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Food Network Star Exit Interview: Martita Jara

All season long the judges have talked about how much they loved Martita and on more than one occasion I mentioned that editing must have been skewing what they loved about her.  It just wasn’t translating to the final product.  Well, after talking with her I can see exactly what Bob and Susie and Giada and everyone in the cast loves about Martita.  She’s is one of the most personable ladies I’ve met in some time, so warm and so sweet.  I totally get it now.  Editing sucks.

Check out her post-elimination Facebook post:

Truly humbled by all of the love, support and praise that has been shown to me through out my journey on Foodnetwork Star! Incredible mentor, Giada De Laurentiis, loving & kind crew and the best cast/friends that a girl like me, who comes from such an incredible loving family, could’ve ever been teamed up with! At first we were separate teams but within a couple of days we all became a family and to me that is what you all, Season 8 cast of Food Network Star, will always be! Thank you to all who have been and continue to send messages of love & support via facebook, twitter, txt, voicemail, believe me I feel the LOVE! I am truly Blessed! This is just the beginning! The best is yet to come!!! :-) XOXO

Martita JaraMartita Jara, 35 (San Diego), began working in her family’s restaurant business at a young age, and her mom’s authentic Mexican home cooking inspired Martita’s culinary passion. Her parents moved to the U.S. two years before she was born, and Martita credits them with her work ethic and perseverance. She attended a few semesters at culinary school, but most of her skills are self-taught. A vivacious newlywed who loves to entertain, Martita cooks with loads of Latin flavor and lots of love.

Some Star contestants leave the show having had their fill of TV and others leave hungrier than before.  Which category would you fall under?

Oh, I’m hungry.  I’m ready to start.  I’m ready to go.  To me getting eliminated was like, “OK.  Now what’s next?”  Let’s get busy.  Doing the show was just like a little tease to me of what’s to come.

What was the hardest part of the experience?

Being away from my family was really difficult.  They kept saying tell us more family stories and my thing was every time I’d start talking about my family I’d start crying and want to go get on a plane and go home.  I have the best family in the whole world.  For me to talk about them while being so far away from them was just too difficult.

Which cast members do you still have a strong bond with?

We’ve all stayed in touch.   Being over on the West Coast it’s a little bit hard because so many of them are on the East Coast but we all stay in touch.  Nikki is the only one I’ve seen.  I don’t know I think we’re all pretty close.

I’m so excited to be in New York (for the live finale in two weeks) because there wasn’t any tension or bad energy with anyone.  We all really got along and it was so amazing.  Even though I haven’t been physically close to them I feel close to them always.

What’s the number one thing you learned on the show?

I think we can all do a lot more than we thought we could do.   You don’t realize what you are capable of until you’re pushed to do something.  I am capable of a lot more than I think I am; there’s no limits.

Do you have any projects going on at the moment?

I’m working on a line of gourmet margaritas.   I’m getting all my recipes together, that’s taking a long time but that’s OK, cuz I’m trying to get a publisher for a cookbook.  I’ve been talking to a couple of people about doing a pilot for a show.  I’ve actually written a pitch for a show and sent it to a couple of production companies.  I’m working on a few things.


For more on Martita check out her web page HERE.  Be sure to check out all of the Star Season 8 Exit Interviews HERE.

Food Network Star Exit Interview: Malcolm Mitchell

It was a little odd that both people in the Producer’s Challenge were both from Team Bobby.  I think Martita might have warranted a spot there over Malcolm.  I also think that Malcolm’s performance in the Producer’s Challenge was good enough to win.  Of course we don’t see everything that happens in a taping.  After all the entire round takes place over a few days and we get to see 60 minutes of it.  Unfortunately, Malcolm’s run is over.

Malcolm MitchellMalcolm Mitchell, 41 (Washington, D.C.), received a degree in culinary arts after spending four years in the Navy. Malcolm began cooking alongside his mother and credits her for teaching him how to create great meals on a budget. After his time in the military, he realized that he could turn his passion for cooking and entertaining into a career; he is now a personal chef and caterer for sports teams, politicians and entertainers. Malcolm describes himself as “a classically trained chef with an urban touch.”

Is there anything in your life’s experiences that compares to competing on Food Network Star?

I would say I like to compete so it reminds me of when I competed in school w/football.

What’s the number one thing you have taken away from your experience on the show?

I have taken away always staying true to my food and preparing great food. I will continue to be me.

Do you have a defined POV now and if so what is it?

From Day 1, My POV is and was Keeping it Simple and Soulfoul…Global Soul. It’s more than just SOULFOOD….Fried Chicken and Mac and Cheese.

In what ways has being on the show changed your life?

More opportunities for exposure and resources to continue to climb in my career.

What’s next on the horizon for Malcolm Mitchell?

I am working on a restaurant concept in Richmond Va., I am seeking an agent and I am hopeful to get my own show one day.


For more on Malcolm check out his web page HERE.  Be sure to check out all of the Star Season 8 Exit Interviews HERE.

Food Network Star Exit Interview: Emily Ellyn

Emily EllynEmily Ellyn, 29 (Orlando, Fla.), a trained chef, studied at the Culinary Institute of America and Academie Internationale de Management in Paris. Emily was exposed to the food world as a child growing up on a farm in Ohio and developed her skills after her parents encouraged her to travel the world. She has worked in various restaurant positions and is currently pursuing her Ph.D. in hospitality management. Relying on her experience and academic chops, Emily loves using fresh, local and culturally intriguing ingredients.

It is way too early in this contest to be having a conversation with Emily.  She is  too good to be out of this competition.  It’s disturbing.  What’s more disturbing is the way Team Alton has been seemingly targeted for elimination by the judges.  Even Alton showed frustration and anger with the judges and what can only be described as their agenda when it comes to his team.  It makes you wonder what they are up to.  I guess we’ll know in about four more weeks.

One of the most common search phrases that has brought people to my site since last night is “I can’t believe Emily Ellyn was eliminated.”  Neither can I.

Is there anything in your life’s experiences that compares to competing on Food Network Star?

Ha!  Uh, no.

It is exciting, thrilling, bizarre.  It exceeded my expectations for starters.  It was nothing that I could have imagined.  I met so many great people.  I feel so blessed because this is such a great opportunity.  I was portrayed so well on the show.  It is the best, positive resume that I could have done and given to the world.  And to have Food Network as a platform to launch me in my career is so awesome.  I can’t thank the Network enough.  It was a very positive experience for me.

What’s the number one thing you have taken away from your experience on the show?

The relationships with the people.  I mean I met so many great people.  Like I said, I’m blessed.  I met so many people at the Network on so many different levels.  The actual TV networking and learning all about production.  I’ve never been in this business; I’ve been in the food world and education world.  It was fascinating to me to meet the people and see what they do.

So networking I guess is the short answer.

What was it like meeting each of the Food Network celebs?

When I left to start filming I had to tell my nephew that Auntie Em was going to be around anymore.  He’s three years old and he didn’t understand.  I said I’m going to be on TV.  He kept saying Auntie Em was going to be in the TV with those people.

When I saw them I was like, “I’m in the TV!”  I’m with people that I watch and admire.  It was cool.  I was in the TV.

In what ways has being on Food Network Star changed your life?

Out of the woodwork fans come up and they share their stories, their cookbooks with me.  And their large spiral bound church cookbooks with handwritten recipes, they share them with me and show me pictures of their food.

The best thing is this has always been my dream.  It’s letting me live my dream.  I will have a TV show and I will write books and I will be able to touch the public and have them fall in love with me through their hearts and their stomachs.


To keep up with what’s happening with Emily you can visit his web site (HERE).  Be sure to check out all of the Star Season 8 Exit Interviews HERE.

Goodbyes From 2011

In 2011 we foodies said goodbye to a number of food shows.  Here’s a list:

Good Eats on Cooking ChannelGood Eats – after 11 years creator/host Alton Brown called it a series so that he could have more time with his family and to develop new projects.

Big Daddy’s House – after being declared the winner of Food Network Star 4, Aaron McCargo Jr. logged 61 episodes before moving on to the next stage of his career.

Crave – possibly the smartest show Food Network has done in years only received a single season but my guess is it will become the Firefly of TV food shows.  Troy, promise me I get to be in the big screen version!

Ace of Cakes – the show that introduced the world to cake decorating.  Duff Goldman and his hilarious staff of artisans, hipsters and other quirky personalities made cake into a trend.  I don’t blame Duff for all of the crappy cake shows on the air today because his was actually good.

Aarti Party – yet another Food Network Star show got the axe.  Currently only three of the seven winning shows are still in production.  Next to Guy’s Big Bite, Aarti Party was clearly the best FNS show ever.  EVER.  Like Good Eats it will live on with the Cooking Channel.  As for Aarti, she has a new series in the works that is a collaboration FNS 5 winner Melissa D’Arabian.

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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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