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How Justin Warner Became a Chef

How Justin Warner Became a Chef

The winner of 'Food Network Star' dishes on his profession

At The Braiser Lounge at the Dream Hotel in New York City during the New York City Wine & Food Festival, The Daily Meal caught up with Justin Warner, winner of Food Network Star.

While describing one of his favorite restaurants in Fort Collins, Colo. to The Daily Meal, Warner realizes — as if he’d temporarily forgotten — how he originally got into cooking.

Sushi chef Masakazu Suzuki was the first person to teach Warner to eat. He describes the chef as a “regular dude” who is a genius that makes things like tiger’s eye and monkey brains. When the two were roommates, Suzuki made baingan bartha (an Indian eggplant dish) and after trying the dish for the first time, Warner concluded: “that’s baby eggplant and mustard.”

As he puts it, Suzuki “was like ‘dude!’” so Warner thought “Maybe I should do food….”


Justin Warner

Foodie Call Manhattan Pancakes 06:38

Foodie Call: Chili 06:33

Foodie Call: Chickpeazza 05:47

Foodie Call: Chocolate 05:53

Foodie Call: Cheese 06:53

Foodie Call: Chicago Barbecue 07:52

Foodie Call: Greek Food 08:27

Foodie Call: Crabs 07:26

Foodie Call: Nintendo 08:27

Foodie Call: Mayo 06:26

Foodie Call: Scrapple Pie 06:35

Foodie Call: Hot Ice Cream 06:11

Foodie Call: Spam 06:27

Foodie Call: Space Food 07:10

Foodie Call: Matcha 05:38

Foodie Call: Goat's Milk 05:25

Foodie Call: Sous Vide 06:07

Binge-Watching Snack 06:31

Foodie Call: Corn 05:36

Foodie Call: Gochujang 05:24

Foodie Call: Turmeric 05:55

Foodie Call: Basil 04:58

Foodie Call: Eggs 04:08

Foodie Call: Ramen 04:47

Foodie Call: Jerky 03:37

Foodie Call: Coffee 04:43

Justin on Star

Check out the best moments from Justin's Food Network Star journey and flip through his contestant scrapbook.

Justin's Star Scrapbook

Flip through a Food Network Star finalist's scrapbook for an up-close-and-personal look at journal entries and digital photos taken behind the scenes.

Rebel With a Culinary Cause

Justin Warner, a 27-year-old up-and-coming chef from Brooklyn, rode out the competition all the way to the finale with his culinary rebel POV.

Justin's Star Journal

Each finalist was given a Food Network journal on day one. On the first page, Justin ranked the competition on Team Bobby and Team Giada — he was right on about Michele, but he underestimated Yvan.

Team Alton

Justin and Alton were a perfect match from the beginning. "Bobby and Giada picked their teams solely based on cooking skills. Well, Giada also picked people with pretty smiles. But they've got nothing to say. You guys have something to say," Alton told his team.

Photo By: Todd Plitt ©2012, Television Food Network, G.P.

Sizing Up the Competition

Justin jotted down quippy insights about his fellow contenders during Episode 2's food tour challenge: "Ippy loves Spam. Judson has removed two of his fingertips. I hope Alton has stock in Band-Aids."

Taking Notes on the Lower East Side

Justin's drawing on the previous journal page reflected his teammate Judson's fear of pickles in the Lower East Side food tour challenge.

Photo By: Todd Plitt ©2012, Television Food Network, G.P.

Challenge on the Fly

Justin had no time to write any notes in his journal for the Chopped challenge — once that basket was opened, he just had to wing it. On the opposite page, he took a little dig at Michele and her favorite New England ingredient.

Bonding With Rivals

The finalists were also given digital cameras to capture life behind the scenes in the Star house and stew room. Someone snapped this shot of Justin and Team Bobby rival Michele goofing around. Despite his cracks about her obsession with clams, they became good friends.

Culinary Couture

Justin had a great week in the fashion challenge — his winning remake of Beef Stroganoff won him $10K. Hearing Alton's advice not to get cocky, he wrote in his journal, "It's hard not to be cocky when I'm a nerd with 10 g's!" He also showed his romantic side here, drawing a diamond ring that he hoped to buy for his girlfriend.

$10K Dish

For that winning dish, Justin deconstructed the flavors of beef stroganoff into a mosaic-like presentation that floored the judges. "It's gorgeous, and he's really clever," Susie said. "It's incredibly inventive and a very fashionable dish."

Photo By: Edward Chen/Creel Films ©2012, Television Food Network, G.P.

Halloween With Guy

Team Alton won the Fashion Week challenge, but the tables were turned the following week. Justin's illustration of "Guy's Big Bite" says it all — his anxiety got the better of him when on stage with the dynamic Star alum.

Off Day for Justin

Justin was excited about his dish, fried sardine skeletons, but when the presentation started, he got cold feet: "The show starts and no one is saying anything. Dead silence. I'm scared for the first time in this competition. I wasn't myself." The entire team ended up in the Producers' Challenge Justin performed well, but Judson was sent home.

Photo By: Edward Chen/Creel Films ©2012, Television Food Network, G.P.

Food Court Cooking

For the food court challenge in South Street Seaport, Justin made a tempura-battered fritto misto. He wrote the simple recipe here in his journal. Nothing made Justin happier than approval from Alton: "If Alton Brown says he likes your food, you know you are doing something right," he wrote.

Teamwork

Alton was proud of his team's food court efforts, and so were the judges. Justin's fritto misto, Martie's arancini and Emily's dessert panini were all hits: "I couldn't wait to bite into each one," said Susie.

Photo By: Edward Chen/Creel Films ©2012, Television Food Network, G.P.

The Rebel's Dates

Justin reflected on Linkie's elimination after the food court challenge, showing that everyone had grown close at this point despite team rivalries. On the opposite page, he prepared for the next challenge: presenting a one-bite dish to a panel of media.

Impressing the Press

Justin presented a dish that Ed Levine called "insane": stuffed dates with peanut butter, duck and bonito flakes. But Team Alton's rebel pulled it off with a story of his late father, who was told he couldn't cook and rebelled by making stuffed dates. "I thought it was a perfect bite," said Bob. "I saw a joy and a sweetness, and it made me love him that much more."

Photo By: Edward Chen/Creel Films ©2012, Television Food Network, G.P.

Goin' to Miami

Justin made it to Miami, where the first challenge involved cooking for Paula Deen. His teammate and close friend Martie was beside herself: "Forget me and Alton being two peas . Paula and Martie are peas and carrots," he wrote with a little sketch in his journal. Justin's corn soup was too spicy for Paula, but she still found him charming and told him he looked like Elvis.

Final Challenge

The final pre-pilot test was a 30-second promo for the shows the finalists hoped to have on Food Network. "I feel pretty good and I'm not scared," said Justin. "I'm here to deliver. If Alton Brown believes in me, then I'm ready to go."

Photo By: Edward Chen/Creel Films ©2012, Television Food Network, G.P.

Team Alton, United

"I want Martie and I to stay in this competition together. She's becoming my BFF. She's been wanting this her whole life and if she doesn't get it, I'm going to be heartbroken," Justin said. Team Alton was shocked and thrilled to learn that both Martie and Justin would be making pilots.

Photo By: Edward Chen/Creel Films ©2012, Television Food Network, G.P.

Pilot Time!

Justin headed back to Brooklyn to meet up with Alton at his restaurant, Do or Dine, to shoot his pilot. "Martie and I are gonna take this," he wrote.

Mentorly Advice

Justin wanted to make an unconventional Caesar salad on his pilot, and Alton proposed a "genius idea": to screen his own Caesar salad episode of Good Eats to provide a starting point, the classic version of the dish.

The Rebel's Caesar

"It's a scary situation. It's all coming down to this moment. I am struggling as a restaurateur. The stakes for me are incredibly high. I really, really want it," says Justin. "What does America like more than a Caesar salad?"

The Big Reveal

The fans have spoken, and Justin Warner is our new Food Network Star!

Winning Moment

Justin took in the life-changing moment with his mentor. Alton couldn't be prouder of his rebellious protege.


Community Reviews

So, imagine this. Come up with some rules of cooking, show some examples and then break the rules. Yeah, it is a conceit. Another way to think about this book, is that there are certain types of flavour/taste combinations that work really well in the American canon. By taking those apart, you can create new flavour combinations that work by echoing things the taster knows. This is how this cookbook works. There are some aggressive recipes here and the character that is Justin Warner comes thro So, imagine this. Come up with some rules of cooking, show some examples and then break the rules. Yeah, it is a conceit. Another way to think about this book, is that there are certain types of flavour/taste combinations that work really well in the American canon. By taking those apart, you can create new flavour combinations that work by echoing things the taster knows. This is how this cookbook works. There are some aggressive recipes here and the character that is Justin Warner comes through. The thing is, he is more than a drunk post college graduate who is just figuring out his life. It is obvious that he spent a lot of time thinking about these recipes and why they work.

Even the breezy style and asides in the body of the recipe are thoughtful and show a really good understanding. This is someone who won a Food Network Star season. His persona is really crafted and I kind of wished they let a little more of the serious food guy out.

Anyway, here are the recipes I am interested in and notes along the way.

Pumpkin butter (p.58) I do have a recipe somewhere.
Radish caprese (p.61) A cool trompe bouche that I am going to try sometime
Idea: Infuse cream with flavour and then whip it.
Cauliflower puree (p.74) I don't think I have seen these ingredients together in any of the current collected batch. Will try.
Onion chaw (p.90)
Idea: sumac in milk (p.153) for about 15 minutes gives it a cereal milk flavour (Trix). Might combine this with cream idea.
Blue Cheese Cake (p.162) Have tried a few savory cheesecake ideas. This one is another to add to the list.
Idea: Make my own soya milk?
Get some freeze dried durian.
Chia gel along with other gels (p.174)
Torido (p.248)
I have some browning in my pantry. I don't care for his jerk mix but I should look one up soon. Jerk Cauliflower may be a good idea.
Howitzer habanero cake. My son would like this one
And I forgot about this website Volatile Compounds in Food database. This is the third or fourth mention of food science (Herve This was mentioned)
Roasted cocoa cauliflower (p.294) This is a take on a recipe I made a few weeks ago. Let's just try it and see how it compares.


15. Guy Fieri

He’s arguably one of the most well recognized stars from the Food Network. In fact, by 2010 he was deemed the face of the network. In addition to running his own restaurants, he’s made a name for himself as a television personality hosting the following shows (many of which are still on the air): Guy’s Big Bite, Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives, Ultimate Recipe Showdown, Guy Off the Hook, and Minute to Win It on NBC. He just recently announced his newest venture, a show called Guy’s Big Project which will premiere sometime this year.


Summary Edit

The first season of The Next Food Network Star series was taped in February 2005, and was composed of five episodes in June 2005. [1] Chicago area caterers Dan Smith and Steve McDonagh emerged as the winners, and went on to host a show called Party Line with Dan & Steve, now titled Party Line with The Hearty Boys, which premiered on September 18, 2005.

The runner-up, Deborah Fewell, was chosen to host a special on food at beaches, Surf N Turf, which aired in June 2006. Michael Thomas was the recurring chef on The Tyra Banks Show. Susannah Locketti made an appearance on The Tony Danza Show, and is also an on-air chef for Publix grocery stores in the southern United States.

Contestants Edit

Name Age Hometown Place
Dan Smith & Steve McDonagh 42 and 40 Bellmore, NY and Wayne, NJ Winners
Deborah Fewell 32 Los Angeles Runner-up
Hans Rueffert 32 Jasper, GA 3rd
Susannah Locketti 33 Plymouth, MA 4th
Eric Warren 52 Los Angeles 5th
Michael Thomas 36 Venice, CA 6th
Harmony Marceau 30 New York City, NY 7th
Brook Harlan 24 Columbia, MO 8th

Summary Edit

The second season of The Next Food Network Star series was taped in December 2005 and began airing in March 2006. Guy Fieri was announced as the winner on April 23, 2006, beating Reggie Southerland. [2]

Fieri has achieved considerable success and a Daytime Emmy at Food Network since his victory, and is still regularly on air as of September 2020. Guy's Big Bite premiered in June 2006 and aired for 13 seasons until December 2016. Fieri's second series, Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives, premiered in April 2007 and has aired for 33 seasons, being the recipient of several Primetime Emmy Award nominations. He went on to the series, Ultimate Recipe Showdown, premiering February 17, 2008, and Guy Off The Hook on September 14, 2008. His reality competition Guy's Grocery Games debuted in October 2013 and has aired for 21 seasons.

Fourth-place contestant Nathan Lyon began hosting his own series, A Lyon In the Kitchen, [3] on the Discovery Health Channel in March 2007.

Four of the seasons cast members along with Fieri reunited on Season 10 episode 4 of Guy’s Grocery Games which aired on July 24, 2016.

Contestants Edit

Name Age Hometown Culinary P.O.V. Eliminated
Guy Fieri 38 Ferndale, CA "Off the Hook" California Cuisine Winner
Reggie Southerland 39 Los Angeles Modern Soul Food Runner-up
Carissa Seward 33 San Diego, CA Simple Food for Entertaining Week 6
Nathan Lyon 35 Los Angeles Healthy and Seasonal Food Week 5
Andrew Schumacher 26 Brooklyn, NY Cooking Techniques Week 4
Evette Rodriguez 35 Port St. Lucie, FL Latin Cuisine Week 3
Elizabeth Raynor 32 Sausalito, CA Simple Mediterranean Cuisine Week 2
Jess Dang 24 Menlo Park, CA Asian Cuisine Week 1

Summary Edit

The third season began on June 3, 2007, and the winner was announced on Sunday, July 22. In season 3, judges sent 1 or 2 contestants home weekly. Once the field was down to 2 final contestants, the viewers picked the winner. Marc Summers (host of the first 2 seasons) only returned for this season's finale. Bobby Flay would host subsequent season finales. [4]

During the season, the contestants lived in a shared house in New York City. The contestants' challenges included cooking concession food for an NBA game (with guest Darryl Dawkins) to a mini version of Food Network's Iron Chef America (with guest judges Bobby Flay and Cat Cora). The Selection Committee consisted of Food Network executives Bob Tuschman and Susie Fogelson along with one guest. Guest judges included Alton Brown, Giada De Laurentiis, Duff Goldman, season two winner Guy Fieri, and Robert Irvine.

Paula Deen and Rachael Ray participated in contestant challenges, and Bobby Flay also played a role in the guidance and selection process. Amy Finley was chosen by America as The Next Food Network Star on July 22, 2007. Her new show The Gourmet Next Door premiered on October 14, 2007 and ran for six episodes. Finley later declined to continue with the series, citing relocation to France for family reasons. [4]

Contestants Edit

Name Age Hometown Occupation Eliminated
Amy Finley 33 San Diego, CA Stay-at-Home Mom Winner 1
Rory Schepisi 31 Vega, TX Restaurateur Runner-Up
Joshua Adam "JAG" Garcia 25 Havelock, NC Chef-de-Cuisine Withdrew 1
Paul McCullough 36 Los Angeles Caterer Week 6
Adrien Sharp 29 Jackson, MI Local Cooking Show Host Week 5
Michael Salmon 53 Brooklyn, NY Director of Operations for Macy's Week 4
Tommy Grella, Jr. 34 Methuen, MA Self-Taught Chef Week 3
Colombe Jacobsen-Derstine 29 New York, NY Former Child Actress Week 3
Nikki Shaw 38 Oakland, CA Caterer Week 2
Patrick Rolfe 33 Seattle, WA Chef Week 1
Vivien Cunha 40 Hermosa Beach, CA Caterer Week 1

^Note 1 : Amy Finley was eliminated Week 7, and the original finalists were Rory Schepisi and Joshua "JAG" Garcia. After the final elimination episode was aired, evidence came to light that JAG had lied about both his culinary training and his military service, representing both as more extensive than they actually were. [5] [6] Food Network allowed him to withdraw from the competition and reinstated Amy Finley, who was voted The Next Food Network Star.

Summary Edit

Season four of The Next Food Network Star premiered on Sunday, June 1, 2008. Food Network executives Bob Tuschman and Susie Fogelson are joined by Bobby Flay as the selection committee for this season. Each new episode aired on Sundays at 10:00 PM EDT. For this season, the viewers no longer received the chance to vote for the winner producers instead made the final decision. This led to an error by FoodNetwork.com, which briefly posted the winning moment video on their website three days before the finale aired. [7] The winner for the fourth season was Aaron McCargo Jr. His winning show idea, Big Daddy's House, first aired August 3, 2008. [8]

Finalist Adam Gertler was hired to host a Food Network show called Will Work for Food, which debuted on January 19, 2009 and was cancelled after one season. He hosted the Food Network show Kid in a Candy Store, which aired two seasons.

Kelsey Nixon co-hosted a web show on food2.com (a Food Network sister site aka Cooking Channel) and also appeared in the premiere of Chefs vs. City in 2009. In 2010, Gertler and Nixon became co-hosts of The Next Food Network Star After Party, a half-hour recap/interview show following that night's episode of Star, on Cooking Channel. Nixon stars in Kelsey's Essentials, a program on kitchen and cooking basics for The Cooking Channel that ran November, 2010–2013. [9]

Contestants Edit

Name Age Hometown Occupation Eliminated
Aaron McCargo Jr. 36 Camden, NJ Chef Winner
Adam Gertler 30 Philadelphia, PA Food Server Runner-Up
Lisa Garza 32 Dallas, TX Restaurateur/Designer Runner-Up
Kelsey Nixon 23 North Ogden, UT Assistant Culinary Director Week 7
Shane Lyons 20 Colorado Springs, CO Private Chef and actor Week 6
Jennifer Cochrane 32 Woonsocket, RI Chef Week 5
Nipa Bhatt 35 Victoria, MN Marketing Manager Week 4
Jeffrey Vaden 43 White Plains, NY Food Service Management Week 3
Kevin Roberts 39 San Diego, CA Radio Talk Show Host/Restaurant Owner/Author Week 2
Cory Kahaney 45 New York, NY Stand-up Comedian Week 1

Summary Edit

Season five of The Next Food Network Star premiered on June 7, 2009. Food Network executives Bob Tuschman and Susie Fogelson were joined by Bobby Flay as the Selection Committee for this season, which was filmed early 2009 in New York, New York and Miami, Florida. Melissa D'Arabian was declared the winner on August 2, 2009 with the title for her show being Ten Dollar Dinners. Her show premiered on August 9, 2009.[1]

On August 17, 2009, Food Network announced Jeffrey Saad would return in a series of online videos based on his pilot, now called "The Spice Smuggler." [10] The program premiered with four 4 + 1 ⁄ 2 -minute videos featuring one spice and a recipe incorporating it. [11] Saad was named the national representative for the American Egg Board. In November, 2010, Saad debuted in a new show for The Cooking Channel titled United Tastes of America, which explores multiple aspects of traditional American food. [9]

Finalist Debbie Lee has carried her "Seoul to Soul" concept to the streets of L.A., opening a lunch truck, Ahn-Joo, featuring a range of Korean food.

Contestants Edit

Name Age Hometown Occupation Culinary P.O.V. Eliminated
Melissa d'Arabian 40 Keller, TX Stay-At-Home Mom "Kitchen Survival Guide" Winner
Jeffrey Saad 42 Los Angeles, California Restaurateur/Food Consultant/Recipe Developer/Chef "Ingredient Smuggler" Runner-Up
Debbie Lee 39 West Hollywood, California Restaurant Consultant "From Seoul to Soul" Week 8
Jamika Pessoa 30 Atlanta, Georgia Personal Chef/Businesswoman Caribbean Cuisine Week 7
Michael Proietti 28 City Island, NY Executive Chef "Global A Go-Go" Week 6
Katie Cavuto 30 Philadelphia, PA Personal Chef & Dietician Healthy and Green Cuisine Week 5
Teddy Folkman 33 Alexandria, VA Restaurant Owner/Executive Chef "Gourmet Bar Food" Week 4
Eddie Gilbert 30 Los Angeles Apprentice Chef "Modernized Traditional Food" Week 3
Brett August 33 New York, New York Executive Sous Chef Italian-American Cuisine Week 2
Jen Isham 30 Orlando, FL Sales Manager "Housewife 2.0" Week 1

Summary Edit

The sixth season of the series premiered on Sunday, June 6, 2010. Food Network executives Bob Tuschman and Susie Fogelson were again joined by Bobby Flay as judges in addition, Giada De Laurentiis served as an on-set mentor. On July 17, 2010, a post-competition recap and discussion show premiered on The Cooking Channel. Shows were filmed in Los Angeles, California and New York, New York. [12]

On August 15, 2010, Aarti Sequeira was declared the winner, and her new show Aarti Party [13] premiered on Sunday, August 22, 2010 and features American style cuisine with unique Indian flair. Season 2 of Aarti Party [13] premiered that December.

The Food Network also signed runner-up Tom Pizzica to host a new show called Outrageous Food, which premiered in November 2010. [14] The last new episodes of Aarti Party aired in mid-2013.

Contestants Edit

Name Age Hometown Occupation Culinary P.O.V. Eliminated
Aarti Sequeira 31 Los Angeles, California Food Blogger "Aarti Paarti" Winner
Herb Mesa 41 Atlanta, Georgia Personal Trainer/Personal Chef "Cooking Con Sabor" Runner-Up
Tom Pizzica 32 San Francisco, CA Unemployed Chef "Big Chef" Runner-Up
Aria Kagan 30 Hollywood, FL Private Chef "Family Style" Week 9
Brad Sorenson 25 Austin, Texas Professional Chef "Pro"/"Culinary Quest" Week 8
Serena Palumbo 31 New York, New York Attorney "Serena's Trattoria" Week 7
Brianna Jenkins 30 Atlanta, Georgia Caterer "Sexy and Fabulous Flavors" Week 6
Paul Young 32 Chicago, IL Waiter "Blue-Collar Dollar" Week 5
Darrell "DAS" Smith 28 Los Angeles High School Culinary Teacher "Food is the Life of the Party" Week 4
Dzintra Dzenis 44 Austin, TX Private Cooking Instructor Week 3
Doreen Fang 38 Los Angeles Caterer/Cooking Instructor "Simply Complex" Week 2
Alexis Hernandez 40 Clarksville, IN Part-time food Writer Week 1

Summary Edit

For the seventh season, the reality television series was renamed, after the first episode, Food Network Star, dropping the word "Next". It premiered Sunday, June 5, 2011. Food Network executives Bob Tuschman and Susie Fogelson were joined again by Bobby Flay and Giada De Laurentiis as the judges for this season. The series was filmed in Los Angeles, California and New York, New York. [15]

Season seven winner Jeff Mauro's show "Sandwich King" premiered on Sunday, August 21, 2011. In spring 2013, Jeff hosted $24 in 24, a show in which he went to several cities and ate an entire day's worth of meals on 24 dollars. Mauro is currently a co-host on "The Kitchen", airing Sunday mornings on Food Network with cohosts Sunny Anderson, Katie Lee and Geoffrey Zakarian.

Contestants Edit

Name Age Hometown Occupation Culinary P.O.V. Eliminated
Jeff Mauro 32 Chicago, IL Corporate Chef "Sandwich King" Winner
Susie Jimenez 31 Carbondale, CO Catering Company Owner "Spice It Up" Runner-Up
Vic "Vegas" Moea 36 Brooklyn, NY Executive Chef "Mama's Boy" Week 11
Mary Beth Albright 38 Washington, DC Food Writer and Blogger "Sunday Supper" Week 10
Whitney Chen 28 New York, NY Chef "Four Star Flair" Week 9
Jyll Everman 31 Glendora, CA Caterer "Jyllicious Bites" Week 8
Penny Davidi 39 Los Angeles Restaurant Owner "Stilettos in the Kitchen"/"Middle Eastern Mama" Week 7
Chris Nirschel 28 Hoboken, NJ Sous Chef "On the Line" Week 7
Orchid Paulmeier 38 Bluffton, SC Restaurant Owner "Asian Persuasion" Week 6
Justin Davis 31 Minneapolis, MN Food Blogger "The Flavor Factory" Week 5
Justin Balmes 32 Marietta, GA Fishmonger/ Butcher "Kitchen Workshop" Week 4
Alicia Sanchez 33 New York, NY Young Adult Culinary Teacher "Alicia's Guilty Pleasures" Week 3
Katy Clark 34 Long Beach, CA Food and Fitness Company Operator "Simply Fabulous" Week 2
Juba Kali 29 New Orleans, LA Research Chef "Cuisine Made Simply" Week 2
Howie Drummond 40 Highlands Ranch, CO Radio Host "Basic and Delicious" Week 1

Summary Edit

Season 8 started May 13, 2012. For season 8, the format changed, with the contestants divided into three five-member teams, each coached by a Food Network host, either Bobby Flay, Alton Brown, or Giada De Laurentiis. Coaches worked with the teams as they prepared for and completed their tasks. The winner's coach would also be the producer of the winner's show.

Each week, a winning team was selected, and one member of the teams that did not win was up for elimination in a new feature called Producers' Challenge. Each challenge was hosted by current Food Network personalities.

The final winner was decided by an audience vote cast on foodnetwork.com between July 15–17, 2012 and the winner was announced on July 22, 2012. The winner was Justin Warner, who hosted a one-hour special on The Food Network, but did not have a series produced. He has become a blogger on foodnetwork.com, makes appearances at Food Network events, and is an active Twitter presence. [16]

Coaches Edit

    – host of Good Eats, Iron Chef America, The Next Iron Chef, and Cutthroat Kitchen. – host of Grill It! with Bobby Flay, Throwdown! with Bobby Flay. Co-host of season 3 of Worst Cooks in America and Iron Chef on Iron Chef America – host of Everyday Italian , Giada at Home and Giada in Italy.

Contestants Edit

Name Age Hometown Occupation Culinary P.O.V. Team Eliminated
Justin Warner 27 Brooklyn, NY Chef and Restaurant Owner "Rebel with a Culinary Cause" Team Alton Winner
Michele Ragussis 42 Brooklyn, NY [17] Executive Chef "My New England" Team Bobby Runner-Up
Yvan Lemoine 30 New York City Bartender and Cook for the French Consulate "Family Style" Team Giada Runner-Up
Martie Duncan 50 [18] Birmingham, AL Blogger and Party Planner "Martie with the Party" Team Alton Runner-Up
Philip "Ippy" Aiona 23 Kamuela, HI Executive Chef "Voyage to Paradise" Team Giada Week 10
Nikki Martin 31 West Hollywood, CA Private Chef, Food and Beverage Consultant "The Grill Next Door" Team Bobby Week 10
Martita Jara 35 San Diego, CA Self-Taught Chef "Martita's Mesa" Team Giada Week 9
Malcolm Mitchell 41 Washington, DC Private Chef "Simple and Soulful" Team Bobby Week 8
Emily Ellyn 29 Orlando, FL College Student "Cooking Retro Rad" Team Alton Week 7
Linkie Marais 28 North Attleborough, MA Cake Baker "Dessert Queen" Team Giada Week 6
Judson Allen 30 Chicago, IL Catering Company Owner "Weight Loss Journey" Team Alton Week 5
Eric Lee 44 Petaluma, CA Winery Executive Chef "Handcrafted in Wine Country" Team Bobby Week 4
Josh Lyons 42 Jupiter, FL Restaurant Consultant and Sushi Chef "Wok and Roll" Team Giada Week 3
Kara Sigle 31 Chicago, IL Catering Company Owner "Nostalgic Cooking with a Twist" Team Bobby Week 2
Cristie Schoen 35 New Orleans, LA Caterer "Healthy and Delicious" Team Alton Week 1

Summary Edit

Season 9 started on June 2, 2013. [19] For season 9, Alton Brown, Bobby Flay, and Giada De Laurentiis mentored and judged twelve Food Network Star competitors, although the contestants were not divided into teams as in season 8. Many of this season's contestants had previously appeared on other Food Network shows. [20] The winner was Damaris Phillips, decided by an audience vote cast on foodnetwork.com and announced live on August 11, 2013. Phillips hosted the Food Network show Southern at Heart for five seasons from 2013 to 2016. In 2018, she began co-hosting The Bobby and Damaris Show on Food Network with Bobby Flay. Phillips also cohosted "Southern and Hungry" with auto racing analyst Rutledge Wood in 2017.

Contestants Edit

Name Age Hometown Occupation Culinary P.O.V. Eliminated
Damaris Phillips 30 Louisville, KY Culinary Teacher "Modern Southern Food" Winner
Rodney Henry 47 Baltimore, MD Pie Shop Owner "Pie Style" Runner-up
Russell Jackson 49 San Francisco, CA Underground Chef "Seven Culinary Sins" Runner-up
Stacey Poon-Kinney 34 San Diego, CA Restaurant Owner "Vintage with a Modern Twist" Week 10
Nikki Dinki 29 New York, NY Food Blogger/Online Host "Semi-Vegetarian" / "Meat on the Side" Week 9
Connie "Lovely" Jackson 27 Los Angeles Caterer "Party on a Plate" Week 4 & Week 8 (Winner of Star Salvation)
Chad Rosenthal 37 Ambler, PA Restaurant Owner "Jewish BBQ Guy" Week 7
Chris Hodgson 26 Cleveland, OH Chef/Restaurateur "Compassion for Food" Week 6
Viet Pham 33 Salt Lake City, UT Chef/Restaurant Owner "The American Dream" Week 5
Danushka Lysek 37 New York, NY Private Chef/Model "Your Private Chef" Week 3
Andres Guillama 26 Waynesville, NC Childhood Obesity Prevention Coach "Teaching Men to Cook" Week 2
Daniela Perez-Reyes 28 Haleiwa, HI Bartender/Caterer "Peruvian Princess" Week 1

The winner was Lenny McNab, decided by an audience vote cast on foodnetwork.com and announced live on August 10, 2014. It is the last season to date where the finale aired live—all subsequent season finales would be filmed months in advance prior to airing. [21]

Contestants Edit

Name Age Hometown Occupation Culinary P.O.V. Eliminated
Lenny McNab 42 De Beque, CO Executive Chef Gourmet Cowboy Winner
Luca Della Casa 38 San Antonio, TX (Originally from Turin, Italy) Restaurateur Luca's Feast Episode 2 (Winner of Star Salvation) Runner-up
Nicole Gaffney 29 Atlantic City, New Jersey Private Chef Coastal Cuisine Runner-up
Sarah Penrod 30 League City, TX Private Chef Devoted to Date Night/Texas Cuisine Episode 10
Loreal Gavin 26 Indianapolis, IN Butcher Butcher Babe Episode 9
Emma Frisch 30 Ithaca, NY Farmer Farm-to-Table Episode 8
Chris Kyler 32 Stafford, VA Caterer elevating classics Episode 7
Reuben Ruiz 27 Miami, FL Restaurant Owner Flavors of Miami Episode 6
Christopher Lynch 39 New Orleans, LA Executive Chef New Orleans Inspired Episode 5
Aryen Moore-Alston 31 Memphis, TN Home Cook International Cuisine Made Easy Episode 4
Kenny Lao 36 New York, NY Food Truck Chef Fast-Casual Episode 3
Donna Sonkin Shaw 42 New York, NY Nutritionist Healthy Comfort Food Episode 1

Beginning with this season, Alton Brown no longer appeared as a judge. The winner was Eddie Jackson, an ex NFL player and MasterChef (American season 4) contestant. [22]

Contestants Edit

Name Age Hometown Occupation Culinary P.O.V. Eliminated
Eddie Jackson 34 Houston, TX Food Truck Owner Caribbean Winner
Jay Ducote 33 Baton Rouge, LA Radio Host Louisiana Runner up
Dominick "Dom" Tesoriero 31 Staten Island, NY Food Truck Owner Italian Week 8 (Winner of Star Salvation returned for semi-final) Runner up
Arnold Myint 38 Nashville, TN Restaurant Owner Effortless Home Entertainment Week 10
Alex McCoy 31 Washington, D.C. Chef, Restaurant Owner Fusion Sandwiches Week 9
Michelle Karam 39 Santa Barbara, CA Food Blogger Mediterranean Week 7 (Withdrew)
Emilia Cirker 36 Reston, VA Culinary Instructor Spice Class Week 6
Rue Rusike 26 Brooklyn, NY Private Chef South African Week 5
Rosa Graziano 38 Los Angeles Food Truck Owner Southern Italian Week 4
Sita Lewis 47 New York, NY Culinary Instructor Italian Soul Week 3
Matthew Grunwald 22 Scottsdale, AZ Restaurant Chef Hashtag Week 2
Christina Fitzgerald 29 St. Louis, MO Executive Chef Around The World Week 1

Martita Jara originally competed in the eighth season of the series she returned after winning the pre-season competition Comeback Kitchen. [23]

Contestants Edit

Name Age Hometown Occupation Eliminated
Tregaye Fraser 31 Atlanta, Georgia Caterer Winner
Jernard Wells 37 Executive chef Runner-up
Damiano Carrara 30 Moorpark, California Pastry chef
Yaku Moton-Spruill [A] 33 San Francisco, California Basketball player, sous chef Week 4 /
Week 10
Ana Quincoces 49 Coral Gables, Florida Cookbook writer, attorney Week 9
Erin Campbell 24 Woodbury, Minnesota Baker Week 8
Joy Thompson 40 Thomasville, North Carolina Baker, restaurateur Week 7
Rob Burmeister 45 Staten Island, New York School lunch administrator Week 6
Monterey Salka 26 Nashville, Tennessee Caterer Week 5
Martita Jara 39 San Diego, California Home cook Week 3
Aaron Crumbaugh 36 Spokane, Washington Caterer Week 2
Melissa Pfeister 34 Los Angeles, California Basketball player
Havird Usry 28 Augusta, Georgia Restaurateur Week 1

Matthew Grunwald originally competed in season 11. He returned for a second chance after winning the Comeback Kitchen competition.

Contestants Edit

Name Age Hometown Occupation Eliminated
Jason Smith 39 Grayson, Kentucky Cafeteria manager Winner
Rusty Hamlin 42 Atlanta, Georgia Executive chef Runner-up
Cory Bahr 40 Monroe, Louisiana Chef [B]
Matthew Grunwald 24 Scottsdale, Arizona Restaurant chef Week 10
Amy Pottinger 32 Honolulu, Hawaii Food blogger Week 9
David Rose 35 Atlanta, Georgia Caterer Week 7
Addie Gundry 30 Lake Forest, Illinois Cookbook author chef Week 6
Caodan Tran 29 Dallas, Texas Personal chef Week 5
Trace Barnett 27 Brilliant, Alabama Food blogger Week 4
Suzanne Lossia 42 Chicago, Illinois Personal chef Week 3
Toya Boudy 34 New Orleans, Louisiana Week 2
Nancy Manlove 65 Texas City, Texas Chef
Blake Baldwin 30 Flemington, New Jersey Marketing manager home cook Week 1

Contestants Edit

This season features Manny Washington and Katie Dixon from MasterChef (American season 7) and Palak Patel who beats Bobby Flay. Amy Pottinger originally competed in season 13. She returned for a second chance after winning the Comeback Kitchen competition, along with Adam Gertler, who originally competed in season four. [25]


Wilson was born in Roseland near Amite, the seat of Tangipahoa Parish, one of the "Florida Parishes" of southeastern Louisiana. He was the second youngest of seven children of Harry D. Wilson, the Louisiana Commissioner of Agriculture and Forestry from 1916 to 1948 and a former member of the Louisiana House of Representatives. Harry Wilson was of Welsh descent. His mother, the former Olivette Mintern Toadvin (1880-1976), of French descent and known as Olivet Wilson, was an expert in the improvisation of meals and taught Justin how to cook. Olivet Wilson was also a pianist and a composer of instrumental music well into her nineties.

Wilson began his career as a safety engineer while he traveled throughout Acadiana. The safety lectures that he made to refinery workers prompted him to become a Cajun storyteller. He remembered it this way on the back cover of The Justin Wilson Cook Book:

Way back when I first started as a safety engineer, I took myself pretty seriously, and I found I was putting my audiences to sleep. So having lived all my life among the Cajuns of Louisiana, and having a good memory for the patois and the type of humor Cajuns go for, I started interspersing my talks on safety with Cajun humor.

Wilson later recorded several comedy albums, beginning with The Humorous World of Justin Wilson on Ember Records. He also recorded several albums for Jewel Records on the Paula label and a few for Capitol Records. He later appeared as a guest on the popular CBS series The Ed Sullivan Show. He was known for the catchphrase, "I gar-on-tee!" (I guarantee).

As a comedian, Wilson was enormously popular in Louisiana, and to a lesser degree in neighboring states, but his humor may have been a little too specifically regional to enjoy the wider popularity of Southern comics such as Jerry Clower or Archie Campbell.

He composed ten songs, as well as composing the background music for his cooking show and recorded one album of Christmas songs with a jazz band. Wilson wrote seven Cajun cookbooks and two books of Cajun stories. He hosted several cooking shows on Public Broadcasting Services (PBS) and at least one in 1975, for Mississippi Educational Television (ETV) [1] that combined Cajun cooking and humor. Most were aired from the studios of WYES-TV in New Orleans.

In 1997, he published the cookbook "Looking Back", which combined his first two cookbooks in a hardcover format, with additional photos, and notes on how his cooking techniques had changed (e. g., using olive oil instead of oleo) since those early cookbooks were published. A companion series was produced, also titled "Looking Back" and broadcast nationwide on PBS, which was a repackaging of Justin's very first Television Cooking show from 1971, with new intros by Justin himself. This was the first time the 1971 programs were ever seen nationwide, as they were originally produced by Mississippi Educational Television and, at that time, were only broadcast regionally.

Southern author Harnett T. Kane said of Wilson: "I know of no one [else] who portrays the Louisiana Cajun as well, so skillfully and entertainingly". [2]

As the son of the former agriculture commissioner who died in office in 1948, Wilson was politically active in his early years. In 1951-1952, Justin Wilson was the manager of the unsuccessful Democratic gubernatorial campaign of Lieutenant Governor William J. "Bill" Dodd. He and Dodd were close though they often disagreed on political philosophy. Wilson's brother-in-law, Bolivar Edwards Kemp, Jr., was the Democratic attorney general of Louisiana from 1948 to 1952, while Dodd was lieutenant governor. Kemp served between the two terms of Attorney General Fred S. LeBlanc of Baton Rouge.

Known for his emphasis on patriotic themes, Wilson over the years became involved in numerous Louisiana political campaigns. Former State Senator Don W. Williamson of Caddo Parish recalls Wilson having cut a commercial for Williamson's Democratic challenge in 1979 to incumbent Insurance Commissioner Sherman A. Bernard. Williamson recalls that Wilson just volunteered to help him. Williamson only narrowly lost to Bernard, who later was imprisoned for fraud in the handling of his state job duties.

Justin Wilson was married four times. His third wife died and his three other marriages ended in divorce. [3] He had one son and three daughters: Harry D. Wilson II, Sara Sue, Pam, and Menette. [4] Wilson's last residence was in Summit in Pike County, Mississippi. He died on September 5, 2001, of heart failure in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. He is interred beside his third wife at Port Vincent Community Cemetery (also known as Saint William Catholic Cemetery) in Port Vincent in Livingston Parish. [5]


Recipe: How to Make Food Network Star Justin Warner’s Cheesy Wontons

Need a quick and yummy snack for your next weekend party? Us Weekly tapped Justin Warner, the season 8 winner of The Next Food Network Star and chef/co-owner of Brooklyn eatery Do or Dine, to whip up an appetizer perfect for sharing.

His choice: Broccoli & Cheese Wontons, which he recommends serving with a crisp glass of sauvignon blanc. “I like food to be playful to eat,” Brooklyn-based Warner tells Us. “This conjures memories of the treat of broccoli and cheese as a kid, but the wonton vessel makes it more party friendly.”

Ingredients for the Stuffing
6 oz chopped broccoli florets
4 oz goat cheese, softened
2 oz cream cheese, softened
1 tbsp minced shallot
2 tsp minced parsley
1/4 tsp kosher salt

Ingredients for the Dipping Sauce
3 tbsp Sauvignon Blanc
1 tbsp soy sauce
1 tsp granulated sugar

Ingredients for the Preparation
25-30 wonton skins
1 egg white
oil for frying

For the Stuffing
1. Moisten some paper towels and wrap the broccoli with them. Put the moistened broccoli parcel on a microwave-safe plate and microwave for two minutes on high power.
2. Carefully place the florets in a mixing bowl with the cheeses, shallots, parsley, and kosher salt. Using a wooden spoon, a fork, or a rubber spatula, mix the ingredients until thoroughly combined.

Chef Justin Warner, the season 8 champ of The Next Food Network Star, shares the recipe for his cheesy wontons with Us Weekly. Courtesy of Robert Mondavi

For the Preparation
Chef’s Tips: I like to fold it in to a triangle, and then fold the bottom corners up to make a sort of crown shape. Get creative. As long as it’s sealed you’re good to go.
1. Put heaping teaspoons of the mixture in the center of the wonton skins. Brush some of the egg white on the edges of the wrapper.
2. Do this until you run out of filling.
3. Place these guys in the fridge while you make the sauce. Pre-heat the oil in a dutch oven to 350 degrees.

For the Soy Sauce
1. Put the soy sauce and the Sauvignon Blanc in a saucepan and slowly bring to a boil.
2. Remove from the heat and stir in the sugar.
3. Refrigerate until you’re ready to use it.

To Fry
1. Fry the wontons in the 350 degree oil, in batches of three or until they are golden brown.
2. Drain on paper towels and serve hot, with the sauce and a cold glass of Sauvignon Blanc.

Frying Tricks of the Trade: The key to frying is to work in small batches. Like ice in a drink, the wontons lower the temperature of the oil when you put them in. When I fry, I keep a constant eye on the thermometer and adjust the heat accordingly. I use a plate lined with paper towels to allow the wontons to cool because the towels absorb excess oil which can cause sogginess . . . and sogginess and snacks do not mix in my book.

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Leave Guy Fieri alone: Why he has nothing to do with the Food Network's decline

By Allen Salkin
Published August 16, 2014 3:00AM (UTC)

Guy Fieri (Reuters/Matt Sullivan)

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Give Guy a break. The Food Network is not in the business of improving the world’s eating habits or shrinking the American waistline. Its main goal, in fact, is to sell toothpaste and Lexuses.

Those who bemoan the network's loss of good old-fashioned cooking shows or who want to drag their talons across Guy Fieri’s oddly cherubic face, as Farsh Askari did so charmingly in this publication last week, are missing issues at the Food Network that are much more deep-seated.

But this isn’t surprising. The owners of the network, fat with ever-rising revenues -- $238 million in the last quarter, a 6.4 percent hike (add it up: nearly a billion annually) -- are behaving as if they are blind to the tragic problem at their cash cow as well.

As the author of the unauthorized history of Food Network, I'm hardly a zombie cheerleader for it and Mr. Fieri. But let’s get one thing out of the way. Guy Fieri is actually a man with an impressive background in food and a sensibility that inspires non-food people to come to the table.

Consider that just as Julia Child had her fateful sole meunière experience in northern France (when she was in her thirties), Fieri had his biggest mind-expanding food experience in the south of France when he was a high school exchange student.

In sixth grade, Guy worked at the Ferndale meat market in his native Northern California. The first meal he ever cooked for his parents was a steak when he was 10. But France opened him up. (Yes, take a breath. I’m actually talking about Guy Fieri here). He was as enthusiastic about the chicken feet soup and escargot served at school lunch as he would be later at the sight of jalapeño cheeseburgers.

But the food experience that led him to write home and tell his parents he wanted to someday open restaurants was a plate of steak frites. He was driving through small villages with a European family, and they stopped at a house for dinner. There, he was served beef so rich and flavorful he could think nothing other than “Oh, my God!” He loved it and then, increasingly, nearly everything else he ate in France. “The vinaigrette, the mustard, the bread, the cheese — oh, God!” Fieri told me during an interview for the book. “At the end of the day, eating cheese was so overwhelming.”

He attended a hotel management program at University of Nevada, Las Vegas in the late 1980s. The spicier foods he was exposed to there influenced his palate. He won a cooking competition in one UNLV class with his invented Cajun Chicken Alfredo.

After college, Fieri moved to Los Angeles and found work at Louise’s Trattoria, a string of Italian family restaurants across Southern California. Fieri got into a conflict with an executive at the Louise’s chain, Robert Kissinger. As the sophistication of diners in California deepened through the mid-1990s, the chain had spent heavily to improve the authenticity of its Italian menu. When Guy added tortilla soup to the lunch menu at the Louise’s locations he was managing, Kissinger phoned him, furious. “What the hell are you doing? This is an Italian restaurant chain!”

Guy was unintimidated. “Listen, I got a lot of businesspeople that come in here every day and want soup and salad for lunch. And I can’t feed ’em pasta fagiole and Italian wedding soup every day!”

This is a creative dude, an American original. By his mid-20s, he and a friend, Steve Gruber, moved to Santa Rosa, Calif., and opened Johnny Garlic’s. It featured the Jackass Roll, a sushi-style maki with pulled pork and green chili, and a recipe he’d been saving, Cajun Chicken Alfredo. Locals loved the place.

It would be a decade before he was on the Food Network, but early one morning in 1996 or 1997, Guy was, uncharacteristically, watching television with his wife before work. A "Good Morning America" host announced “Chef Emeril Lagasse” and mentioned that the chef had a show on the Food Network. Guy had never watched it.

Unusual name, Guy thought. Then he saw a performer who stopped him cold. Emeril strutted out to a gush of loud blues music, with a towel draped over his shoulder. “Oh, baby, yeah!” Emeril praised his suddenly sizzling array of pots. In Emeril, Guy recognized the showmanship of his childhood heroes, Evel Knievel and Elvis Presley. The New Orleans chef used a sauté pan to do what Evel did with a motorcycle: reveal its inherent power.

This is who Guy is: a product of all of his influences and passions — and genetics. He is what a television star should be. If he’s on-screen, love him or hate him, you can’t take your eyes off him. When it comes to food knowledge, compared to Sandra Lee and any number of personalities the network has foisted on viewers in recent years, he’s Jacques Pepin. What’s more, many people genuinely love him. I meet them at every book signing and see them lining up for autographs wherever Fieri appears. The dream: to get in that Camaro with him and tour around like best buddies. Guy celebrates a part of the food world that had not been celebrated before. No one is saying it's the healthiest food. But the food on "Diners, Drive-ins and Dives" is worth looking at as an expression of human spirit and creativity. Guy sings the song of the little guy, and that’s what makes people love him.

I’m certainly not 100 percent pro-Fieri. To my taste his Time Square restaurant sucks as bad as a restaurant has ever sucked. But I think its suckiness says more about Guy’s swollen ego than his culinary abilities. He signed a deal with a New York company to open a Times Square joint, a deal that required him to make a certain number of visits annually, to allow his image and his recipe concepts to be used. What he didn’t do was spend enough time overseeing the place. The New York Times' Pete Wells, author of the famously scathing and hilarious takedown of Fieri's Times Square joint, recently visited the Vegas outpost and Tweeted that “it’s easily twice as good as his restaurant in Times Square,” leading me to believe either that Fieri is working to improve the formula or that he loves spending time in Vegas so much he’s tasting the Donkey Sauce regularly to make sure it has just the right amount of donkeyness.

Emeril, who understood that exacting New York critics might savage a TV star who opened a restaurant but was not regularly on the premises, never opened a New York outpost. Note how Bobby Flay spent every night cooking in his new restaurant, Gato, for month after month. Wells gave it a rave.

Even if I can’t convince you that Guy Fieri is a worthwhile presence on television, please consider that he isn’t the real problem at Food Network: The real problem is a loss of inventiveness at the company’s core.

There was a time when Food Network presented revolutionary television like "Iron Chef" and "Good Eats." This was before the billion-dollar years, when chances were being taken by an earlier generation of network presidents like Eric Ober and Judy Girard. And even when it wasn’t revolutionary, it was at least pleasant. Back then the goofy David Rosengarten of "Taste," the sweet-faced, knowledgable "Two Hot Tamales" Susan Feniger and Mary Sue Milliken, and others were nice people who stood in as surrogate family members for viewers. These stars were performing the second-oldest activity on earth: cooking. As humans we couldn't help but be transfixed by someone who seemed as nurturing as The Barefoot Contessa, as indulgent and grandmotherly (we thought) as Paula Deen, and as wholesomely appealing as Giada De Laurentiis and Tyler Florence.

But then, as the 1970s passed into the 1980s and Rock and Roll mostly died, the Food Network lost its creative momentum sometime in the mid 2000s. Perhaps it’s just that we all know how to grate our own Parmesan now. We've learned to fold our fingertips under when chopping onions. Something new was needed. But nothing new was provided. The era of revolutionary television formats ended when Tennessee-based Scripps Interactive tightened its control over the Food Network. As the profits increased to over $100 million a year then to over $300 million and beyond, its ownership became more conservative.

In a conference call announcing the company's financial results this month, CEO Kenneth Lowe raved that “Our family-friendly networks in the home, food and travel content categories are extremely popular with viewers of all ages, but they particularly appeal to upscale women who watch our programming live.” What Lowe meant was: The non-DVR watchers love us. These are rich women who actually watch the commercials, increasingly rare birds who are the golden geese of the cable TV biosphere. Every programming gatekeeper seeks to woo them. Commercials for Lexuses, toothpaste, dog food and cruises are what make profits.

If running back-to-back episodes of "Diners, Drive-ins and Dives" on a Friday night gets an extra few thousand live viewers, that’s the way Food Network goes, instead of trying to break in a new star's cooking show, someone like the rather charming "Food Network Star" winner Jeff Mauro or the maternal Amy Thielen. The network is letting the seed corn go to waste and taking fewer and fewer chances.

The real problem is not too much Guy. It's too little Justin Warner. One of the most common questions I am asked at book appearances is whatever happened to Justin, the winner of "Food Network Star" two years ago. A mad-scientist-type Brooklyn chef who came off as a more charming Alton Brown type on TV, he was supposed to have won the right to host a TV series on the network. But after conflicts between Brown and the Food Network, and a struggle to find a format that would fit Justin, they eventually made one episode of a road-trip type show for him. It was called "Rebel Eats" and was like a hybrid of "Good Eats" and "Diners, Drive-ins and Dives." The Dives were punkier and the Eats were more molecular. The network aired it during a dead time, a Saturday night.

Justin has since appeared on "Beat Bobby Flay," but has never managed to break through the conservatism of Food Network programmers, like the man who has come to be known in the industry for saying no to risky ideas, Food Network programming chief Bob Tuschman. As the network ignores Justin, it breaks its faith with viewers who fell in love with him during "Food Network Star" and expected him to be the future of food TV. Prime time instead features negative dreck like "Mystery Diners" and "Restaurant Stakeout," where every week seems to feature a batch of fake employees who are actually actors hired by the production company. They steal beer by rolling kegs out the back, only to be caught and scolded by some rough-talking “consultant” with a pugnacious Long Island accent.

People can get any recipe they like on the Web -- even on FoodNetwork.com, which also has a nice library of instructional videos. Why should the casual viewer or even the food-centric viewer watch the Food Network if it isn't a hearth that warms the heart like it used to, especially during its peak creative years in the wake of 9/11, when the nation craved warmth?

The network is being irresponsibly careless with what’s left of its cultural momentum. Days after it crowned Lenny McNab the winner of this year’s "Food Network Star," it was revealed that he is a foul-fingered Web commenter who, amongst a cavalcade of inane racist, sexist and homophobic postings and videos once wrote of The Pioneer Woman, Ree Drummond, a rare bright spot in the network’s recent history, that “I’d f**** her…IN THE ASS. that’s right…I said it. ”

This comes long after the mess that was Robert Irvine’s trumped-up résumé nearly torpedoed the muscleman’s career (it seems he did not actually work on Princess Di’s wedding cake, etc.) after the host of "Calorie Commando," Juan-Carlos Cruz, put out a hit on his wife after a "Star" contestant was removed late in another season due to problems with his military service record and after the series of devastating public relations cluster bombs that was Paula Deen’s greedy diabetes drug endorsement cash grab followed by her N-word self-immolation.

Do you think Food Network president Brooke Johnson, the marketing department, or the overlords at Scripps might think about hiring a more effective private investigator to vet the humans who are the key representatives of their billion-dollar brand? If not five years ago, then when?

People used to watch the Food Network at the gym. It eased pain. For some viewers, Guy still does. But since 2006, when he won "Food Network Star," very few new household names have been created by the network. The Pioneer Woman created her own fame via a blog. Even before someone started -- too-late -- digging up McNab’s Internet history, did anyone seriously think he was going to someday have a line of hamburgers at Wal-Mart like Fieri does?

Sure, giant hamburgers are bad for the planet. Yes, Paula Deen turned out to be a greedy monster. Of course, not everybody on TV is perfect. But for a little while they can make us happy. I’d rather ride along with Guy than be told for the zillionth time to eat more dark leafy greens. I do it already. That’s not why I watch TV.

Allen Salkin is the author of "From Scratch: The Uncensored History of the Food Network," out in paperback Oct. 7 from Berkley Trade.


Marvel Cookbook Shares Recipes for Deadpool Chimichangas, Nova Donuts, More

Several recipes from Marvel's Eat the Universe cookbook have been released, including Deadpool's favorite snack, chimichangas!

Several new recipes from Marvel's Eat The Universe cookbook have been released. The book is based on the popular YouTube video series hosted by celebrity chef Justin Warner, who also wrote the cookbook.

The recipes included are "Nova Space-Cop Galaxy Doughnuts," which boast a sparkly blue frosting similar to the Human Rocket's costume Green Goblin's "Pumpkin Bombes," a frozen dessert resembling the weapons that Spider-Man's arch-enemy uses Deadpool's chimichangas and "Wolverine's Bayou Boil," made with crawfish. Warner notes in the recipe that crawfish, like the clawed X-Man, can regenerate their lost limbs.

"Based on Marvel’s hugely popular video series hosted by Warner, this cookbook features step-by-step instructions for creating the best super-heroic feast this side of Earth-616, including Storm’s Tournedos of Beef, Dazzler’s Pizza Bagels, Green Goblin’s Pumpkin Bombes, and more," an official press release reads. "With sixty recipes inspired by Marvel Comics’ rich history, Marvel Eat the Universe: The Official Cookbook offers something delicious for fans from every corner of the multiverse."

Warner hosts the Eat the Universe show on Marvel's YouTube channel. The show has seen a variety of guests appear and even had live episodes filmed at San Diego's Comic-Con International.

Marvel's Eat The Universe Cookbook is available for preorder on Amazon and goes on sale July 28.

A freelance journalist based in Seattle, Collier enjoys all facets of pop culture, namely comics and anime. Spider-Man is his favorite fictional character of all time.


Make Marvel-Inspired Munchies with 'Marvel Eat the Universe: The Official Cookbook'

Hey Marvel Insiders – did you know reading this article could earn you 250 points? All you need to do is sign in or join now before you keep reading!

If you've ever wanted to eat like a Marvel Super Hero, your chance is almost here! On sale July 28, Marvel Eat the Universe: The Official Cookbook will feature recipes inspired by the Marvel Universe, created by Chef Justin Warner, host of the hit Marvel digital series Eat the Universe!

This ultimate compendium of recipes will feature dishes that span a variety of skill levels, including Storm’s Tournedos, Dazzler’s Glittering Pizza Bagels, Green Goblin Pumpkin Bombs, and more. With sixty recipes inspired by Marvel Comics’ rich history, Marvel Eat the Universe: The Official Cookbook offers something delicious for fans from every corner of the multiverse.

Have a look at two of the recipes that will featured in Marvel Eat the Universe: The Official Cookbook! (Right-click to view a larger size.)

Marvel Eat the Universe: The Official Cookbook Marvel Eat the Universe: The Official Cookbook

In addition to serving as host of Marvel's Eat the Universe, Chef Justin Warner is the winner of Food Network Star Season 8 and author of The Laws of Cooking: And How to Break Them and The Ultimate Ninja Foodi Pressure Cooker Cookbook. Warner is also featured regularly as a judge on Guy’s Grocery Games. On Eat the Universe, Chef Warner has featured several celebrity guests including Kevin Smith, John Hodgman, Lyrica Okano, and more!

Marvel Eat the Universe: The Official Cookbook is on sale July 28! Pre-order your copy on Amazon today!