Food Network Star Exit Interview: Justin Davis
The first order of business – Happy Fourth of July! Because of the holiday Food Network delayed the exit interview until Tuesday. I hope that hasn’t sent anyone into DTs.
Other than the occasional guest spot on Iron Chef America or Best Thing I Ever Ate the Food Network had earned a reputation for snubbing new media foodies. A serious amount of disrespect considering that there are foodie web sites that are actually older than the Food Network. Most people, given the opportunity, would rather watch Average Betty than Barefoot Contessa. We’d rather see Chef Unleashed than the abomination that is Extreme Chef.
But that changed a little on August 2, 2008 when Ask Aida premiered.
The Aida in question was Aida Mollenkamp who had previously been the editor of the mega food site CHOW.com. Last year another food blogger, Aarti Sequeira (AartiPaarti.com, GoodBite.com) competed and won Food Network Star 6. It isn’t much, but it’s a start.
Enter Justin Davis, one part of the husband-wife food blogging team behind GastronomicDuo.com. Justin was poised to be the next new media foodie to find stardom on the latest installment of Star.
Justin hardly received any face-time the first two weeks, dominated the screen in week three, became a promising competitor in week four. But in week five Justin’s run was over. His elimination was puzzling since Chris had a much worse performance than anyone else on the show, for the second time this season. But at the same time Justin never really put in a great performance.
Alicia Sanchez voiced displeasure with her experience on the show in a blog post that has since disappeared. In it she suggested that contestants were not eliminated because of performance but according to script. She has also voiced her suspicions about whether Chris and Penny were actors who were planted to spice things up. As it turns out, Penny was an actress. Last week Justin Balmes seemed less than joyful over his Star experience as well.
This week I get the feeling that Justin Davis was just relieved to be off the show based on this from his elimination post at Gastronomic Duo, “If Food Network wants Penny’s, Chris’s and Jyll’s, they can have them. I was called the opposite of authentic, I would say the same for the show. ”
Justin mentioned some of the close friends he made on the show even mentioning that when Justin B. was eliminated he actually teared up. At the same time he clearly was not enamored with all of his fellow contestants saying, “A lot of the other finalists, I felt, were like little children standing in a room yelling Hey, look at me! Look at me!” He said inwardly he felt, “I don’t know that I want to play this game.” “I put myself out there to be judged and to be critiqued. I can’t be upset about how it turned out,” he admitted clearly upset.
It was obvious both watching the show and talking to him that Justin was not happy being part of Food Network Star. His performance on the show was easily that of someone who was disengaged. I think Bobby Flay nailed it when he said, “He dropped out of high school and I feel like now he is dropping out gain.” Justin himself said, “I learned something about myself; I learned I’m not cut out for reality TV.” An honest assessment.
Justin was also nice enough to share some of the warmer behind-the-scenes happenings. He was especially impressed with the approachability of season two winner Guy Fieri saying, “He took the extra time to kind of step away from everything that was happening, which is the competition, and took a minute to talk to everyone as a person not as Guy Fieri. It was really interesting to see that side of him. He concluded, “I found him to be a humble and welcoming person.”
How has traffic to Gastronomic Duo been effected by your appearance on Star?
It definitely has seen an upswing. I feel like we’re a little bit more on the radar. Especially locally, my local appearances, we’ve seen a lot of really good traffic. I’d still like to see a lot more obviously.
We’ve been running it for two years and I think the first year and a half was trying to figure out what it was going to be. We’ve finally got it to the point that it looks good; it feels good. Now we just have to get the video in play.
To date Aida and Aarti are the only two Food Network celebs to get their start on the Internet. Do you think that the network is missing out by not tapping new media sources for on-air talent?
I think that there’s a huge food blogging community out there and I have found them to be, for the most part, really supportive. People want to start this online discussion about food and I think that food bloggers have a lot to say. Do I think that they are totally missing out? I don’t know. I wouldn’t deter any food blogger from trying to go on the show.
On your blog post yesterday you alluded to “big things” on the horizon. Can you give us a hint as to what you have in the works?
I’m lining up doing a small online series; it’s just going to be a quick four episodes. Get it up and get it out there and try to market myself. I think we’ll find some really fun special guests. I think it’ll be an interesting thing. I want it to be an expansion of my blog. It’s my half of the blog.
I’m all about seducing women with food. I think that if I can teach men to cook a lady something that they’re going to love I feel like they’re going to have a much better chance at getting a second date. I’m going to do a little video series on that and see what the response is.
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Be sure to stop by each Monday for my exclusive mourning after exit interviews with each exiled foodie (HERE). This year I have also added the WTVC (WannabeTVchef) Food Network Star Polls – six categories for contestants who best embody the spirit of former Food Network Star competitors. Be sure to check them out HERE. Click HERE to get all the news, gossip and snark on Food Network Star season 7.