Food Network Star Exit Interview: Jyll Everman

The roller coaster that is the integrity of Food Network Star appears to have bottomed out again.  This season has been filled with unsavory characters, questionable judgements and startling revelations.  The resemblance this season is having to season four is shocking.  Watching this season makes me feel dirty.

Jyll Everman Food Network StarAt least one contestant has alleged that the show was scripted.  Coincidentally we’ve discovered that another was actually an actress.  And last night we saw a classic example of editing betraying reality.  To watch last night’s episode as it aired one might believe that Jyll actually was the one who should have been sent home.

However, if you watch the actual performances of each contestant from the Rachael Ray Show web site you’ll see something completely different.  First off, Jyll had an extraordinary performance.  Not only did she win the cupcake challenge (curious how that didn’t make the final edit) but her performance on Rachael Ray was fantastic.  She had one half second stammer when answering a question that Network editing turned into a 3 to 4 second brain freeze by splicing together several camera angels of the same micro-expression.  Jyll’s over all performance was the best of the episode yet she was sent home.

The other thing you’ll see watching the full performances is that Vic wasn’t quite as bad as the judges let on and Susie’s demo went much worse than the editing would lead you to believe.  Susie’s performance was obviously the weakest and, sweet though she may be, she should have been the one sent home.  Remember that should Susie prove to be this season’s winner.

As for Jyll, she showed what an amazing person she is handling the situations with Penny and Wolfgang Puck with grace and professionalism.  For all of Susie Fogelson’s complaints about Jyll seeming fake, I just never saw it.  Perhaps it is borne from the natural cynicism of a New Yorker – no one is really that happy so she must be faking it.

If you trip over to Jyll’s Facebook page you can read her account of things.  It will give you an idea of how it looked from the other side of the lens.  “Like,” you ask?

You might be surprised to learn that Jyll was in the top group for six out of eight camera challenges, three of which she won. You wouldn’t know that because most of it was edited out.  Here’s another nugget – the dish that got Jyll picked to be on the show was arancini or fried balls of risotto.  The POV Jyll mentioned on Rachael Ray that Susie and Bob said “came out of nowhere” was in truth their suggestion.

Oh, remember Alicia saying that the dessert challenge was nothing like it appeared on the final edit?  Jyll also reveals that the footage was thoroughly misrepresented as well.  Jyll’s other bombshell is about those contestant journals – the contestants were never told their journals would be published for the world to read.

You were involved in three of the most memorable scenes this season in exchanges with Howie, Penny and Wolfgang Puck.  How were you able to handle each with such dignity and grace?

It’s all about perspective.  I’m one of those people that really believes that if something is challenging you and pushing you to be someone who you aren’t you step back and you need to learn from it.  You can grow from it and move on especially with “WolfGate” – which is what we call it in our house.  You just have to try and find the positive if you can.

If someone you cared about was considering going on Food Network Star what would you tell them?

I would tell them that they have no idea what they’re in for.  When you go into it all you’re thinking of is the competition aspect of it.  You’re not thinking about what’s it going to be like if I can’t call home or I don’t get to sleep.  Get up early, go to bed late.  It’s a grueling schedule and then on top of it have to compete in front of cameras, judges and millions of people, there’s no way to prepare for that.  I would tell them you need to go in strong and believing in what you do and knowing that it’s going to be the most challenging thing you’ll ever do.

How much has interest in your company, Jyllicious Bites, changed since Food Network Star premiered?

Just recently my business has started to boom.  I had a little lady at church the other day tell that everyone assumed I was still filming so now that it’s getting toward the end, even today I’ve already gotten three phone calls for catering.

I didn’t go on this show to be famous and I didn’t go on this show to be rich.  I went on this show because my husband and I work so hard everyday in an attempt to make our mortgage payment.  The economy has really hit us so I went on this show to try and make a better life for us.  And now if I’m getting catering coming in then I’ve won.  It’s exactly what I came to do and if I got a show out of it that would have been amazing.  But the fact that my business is about to pick up I feel like I’ve already won.


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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.

5 Responses to Food Network Star Exit Interview: Jyll Everman

  • dlwarner says:

    Your article is interesting, but you're making a lot of allegations that don't appear to be backed up in the links. Where did anyone say the show was scripted. And who was the actress? I'm missing something here. As for things like the journal, I think the contestant probably didn't read the release form she signed. Typically, everything a contestant does on a reality show is property of the network. I'm willing to be it's also in the contract rules. At season seven, I can't feel sorry for any of the contestants that don't know what they are getting into. Past contestants have complained about the fatigue, the pressure and the isolation from family. I don't understand why any contestant now doesn't know that the person they have to win against is themselves in finding out how to be best on camera while delivering the goods, food wise. I do not think Jyl won the Rachel segment. She was uncomfortable to watch and she wasn't very informative. Her food did not sound appetizing. I liked her as a person, but she's been on the bubble in my opinion for a few weeks. I had yet to see her do something that I wanted to learn from. And no, even if a person cooks amazing food, a viewer has to want to watch them. I don't have a favorite for the winner yet, but I don't disagree with any of the decisions to drop the contestants that were dropped.

    • Thank you for not taking everything you read on the Net as gospel and doing some research.

      Alicia said in her blog that eliminations where timed and had little to do with the contestants actual performance. Food Network has forced her to remove that post. I'm not sure I totally agreed with her but she said it.

      Check out my exit interview with Penny. She was more than happy to announce that she was an actress and plugged her new roll in a movie which begins filming in a few weeks. She is also listed with Explore Talent as an actress. She may have been that crazy but it is also likely that it was a character she did to get noticed.

      As far as Jyll's performance on the RaRay Show you have to watch the actual performance which is on Rachael's web site. Food Network's edit was incredibly misleading. Watch them all and you'll see what I mean. Watch all of Susie's awkward and clumsy demo and you'll be struck with how much it stands out as the weakest. Jeff's demo was a little smoother but Jyll's was the best received by the audience. And the stated goal of this show is to find the person the audience likes the best. Of course we have seen with previous winners (The Hearty Boys, Aaron McCargo, Amy Finley) that the goal of this show is not always to find the best TV chef.

      I wish the quality of cooking was a bigger part of this show but if it were Justin B and Juba would still be on the show and Mary Beth and Jeff would not. If you get down to just plain cooking chops Justin B, Whitney and Juba are head and shoulders above the rest. But then again, Food Network isn't about cooking anymore that's why they created the Cooking Channel.

      You make great points on what each contestant "should have" known. I agree 100%. It's just like High Fructose Corn Syrup, if it's cheaper than sugar we as the American people "should have" known it was worse for us but we ignored common sense because we wanted it to be something else.

  • amyrchapman says:

    Is it me or is this year's food network star series more controversial than in the past? It seems like contestants who were eliminated have been more open about gripes, etc…

    I guess my feeling is that it's a reality show, albeit not like a crazy "who wants to marry a midget" reality show, but one nonetheless.

    As for the best cook, Food Network needs to look for folks who people also want to watch, not just who can cook the best. Watching Juba or frankly, even Justin B., was hard despite their cooking prowess.

    My gripe about this year's show has been the round robin of judges. Why promote that Giada is going to be a ful time judge when she has only been on half the shows? And why is Susie only on some of the shows? I thought Justin D. had a lot of potential, but the advice he was given by Guy, was counter to the other advice he was given.

    Lastly, I didn't watch season 4, and I happen to like Aaron McCargo and have made his recipes from his show. What happened that year and why is Food Network giving him the shaft now when they are putting on crap like Heat Seekers and Tough Cookies?

    • I think you are dead on with your analysis. I believe a lot of the change this year is how young the cast is. Since you didn't see the season Aaron won Kelsey Nixon and Shane Lyons dominated but were ultimately sent home solely because Bob felt they were too young to be taken seriously.

      The oldest contestant this season was Howie at 40. The majority of this season's cast was (at the time of filming) under 33 years old. That's a lot of youth and I think it has shown in the attitudes. Some were incredibly immature. As far as the musical chairs at the judges table my guess is that these are all incredibly busy individuals who have at least one full time job (and in the case of Flay 3 or 4).

      This show has always been inconsistent in its mission. In season one it was a talent search with just a touch of social agenda (first gay couple to host a national TV show). Season two was pure talent search. Seasons three and four were pure reality hijinks to pull in ratings – finding new talent was secondary. Seasons 5 and 6 were talent searches with splashes of reality TV. This year is pure reality TV again.

      Kelsey losing season 4 despite winning more than half the challenges is one reason that season stands out as particularly bad. The second reason is that in the 2nd to last episode they were supposed to cut one of the three remaining finalists (Lisa Garza, Adam Gertler & McCargo). On that challenge Lisa blew the house away, Adam was OK and Aaron put in the single worst performance in the history of the show. Even Chris' dessert challenge fiasco this season was not as bad as Aaron's attempt at making a joke out of eating disorders paired with the worst food he put out that season. Rather than sending Aaron home the judges changed the rules to keep him in the contest by just not sending anyone home. The next week he won. The behind the scenes talk I've heard on that season is that Aaron was chosen as the winner before the show even started and they had to change the rules to save that. The great irony of season four is that it produced four people who've gone on to host shows on major cable networks – Kevin Roberts (who was eliminated in episode 2) is the host of BBQ Pit Masters (originally on TLC, now on Planet Green) has actually has as much success as eventual winner Aaron and Adam Gertler and Kelsey Nixon have had tremendous success each having hosted several shows.

      As far as Aaron's show it has never done well with a national audience. He has his devout followers (like yourself) but for most people it is just uncomfortable to watch. His food is terrific but the mumbling, lack of camera presence and forced energy just take away from the food. Those were the critiques of him throughout the Star competition and though they have greatly improved since then they still exist. Credit Tuschman for not giving up on the show; they have tried it in a number of time slots and it just doesn't draw the ratings.

      I'm with you on Tough Cookies it belongs in the trash heap along with Cupcake Wars and Food Network Cake Challenge. However, I love Heat Seekers – I like spicy food and I enjoy the buddy-cop feel of Aaron Sanchez and Roger Mooking. Mooking especially is one of my favorite TV chefs.

      • amyrchapman says:

        Thanks for help on some of the food network star backstory. I'm kind of glad Lisa didn't win season 4, desite being a good chef with an interesting story (I saw her on Chopped All Stars) I found her personally hard to watch, too brittle and severe. But then again Claire Robinson (whom I REALLY dislike) seems to be a big star so what do I know.

        No one this season is over 40??? Not even Mary Beth??? Boy, do I feel old!

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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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