Food Network Star: Hollywood Calling

(This post contains spoilers if you have not watched the premiere episode of season ten of Food Network Star “Hollywood Calling”)

Food Network Star Season 10 Cast
Food Network Star Season 10 Cast

She Said:

One of my favorite things about summertime TV viewing is being able to watch Food Network Star. I look forward to it every year. I’m a huge fan of Melissa d’Aribian of Ten Dollar Dinners and Jeff Mauro of Sandwich King. We’ve blogged about Food Network Star in the past and we look forward to blogging about this season too.

The premiere episode finds the contestants on the tenth season of Food Network Star first introducing themselves and then doing their first 30-second promo for the mentors. I have to say that initially I was not greatly encouraged by what I saw.  Sarah blowing kisses was absolutely appalling! So many of the contestants also seemed uncomfortable to the point that it made me uncomfortable. I was relieved Giada was wearing a cute dress so it gave me something to focus on!

Thankfully the contestants were then whisked off to the kitchen where their job was to create appetizers for a Hollywood première party. The bites ranged from blah (Kenny’s tuna tartare was so safe) to scary (Sarah’s chunky mushroom soup) to inspired (Loreal’s cake looked and sounded scrumptious).  The contestants also got another chance to introduce themselves again. For many of the contestants there was a strong amount of improvement from the initial promo (especially in the case of Kenny and Nicole) and I felt more optimistic about this group. However, Donna still made me physically uncomfortable with her quirky energy and dramatic gestures. Ultimately I’m very glad that the judges decided to send her home.

I was very disappointed to find out that they are doing Star Salvation again because I hate that name and I don’t like people being able to get back into the show once they are gone. And why are Chad and Martie competing on it too? They aren’t even from this season!

Every time we watch a reality competition show like Food Network Star we always pick out champions and here are the contestants who I’m cheering for and why.

Chris Kyler Food Network Star

Chris Kyler– He’s a local boy, plus he has a ton of charisma. I want to see more of his food to know how big of a fan that I’ll become, but I’m always proud to see someone representing Northern Virginia!

Lenny McNab-I can’t believe I’m even writing this. I saw this guy compete several months ago on Guy’s Grocery Games and he drove me crazy for the entire episode. But, his food looks good and I think he’s learning how to temper his energy. I’m excited to see more from him and watch him develop his POV.

loreal Gavin Food Network Star

Loreal Gavin– This is it! She’s my number one pick. She’s my girl! I love her! I am just as interested in her baker side as her butcher side and I hope the judges will encourage her to show off both skill sets.  I know that I would watch happily a cooking show featuring this girl and I hope she’s able to win!

I’m really excited for this season of Food Network Star and can’t wait for next week and the rest of the season!

Kari Liked: Loreal! I love Food Network Star and I’m just happy to watch another season of it! I also thought Ross Matthews was a great guest judge!


Kari Didn’t Like: The return of Star Salvation. I didn’t like the red carpet element either. It seemed really cheesy. I would have rather spent more time learning about the contestants and their food.


food network star season 10 mentors
The fabulous mentors of Food Network Star: Alton Brown, Giada de Laurentiis and Bobby Flay


He Said:

A new season of Food Network Star always brings new personalities to cheer for and get invested in. At this point in the series, you know what you can expect from the challenges, every week the contestants are going to get tested on how they cook, and how they can perform in front of an audience. I’m always amazed at just how much we see people with stage fright on this show. Wouldn’t that be something that should get you eliminated from casting right away? If you were seriously auditioning for the Food Network, would they really keep developing a show with you if you couldn’t turn on your charm in front of people and the camera? I don’t think so.

Anyway, this week saw the pretty standard introductory challenge of telling the mentors why you should be Food Network Star in 30 seconds. As usual, some did well, some botched it, and someone froze. Then they had everyone make a bite for 100 people in 90 minutes, and present it to the panel, this time including “the network,” General Manager Bob Tuschman and Senior Vice President, Marketing and Brand Strategy Susie Fogelson.

It’s too early to pick true favorites yet (for me at least), but here’s what I’m thinking about some of the more memorable Food Network Star hopefuls.

Chris Kyler-This local boy is a caterer from Stafford, VA. I’d love to see him do well, but I’m not sure about his POV. He also froze up on the first challenge, so unless he does better fast, he’s going to be out the door.

Kenny Lao Food Network Star

Kenny Lao– Here’s another one I’m rooting for, but don’t know how well they’re going to do. He owns fast casual restaurants, but how exciting can that food really be?

Donna Sonkin Shaw– I thought her nutrition angle was going to make her a very dangerous person in this competition. That was when she was talking to the confessional camera. Once she started talking to actual people, her reserve melted away to reveal a hard to watch zaniness that couldn’t stand up to the competition.

Loreal Gavin– This tough girl butcher and baker is probably the most interesting character of the bunch. I just hope she doesn’t get painted into being just a butcher, because that is making her more two dimensional than she really is.

Luca Della Casa Food Network Star

Luca Della Casa– Clearly Giada’s pick, this native Italian has a great chance at becoming this season’s Food Network Star. The accent may sound cute to some now, but it could be a detriment if he gets too tongue-tied when it comes presentation time.


Lenny McNab– He really is a character! But I think it’s too much and wonder if we’re getting the real Lenny. He seems like a cartoon pastiche of a cowboy.

RJ Liked: The simplicity of the challenges this episode allowed us to get to know the competitors, and the show only being an hour made Food Network Star manageable viewing

RJ Didn’t Like: Sarah’s beauty pageant theatrics, and Christopher’s entitled attitude

(All images are from


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2 thoughts on “Food Network Star: Hollywood Calling

  1. Kari & RJ my friends! I love your blog, and hearing updates about lil’ one!
    So I think more people need to be influenced by YOU! My friend from college is starting a chain-writing. nomination-based writing competition. I nominated you 🙂 Because bloggers need to reach as many people with the beautiful words they have to share! Check out my post with the explanation of how to spread the word.

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