It didn't take too long for a new Southern gal to enter the Food Network scene. The sassy, classy Damaris Phillips just won the ninth season of Food Network Star, an obvious sign that fans expressed their need for Southern comfort. This 32-year-old culinary school instructor from Kentucky has already started the preproduction for her new show Eat, Date, Love, but she took some time out of her schedule to discuss why she deserved the title and what recipe she hopes to be remembered for.
Alton Brown's Good Eats days are over, but he's nowhere near throwing in the towel. Alton claims he's on camera more days this year than ever between hosting Iron Chef America and launching a new show on the Food Network this coming Spring. But that's not all that's on Alton's plate: he's also the proud mentor of Food Network Star winner Justin Warner and is the executive producer of Justin's forthcoming show.
I chatted with Alton to discuss all the juicy details of his latest Food Network project, Justin's new show, and The Next Iron Chef: Redemption, which premieres Nov. 4.
YumSugar: What can we expect from The Next Iron Chef: Redemption?
Keep reading for the latest from Alton.
His new show, Rebel With a Culinary Cause, is slated to air this Fall on the Food Network. Prepare for funky fusion dishes like Nippon nachos, a pork wonton dumpling smothered in melted chipotle gouda and a traditional Mexican salsa. He's remixing old-school favorites, too: for the pilot episode, Justin revamped a classic Caesar salad, whipping up a grilled chicken Caesar salad with an aspic Caesar dressing that dissolves into the hot, charred lettuce hearts.
I spoke to the rebel himself only hours after the finale of Food Network Star aired. The quirky chef discussed his love-me-or-leave-me attitude, the mentors in his life, and an illegal ingredient he can't wait to get his hands on. Take a look at what he had to say.
YumSugar: What's it like being a mentor on Food Network Star?
Giada De Laurentiis: In the past we have said that I was a mentor, but truly, I didn't really get a chance to mentor these folks. I think I learned a lot, and I feel emotionally invested in the show. I think you'll find that's what it was like for Bobby Flay and Alton Brown, as well. I really felt like [the people on my team] were almost my kids. I felt so emotionally invested in their future and in their performances.
YS: What was the most important lesson you learned from your team?
GDL: I think that one of the most important lessons I have learned from my team is that sometimes we try desperately to turn someone into something that we think they should be, when really we need to let them grow on their own. I learned that 10 weeks isn't always enough to polish that gem. It's important that [the contestants] stay true to who they are. As much as I want to make them grow and move faster, the experience of turning them into these stars takes time, and I need to be more patient.