THE NEXT FOOD NETWORK STAR Premieres Sunday
The stakes are higher than ever when THE NEXT FOOD NETWORK STAR returns this summer. As television’s most challenging food fight, the series provides 10 hopeful TV chefs the chance to compete for the ultimate dream job: his or her own Food Network show. Iron Chef Bobby Flay leads the selection committee that ultimately decides the winner’s fate and launches one lucky man or woman into a food and television celebrtiy. The series starts with a bang as the finalists cater Food Network’s “Sweet 16” party with network talent and media on hand to judge.
I already have my favorites from watching the action packed first episode – follow the jump for pics and bios of the “talent” and stay tuned every Monday, as we chat with the person who went home!
Brett August, 32 (New York, N.Y.), keeps busy as the executive sous chef at Doral Arrowwood Hotel in Rye Brook, N.Y., where he has worked for 11 years while enjoying the music, sports and culinary scene in his native New York City. Inspired to cook by his father at a young age, Brett’s culinary point of view focuses on simple food for the home cook. The New York Restaurant School graduate exudes passion and ambition in and out of the kitchen.
Katie Cavuto, 30 (Philadelphia, Pa.), provides personal chef, cooking, and nutrition services through her self-started company, Healthy Bites. She developed her knowledge and passion for food at Johnson and Wales University and Tufts University where she also became a Registered Dietician. Katie brings a creative and competitive charm to the kitchen where she uses unprocessed, organic, farm-to-table ingredients to create simple and nutritious meals.
Melissa d’Arabian, 40 (Keller, Texas), pairs her varied culinary and life experiences to provide food lifestyle solutions and approachable recipes for today’s families. As a stay-at-home mom to four young daughters, she efficiently budgets time and money to prepare the finest in fresh, home-cooked meals every day. Melissa finds culinary inspiration in family, friends, cooking classes, and world travels.
Teddy Folkman, 33 (Alexandria, Va.), co-owner and executive chef of Granville Moore’s Gastropub in Washington, D.C., developed his love of food at a young age while working at a deli and honed his culinary skills and style under several well-known chefs. Now, Teddy focuses on sharing simple techniques to inspire people to think and cook like chefs. Teddy spends his free time teaching cooking fundamentals to local high school students, and he won a mussels and fries challenge on Throwdown with Bobby Flay in 2008.
Eddie Gilbert, 30 (Los Angeles, Calif.), expands his culinary knowledge by working as an apprentice in a Los Angeles restaurant. After graduating from Vanderbilt University with two degrees, Eddie worked at a prestigious talent agency before turning his love for cooking into a career. The travel, sports and music enthusiast enjoys modernizing traditional dishes and making them more accessible for the home cook.
Jen Isham, 30 (Orlando, Fla.), considers herself a modern housewife who loves organization in the kitchen. A sales manager at Orlando’s Crowne Plaza Downtown, Jen once worked as a line cook at Walt Disney World. The French Culinary Institute graduate spends Sunday evenings planning menus for the week and always creates tasty, economical meals for her loved ones.
Debbie Lee, 39 (West Hollywood, Calif.), a former Hollywood caterer, now shares her branding and menu-planning expertise as a restaurant consultant. Her Korean heritage and Southern upbringing make a dynamic combination as she uniquely blends Asian and American cuisines. Debbie attributes her cooking chops to her mother, grandmother and notable chefs that she’s worked with.
Jamika Pessoa, 30 (Atlanta, Ga.), a certified personal chef and businesswoman, loves exploring international cuisines in the kitchen. Family, friends, and clients rave about her bold twists on traditional dishes, especially those of her Caribbean heritage. Innovative style, sassy personality, and inspiring tenacity are Jamika’s key ingredients to the magic she produces in the kitchen.
Michael Proietti, 28 (City Island, N.Y.), joined the restaurant industry at a young age and worked his way up from washing dishes and prepping food to become executive chef at the Radisson Hotel in New Rochelle, N.Y. The New York Restaurant School graduate infuses his bold personality into everything he does and admits that his “inner diva” sometimes comes out in the kitchen. A native New Yorker, Michael uses influences from the variety of markets available to him and brings his appreciation for global cuisine and his one-of-a-kind attitude to the competition.
Jeffrey Saad, 42 (Los Angeles, Calif.), a California Culinary Academy graduate, has more than 25 years experience as a restaurateur, food consultant, recipe developer, and chef. He enjoys cooking without borders: combining flavorful and often unexpected ingredients to achieve simple, tasty dishes in no time. The married father of two owns a real estate brokerage firm with his wife and has a second degree black belt in martial arts.