Food Network Star 9 Premieres Sunday

Food Network Star 9

The latest season of Food Network Star premieres this Sunday and I have to admit I’m struggling to get excited for it.  Is it burn out?  I mean, has this show lost it’s steam or is it just me? Then again I said that last year and I ended up making a lot of great friends on the show.

Still there have been tons of disappointing moments over the past few years (Aaron McCargo Jr. winning FNS4 tops the list) and maybe they have taken their toll on me.  It took almost a year for FNS8 winner Justin Warner and Food Network to come to terms on a contract.  Kudos to Justin for refusing to be stuck in a tired vehicle in a lame time slot.  Well played, my friend.

But there are a lot of intriguing (i.e. attractive) people in this year’s cast, several of whom are Food Network veterans having appeared on Chopped, Great Food Truck Race, Iron Chef or any number of food travel shows.  I have no problem with that.  It just proves they have what it takes to be there.  Here’s a look at this season’s crew:

Andres Guillama
Andres Guillama grew up in a traditional Cuban family with six siblings, and he began working at his father’s restaurant at an early age. He has struggled with his weight in the past, but he lost 150 pounds by changing his habits. Andres now uses his charm and wit to educate youth about obesity and nutrition.
Chad Rosenthal
Chad Rosenthal, Passionate about all things barbecue, Chad, 37, is a self-taught cook in the process of opening a comfort food eatery near Philadelphia. Growing up, this father of two would perform cooking shows for his family, and he now wants to turn that childhood play into reality.
Chris Hodgson
Chris Hodgson, A graduate of Le Cordon Bleu, Chris, 27, was the mastermind behind Cleveland’s first-ever food truck. He founded a second truck before opening his premiere brick-and-mortar restaurant, Hodge’s. In 2011, Chris and his teammates were the runners-up on The Great Food Truck Race.
Damaris Phillips
A self-described Southern spitfire, Damaris, 32, was introduced to the kitchen at a young age and grew up cooking for her family one night a week. She’s now a culinary school instructor, equally known for her trademark wit and her classic Southern cuisine.
Daniela Perez-Reyes
Born in Peru, Daniela, 29, earned a culinary arts degree from The Art Institute at San Diego and currently works as the chef de cuisine for a catering company in Hawaii. She’s known for introducing signature Peruvian and Polynesian flavors into food.
Lovely Jackson
The baby of her family, Connie, 27, earned the nickname “Lovely” as a child. After growing up in the kitchen with her mom, she received a bachelor’s in culinary management, and is now a glamorous private chef for celebrities and athletes.
Nikki Dinki
Nikki Dinki, After growing up a picky eater, Nikki, 29, craved a diverse palate as an adult, so she set out to learn how to cook and found her passion. She’s the creator of an online cooking show that showcases her semi-vegetarian lifestyle and combines her love of the spotlight and of food.
Danushka Lysek
Danushka Lysek, 37, has had a place in the kitchen since she was a child. Now a culinary school graduate, she works as a private chef in New York and specializes in cooking seasonal farm-to-table cuisine. In 2012, Danushka competed on Chopped and survived two rounds of cooking.
Rodney Henry
Rodney Henry, owner of three Dangerously Delicious Pies shops, Rodney, 47, is known for his next-level interpretations of the classic pie. This former musician has appeared on Chopped and Throwdown With Bobby Flay, among other Food Network shows, and is a father of two with a style all his own.
Russel Jackson
Russell Jackson, 49, is the founder of an underground supper club in San Francisco, where he uses local ingredients to create innovative meals. Now considering the kitchen home, he’s been cooking since he was 3 years old and recently battled Jose Garces in Iron Chef America Battle Rhubarb.
Stacey Poon-Kinney
Stacey Poon-Kinney. As the great-granddaughter of a chef, Stacey, 34, grew up around food, first performing tasks in the kitchen when she was a child. After pursuing her love of a dance, she teamed up with her father to open The Trails Eatery in San Diego, which was featured on Season 2 of Restaurant: Impossible.
Viet Pham
Victor over Bobby Flay in Iron Chef America Battle Ground Meat, Viet Pham, 34, was born in Malaysia and graduated from culinary school in California. He worked in restaurants in San Francisco before founding his own eatery in Salt Lake City, and he is known for his globally inspired dishes.

Food Network Star: The Wannabe TV Chef Interviews

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Stuart in 80 Words or Less
Stuart is a celebrity chef, food activist and award-winning food writer. He penned the cookbooks Third Coast Cuisine: Recipes of the Gulf of Mexico, No Sides Needed: 34 Recipes To Simplify Life and Amigeauxs - Mexican/Creole Fusion Cuisine. He hosts two Internet cooking shows "Everyday Gourmet" and "Little Grill Big Flavor." His recipes have been featured in Current, Lagniappe, Southern Tailgater, The Kitchen Hotline and on the Cooking Channel.

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Stuart’s Honors & Awards
2015 1st Place Luck of the Irish Cook-off
2015 4th Place Downtown Cajun Cook-off
2015 2nd Place Fins' Wings & Chili Cook-off
2014 2015 4th Place LA Gumbo Cook-off
2012 Taste Award nominee for best chef (web)
2012 Finalist in the Safeway Next Chef Contest
2011 Taste Award Nominee for Little Grill Big Flavor
2011, 12 Member: Council of Media Tastemakers
2011 Judge: 29th Chef's of the Coast Cook-off
2011 Judge: Dauphin Island Wing Cook-off
2011 Cooking Channel Perfect 3 Recipe Finalist
2011 Judge: Dauphin Island Gumbo Cook-off
2011 Culinary Hall of Fame Member
2010 Tasty Awards Judge
2010 Judge: Bayou La Batre Gumbo Cook-off
2010 Gourmand World Cookbook Award Nominee
2010 Chef2Chef Top 10 Best Food Blogs
2010 Denay's Top 10 Best Food Blogs
2009 2nd Place Bay Area Food Bank Chef Challenge
2008 Tava: Discovery Contest Runner-up
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