The Food Network is set to sauté another season of its hit reality series “The Next Food Network Star” ithis month,when 11 contestants hit the road to cook for soldiers,basketball fans and others in the show's first traveling competition.
The finalists will battle outside of the Food Network's New York studio for three of the nine episodes,with two stops in New Jersey and one in Miami,as they face challenges that test their culinary skills,mental strength and on-air potential.
“We're looking for a combination of culinary chops,star power and the ability to handle the pressures of intense television production,and that's difficult to find in any one person,” said Bob Tuschman,the Food Network's senior vice president for programming and production. “This season,the finalists are exceptionally talented. Frankly,we put them through the wringer to find out who really deserved to join our pantheon of stars.”
Tuschman and Susie Fogelson,the network's vice president of marketing,once again join the selection committee that is looking for three things: breakout talent,a unique perspective and someone who can represent the brand.
Season Three brings more twists and more judges. The first seven weeks of the show,the selection committee is aided by a rotating cast of Food Network chefs – Rachael Ray,Bobby Flay,Giada De Laurentiis,Alton Brown,Cat Cora,Duff Goldman,Robert Irvine and Season Two winner,Guy Fieri. The committee will narrow the field of 11 to two.
“This is probably one of the greatest reality shows that exist,” said Fieri,host of “Guy's Big Bite,” for the Food Network. “There are more people competing,and they have a whole new set of challenges and adventures. I think it's going to blow people away.”
According to the contestants' biographies,each brings to the program a unique culinary perspective,philosophy and personality. Everyone's passion for food is different,and the contestants express it in different ways.
“I KISS [keep it simple stupid]. I let the good food do most of the work for me,” said Michael Salmon,52,of Brooklyn,N.Y.,a food operations director for Macy's.
Josh Garcia of Havelock,N.C.,25,the youngest competitor and a chef,said,”My thing is Italian- French cuisine with Latin-Caribbean influence. I present a concept to Food Network that's brand new that the fans can dig.”
The challenges for the chefs include a visit to an Army barracks in Fort Dix,N.J.,to create a comfort dish for 75 soldiers,a visit to the New Jersey Nets arena in East Rutherford,N.J.,to put a unique stamp on stadium food and a cook-off at the South Beach Food and Wine Festival in Miami.
“I like to show the audience how to party like a rock star,” said caterer Nikki Shaw,38,of Manhattan Beach,Calif.,said. “I think that I have major flavor,and my motto in life is,‘Add flavor to everything you do.'”
Season Two's winner has some advice for the contestants.
“Know who you are in food. Know what you want to be in food and be able to support that in all facets in Food Network,” Fieri said. “Just like Food Network says,‘It's way more than cooking.' If you win,you need to be prepared.”
Viewers also have the chance to get involved starting July 15,when they will choose the winner from two finalists by voting online at www.FoodNetwork.com or via text message. The winner will be revealed July 22. He or she will star in a six-episode show to debut in the fall.
“The Next Food Network Star,” third season began Sunday with a two-hour premiere.