Star Scrapbook: Martie Duncan

Flip through a Food Network Star finalist's scrapbook for an up-close-and-personal look at journal entries and digital photos taken behind the scenes.

Photo By: Todd Plitt ©2012, Television Food Network, G.P.

Photo By: Todd Plitt ©2012, Television Food Network, G.P.

Photo By: Todd Plitt ©2012, Television Food Network, G.P.

Photo By: Edward Chen/Creel Films ©2012, Television Food Network, G.P.

Photo By: Edward Chen/Creel Films ©2012, Television Food Network, G.P.

Photo By: Edward Chen/Creel Films ©2012, Television Food Network, G.P.

Photo By: Edward Chen/Creel Films ©2012, Television Food Network, G.P.

Photo By: Edward Chen/Creel Films ©2012, Television Food Network, G.P.

Photo By: Edward Chen/Creel Films ©2012, Television Food Network, G.P.

Martie With the Party

Martie, a "slightly over 40" party planner from Birmingham, Ala., made it to the finale with her Southern charm and entertaining POV.

Team Alton

Team Alton bonded right off the bat. Martie and each of her teammates has a tie to the South, like their mentor, so a Southern theme was an obvious choice for their pop-up restaurant in the first challenge.

Martie's Star Journal

In her Food Network journal, Martie took challenge notes and kept track of feedback from Alton. In bold, she wrote down his most important tip for presenting: tell "WHAT I DID, HOW I DID IT." From the beginning, Martie's biggest struggle was timing — she'd be the first to tell you that she had a tendency to ramble.

Restaurant: Impossible

On the first day of the competition, Martie shopped for Team Alton's restaurant, Do South, at Restaurant Depot. She ended up making deviled eggs that the judges found a bit bland, but she remained safe thanks to Cristie's misguided soup.

Katz's Deli Inspiration

Martie was psyched to create a dish inspired by Katz's Deli when Team Alton was assigned the Lower East Side for the second episode's food tour challenge. She had visited the famous deli 20 years prior and never forgot that pastrami sandwich: "I want to marry that pastrami!"

Be Memorable

After talking to the staff at Katz's and taking notes, Martie gave her presentation to the judges, mentors and a group of tourists. Despite her tendency to ramble, she pulled off her dish and presentation.

Don't Get Grilled

In Episode 3, Martie ended up in the Producers' Challenge against Nikki and Josh. They were asked to create a dish and a presentation that answers one of the most common questions on FoodNetwork.com during grilling season: If you don't have an outdoor grill, what can you make? Alton showed Martie a technique of using two hot grill pans for her tuna dish.

Talking Points

Early on in the competition, Martie constantly made self-deprecating remarks about her age. Alton knew he had to squash that: "Repeat after me: I will not evoke my age again in a presentation," he advised Martie. She didn't, and she came across as genuine and funny in her camera presentation, even when her bracelet got caught in the grill pan.

Desserts and Design

After her Chopped dessert landed her on the bottom, Martie knew she had to step up in the Fashion Week challenge that came next. She was charged with making over tuna noodle casserole, so she used fancy tuna belly in place of canned albacore: "I want that tuna to really sing."

Big Win for Team Alton

The judges agreed that this challenge was tailor-made for the quirky, creative members of Team Alton. "Martie really made me want to taste her food," said Bob Tuschman. "She's the most natural, comfortable, relaxed personality we have in the competition."

Made It to Miami

Martie's streak of successes continued and took her all the way to Miami for the second leg of the competition. In the first South Beach challenge, she got to realize one of her lifelong dreams: "This is a huge deal. I'm from Birmingham, Alabama, and I'm cooking for Paula Deen!" she said. "She is a huge influence on me." The two Southern gals hit it off right away.

30 Seconds

In the penultimate episode, the final six were given just three takes to shoot 30-second promos for the shows they hope to have on Food Network. Despite her timing issues in the past, Martie nailed it and won raves from an all-star judging panel: "She was fun and told us exactly what her promise was," said Anne Burrell. "I loved her, that's all I can say."

Emotional Roller Coaster

Alton couldn't bear the thought of saying goodbye to Martie or Justin after the promos — and in the end, he didn't have to. In a shocking twist, Bob and Susie asked both remaining members of Team Alton to shoot pilots.

The Pilot

Martie met back up with Alton at a townhouse in New York to shoot her pilot for Martie With the Party. "This is do or die. I hope America likes it well enough to give me a chance to do more of it every week."