'Food Network Star' ninth season to premiere June 2, cast and twist revealed
By Elizabeth Kwiatkowski, 04/19/2013
Food Network has announced the ninth season of Food Network Star will premiere in June and revealed the season's new twist and cast.
Food Network Star's ninth season will debut on Sunday, June 2 at 9PM ET/PT and feature the return of the show's three mentors and judges Alton Brown, Giada De Laurentiis and Bobby Flay -- along with fellow judges and Food Network executives Susie Fogelson and Bob Tuschman.
"Alton, Bobby and Giada are not only enduring stars, but also star-makers, so they are the ideal mentors to bring out the best in our talented cast," Tuschman said in a statement. "These newcomers are competing to achieve their dream, and their journey is fascinating to watch."
In a new twist, the upcoming edition will take into account input from focus groups comprised of Food Network fans, ultimately allowing one eliminated contestant to re-enter the reality culinary competition for a second shot at winning his or her own show on the network. Similar to last season, viewers will be able to vote online or via phone prior to its August 11 finale to determine the champion.
During the ninth-season premiere, Brown, De Laurentiis and Flay will greet the 12 finalists and require them to each film a pitch tape for the initial Mentor Challenge in which they must explain why they're the best person to win their own show. In the second round, known as the Star Challenge, each contestant must prepare and present one dish to Fogelson, Tuschman and the focus group.
Likewise, each episode thereafter will feature a first-round Mentor Challenge, the Star Challenge and then an elimination determined by the selection committee -- which includes Fogelson and Tuschman.
Examples of challenges that will be shown throughout the season are a mystery-ingredient challenge with Chopped judge Alex Guarnaschelli, a live-oncamera test with E! News co-host Terrence Jenkins, an Italian-themed task, a pantry cook-off featuring Kellogg's products, and a guest appearance by Guy Fieri and Robert Irvine.
The 12 contestants who will be competing on Food Network Star's ninth season are as follows:
- Nikki Dinki from New York, NY
- Andres Guillama from Waynesville, NC
- Rodney Henry from Baltimore, MD
- Chris Hodgson from Cleveland, OH
- Connie "Lovely" Jackson from Los Angeles, CA
- Russell Jackson from San Francisco, CA
- Danushka Lysek from New York, NY
- Daniela Perez-Reyes from Haleiwa, HI
- Viet Pham from Salt Lake City, UT
- Damaris Phillips from Louisville, KY
- Stacey Poon-Kinney from San Diego, CA
- Chad Rosenthal from Ambler, PA
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