viewers’ perceptions of her. Then, join the conversation on Facebook and Star Talk, and tune in next Sunday at 9pm/8c to see who has what it takes to make it in New York City.

Who’s your favorite finalist so far? Cast your Fan Vote up to 10 times per day.

Melissa’s Insight: Four Rules for Finalists

by in Food Network Star, Recap, June 23, 2011
Vic Vegas
Melissa's advice: Take a cue from Vic and sell the heck out of your food.

Melissa d'Arabian won Star season 5 and has been loving her Food Network adventure ever since. Her show, Ten Dollar Dinners, premieres its fifth season on July 3. As a Star veteran watching from her couch at home, Melissa shares her insider's take on what went down each week.

Next week, Melissa is live-chatting on Facebook on Monday afternoon! Join in at 1pm EST with your questions and comments.

Week three: I’m getting to know the finalists, and I’m emotionally invested. I crack up when Jeff talks about his mojo-in-sweat theory; I cringe at Chris “making the ice cream … oh yeahhhhhhhhhhhhh”; I brace for impact when Alicia announces that the “only thing” she is worried about is her cupcake recipe (uh oh); and I want to hang out with Susie over coffee and tell her how much I love her sleek hairdo. I have some early favorites: Jyll and Orchid. And I am dying to jump through the screen and tell Whitney and Justin B. to get out of their own way; this competition might be theirs to lose if they could only find a way to bring their genuine selves, however imperfect, to the audience.

This week’s BTDT insights for the finalists:

You eat with your ears first, not your eyes.
Make it sound good. What you name your dish counts, and how you talk about your food matters since your audience cannot taste it. A corollary: Don’t be a walking apology for a dish. Serve it and own it completely. Or leave it in the kitchen — there is no in-between. And a tip: Never, ever use the word “just” to describe food to Bobby Flay. It will drive him bananas, trust me. Justin B. starts off calling the orange fennel ice cream “just an anglaise base,” and Whitney is similarly tepid in her description of a brownie (although in all fairness, she was right — it was indeed “just” a brownie, which is not a good thing at all). Take a cue from Vic: He sells the heck out of his tequila lime cream puff with his culinary authority, no pitch needed.

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Star Commentary: Bake or Be Baked

by in Food Network Star, June 22, 2011
A Tear-Free Moment

On Sunday’s episode of Star, Alicia Sanchez, a former bakery owner, was sent packing as the fourth finalist eliminated. Despite her proclamation that she is “good at cakes,” Bobby Flay told her that the cupcake pop on which she took the lead for her team was “under-baked” and that the guests were “spitting it out.”

Although you all couldn’t taste those pops for yourselves, many commenters on Food Network's Facebook page and our Star blog seemed to be in agreement with the judges’ decision to let go of Alicia. Some of you noted that she looked “way out of her element” and that her “kitchen hysteria and meltdowns were getting old.” And others simply asked “how the heck could she not remember a cupcake recipe when she owned a cupcake shop?”

A few viewers, however, were a bit more sympathetic toward Alicia and suggested that “if Alicia was not in front of the camera she would [have] been OK.” Another commenter went so far as to blame Penny for Alicia’s meltdowns, writing that Penny “was awful to Alicia, bringing her to tears right away.”

Hear from Alicia herself in her Exit Interview and let us know what you thought of her run on Star. Was it her time to leave, or do you think she could have improved with a little more time? Join the conversation on Facebook and at Star Talk, and tune in this Sunday at 9pm/8c to see who goes home next.  

Who’s your favorite finalist so far? Cast your Fan Vote up to 10 times per day.

Listen to Duff: Dudes Can Bake, Too!

by in Behind the Scenes, June 21, 2011

 Duff and Robert

"Not only can dudes bake," says the Ace of Cakes himself, Duff Goldman, "it's cool to bake!"

Jyll's strategy for the dessert duel was to avoid the guys, and ultimately it backfired when her all-girl team — "Duff's Angels" — was bested by the boys (and Penny) of Team Robert. Check out this video for Duff's behind-the-scenes commentary.

What did you think about Jyll's "strategic" picking of teams?

Caption It: What’s Up, Duff?

by in Food Network Star, June 17, 2011
Your Caption Here

On the upcoming episode of Star, cake master Duff Goldman stops by to guest judge alongside Dinner Impossible chef Robert Irvine. Here, Duff visits the kitchen and checks in with Orchid during a lighthearted moment of challenge prep. Will his presence throw her off track or be just the encouragement she and her fellow finalists need to finish strong?

Before you tune in this Sunday at 9pm/8c to watch what happens next, we’re challenging you, Star fans, to write your best captions (tastefully appropriate, please) for this star-struck moment in the comments below.

Melissa’s Words of Wisdom: Play Nice

by in Food Network Star, June 16, 2011

Food Network Star finalist Penny Davidi

Melissa d'Arabian won Star season 5 and has been loving her Food Network adventure ever since. Her show, Ten Dollar Dinners, premieres its fifth season on July 3. As a Star veteran watching from her couch at home, Melissa shares her insider's take on what went down each week.

Week two is when I remember unpacking (literally and figuratively) during my season. I settled into the routine, and my place in the competition. This week, Susie embraces her Mexican heritage, Alicia is positively delightful with her truffle story, Mary Beth shows her warm personality and Penny takes a break from telling us she’s sexy. (Side note: There are some things in life I believe you should never announce about yourself; never tell others you are funny; never call yourself a “people person” in an interview. Show, don’t tell.)

Anyway, I like Penny’s new Middle Eastern mama angle and she wins the camera challenge. I settle into my couch, hopeful that this is a fresh start for a finalist who, I’ll be honest, didn’t impress me in episode one.

Hopes dashed.

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“Wake Up and Smell the Coffee, Penny’s Coming for Ya”

by in Food Network Star, June 15, 2011
The Middle Eastern Mama

Finalist Chris Nirschel warns his fellow Star constants in this video that they better be prepared for Middle Eastern mama Penny Davidi. In one of the most buzzed-about moments of the second episode, Penny strategically placed Orchid Paulmeier, an early frontrunner and favorite of the judges, on the all-male team of Justin B., Vic and Chris. In that group, "she's gonna fail," Penny told the cameras unapologetically.

On Facebook and our Star blog, you all certainly had opinions about Penny’s approach to the game Sunday night. While some of you noted Penny’s need "to fight for what she wants" in this fierce contest and her right to have "used the advantage that [Camera Challenge] win gave her," others simply couldn’t stomach her "meanness" and "anything-to-win personality." Your comments on her tactics prove that many of you are frustrated with Penny’s "bitterness and immaturity," but also that some fans are "almost starting to like Penny," as "she has a culinary point of view that is different, she can learn … and she's smart."

So, what do you think? Is Penny’s "in it to win it" approach her key to Food Network Stardom, or will it only add tension to the group? Join the conversation on Facebook and at Star Talk, and tune in this Sunday at 9pm/8c to watch the next round of drama unfold.

Who's your favorite finalist so far? Cast your Fan Vote up to 10 times per day.

Judge Spotlight: Giada’s Take

by in Behind the Scenes, June 14, 2011

Giada De Laurentiis

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?