It's that time of year once again; Food Network Star premiered Sunday at 8 p.m. for its ninth season.
Last year, the three star judges, Bobby Flay, Giada De Laurentiis and Alton Brown, served as judges and mentors to the contestants they chose to be on their team. This year, however, Food Network Star says goodbye to teams and hello to the original format. Twelve contestants, now 11 thanks to the first elimination, will compete individually to become the next face of Food Network.
You might recognize a few of these contestants, like Rodney Henry, the Pie Man, who has been featured on a few cooking and travel shows for his outstanding pies, or Viet Pham, who beat Iron Chef (and Food Network Star judge) Bobby Flay during an Iron Chef America competition. While the rest of the contestants don't have the same TV coverage these contestants have, most of them seem to have cooking skills and strong enough personalities to make this an entertaining season.
After creating a 30-second pitch video and a potato dish in 45 minutes for the first competition that was presented to a 50-person focus group and the judges, we can get a glimpse of how this season will go down.
It looks like so far, the front-runners in this competition are Stacey Poon-Kinney, Nikki Dinki, Chad Rosenthal, and Rodney. Stacey's point of view is to "take the vintage stuff and make it modern." She is relatable, makes people laugh and created a dish that was inspired by her child; the perfect cookie-cutter Food Network star.
Nikki wants to make a semi-vegetarian show where the vegetables will be the star, but meat is on the side. It's an interesting concept, but according to the judges she needs to tone down the cutesy personality; her potato, cauliflower and parsnip soup was very good, though.
Chad wants to be the barbecue Jew, which is quite a unique concept, so he's definitely winning in the creativity department. He's a friendly, likeable guy, who can cook barbecue. What's not to like? He even was applauded by the focus group.
Rodney, aka "Pie Man", was unsuccessful making his potato pie with Gruyere cheese and crab, but his "pie disaster" was delicious, according to the judges.
Just like every other season of Food Network Star, a few contestants have a confusing point of view for their show, or are struggling to connect their personality to their cooking, like Russell Jackson's underground, revolutionary cooking-style... whatever that means.
Of course, this season has a few divas and cocky contestants because without them the show wouldn't be nearly as entertaining. I wonder how long Giada, Bobby and Alton will keep the model/chef/constantly angry contestant, Danushka Lysek, around. She did survive being in the bottom two from this week's competition, but I predict the Network keeps her around for the drama aspect of the reality show. Oh and Connie Jackson, aka "Lovely", who wants to bring glam to the kitchen, might give Danushka a running for most obnoxious contestant of the season.
Annoying contestants aside, the ninth season of Food Network Star seems to have more contestants who can actually cook, so we might get a great show out of the winner, who will still be picked by America.