Star Scrapbook: Martita Jara

Flip through a Food Network Star finalist's scrapbook for an up-close-and-personal look at journal entries.

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.

Martita's Mesa

Martita Jara, an interior designer who grew up in her parents' Mexican restaurants in Southern California, was the third finalist sent home from Team Giada. She made it to Miami and was eliminated in Episode 9.

Star Journal

The finalists were given Food Network journals to use for challenge planning and reflection. Martita filled hers with prep lists for her delicious Mexican dishes, as well as detailed drafts for presentations, some of which include personal stories that never made it to camera.

Exploring Arthur Avenue

Martita quickly learned to adapt each challenge to her Mexican POV. In Episode 2's food tour challenge, Team Giada visited Arthur Avenue, the Little Italy of the Bronx. In her journal, Martita related her experience as a child of Mexican immigrants to the Italian immigrants in this neighborhood.

Ceviche Success

Martita proved early on that she had cooking chops. Inspired by the fish market on Arthur Avenue, she made a ceviche with Italian flavors. Susie Fogelson said it was one of the best ceviches she'd ever tasted.

Runway Dish

For Fashion Week, the finalists were challenged to make over an "unfashionable" dish. Martita got bland chicken and rice, and her thoughts immediately went to flavor-packed arroz con pollo, which she presented on the runway. "Martita, they loved it. You really brought it," Giada told her.

Go, Team Giada!

The finalists also received digital cameras to document life behind the scenes in the Star house. Here, teammates Linkie and Martita pose for a pre-game photo before their game-day live show with Guy Fieri.

Game Day With Guy

Martita decided to contribute a vegetarian dish to her team's game-day lineup, so she made a quesadilla with lots of veggies and cheese. She outlined her tip for assembling the quesadilla in her journal.

Big Win

Guy was a big fan of Martita's quesadilla and Team Giada knocked its game-day show out of the park.

Food Court Cuisine

With Martita on their side, the members of Team Giada thought they'd been given a gift when they were assigned a Mexican-themed kiosk for the food court challenge. Martita made chicken tortilla soup and guacamole; she tried to help the others with their dishes, but the pressure to live up to expectations almost did her in.

Pressure's On

Martita was so stressed when the judges came around that she failed to say much about her dishes. "The other teams are looking at us like we have some sort of advantage, but I am the only Mexican on my team. There is pressure. I can't carry my whole team and focus on my own dish," she said later.

Untold Stories

Martita survived the food court challenge, but she saw teammate Linkie go home. Her own biggest hurdle was her hesitation to get personal. Here, her journal reveals that she had personal stories to share, but she just had trouble getting them out on camera.

Welcome to Miami

Martita made it to Miami with the top eight finalists for the next leg of the competition — the South Beach Wine & Food Festival. "You'll throw a 'welcome to SoBe' beach party for VIP families — including one very special family," Giada explained to her team. She was referring to the Deens: Paula, her husband, Michael, and son Bobby.

Beach Party

For the Nikki Beach party, Martita outlined her two versions of surf and turf — one for the adults, one for the kids. With her interior design skills, Martita was also excited to go to Target to pick out decor for the party.

Goofing Around

Between challenges, someone snapped this photo of Martita letting her guard down and goofing around.

Script for the Stage

Martita's final Star challenge involved a live demo on stage in front of a large audience. Once again, the personal story she intended to tell was written out in her journal but never made it into her presentation. Turns out, she served those chiles rellenos at her wedding.

Chiles Gone Missing

The mentors played a little trick on each finalist during their demos to see how well they could roll with the punches. Martita didn't exactly pass the test. With her poblano chiles missing, she was thrown for a loop and couldn't recover.

Last Dish

Martita's presentation focused on her signature dish, chiles rellenos, so without the right peppers she was lost: "You can't take chiles away from a Mexican ... that was my whole demo!"

All About Oranges

Team Giada ended up with two finalists on the bottom: Martita and Ippy. For their Producers' Challenge, there was no cooking involved. Martita removed a silver dome to find one ingredient and had to immediately launch into a camera presentation about it. She had plenty to say about ways to cook with oranges, but she failed to make a personal connection to the fruit.

Farewell to Team Giada

Giada told Bob and Susie that Martita could "make Mexican food accessible to Americans all over, with a California twist." But in the end, the judges decided that she wasn't quite ready for prime time. "It's not about the prize at the end, it's about the journey," Martita said. "It's been an incredible journey, and I wouldn't change a thing."

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