Food Network Star premiere recap: Only a glimpse at fame


Being a Food Network Star takes culinary knowledge, a strong point of view and a winning personality. On the Food Network Star premiere, one culinary hopeful only got a small glimpse at fame.

As twelve hopeful chef-testants entered the Orpheum Theater, the excitement quickly changed to dismay. Judges Bobby Flay and Giada De Laurentiis shattered dreams by telling everyone that they were only semi-finalists. The Food Network Star premiere episode started with a twist and never looked back.

30 second intro, who can’t talk about himself?

For the first challenge, each of the 12 chef-testants gave a 30 second introduction. Personally, I would have thought these people would have nailed this challenge. After all, didn’t they go through the audition process to get to the stage? Unfortunately, some chef-testants did not put their best foot forward.

Food Network Star Premiere, photo from Food Network

The 30 second intro challenge showed a clear divide between those confident in themselves and others still seeking a direction. A few of the well-spoken, personal and watch-worthy were Jason, Rusty and Addie. Although everyone had room for improvement, these three chef-testants made themselves likable and watchable. Whether they can cook remains to be seen.

Unfortunately, a few chef-testants struggled miserably. While a lovable nana, Nancy droned on about her previous NASA job. Suzanne gave a family history. Trace sounded so rehearsed that he stumbled from the first couple of words. Of course, these challenges make for interesting television, but it is dumbfounding that the performances were so poor. Seriously, I can’t believe that each person didn’t have to do a similar challenge at some point during the audition process.

After the somewhat painful 30 second introductions, the chef-testants braced themselves for another shocker. A former Food Network Star chef-testant returned. Matthew won Food Network Star Comeback Kitchen and returned to season 13. As he entered the picture, many people rumbled, isn’t he the hashtag guy. No one appreciated his criticism of their performances. Matthew may have some advantages because of his experience. But, overcoming his already established persona could be a hindrance.

Finally, time to cook.

Luckily, no one was eliminated after the 30 second introductions on the Food Network Star premiere. All 13 chef-testants went to the kitchen to cook a dish representing their culinary point of view. Of course, this challenge is expected, but the chef-testants seem to struggle.

The biggest excitement in the elimination challenge happened when Matthew literally ran into Toya. It looked like kitchen demolition derby. The initial scramble to get ingredients is always chaotic. Those chef-testants not familiar with a professional kitchen and the intensity can falter.

Back to actual cooking. (This show is a cooking show, right?)

Creating a first impression dish is harder than it seems. Can anyone really describe themselves and their culinary point of view in a bite? Some chef-testants soared to frontrunner status and a few are on thin ice.

The front-runners in this competition combined a delicious dish with a strong tie-in to their culinary point of view. Some chef-testants excelled in the food challenge versus the talking challenge. For example, Caodan lacked energy in the first challenge. Her Korean inspired dish was delicious and her presentation showcased her personality.

Food Network Star, photo from Food Network

Cory, a highly acclaimed professional chef, created a superb crawfish dish. A fork full of his dish captures Southern flavors. But, his ability to talk about the dish in relation to himself needed some work.

Two other chefs soared ahead, too. Amy, the stay-at-home mom/food blogger created the episode’s most exciting dish. Her skirt steak with pomegranate was a huge hit with Bobby Flay. The other chef that everyone seems to love is Jason. The eccentric Southerner shines with his colorful outfits, flavorful dishes and hilarious stories. If you didn’t laugh at his comment about burning off bourbon and lack of hair, you must have been sleeping.

Food Network Star, photo from Food Network

Middle of the pack keeps you safe

Most of the chefs remained in the middle of the pack. Their dishes were good, but not superstar worthy. Their presentations were adequate, but not star quality. Still, middle of the pack kept them in the competition. Hopefully, each of them takes the constructive criticism and make improvements. The judges always look for improvements.

Rusty, David, Suzanne and Addie all moved on to the next round. They all have great potential, but each person is still lacking something. To be a Food Network star, the chef-testant must combine culinary talent, a great on camera presence and a clear point of view. Thinking ahead, these chef-testants should make it several episodes.

A dream about to be crushed.

Three chef-testants landed in the bottom. Nancy, Toya and Blake were up for elimination. Nancy’s dish was unfocused. She complained that her first choice of protein was already taken. But, there’s no crying in the kitchen. Nancy needs to toughen up and get some grit. Still, no one would want nana to go home in the first episode. Nancy was safe.

Food Network Star, photo from Food Network

Toya’s dish had no connection to herself. While a Louisiana style dish, she had no personal connection to the dish itself. On the Food Network, chefs need to convey a story with the dish. Even if the story is make-believe, she should have had a story. Also, her dish had a bitter taste. Still, Toya survived to cook another day.

Blake was axed from the competition. Many reasons lead to his downfall. First, he made the huge mistake of telling the judges what he should have made. Never talk about the kitchen failure. It will only make judges criticize your plate more. Second, Blake made healthy food boring. A decadent, indulgent cheeseburger is always attractive. A plate of vegetables needs some inventive angles. Lastly, Blake’s food was bland. His cabbage had no dressing, not even a squeeze of lime. Healthy doesn’t have to be boring, but Blake couldn’t break the stigma.

Next: Food Network Star Comeback Kitchen: Redemption achieved

The twelve remaining chef-testants survived the Food Network Star premiere. Only one will join former winners like Guy Fieri. Who will earn the title? Watch Season 13 on Food Network to find out.