Jeff Mauro crowned 'Food Network Star's seventh-season champion
By Elizabeth Kwiatkowski, 08/15/2011
Jeff Mauro was crowned Food Network Star's seventh-season winner during Sunday night's pre-taped finale broadcast of the culinary competition series.
As Food Network Star's winner, the corporate chef from Elmwood Park, IL, will star in his own Food Network series.
"This moment is beyond anything I could ever expect. I know my family's proud of me and I set an example for my son. I came in here with an immense love for sandwiches, and that carried me through this competition. And now, I can entertain millions of people while giving them knowledge through the world's greatest food. I feel blessed. Not many people get to see their dream come true," Jeff said after his victory was revealed.
Jeff defeated runner-up Susie Jimenez, a private chef from Carbondale, CO, and third-place finisher Vic "Vegas" Moea, an executive chef from Las Vegas, during last night's finale.
Food Network Star's seventh-season finale began with the three remaining finalists competing in a camera challenge, which required them to each prepare a dish that best represented their culinary skills.
After the three contestants presented their dishes to the selection committee -- network executives Bob Tuschman and Susie Fogelson, Iron Chef America star Bobby Flay, and Giada at Home star Giada De Laurentiis -- they reviewed the finalists' food creations and on-air presentations and then decided to eliminate Vic.
Following Vic's elimination, the two remaining finalists Jeff and Susie each had to film a pilot presentation of their proposed new cooking shows at Food Network's New York headquarters. Second-seasonThe Next Food Network Star's winner Guy Fieri directed the contestants' pilots.
After the pilots were filmed, they were shown to a focus group of previously eliminated Food Network Star contestants and the selection committee. Tuschman, Fogelson, Flay, and De Laurentiis then determined the winner.
Jeff's pilot for his proposed Sandwich King cooking show featured him showing viewers how to turn any meal into a sandwich, while Susie's Spice It Up pilot showcased how to add a new twist to existing Mexican food dishes.
"Over the last 11 weeks, you've both proved to us that you have what it takes to be a food star," Bob told the finalists after the selection committee deliberated on their decision.
Brooke Johnson, the president of Food Network, was then introduced and spoke to the final two contestants.
"Jeff and Susie, congratulations to you both. We are incredibly proud of you. One of you tomorrow morning will be starting your new job at Food Network. Don't be late. We'll be here to greet you with open arms," Brooke explained.
"The person that we've chosen to be the next Food Network Star is Jeff. Congratulations!" Bobby said.
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Jeff's new daytime cooking show Sandwich King will premiere on Sunday, August 21 at 10:30AM ET/PT.