Exclusive Interview

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.

Food Network Star Exit Interview: Linkie Marais

There was a return to sanity this week on Food Network Star.  After last week’s tomfoolery from the judges this week was comparatively sane.  Sure it was predictable that someone from Team Giada would get the axe, after all they have to keep those teams even right?  I did not think Linkie would be the one going home.  She was easily the most consistent member of her team.  But at the same time she did not have a great performance in this particular round.

Linkie MaraisLinkie Marais, 28 (North Attleborough, Mass.), moved from South Africa to Mississippi when she was 16, but her interest in baking and decorating cakes started long before then. During high school she worked for a wedding company, where she decorated wedding cakes and catered. She later graduated from college with a degree in culinary arts and worked as a pastry chef and cake artist. Linkie moved to Boston, where she worked for a high-profile baking company and was part of a team that decorated up to 80 cakes per week. Her recipes and techniques are influenced by the South African cuisine she grew up with.

Being as you are a baker, what are the chances we will see you competing on a show like Cupcake Wars?

I would love to do Cupcake Wars.  I’m an artist at heart and cake decorating allows me an outlet for my creativity.  It would give me a chance to show off my creative side.  Not just in design but also in flavor.  So, yes, I would be thrilled to compete on Cupcake Wars.

I think you would make a great judge.  Could you see yourself judging a show like Cupcake Wars?

Oh wow!  Yes I would really love that.  I would love to judge other people’s creativity.  I know where the contestants are coming from.  I’ve been in their shoes so I can appreciate what it takes compete in that setting.  I used to compete in pageants and then I went on to judge them.  I think having competed before makes you better equipped to judge.

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

So many different ways.  For instance my friends on Facebook went from 600 to over 1,200 like over night.  People recognize me when I go to the store.  Even before the show started I was getting requests for interviews and other opportunities.  It’s really amazing how much it has changed my life.

Who on the show are you still good friends with?

Everyone really.  It was such a great group of people.  I can’t really say I’m closer to one more than the other.  I love all of them so much.  Judson and I used to sing together.  Martie was my roommate.  I talk to Josh, Emily.  Justin encouraged me a lot during the show and I had a great talk with Ippy the other day.  Nikki and I are really goods friends.  Really I love everyone so much.  I’d have to say that I’m still close with all of them.  I just want to give a shout out to all of them; they’ve been great.

What’s your next project?

I would love to do Dancing with the Stars but I don’t know if I see that happening.  I am working on a cookbook and I’m setting up a series of workshops.  I’m going to be teaching cake decorating – beginners and advanced, plus a fondant workshop.  Some will be demonstrations and others will be hands-on.  I find many people learn better when they do it themselves.  We’re looking at workshops in Nashville, New Orleans, Mississippi,  several here in Massachusetts.  When we firm up the dates I’ll post them on the web site.


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

Food Network Star Exit Interview: Judson Todd Allen

The bulk of people who watch trash like Jersey Shore or Operation Repo are, I believe, largely societal parasites – people who don’t work and don’t contribute to their community.  They also do not have any disposable income.  But they do watch a lot of TV.  A lot of shows air trash so that they can attract these viewers just so they can brag about the numbers that watch to potential advertisers.

There are times when blogging Food Network Star that it effects me on a personal level.  I am often offended as a longtime fan of the network when they pull ratings stunts to attract new viewers.  One day Food Network and more importantly their advertisers will learn that while controversy attracts viewers it does not attract viewers with money.

So when FNS pulls stunts like they did last night it effects me on on a personal level.  As a fan I want the rules to be set in stone.  If they are not than it isn’t a genuine contest; it’s just another work of fiction.  I have long had trust issues with Food Network Star and last night did nothing to help that.

And I’m not alone either.  Alton Brown was noticeably upset with the last second rules change.  That’s understandable since it certainly appeared to be done simply to trim his team down to three regardless of what happened in the competition.

The Twitterverse certainly had a lot to say about the last minute rules change.  Check it out:

[blackbirdpie url=”https://twitter.com/MzzRandom/statuses/212028736999145473″]

[blackbirdpie url=”https://twitter.com/SerenaPalumbo/statuses/212003635842912257″]

[blackbirdpie url=”https://twitter.com/ron1n/status/212286374706036737″]

Judson Todd AlenThere was a point in the Pitch Room after Emily and Justin had been excused that Susie was addressing Martie and Judson.  She said, “We like and respect both of you so much.”  I am a student of body language and facial expressions.  When Susie said that statement her eyes looked up and to the left – a classic sign of deceit.  Who is the BS artist again?

There’s another reason last night’s outcome bothered me.  Judson is a very good friend of mine.  We chat all the time and have hung out together.  I can’t see visiting Chicago again without making time to meet up with him for a bite to eat.  So I didn’t just see an injustice on a reality TV show, I saw an injustice that had an effect on the life of a very good friend of mine.

But Judson is always a class act and one of the most passionate people I’ve met in this business.  He’s far from done.  See for yourself.

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

Hmm, I would say yes and no.  In college I pledged a traditionally black fraternity.  Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Inc.  We are the first black Greek letter fraternity.  I went through the pledging process in college.  It was difficult.  I told myself that if I can go through this I can go through anything.  So I went into the competition thinking I pledged a fraternity; I can do this.  Yeah, not so much.

I really wasn’t ready for what Food Network Star brought my way.

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

The number one thing that I think I’ve been able to walk away with is knowing my value, embracing my new brand.  I didn’t come in with it to the show but I found it at the end of the show.  And I recognize that there’s a major, major opportunity for me to touch the lives of millions of people not only in America but around the world.

You know I was pushed into the national spotlight with Food Network Star but the journey has just begun.  I think I’m ready now.  I’m ready to tell my story, to talk about the struggles.

Weight isn’t something that you’re going to lose and then your home free.  It’s an addiction like drugs,  It’s an addiction like alcohol.  At any point in any given time you can relapse.  So it’s something that I have to be cognizant of my whole life.  This is a chance for me to really drive home that point.  I’m ready to take people on that journey of what I’ve gone through.

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

I mean to actually be in the same room with people that I’ve admired and looked up to for a long time, wow.   Bobby is like this swagged out cool guy.  I think it’s cool because it works for him.  If I good get my hands on whoever makes Bobby’s suits, I mean he was always decked out.

How would you describe working with Alton Brown?

How lucky was I to be paired with Alton Brown?  I am on record as saying he is one of my favorites on Food Network.    You know with my quirkiness it was great working with him.  Initially working with Alton Brown was a bit intimidating but the more I got to know his heart the more I began to realize he’s in this for us.  There was a genuineness to how he actually valued us as a team.

What’s next for the “Architect of Flavor?”

I’m doing an event on Thursday with the American Cancer Society.  It’s an amazing opportunity to raise awareness about stomach cancer.  We’re going to have about 500 people in Brooklyn, NY at the Irondale Theater.  How cool is it, Macy Gray is our celebrity entertainment?  So we’re going to be working together.  She’s going to be DJ’ing and performing and I’m going to be the guest chef.

Who is your favorite food blooger to split a pie from Lou Malnati’s with?

Stu of course!  I read your blog all the time and I’m telling you it’s some deep stuff.  I’m on Team Stu.


For more on the Eat, Drink & Be Hopeful event with Judson and Macy Gray visit the web site HERE.  To keep up with what’s happening with Judson you can visit his web site HERE.  Be sure to check out all of the Star Season 8 Exit Interviews HERE.


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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.

Stu’s Latest Kindle Single is Just $2.99

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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