Just as the remaining Food Network Star finalists worked with their own food wheel this week (remember when the wheel matched bread pudding and kimchi, octopus and macaroni and cheese?), so did the hopefuls on Star Salvation. Host Eddie Jackson unveiled what he called "the wheel of innovation," which meant that the name of the game was transformation, giving new life and reinventing an everyday ingredient. While Yaku and Rob worked with different boxed items, Monterey was saddled with canned liver pâté. It was up to her to turn this less-than-desirable ingredient into something craveable. Her solution: noodles. And the results were anything but what you'd expect.
Click the play button on the video above to see how Monterey handled the pâté, and find out which competitor was sent home for good this week.
If you've ever taken a road trip, you know that many fast-food dining destinations can leave a lot to be desired. This week, it was up to the Star Salvation finalists to reinvent the everyday road-trip tastes you know and (probably don't) love, transforming them into satisfying fare worthy of a pit stop. The trick? These dishes had to be ideal for the whole family — Mom and Dad in the front seat and the little ones in the back.
Click the play button on the video above to watch the second episode unfold and see how returning hopefuls Aaron and Yaku, plus newcomer Monterey, handled the speed bumps in the battle this week.
In the first several episodes of Food Network Star, hopefuls Havird, Aaron and Yaku came to the end of their journeys and were ultimately sent home — but not for long. This week they returned to Food Star Kitchen for a second shot at Stardom in the first installment of Star Salvation, hosted by Iron Chef Alex Guarnaschelli and Eddie Jackson, last year's winner of Food Network Star. Over the course of six weeks, ousted finalists from each episode will join Alex and Eddie, plus whichever rivals remain from past battles, to compete to rejoin the Season 12 competition. And if the first showdown, featuring Havird, Aaron and Yaku, is any indication, these mentors have no-nonsense challenges up their sleeves in an effort to find the worthiest competitor.
It was just one year ago that Eddie Jackson was in Food Star Kitchen, battling 11 other hopeful rivals with the goal of earning the coveted title of Food Network Star. Now, with that victory secured, he's returning to this hallowed arena, this time not as a finalist but as a judge of Star Salvation. Yesterday we chatted with his fellow judge, Alex Guarnaschelli, in an exclusive interview. Now we're bringing you a one-on-one chat with Eddie. Find out what it's like for him to return to where it all started and get his thoughts on the pressure competitors face at this stage of their journey.
What's it like to be back in Food Star Kitchen, where your own Star journey began just one year ago? Eddie Jackson: I got to be honest, it’s weird. When I walked into the kitchen I almost ... had a mental breakdown because I thought about all the stress and stuff that I had to go to just to win, and it’s only been a year, so, you know, it’s still fresh in my mind. So I got to admit: It’s a little awkward coming back in because I’m freshly removed from the competition. But at the same time I’m just privileged and very honored to be giving these eliminated finalists any advice that I can.
You hear from Alex Guarnaschelli in her weekly Star Reports, where she breaks down the Food Network Star competition like only a veteran judge can. Now, starting this Sunday night after the all-new episode, she and Eddie Jackson, last year's winner of Star, will join forces to judge Star Salvation. Together they'll challenge this season's ousted finalists to both camera and cooking tests over six weeks in the hopes of finding one hopeful worthy of re-entering the Food Network Star competition.
We caught up with Alex to find out what skills she'll be looking for in the eventual winner and learn her approach to mentoring the competition. Read on for an exclusive one-on-one interview with her, then hear from Eddie.
What do you need to see in them in terms of camera skills and cooking chops in order to find your winner? Alex Guarnaschelli: I’ll tell you the No. 1 thing is that I have to believe them. I think that it’s really, really hard to let your nerves go and to say, "Wow, maybe what I’m saying isn’t exciting enough, or I should be doing this or that and just putting it out there." Sometimes when you just honestly and transparently admit what’s going on around you and relate it to how you live your life, that’s actually the stuff that separates you from the pack because people aren’t able to do that.
My season of Food Network Star did not have this nifty little competition sub-series known as Star Salvation, and you know what? I am quite glad we didn't! It’s one thing to compete against other finalists hungry for a chance at their own Food Network show; it’s another thing to compete against a finalist who’s tasted defeat and then got a miraculous second chance. The winner of Star Salvation will be a battle-hardened warrior ready to slay anyone in his or her path. The Salvation winner might as well be a half-human, half-cyborg soldier sent back from the future to take down the POV mainframe and save the planet from the destruction caused by the wrong finalist winning Food Network Star. The winner of Salvation may just win it all. It’s like the montage scene in every sports movie ever, especially Rocky IV: They lost, they got back on their feet, they trained harder than ever by lifting giant logs in the Russian tundra and doing inverted sit-ups in a dusty Soviet barn. They are now ripped and ready to step back into the ring.
This is why I’m glad my season did not have Star Salvation. It was hard enough trying to beat the normal contestants, let alone these reincarnated-zombie contestants who came back from the dead to destroy you.
Pound for pound, every finalist had majorly improved from his or her time on the big show. Emilia, Rue and even Grunwald were all a bit more refined in their presentations and cooking. Rosa seemed sharper, and I could tell instantly that Christina wanted this more than anything. We start Round 1 with the first four eliminated — Christina, Grunwald, Sita and Rosa. When Alex Guarnaschelli (my lovely co-host) and I walk in, I’m sure there are quite a few things going through their heads — mainly that there is a definitely a good-cop/bad-cop situation going on here. Sure, Alex may be known as a tough critic, and I may be known as a goofball, but rest assured, we both took this job very seriously. I wanted the right person to win Star Salvation, and I wasn’t going to make it easy.
After making hot ramen for a summertime family reunion and failing to explain exactly why he went with that seemingly oddball dish, Alex was eliminated from the competition, though he indeed has a chance at redemption. He joined Dom and Rue in the sixth and final Star Salvation battle, and for the last challenge of their journey, Alex Guarnaschelli and Jeff Mauro tasked the top three with plating and presenting "one last bite," according to Alex.
In keeping with their POVs, Alex tackled a cheesy sandwich — inspired by one from his travels in London — while Dom kept it Italian with grilled lamb chops and Rue focused on seafood with a poached salmon plate. Now, after screening each hopeful's video and tasting their dishes, it's up to Alex and Jeff to choose who among them is most worthy of a second chance at Stardom. Before you tune in Sunday to find out who's returning to Food Network Star, Star Talk wants to hear whom you, the fans watching at home, want to see earn redemption. Cast your vote in the poll below.
In true Star Salvation fashion, the name of the game this week was expect the unexpected, as Jeff Mauro told the finalists to get set for "a culinary curve ball." He and fellow judge Alex Guarnaschelli doled out three mystery bags, each stuffed with a mandatory product that the hopefuls had to demonstrate their mastery over by featuring it in their dishes.
For Dom it was all about his Italian point of view; he worked rosemary lavender into a creamy carbonara sauce. Emilia used her childhood nickname of "squash blossom" to talk about her ingredient — squash blossoms. And Rue, brand new to sorghum, approached her product with gusto and tried it in a chili.
If you had to cook with one of these three mystery ingredients (rosemary lavender, squash blossoms or sorghum), which would you choose? Cast your vote in the poll below, then click the play button on the video above to see how the hopefuls fared in this challenge.
Just when the Star Salvation hopefuls thought there couldn't be any more surprises in store for them, they learned on Sunday night of one rival's unexpected decision to quit the contest — Michelle wanted to leave early to return to her family — which meant there'd be no fourth rival joining them this week. "Your numbers will thin from three to two," host Jeff Mauro warned the remaining contestants, Rue, Matthew and Emilia, as the three took their places for the ingredient innovation challenge.
The name of the game was all about embracing the flavors of a local ingredient: avocados. It was up to them to shine a light on this beloved produce and use it in new, transformational ways. In the end, one rival's over-the-top risk meant safety from elimination, while another's failure to meet the standards of the challenge caused a teary exit.
Just as this week marked the halfway point of the Food Network Star competition, so too did it on Star Salvation. This is Week 3 of the six-week journey to redemption, and for the four hopefuls remaining, time is running out until Alex Guarnaschelli and Jeff Mauro must select a winner to return to the on-air contest. The latest round of Star Salvation focused on the finalists' abilities to embrace the unexpected, as Alex told them, "A Food Network Star must have an educated palate and the ability to adapt in unpredictable situations." In their first-ever two-part challenge, the competitors not only had to sample a mystery sauce to discern its ingredients, but they also had to use those ingredients to concoct a dish all their own.