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Food Network Star Review: “Are You Ready For Prime Time?”

On the season premiere of Food Network Star, the contestants met their celebrity chef mentors and quickly figured out that this competition will not be as easy as they initially thought.

First, let’s meet the contestants:

Andres Guillama – 26, Childhood obesity prevention coach from North Carolina.
Chad Rosenthal – 37, Restaurant owner and father from Pennsylvania.
Chris Hodgson – 27, Food truck and restaurant owner from Cleveland.
Damaris Phillips – 32, Chef instructor from Louisville, Kentucky.
Daniela Perez-Reyes – 29, Catering chef from Hawaii.
Danushka Lysek – 37, Private chef from New York City.
Lovely Jackson – 27, Private chef from Los Angeles.
Nikki Dinki – 29, Food blogger from New York City.
Rodney Henry – 47, Owner of Dangerously Delicious Pies and father of two from Baltimore.
Russell Jackson – 47, Underground supper club owner from San Francisco.
Stacey Poon-Kinney – 34, Restaurant owner and mother from San Diego.
Viet Pham – 34, Chef and restaurant owner from Salt Lake City.

Food Network Star Logo

In a move uncannily similar to that of a popular singing competition show, last season’s FNS saw celebrity chefs Bobby Flay, Giada De Laurentiis, and Alton Brown turn from judges to coaches… I mean, mentors.

This season will continue with these three Food Network powerhouses as mentors – perhaps the best thing to happen to these contestants’ budding TV careers. Those three know their stuff.

Not wasting any time, the contestants were immediately asked to film a 30-second pitch tape highlighting their unique culinary point-of-view, which was shown to a focus group; then to create a spectacular potato recipe in 45 minutes.

Jumping right into the competition really allowed us to see right into some bizarre culinary POVs – from the depressing “food revolution” (Russell) to the confusing “glammed-out kitchen” (Lovely) – as well as winning personalities (Chad the “barbeque Jew”) and some…well, not-so-winning personalities (Danushka the “aloof “ former model). 

Frankly, Susie Fogelson’s use of the word “aloof” to describe Danushka was far nicer – and more TV-appropriate – than any word that I would have used to describe her. Since she just barely squeaked by in the elimination – beating out Daniela – I am sure we are in for some interesting moments from her in the future.

While there are a select few contestants – Chad, Nikki, and Stacey – who stood out this week for their ability to relate to the audience and create a delicious dish, there were far more who stood out for much less positive reasons. In short, this is a wacky bunch of misfits, people. Hold on tight, this season is sure to be a bumpy ride.

Note: Remember to bookmark Food Fanatic for all your Food Network recipes!