Film and TV

Justin Warner: The New Face of Food Network

Food Network welcomes a new star to their family. America selected Justin Warner as the winner of season eight of Food Network Star. Unlike other seasons, when the judges from the network selected the winner, this season it was up to America.

Four contestants were given the chance to create a pilot episode, after which America voted online or by phone for their choice to be the next Food Network star. Warner definitely does not fit the mold of celebrity chef on Food Network, but he is exactly what the network needs to spice up their program.

From the first episode, we met Warner during his audition with Alton Brown, his mentor, where he presented his point of view, a rebel with a culinary cause -- an angle in a totally different spectrum from the rest of the contestants.

I wanted Warner to win from the get-go. He's funny, entertaining and extremely knowledgeable about food. I love the educational aspect of the Food Network, so having someone who cooks differently from everyone else on the network will teach viewers something brand-new. It makes the Food Network a bit edgier.

Whether it's his unusual way of clearing powdered sugar from his plates before service (he used a towel to blow away the dust), or his peanut butter-stuffed dates recipe influenced by his father, who inspired him to be the adventurous and daring person he is today, Warner has something strange but intelligent to teach America.

The Food Network is filled with similar shows, all based around the same premise: cooking recognizable food in a home-style kitchen. Warner's point of view takes a step outside of that cookie-cutter format and introduces a new style that I believe will bode well with the rest of America.

Throughout the season he made unique recipes that shocked not only his fellow competitors but the guest judges and the network. He combined ingredients that didn't seem to go together, and he wowed the judges with not only the taste of his food but his impeccable confidence and presence as he presented his dishes.

Warner's pilot episode shares similarities to Brown's Good Eats -- it's unconventional, wacky and entertaining. Brown describes Warner as the son he never had and because of their similar mannerisms, thought processes and culinary knowledge, Brown will help Warner create one of the best shows on Food Network.

While Brown stays true to the technicalities and history of cooking, Warner takes those classic recipes and puts a rebellious twist on them. I'm excited to see what Brown and Warner will create together; they're a perfect match.

Warner's new show is set to premiere this fall.

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Molly Dunn
Contact: Molly Dunn