Star Scrapbook: Monterey Salka

Monterey was the fifth finalist eliminated in Season 12 of Food Network Star. Relive the most-memorable moments from her time in the competition.

Photo By: Eddy Chen ©2016, Television Food Network, G.P. All Rights Reserved.

Photo By: Eddy Chen ©2016, Television Food Network, G.P. All Rights Reserved.

Photo By: Eddy Chen ©2016, Television Food Network, G.P. All Rights Reserved.

Photo By: Eddy Chen ©2016, Television Food Network, G.P. All Rights Reserved.

Photo By: Eddy Chen ©2016, Television Food Network, G.P. All Rights Reserved.

Photo By: Eddy Chen ©2016, Television Food Network, G.P. All Rights Reserved.

Photo By: Eddy Chen ©2016, Television Food Network, G.P. All Rights Reserved.

Photo By: Eddy Chen ©2016, Television Food Network, G.P. All Rights Reserved.

Photo By: Eddy Chen ©2016, Television Food Network, G.P. All Rights Reserved.

Photo By: Eddy Chen ©2016, Television Food Network, G.P. All Rights Reserved.

Photo By: Eddy Chen ©2016, Television Food Network, G.P. All Rights Reserved.

Photo By: Eddy Chen ©2016, Television Food Network, G.P. All Rights Reserved.

Photo By: Eddy Chen ©2016, Television Food Network, G.P. All Rights Reserved.

Photo By: Eddy Chen ©2016, Television Food Network, G.P. All Rights Reserved.

Monterey's Journey

Though in her final week of the competition Monterey committed the ultimate food crime — serving raw chicken — many of her dishes were downright stellar. For her the trouble came in her presentations. "Focusing for her is really hard," said Giada, who added that Monterey seemed "scattered." Ultimately she was sent home five weeks into the contest.

More: Monterey Salka

Making Sense of It

After a flub of a first cold open, Monterey wowed the judges in Week 1 with her much-improved second-take cold open wherein she mentioned her past as a model and explained her familiarity with traveling. As Giada noted, "Telling us she was a model, which she did not tell us in rehearsal, helped me to understand her travels."

Fishy Business

Each finalist was given a journal to use during the competition, and Monterey filled hers with recipe notes and plans for plating her dishes. Here she jotted down the necessary ingredients to make her Week 1 cod dish. Though she admitted "it pretty much fell apart," the mentors simply found it to be "delicate," according to Bobby.

Not Quite Better Together

Week 2 saw Monterey and Jernard working together — and then against each other. For the Mentor Challenge, they teamed up to make a travelogue video at Olio Wood Fired Pizzeria at Grand Central Market, and the focus was more on her partner than her. "Monterey, you got lost a little bit," Giada told her.

Conceding at the Start

At the Star Challenge throwdown, Monterey and Jernard were tasked to fuse gyros and macaroni and cheese, a dish that Monterey felt she couldn't make better than Jernard. "I'm not about to compete with a Southern man when it comes to mac and cheese." And when it came time to present her dish, which focused largely on the gyro element of the mash-up, she failed to sell it quite like Jernard did, with his impromptu dancing.

The Naming Game

"Swing and a miss," Monterey admitted of her Week 3 Mentor Challenge dish. Maile Carpenter, the editor-in-chief of Food Network Magazine and a guest judge, couldn't discern which punny name Monterey attempted to bring to life on the plate, so neither Maile nor the mentors tasted Monterey's egg-on-toast dish.

Mixed Results

Paired with Rob for the road trip Star Challenge in Week 3, Monterey experienced the ultimate in highs and lows. Though her potato chip cookies were a flop — and she couldn't use them to make the ice cream sandwiches she promised — her video presentation with Rob was a success. "I think it was kind of close to perfect," Giada told her and Rob.

On Top

For the first time in the competition, Monterey earned a win in Week 4 after she and her team of Jernard and Yaku wowed in their remote television interviews. "Monterey seems natural and focused," Jernard noted. "I don't normally see that in Monterey." Ultimately she, Jernard and Yaku all earned team captain titles for the subsequent Star Challenge. 

Making Do

When VIP guest Jesse Tyler Ferguson surprised Monterey's team with special requests to their spa-focused menu, Monterey was forced to swap out the lobster and crab in her dashi dish and opt for sea bass instead. "No shellfish, please!" she penned at the top of this journal page.

"Be Patient"

After Bobby asked her about the dish, Monterey stunned her fellow finalists and the judges alike when she quipped at him, "Be patient!" Though the heat of her plate was a shock to the mentors — Bobby even coughed upon tasting the spice — they admitted that it succeeded in taste. "The flavors are really bold, which I appreciate," guest judge Jesse said.

A Raw Deal

In what would be Monterey's final Mentor Challenge in the competition, she kicked off Week 5 with a food faux pas that's hard to recover from: raw chicken. It's too bad that the dish was a miss, as the video she made to correspond with it was a downright smash. "I feel like you had a show on Food Network," Bobby told Monterey.

Ready, Set, Rev Your Cooking Engines

Monterey wound up with bone-in pork chops for her protein in the tailgating-themed Star Challenge, and she opted to turn them into tacos. Take a look at this page from her journal; she used no fewer than 30 ingredients to prep each element of the dish.

A Worrisome Showing

"That was a train wreck," Monterey admitted of her interaction with the judges as she offered up her taco at the tailgate. While the judges appreciated the flavors of her dish, they couldn't look past her distracting presentation. "Focusing for her is really hard," Giada explained, "and so when she tries to give you a story, it's scattered."

Monterey's Goodbye

Ultimately, after serving raw chicken and severely flopping in her presentation in Week 5, Monterey was sent home. With tears in her eyes, she reflected on the journey. "This was my childhood dream," she said before leaving, "but this is not happening right now — 'cause I'm not ready for it."

One-on-One with Monterey

We checked in with Monterey following her elimination. Hear what she had to say about the competition and learn her thoughts on the remaining finalists in an exclusive exit interview.

Go Behind the Scenes

See what the mentors, finalists and crew are up to between takes by checking out insider photos from the set.

More: Behind the Scenes of Food Network Star, Season 12: Part 1

Want More Food Network Star?

Check out Food Network's official Star headquarters for more insider coverage of the competition, plus exclusive mentor interviews, behind-the-scenes photos and winning recipes.

More: Food Network Star