Who Will You Vote For On ‘Food Network Star?’


Well, the latest great season of Food Network Star is rapidly drawing to a close with viewers getting to select a winner on this upcoming Sunday’s show, and for the first time ever, I must admit that I truly like all the final contenders. If you haven’t watched last night’s episode, beware: spoilers ahead…

Anyway, the group is now down to Michele (Team Bobby), Yvan (Team Giada), Justin (Team Alton), and Martie (Team Alton, surprise!!), all of whom filmed pilots that we then screened in the final quarter of last night’s episode. How’d they do? Pretty well, actually. For weeks, it has seemed like this has been Justin’s competition to lose, but quite frankly, the field may be more competitive than previously expected. Here’s a rundown of each finalist and their pilot:


Martie Duncan, Martie with the Party

Premise: Martie Duncan teaches us how to throw an awesome party.
Pros: Martie is sweet, warm, and lovable. She’s a natural in front of the camera, and even if she’s a chatterbox, editors are always standing by. Plus, her recipe — a citrus marinated shrimp — looked very tasty.
Cons: The idea of a party show doesn’t feel super fresh. We’ve seen it before. Plus, the name recalls a previous winner’s pilot: Aarti Party. At the end of the day, while Martie is totally cool, this feels like it may just be another show aimed squarely at the Paula Deen demo.


Yvan Lemoine, Family Style

Premise: Yvan cooks family style.
Pros: Yvan is the most telegenic of the group, and he seems like such a nice guy. Plus, his sweet corn mac and cheese looked kind of awesome, even if it did have shades of Sandra Lee to it.
Cons: I love Yvan, but he’s just not a natural in front of the camera. His voice gets crazy high, and he often seems like he’s running out of air. Even worse, the lilting pattern of his speech makes him sound like he’s addressing little kids. It’s totally bizarre considering how low (and dare I say sexy?) his voice can be while calmly speaking during his interviews. If only he could have grafted the latter personality onto the former.


Michele Ragussis, My New England

Premise: Michele brings New England cooking to the masses.
Pros: Michele is great. She’s so warm and friendly, even when she’s allegedly being serious and gruff. I like her, I like her dishes, and I like pilot. In fact, I actually felt like My New England was the best pilot of the bunch. Her recipe had me salivating, and I dug the way she interacted with the guy at the lobster place she visited. Most importantly of all: Michele brings expertise and authority to the table: I trust her, which is super important. Mix that and likability, and you have a serious contender.
Cons: The only serious con I can think of is that I just don’t know how much New England cuisine there is to sustain a full series. Listen, I love me some chowders and lobster rolls, but after five episodes, won’t we be kind of out of material? I guess that’s the Food Network’s problem, not ours.


Justin Warner, Rebel with a Culinary Cause

Premise: Justin shows us funky new takes on recipes and ingredients.
Pros: Justin is an original. He’s likable, he’s cool, and he always does super interesting things with his dishes. He’s been the one to beat all season long, and he would bring something totally new and quirky to Food Network. I trust his taste, and I’m excited to see what he comes up with.
Cons: I have to admit: I did not love the pilot. I actually thought it was the worst of the four. Maybe that’s because I’ve never been a major Good Eats fan, and Rebel with a Culinary Cause certainly borrowed plenty from that show stylistically (Alton Brown was the producer after all). To me, the pilot was aggressively quirky instead of casually cool. Instead of serving us the next Michael Voltaggio, we just got Alton Jr.. Additionally, the aspic caesar salad didn’t really capture my imagination. I’m sure it tasted great, but I expected more from Justin.

So now I’m torn. I’ve rooted for Justin all season, but I can’t say that I would actually watch his show if this is what it’s to be like. Quite frankly, I think Michele might be my dark horse candidate. She’s likable, she’s capable, and her taste-level seems high. Consider my vote CAST.

What do you think? Vote here.

11 replies on “Who Will You Vote For On ‘Food Network Star?’”

  1. I just voted. Since you get 10 online votes, I voted for all of them twice and then for Yvan and Justin once more. I like them all, and I thought that Michelle had a GREAT pilot, but Justin is who I would watch cook and Yvan is who I would try to cook his food so that is why they got the extra votes. Justin almost lost me with his aspic (gross) but he is entertaining! Yvan’s mac and cheese looked divine, and he explained it all in a way I could understand.

  2. I love Alton. I voted for Justin.
    But lets face it – any of them could be on the Food Network. Mediocre is their motto.


    1. Maybe hire them all so Food Network can stop showing “Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives” reruns 25 times a day.

  3. I’m kind of with the author on this. I like Justin. But the aspic caesar salad dressing was kinda gross. However I liked the premise of his show being an Alton 2.0 to go boldly where Alton has never gone before, or whatever, but I didn’t care for the way the pilot was filmed. So it’s hard to say what his actual show would be like. I’m hoping if he wins it will become more refined. I always like Michele’s POV and I like that she spells her name the right way (i.e. like mine), with one “l”, and I thought her pilot was good. So far I’ve voted a few times for Justin and a few times for Michele and once for Yvan. I definitely would have no problem watching Yvan, as he’s easy on the eyes :-), but he does have weird intonations in his voice that make him a little hard to listen to. I like his POV but I don’t have a large family to feed. However I could see how his recipes could be adapted to entertaining on a budget. And Martie… I could totally see her show as a Cooking Channel show. But not necessarily a food network show. She’s very likable when she’s not getting hung up on her age. I’d honestly be fine with any of the four of them winning. I’m glad Nikki was kicked off. She just got on my nerves and seemed very fake. I could have seen Ippy as maybe a special on Hawaii but time and again he had trouble showing the passion he has for food. So I think the network made the right choice in the 4 shows they decided to green light for pilots.

  4. I never watch Food Network. I’ll pull for one of the contestants all season, then never watch his or her show, so it doesn’t really matter what I think.

    But, here’s what I think. Justin is awesome. He’s smart but not arrogant, and has a genuine enthusiasm. I like that he’s inventive, and that he’s not cooking for the masses. But, while I’m a pretty adventurous eater, I’m not going to be racing home to make a peanut butter and bonita flakes sandwich any time soon. Justin’s food may be to “out there” for the average viewer.

    Martie has totally grown on me, and I love how warm and excited she is. Her food seems to have a broader appeal. Can’t Justin and Martie team up together for a show? He makes her push her limits, and she teases him and convinces us that the food really doesn’t taste weird?

    Yvan is adorable, but so sugary sweet I have a cavity from watching his pilot. And his brother can’t act worth shit. Yvan is a little unnatural, and “family style” doesn’t seem that interesting or unique. Plus, it’s a little…I don’t know…insulting? smug? that there is this implication that he loves his family even more than other people love their families. I know he’s sincere, but it rubs me the wrong way.

    Michelle is awesome off camera, but on camera she makes me nervous and feels forced. And, a lot of viewers don’t have access to the ingredients needed to make her cuisine. Maybe she’d be better suited for a show that doesn’t depend on her cuisine – maybe one where she visits other restaurants/regions. Or a show where she fights Guy Fieri to the death and wins.

  5. Oh and that scarf Yvan wears in his bio pic. Well that’s reason enough to nix him.

  6. I hadn’t watched previous seasons of this show, and this season seemed to take a while to come together, but I have to admit that I actually am pretty excited about this final group. I think Michele and Justin are my top two, with Yvan as the dark horse contender who kind of snuck up on everyone in the last couple episodes. Justin is a little bit too obvious in his quirkiness (definitely Alton 2.0), so overall I’m putting all my votes towards Michele. Plus I love me some good New England cooking! B-side, I think you’d know NE food is more than just lobster and chowder. 😉 Just in my ‘hood we have restaurants that serve cuisine from pretty much anywhere, and that’s before you consider the major influences of the North End and the Irish bars, so there’s tons of cultural references that she could bring in besides seafood. I guess if Michele or FN need any ideas, they can feel free to give me a call!

      1. Anytime! I know an excellent Korean place I can take you to…although I think my personal favorite is Ethiopian.

  7. I’ll right away take hold of your rss as I can’t in finding your email subscription hyperlink or newsletter service. Do you’ve any? Kindly allow me understand in order that I could subscribe. Thanks.

Comments are closed.