One-on-One with the Latest Food Network Star Finalist to Go Home


With only 11 short weeks to ready finalists before a winner will be chosen, the Food Network Star beast is such that week after week, hopeful competitors will fall, faced with the crushing disappointment of elimination. We'll be bringing you the first exclusive exit interviews with the ousted finalists as they're sent home.

We're about to break down the ins and outs of the latest episode and reveal who went home, so if you've yet to watch the show, read no further until then.

It was only three weeks ago that Martita earned a crowning victory on Comeback Kitchen and shocked her would-be Season 12 rivals by making an entrance in the premiere episode. On Sunday night's new episode, though, she struggled. In the Mentor Challenge, she failed to adequately represent the punny name of "Meat Me Halfway" in a dish, and thus neither Maile Carpenter, the editor-in-chief of Food Network Magazine, nor the mentors tasted her beef and peppers plate. And come the Star Challenge, in which she and partner Ana teamed up to film a promo video for their Family Road Trip show, she was adamant in scripting her speech, so much so that Giada found her to be "really polished," and not in a good way. Martita's dish — a sope — was also cause for concern, as the panel wondered if it showed her range in the kitchen. "It's the second similar dish you've made us in three weeks," Giada told Martita. "We need to know you can make more than just certain types of dishes." Martita's missteps landed her among the bottom-four finalists this week, and she was sent home, much to her disappointment.

Read on below to hear from Martita as she reflects on her second exit from Food Network Star and shares her thoughts on the competition.

What three words best describe how you're feeling right now?

MJ: Shocked, confused, disappointed

What was your initial reaction to hearing that you were being sent home tonight?

MJ: Nothing, what could I do?

Do you stand by your last-cooked dish and presentation, or do you agree with the judges' feedback?

MJ: Sopes are supposed to be a bit chewy. I know it was delicious, just maybe not what they were looking for.

Do you think the judges missed something about either your presentation or your food?

MJ: Every challenge is different. I had a great, awesome run during Comeback Kitchen, and in the third week of Star, I went down. You can't win them all.

How was competing on Food Network this season different than when you competed in Season 8?

MJ: Completely different! In Season 8 there was a real love, feeling of family between us. There still is; we are all still in touch with one another. Back in Season 8, the competition was tough but friendly — I believe because we started together and grew (together) week to week. This time around, even throughout Comeback Kitchen, we all wanted to win; we were all coming from different starting points. There was a respect and support at the same time, but it was just different for me.

What lessons did you bring with you to Food Network Star from Comeback Kitchen?

MJ: I came into this very confident from Comeback Kitchen. I received great feedback, advice and reviews from Tyler and Valerie, and I came in here on a real high. But once I got here things changed. Maybe I was too confident. I don't know? But everything was different.

What's your proudest moment of the competition?

MJ: I loved the challenge I did with Erin Campbell. We worked so awesome together; it was effortless, no competition between us, just fun and love, and that really came through to the judges.

You seemed very confident in the competition. Do you think you were at an advantage having competed before?

MJ: On the contrary. I came in and had a target on my back from the rest of the finalists. Also I felt that the judges' expectations of me were much higher, and unfortunately for me I did not meet their expectations this time.

There were many team challenges throughout this competition. How did you handle sharing the spotlight while also showcasing your own talent and star power?

MJ: I love working with people. I work great with others. If there is a mutual respect and chemistry, that is when you get the best results.

In your own words, how would you explain to fans at home what this competition is really like?

MJ: The competition is tough. The stakes are really high, there are cameras everywhere, and it is very personal because it's your food! Every challenge is different. Sometimes you hit a high note and sometimes you don't.

What one piece of mentor feedback will you always remember and keep with you?

MJ: Tyler and Valerie were incredible mentors to me! Really took the time to tell me where I excelled and what areas I needed to work on and gave me specific notes. But when Tyler Florence said to me, "Martita, the world will know your name,” I will never forget that!

What were your most favorite and least favorite challenges, and why?

MJ: My favorite challenge was at the [Grand] Central Market with Erin. My least favorite was with Ana.

What's the best piece of advice the mentors gave you?

MJ: I received so many mixed reviews from Bobby and Giada this time around, I really couldn't tell you.

Fill in the blanks with your fellow finalists' names.
_____ is the class clown. Aaron

_____ is the quietest. Havird

_____ is the most-daring. Melissa

_____ has the best recipes. Me

_____ is going to win this competition. Not sure who is going to win this competition!

Which special guest or mentor were you most excited to learn from in this contest, and why?

MJ: Rev Run! An incredibly long career that man has had. That challenge was so fun; it was awesome to see everyone out of their comfort zone and trying new things. Melissa really brought the house down on that one!

What do you want fans to remember most about you?

MJ: That my food is great, I work hard and I never give up!

What do you want to say to your longtime mentor, Giada?

MJ: Thank you for giving me my first shot.

What's next for you?

MJ: More Food Network! Y'all have not seen the last of me.

Who are you rooting for now?

MJ: I like Joy, Erin, Damiano and Jernard.