Star Scrapbook: Stacey Poon-Kinney

Stacey Poon-Kinney was the ninth finalist eliminated on Food Network Star, Season 9. Flip through her personal photo journal to relive the most memorable moments from her time on the show.

Photo By: Eddy Chen ©2013, Television Food Network, G.P. All Rights Reserved

Photo By: Eddy Chen ©2013, Television Food Network, G.P. All Rights Reserved

Photo By: Eddy Chen ©2013, Television Food Network, G.P. All Rights Reserved

Photo By: Eddy Chen ©2013, Television Food Network, G.P. All Rights Reserved

Photo By: Eddy Chen ©2013, Television Food Network, G.P. All Rights Reserved

Photo By: Eddy Chen ©2013, Television Food Network, G.P. All Rights Reserved

Photo By: Eddy Chen ©2013, Television Food Network, G.P. All Rights Reserved

Photo By: Nathaniel Chadwick/Creel Films ©2013, Television Food Network, G.P. All Rights Reserved

Photo By: Eddy Chen ©2013, Television Food Network, G.P. All Rights Reserved

Photo By: Eddy Chen ©2013, Television Food Network, G.P. All Rights Reserved

Photo By: Eddy Chen ©2013, Television Food Network, G.P. All Rights Reserved

Photo By: Sarah Shreves/Creel Films ©2013, Television Food Network, G.P. All Rights Reserved

Photo By: Eddy Chen ©2013, Television Food Network, G.P. All Rights Reserved

Photo By: Eddy Chen ©2013, Television Food Network, G.P. All Rights Reserved

Photo By: Eddy Chen ©2013, Television Food Network, G.P. All Rights Reserved

Photo By: Eddy Chen ©2013, Television Food Network, G.P. All Rights Reserved

Photo By: Eddy Chen ©2013, Television Food Network, G.P. All Rights Reserved.

Photo By: Eddy Chen ©2013, Television Food Network, G.P. All Rights Reserved.

Photo By: Eddy Chen ©2013, Television Food Network, G.P. All Rights Reserved.

Photo By: Eddy Chen ©2013, Television Food Network, G.P. All Rights Reserved.

Photo By: Eddy Chen ©2013, Television Food Network, G.P. All Rights Reserved.

Photo By: Eddy Chen ©2013, Television Food Network, G.P. All Rights Reserved.

Photo By: Eddy Chen ©2013, Television Food Network, G.P. All Rights Reserved.

Photo By: Eddy Chen ©2013, Television Food Network, G.P. All Rights Reserved.

Photo By: Eddy Chen ©2013, Television Food Network, G.P. All Rights Reserved.

Photo By: Eddy Chen ©2013, Television Food Network, G.P. All Rights Reserved.

Stacey Poon-Kinney

Just one challenge away from taping her would-be pilot, Stacey, a restaurant owner from San Diego, was sent home in Episode 10 on account of her reserved on-camera presence and seemingly scripted speech.

Vintage Meets Modern

Stacey maintained one culinary point of view throughout her run on the show: Vintage Kitchen, in which she integrated old-time flavors with contemporary techniques. After the Selection Committee and focus group reviewed her premiere pitch tape, they were impressed with her and her performance, Bob calling her "very relatable" albeit perhaps too "low-key."

Fearless on Stage

The finalists faced their first cooking demonstration in Episode 2, but the pressure of a live audience didn't deter Stacey. "Not only do I own a restaurant, but I'm always spending time at my restaurant talking to people about what they're eating. This for me — this is fun," she explained.

Empty Promises

Earning nine tokens at the Burger Bash, Stacey indeed delivered an impressive performance that enticed the audience to try her Baja Betty Burger. After tasting her dish, however, the mentors were disappointed that it fell short on its promise of heat. "If the spice had been turned up about 15 percent, I think we'd really be onto something here," Alton noted.

Self-Review

Each finalist was given a journal to use during the show, and Stacey filled hers with detailed reflections and notes on challenges. Here she jotted down her thoughts before heading into evaluation in Episode 2. "I could have been more cohesive with how I integrated cooking and talking/storytelling."

Smelly but Sweet

In a test of authority over mystery ingredients, Stacey worked with durian, a fruit with an infamously strong odor similar to "rotten trash," as she explained. She managed to turn its soft insides into a sweet custard that Alton deemed "delightful," but when she presented the dish to him, her story was "a bit rambling," for his taste.

Not a Second to Spare

Given the time constraints, Stacey knew that making a chicken pot pie for the Chopped challenge was a dangerous maneuver, but she was determined to attempt the dish, explaining, "If I can pull it off, I'm really confident in the results." Her plan fell short, however, when she had to rely on Chris' help to finish, and ultimately the judges weren't impressed with its taste or the fact that it was raw.

Western Fare

Stacey, Russell and Nikki filmed a Western movie trailer that touted their themed menu, the dessert portion of which was Stacey's responsibility to prepare. Inspired by a campfire, she prepared a s'mores-inspired dessert with popcorn and graham crackers, and while Bobby noted that her performance on camera was "uncomfortable," her dish was stellar.

Adaptability

In Episode 5, Giada surprised the finalists with glitches during their live cooking demonstrations with guest co-host Terrence Jenkins. Stacey's whisk was inexplicably missing from the kitchen, but she didn't let the distraction interrupt her presentation, simply grabbing a fork to use instead. "You really kept your cool, which was really nice," Giada told her.

Working the Camera

While cooking outside with two butchers, Lindy and Grundy, for the 4th of July Live challenge, Stacey had to balance their introductions plus her own presentation when Alton threw the live broadcast to her. And in true Stacey form, she delivered an eloquent camera performance, as Bob said, "She also highlighted her guests while staying a star herself."

Sweet Heat

While one of Stacey's food products — gluten-free cookies — was seemingly unpalatable for the judges in Episode 6, her cayenne-spiked butterscotch was impressive, and they recommended she pitch it to the brand executives. "That could be a lead in for a whole line of sauces," Alton told her.

Pitch Plans

Before presenting to the panel, Stacey made a few notes of must-say words and phrases, including "revival," "warm" and "nostalgic," that aligned with her "vintage kitchen" point of view and the product she was pitching, Hot Mama Butterscotch.

Scripted Woes

Although her butterscotch was a strong product, Stacey's too-scripted pitch fell short for the mentors and executives. One executive commented that while Stacey's delivery was indeed "very succinct," it also proved to be "a little boring." Bobby told her later, "We need some more spontaneity from you."

Dinner and a Story

As she'd done in the past, Stacey accompanied her description of Bobby's salmon in Episode 7 with a story, something that no other finalist thought to do. This was enough to impress Bobby and earn her an advantage in that week's Mentor Challenge.

High-Selling Cheesecake

Thanks to a deliciously decadent-sounding cheesecake with maple and bacon, Stacey didn't need her $10 advantage to top sales at the auction. Although Stacey was immune from elimination and her performance was "solid," Giada couldn't help but tell her, "I guess what I'm looking for is a little more spontaneity."

Short on Time

Challenged to make the mentors' mouths water in Episode 8, the finalists each prepared a pasta that would be described in detail by a fellow rival. Stacey was tasked with presenting Rodney's seafood-tomato pasta, but she ultimately ran out of time before finishing a story about her children.

On Location

Stacey worked with Damaris and Nikki on a field piece about The Donut Man. The team divided their video into three portions, one person taking the introduction, interview or closing segment.

One-on-One Interview

Stacey interviewed the owner and Donut Man himself, Jim, to learn about his shop, but she failed to discover the secret behind his famous strawberry doughnut, hurrying through his portions instead. "I wanted to hear more from the owner," one guest judge from The Hollywood Reporter said of Stacey's performance. "Because she kept talking over him, I don't feel like we got that."

Pantry-Ready

After a disappointing finish in Episode 8, Stacey was confident that she'd be able to recover in week 9, especially since the Mentor Challenge involved something with which she was familiar: pantry cooking. The remaining rivals had to turn everyday products, like Kellogg's cereal and snacks, into a meal, and for Stacey, that meant dinner. "As a working mom, this is what I do," she explained of the challenge.

Camera Reveal

Alton told Stacey before she presented her cereal-coated chicken, "I want to see you talking ... You can't be guarded." In the end, Stacey delivered, and Alton said she looked "more at ease" on camera before announcing that she'd won an advantage in the next Star Challenge.

Impossible Familiarity

Once a guest on Robert Irvine's Restaurant: Impossible, Stacey was intimidated to see Robert guest judging the Star Challenge, in which she and the other competitors had to reinvent a restaurant's failing menu. "I really want Robert to feel proud of the efforts that I've made today," she explained.

Weak Showing

Since she won the week 9 Mentor Challenge, Stacey earned the right to choose which dish she wanted to reinvent, and she decided to serve the Selection Committee a plate of transformed halibut and crab. Ultimately, however, her offering was "too dry," according to restaurant owner Phil Trani. Alton struggled with her performance, noting that he was "not connecting" with her.

Familiar Territory

In what would be her final episode, Stacey chatted with the mentors about which of her two ideas for a show she should pitch to the network. They ultimately helped her craft a new concept — one that she said would use updated dishes and be focused on "helping people have this emotional connection with what it is that they're eating."

Final Pitch

Stacey began her pitch to the network with an emotional story of her restaurant's struggling past, but that did more to hurt her presentation than it did to improve it. Bob called Stacey's potential show "watchable." But he and the Selection Committee couldn't look past the fact that the pitch came across as "a little sad," according to Susie, who added, "I think the way that she pitched it kind of discounted how natural an idea it would be for her to pursue."

Dreams Dashed

After Damaris and Rodney were given green lights on their pilots, the final taping was left for Rodney or Stacey, and ultimately the opportunity was given to Rodney. Alton told Stacey, however: "I know this particular part of the journey is over, but for you, I don't think there are any real limits. You are a good cook and you've got a fantastic heart."

Positive Outlook

"Leaving is the toughest thing ever, especially at this point," Stacey reflected after the competition. But she's proud of the work she accomplished during her impressive 10-week run on the show, explaining, "Being here, if you're true to your beliefs and you're open to growing, you win anyways."

Go Behind the Scenes

Browse exclusive snapshots of the finalists and judge-mentors on set, plus learn insider trivia about the show from Food Network's culinary team.

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