Exclusive: Haylie Duff on Her Upcoming Star Appearance and Teamwork on a Competition Show

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As the host of Cooking Channel's The Real Girl's Kitchen, Haylie Duff is familiar with heading out of her kitchen and going on location to chat with local chefs.

On Sunday's new episode of Food Network Star, finalists will do something similar as they create their own travelogues; Haylie, who's set to guest-judge that challenge, knows just what it takes to pull off a successful report. Recently we caught up with her to find out about her appearance on the show, and she dished on the nerves she feels as a judge. Read on below to hear what she had to say.

For Sunday's Mentor Challenge, which you'll be guest-judging, the finalists take to Los Angeles' Grand Central Market to make travelogue videos, something you know well from your own show, The Real Girl's Kitchen, right?

Haylie Duff: I'm excited to be doing this episode because it's right up my alley. This is what I do a lot on Real Girl's Kitchen and what my new show is going to be all about, so I'm excited to see what they're coming up with.

This will be the first time competitors will have to work in teams. What's the secret to both sharing the spotlight with others and claiming it back at times?

HD: That actually is sort of a relief for me sometimes because it takes a lot of pressure of you to be the one driving the excitement of the show all the time. On episodes where I have a really compelling food personality that I get to go cook with or spend time with or get a tour of their kitchen — whatever it may be — anytime the person is really compelling, it makes my job easier, so it never really feels like you're sharing the spotlight. It's almost like, "Yes!" ... It guarantees an easier day, I guess for everybody.

What's your take on the Food Network Star competition and the unbelievable stakes at hand for the finalists?

HD: It's a lot. I watch so many of these competition shows and I've been in the position of judging some of them, too, which really — I can't even understand why I get asked to do those because I'm like, why am I in the position to judge anyone's food ... ? It is extreme pressure. I get nervous. My stomach just gets in knots.

I was a co-host on All-Star Academy for one of the final episodes, and my stomach was in knots the whole day. I was looking at Richard Blais, like, I can't even deal with this because it's the end. It's the last two or three people. And a lot of times there's money involved. But they're life-changing opportunities. And especially with a show like next Food Network Star, these people really are looking at possibly a really big career from winning a show like this. So I know that they take it very seriously, and I'm going to try to take it very seriously watching their videos [on Sunday] too.

The single goal for all finalists is to win — in just 10 short weeks — and host their own show. How would you describe what that life is like, since you're living it now?

HD: It's the most-special thing that there is. I'm so grateful every single day for Real Girl's Kitchen. I say this all the time, but I still pinch myself that I'm going into a third season of a show on Cooking Channel. When I started my food blog, I never in a million years thought that I would be in this position or doing all of this. It's just the most creative and fulfilling experience.

Tune in to Food Network Star on Sundays at 9|8c.