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

Get an insider's look at what the mentors and the cast are up to between takes when the cameras stop rolling.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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

Episode 6: Familiar Face

Damiano's and Erin's faces were priceless when they saw Duff Goldman, whom they know from their days on Spring Baking Championship and Holiday Baking Championship, respectively, walk into Food Star Kitchen.

More: Food Network Star, Season 12: Top Moments of Episode 6

Making an Entrance

Duff, Giada and Bobby joined the finalists for the final moments of cooking and were on hand to call time when that part of the challenge ended. 

Just Too Funny

The panel members could hardly contain themselves while watching one particularly hilarious presentation unfold in the Week 6 Mentor Challenge.

Friendly Reunion

Erin couldn't help but greet Duff with a hearty hug during a break in filming.

Desperate Times

With no fork in sight, Damiano looked to the ultimate utensil — his hands — to pick up his radicchio tulip stuffed with risotto.

Ready, Set, Run

You know how the finalists always run to their prep stations or the pantry and refrigerators once time starts in a cooking block? This is what that looks like from behind the cameras.

Steam Bath

Rob experienced a full-on steam facial when he opened a piping-hot pan on the stove.

Spaghetti Scenes

As he nears the end of his plating process, Damiano puts the finishing touches on his joint cantaloupe-spaghetti-and-meatball offering.

Getting Fleeky

Tregaye pulled out her signature hand move while taking an up-close look at the Octopus Mac and Cheese she prepped for the Will It challenge.

Solo Cooking

While his prep-table mates were away from their stations, Rob held down the fort.

Will It?

There was no shortage of oddball ingredients up for grabs on this table. The goal was to pair each of them with a disparate plate to see if they'd Will It when combined.

Setting the Space

Snapped from behind a wall of cameras and their operators, this photo details the intricate setup that made this shoot possible.

Thumbs-Up

Rhett offered his sign of approval to one finalist watching from afar.

Smile for a Selfie

The guys of Good Mythical Morning posed with the mentors for an impromptu selfie on set.

Tense Moments

With dramatic lighting and only several crew members in Food Star Kitchen, Bobby and Giada deliberated the fate of Joy and Rob in the competition.

Pure Relief

Joy was beside herself upon learning that she'd been spared, while her fellow finalist Rob would be going home.

Episode 5: Hands-On Mentoring

Ever the grill master, Bobby just had to take a look at how one finalist's meat was searing on the grill.

More: Food Network Star, Season 12: Top Moments of Episode 5

Reubens at the Ready

The cameras got up close and personal with Rob's dish as it landed on the plate.

Frittelle in Action

The mentors dropped by the fryer station just as Damiano prepared to cook his Italian-style cream puffs.

So. Many. Cameras.

Not only was there a smartphone on set for the finalists' Snapchat video recordings, but there were also the usual cameras, and together they created an over-the-top setup for a shoot.

What Just Happened?

Bobby went right for the facepalm during an especially hilarious scene in one finalist's video.

Cracking Up

These three could hardly contain themselves during a particular funny moment on set.

Crabby Situation

Joy sampled a quick bite of the crab dip she made in a smoothie maker.

Judge Check-In

Katie, Bobby and Giada compared notes at the end of the Mentor Challenge before announcing the winner of the round.

Smile for a Selfie

Just like most other groups of pals, Bobby, Giada and Katie came together for a quick selfie at the judge's table.

Way to Go

Damiano's fellow finalists offered him hearty congratulations after he earned the Mentor Challenge win.

Ready, Set, Go

Damiano offered up some pretty stellar side-eye to his fellow finalists before they took to the virtual race.

In the Racing Spirit

Monterey couldn't help but show her excitement for putting the pedal to the metal.

Downright Fit

Robert Irvine's biceps are the envy of enthusiastic exercisers everywhere.

Flare-Up

Damiano took command of a flaming grill as he prepped his steak sandwich.

Special Guest

Look who dropped by the Food Network Star set. Giada's daughter, Jade, joined her mom on stage during a break in filming.

Ready and Waiting

It looks like Giada is ready to roll, but where are Bobby and Robert? 

Mission: Deliberation

The camera crew formed a semicircle around the judges' table to capture the individual judges as they spoke about the remaining finalists.

Episode 4: Going Live

No one knows live television quite like Nancy O'Dell and Kevin Frazier, who interviewed the finalists for their first remote interviews in a live-inspired setting. 

More: Food Network Star, Season 12: Top Moments of Episode 4

From the Pan to the Plate

After prepping her beef-and-veggie combo on a sheet pan per the challenge, Joy moved the finished items to the dish before presenting them on camera.

Lamb in Waiting

Dripping with juices, these pistachio-blanketed beauties were just waiting for their moment in the spotlight.

A Creamy Concoction

Damiano was sure to scrape as much cream as possible from the mixing bowl while assembling his tiramisu.

Making an Entrance

Bobby and Giada were on hand in Food Star Kitchen to call time and signal the end of the prep work in the Mentor Challenge. 

Focus On: Funny Faces

Tell us, Bobby. Is that a duck face you're sporting here?

Powwow

The ladies of Team Monterey jotted down their thoughts and recipe ideas for their Spa Escape menu before heading to The Park Plaza hotel.

Team Yaku

The finalists relocated to The Park Plaza hotel for the Star Challenge to offer room service to VIP guests, and here Yaku's team — comprised of himself, Damiano and Tregaye — took to the kitchen onsite to prep a Honeymooner's Holiday menu.

Time to Work

With his head down, Jernard focused on prepping elements of his crab rangoon for the VIP in The Park Plaza hotel kitchen.

A Space Fit for VIP

It takes multiple cameras to capture all aspects of action in Food Star Kitchen, and the same goes for the setup at The Park Plaza hotel.

A Busy Signal

As Tregaye was focused on listening to the caller's menu requests, members of the crew looked on and watched the action unfold from behind the scenes.

Modern Hilarity

Jesse Tyler Ferguson, a star on Modern Family, joined Bobby and Giada for two rounds of meals from the finalists. Between tastings and review, the group managed to find plenty of time for laughs on set.

Waiting and Wondering

Bobby and Hannah looked on in wonder as they prepared to receive the next plate.

A Lovely Showing

Hannah couldn't help but show off the love-themed dessert dish that Damiano presented her and the mentors.

Coverage Opportunities

To make sure all aspects of the finalists' cooking were covered in the small space of The Park Plaza kitchen, the crew members suspended miniature cameras from kitchen shelving so they could record from multiple angles.

Sample Bite

Erin offered Monterey a spoonful of the mousse she was prepping for the mentors and guest Jesse.

Close to Zen

With her fingertips touching, Giada seemed to be preparing for an impromptu meditation session. But something tells us there's not much quiet time on set.

Dressed for Sorbet

Clad in protective eyewear and long gloves, Damiano was set to put the finishing touches on his tableside gelato for the panel.

Episode 3: A Successful Trip

After a quick trip to the pantry, Monterey hurried back to her station with a tray piled high with much of the equipment she'd need for the challenge.

More: Food Network Star, Season 12: Top Moments of Episode 3

Staring Contest

Not long after finishing the cook, Ana looked on with an intense stare.

The View from Up Here

See that shot of the cutting board? That's being captured by the camera atop the jib, which extends high into the air in Food Star Kitchen to capture top-down coverage of the competition.

Set and Styled

Yaku took a hands-on approach to readying his dish of "Crab Appeal" for the photographer. 

Feeling Meta

This photo captures a video of a picture being taken. It doesn't get more behind the scenes than that.

Simply Overcome

Tregaye was beside herself upon learning that she'd won the Mentor Challenge and would earn an advantage in the next challenge.

Strong Ladies

A few of the gals on set came together to show off their strength in numbers.

Camera Work

As Jernard worked to execute his "Sea and Be Seen," a camera was no more than a few inches away, capturing the action at his station as it unfolded.

Sample Bite

Though not exactly traditional, Damiano's pesto was indeed well-received by the panel — likely thanks in part to his careful testing for flavor.

Step Right Up

It's no secret that Giada's shoe game is strong, and these red stilettos were just waiting to be filled.

A Little Dance

Let's be honest: The hours on set are long. Bobby isn't shy about spending some of the downtime putting on a little show for the photographer.

Say Hi, Giada!

While Bobby looked off into the distance, Giada gave two peace signs to the photographer while waiting for filming to resume.

Making Do with Daylight

This oversize sheer sheet helped control the natural light while cameras were shooting outdoors.

Getting a Lift

Thanks to her pal Yaku, Tregaye need not run to the vehicle herself.

Mission: Beach

As Monterey and Rob learned to work together, the cameras were there to capture every minute of their partnership.

Special Equipment

The crew used apple boxes to support and raise small tables that were originally too short to use in front of the finalists during their videos.

Hands Up, Please

When time is called on set, finalists know to put their hands up immediately to prove they're not working beyond the allotted period.

Fleeking 101

We're not entirely sure what's going down here, but we have to believe Tregaye is giving Joy a lesson in proper fleek posing. 

Laughing It Off

Though Monterey failed to deliver the potato chip cookies she promised in her promo, she and Rob succeeded in making a strong video, much to their delight.

And ... Facepalm

While guest judge Ali Larter managed to watch as a presentation unfolded in front of her, Giada and Bobby dropped their heads into their hands, unable to take in any more.

Hey, Bobby

No matter the pressure of evaluation and elimination, Bobby turned his sights toward the photographer for a quick check-in.

Episode 2: Mentor Check-In

Bobby and Giada came together to quickly catch up during a brief break in filming.

More: Food Network Star, Season 12: Top Moments of Episode 2

Buddies from the Beginning

Aaron and Rob were close pals since day one, so it was only fitting that they'd choose to be partners in this first team challenge.

On Location

While taping in Grand Central Market, the crew resorted to all means necessary — even wearing the notice sign — to alert passers-by of the filming taking place around them. 

Taste Test

Martita and Erin were having so much fun sampling a roster of Thai dishes from Sticky Rice that they didn't start working on their videos until the final few minutes of their allotted half-hour.

Mentoring Times Three

You can almost feel the stillness in Food Star Kitchen as the judges waited to begin streaming finalists' videos.

An Honest Reaction

It's never easy to watch yourself on TV, is it, Damiano?

Taking It All In

The mentors and Mentor Challenge guest Haylie Duff couldn't help but laugh while watching the finalists' team travelogues. 

Setup Is Key

By situating cameras both beside and in front of Bobby and Giada, the crew was able to capture reactions from both the mentors and the finalists.

Closely Monitored

Not only was there a camera crew following the finalists as they cooked, but producers watched the action as well to gauge the finalists' progress in the challenge.

Feeling Ready

The Comeback Kitchen victor brought her signature confidence from the first competition into this contest as well.

Time. Is. Up.

The panel members made a grand entrance as they yelled for the finalists to stop working on their mash-up dishes.

Drop That Mic

Just as Melissa, too, was dropping her mic in a memorable presentation, Bobby showed off a move of his own as he watched the action unfold.

Throwdown Coverage

With so much happening throughout Food Star Kitchen during the mash-up challenge, the camera crew had to resort to any means necessary — including towering over the judges' table — to capture all angles of the challenge.

Crucial Tool

Even the microphone that Rev and the finalists used for their presentations was adorned with the Star logo.

A Better View

Bobby was quick to leave his post at the judges' table so he could get the best view of the performance going down on set.

In the Company of Greatness

"Flay-vor Flay," Rev said, greeting Bobby. The three had their share of fun on the platform as they assessed each finalist's throwdown presentation and dish.

Episode 1: A Stage, Transformed

A faux wall, several beams and, of course, two lighted stars were enough to set the scene for the finalists' first presentations.

More: Food Network Star, Season 12: Top Moments of the Premiere

Pure Excitement

Melissa could hardly contain her readiness for this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity before her.

Martita's Welcome

The winner of Comeback Kitchen couldn't hide her smile when she saw that former mentors Tyler Florence and Valerie Bertinelli were joining Bobby and Giada on the panel for the Star Challenge.

Off to the Kitchen

With only 45 minutes to cook, the finalists raced up the theater stairs to utilize every minute possible.

Simply Relieved

After an intense round of cooking, Martita and Damiano look on at their finished dishes and survey the offerings that will be presented to the mentors and crowd of moviegoers.

Tight Squeeze

Space was tight for the finalists while they were working in the professional kitchen at iPic, so Tregaye and the other finalists were forced to use every nook and cranny in the kitchen.

What's So Funny?

Let's be honest: Bobby's chuckle could have been prompted by a few of the finalists, as their second-take cold opens at the movie theater were full of hilarious quips.

Mission: Evaluation

With dark lighting and an air of concentration filling Food Star Kitchen, the 13 finalists took their places and prepared for Week 1 evaluations.

Intense Focus

It took multiple cameras to capture the mentors' back-and-forth deliberation about the bottom-three finalists, one of whom would be sent home just minutes after this photo was captured.

More Behind-the-Scenes Photos

Browse more insider snapshots from the second half of the season.

More: Behind the Scenes of Food Network Star, Season 12: Part 2

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

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