Behind the Scenes of Food Network Star, Season 9

Get an insider's look at what goes down on the set of Food Network Star, Season 9, and see insider snapshots of the finalists and the judge-mentors, Alton Brown, Bobby Flay and Giada De Laurentiis.

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.

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

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

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: Nathaniel Chadwick/Creel Films ©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: 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: 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

Episode 11: Welcome to the Family

Among the first to congratulate Damaris as Food Network's newest star were her mentors, including Bobby, who awarded her a friendly high-five.

Episode 11: Winner, Revealed

Taken around the corner and behind the screen that revealed Damaris as the Season 9 winner, this photo captured a moment after Damaris had learned of her brand-new life-changing title.

Episode 11: Taking It In

Seconds after arriving on the finale set for the first time, Russell snapped a few photos with his cell phone, sure to capture the excitement unfolding around him.

Episode 11: Storied Studio

The finale was taped in Food Network's Chelsea Studios at the network's headquarters in New York City's Chelsea Market. This famed space is also home to Iron Chef America's Kitchen Stadium and the Chopped kitchen.

Episode 11: Where Is Everyone?

Dressed up and ready to start filming, Giada waited for the rest of the panel to sit down before the show could get under way.

Episode 11: Always Connected

Chad and Viet took in some screen time on set while waiting for filming to resume.

Episode 11: Keepsake

Alton happily posed for photos with several of the finalists after filming had wrapped for the day, including one with Daniela, the first finalist eliminated from the competition.

Episode 11: Underground Forever

A chef at an underground supper club in San Francisco, Russell proudly sported his "subculture dining" sneakers to the finale.

Episode 11: Friends and Mentors

After the show had taped and the final interviews were concluding, Giada took advantage of a quick lift from fellow judge Bobby, while Alton joined the pair for a group photo.

Episode 11: Making Himself Comfortable

Chris wasn't shy about taking a quick breather on the floor of the set. He perched himself up almost on top of the Food Network Star logo in the center of the stage.

Episode 10: Multiple Conversations

During a brief break in filming, a few members of the production company chatted with Bob and Susie from the network, while Giada enjoyed a makeup touchup and Bobby nudged Susie for attention.

Episode 10: Stargazer

Standing on the Selection Committee's stage, Alton stared into the Food Star Kitchen before it filled up with his fellow mentors and the remaining finalists.

Episode 10: Comparing Ink

Sporting a few tattoos himself, Guy checked out Rodney's arm ink when the two met on the set of Rodney's pilot.

Episode 10: Jokesters

Although perhaps overwhelmed by the experience of filming a pilot for Food Network, Russell enjoyed a hearty laugh with Guy between takes.

Episode 10: Peek-a-Boo

Was she playing a childish game with the cameras or simply hiding her eyes to avoid the stress of filming her pilot?

Episode 10: Guest Judge

While the finishing touches were being set in the Food Star Kitchen, one crewmember took a brief seat in what would eventually be Bobby Flay's seat.

Episode 9: Behind the Cameras

It took three cameramen to track Nikki's progress on her dish during the pantry-cooking Mentor Challenge; she dashed between her work station and the stove at the opposite end of the Food Star Kitchen.

Episode 9: Director's View

When Alton wasn't in the kitchen tasting the finalists' dishes, he sat in this seat, watching the monitor so he could judge each person's on-camera presence.

Episode 9: How Not to Deep-Fry

Despite her best intentions, Nikki left croutons frying in oil for far too long, and they soon turned into charred black bits, which Alton showed off to the camera with a warning: "Don't do this at home."

Episode 9: Bird's Eye View

The production crew wasn't shy about scaling any surface — even kitchen counters — in order to record the finalists from the best-possible angle.

Episode 9: Tight Squeeze

Space was tight in the kitchen at Phil Trani's restaurant, so each finalist had only a few feet of prep area in which to work.

Episode 9: Look Out

This is the vantage point from which the mentors deliver their weekly reviews of each competitor at evaluation; they're seated at a three-top table, with the contestants standing and staring back at them a few yards away.

Episode 8: Quality Control

Although tasting the contestants' pastas wasn't part of the Mentor Challenge, Alton couldn't help but snag a bite of Russell's sugo.

Episode 8: Hot Commodity

There was a run-in between the ladies at the refrigerator where the pasta was stocked. Each person wanted to grab her preferred cut of noodles, and with just 30 minutes to cook, they had to act quickly.

Episode 8: Break Time

A few cameramen set down their heavy equipment while waiting for filming in the Food Star Kitchen.

Episode 8: Refrigerated Section

Take a peek inside the commercial-grade refrigerator found in the Star Kitchen. This one is stocked with olives, several kinds of cheeses and milks, plus various cuts of meat and dozens of eggs.

Episode 8: Supply Closet Conversation

Team Doughnut's Nikki, Stacey and Damaris planned the whats, hows and whens of their field piece in a back room at The Donut Man.

Episode 7: Space Concerns

A production crewmember worked with the finalists before taping at evaluation began to make sure they were properly positioned at an arm's length away from each other in the Food Star Kitchen.

Episode 7: Flare-Ups

No stranger to the barbecue grill, Chad knew just how to handle the monstrous flames that sparked when he put meat on the grates.

Episode 7: Balancing Act

Nikki juggled an armful of ingredients, including earthy mushrooms and scallions, which she'd use to make her mushroom pasta with Marsala-laced sauce.

Episode 7: Recurring Role

This wasn't Alton's first time hosting a culinary auction; during the past two seasons of The Next Iron Chef, he played the part of the auctioneer as rival chefs bid on ingredients.

Episode 7: Spoon as Gavel

As Alton worked the podium with an authentic gavel, Giada wielded her spoon in place of the same instrument at the judges' table.

Episode 7: Kitchen Turned Auction House

Luckily the Food Star Kitchen isn't short on space or design; so far this season, it's doubled as a cook space for finalists, a makeshift Chopped Kitchen and now an auction house.

Episode 7: What's So Funny?

During a lighter moment of deliberation, Giada showed off a seemingly LOL-worthy page in her journal to fellow judges Alton and Bobby.

Episode 6: A Crew of Cameras

A fleet of camerapersons gathered to capture the finalists putting the finishing touches on their products.

Episode 6: Rolling Pin, Sourced

That floured bottle of rum was once Rodney's makeshift rolling pin until he found the proper tool for the job.

Episode 6: Overwhelmed

Given that she struggled with the color of one of her two sauces, it's no surprise that Nikki let out a seemingly exhausted sigh during the Mentor Challenge.

Episode 6: Science Meets Food

Rodney dropped by Russell's station to get an up-close look at liquid nitrogen in action. This extremely cold substance pours like water, but it freezes objects on contact, which is why Russell employed it in making ice cream.

Episode 6: Untidy Bunch

Notice the food scraps that have fallen on the floor in the Food Star Kitchen; when cooking against the clock and under pressure, the contestants simply can't be bothered with keeping their stations mess-free.

Episode 6: Group High-Five

Before presenting their products to a panel of marketing experts, the contestants gathered in a backstage prop room to finish packing and labeling the goods.

Episode 5: Silly Time

Perhaps the stress was beginning to take a toll on Russell, as the often-serious chef let his relaxed side show by making funny faces with Damaris and Nikki.

Episode 5: Silhouette Snapshot

The on-set photographer couldn't help but snap of a photo of Rodney's fedora as its shadow shone on the wall of the Food Star Kitchen.

Episode 5: Not Impressed

The Selection Committee, including Food Network executive Bob Tuschman, was disappointed in Viet's performance during the 4th of July Live Star Challenge.

Episode 5: High Jump

Damaris could hardly contain her excitement when it was revealed that she'd be preparing a signature cocktail at 4th of July Live.

Episode 5: Multiple Views

Although they were all waiting for filming to resume, each cast member appeared to be looking at something different, no two finalists focusing on a similar event or making the same expression.

Episode 5: Appetizer Duty

Although he's known for creating inspired, refined fare, Viet's given the task of making a chip-and-dip plate at 4th of July Live, and he took the assignment in stride.

Episode 5: Expansive Space

Luckily the Food Star Kitchen is not short on square footage. For 4th of July Live, the finalists and mentors cooked at and moved between multiple stations on set, and the camerapeople had to make room for themselves as well as their equipment to capture each moment.

Episode 4: Mentors' Spotlight

It's one camera per judge as Giada and Alton prepare to introduce the opening scene of the episode.

Episode 4: Coming Attractions

Set up inside Cinépolis theater, the production company prepared to capture the audience's reaction to the finalists' three movie trailers that were about to premiere on the big screen.

Episode 4: Team Camaraderie

While the contestants were working toward their individual dreams of stardom, they were forced to compete in teams this week, and Viet and Chad seemingly adapted well to the temporary arrangement.

Episode 4: Hazards of the Job

Russell needed the attention of an on-set medic at the Cinépolis movie theatre when he injured multiple fingers on his right hand. He didn't let his accident slow him down, however, as his group, Team Western, went on to win the Star Challenge that day.

Episode 4: Tight Squeeze

Inside the kitchen at Cinépolis, each finalist had just a few feet of space in which to prepare their movie-themed menu for the audience.

Episode 4: Big Bite

Miming a mouthful of pasta, Chris proved there's time for relaxed play during even the most-trying Star Challenges.

Episode 4: Watching What Unfolds

Team Western's Nikki, Russell and Stacey couldn't help but laugh at their trailer as they watched it play in front of an audience full of moviegoers and the Selection Committee.

Episode 4: Staring Contest

While it's nearly impossible for the Selection Committee to always agree on finalists' performances, Alton and Giada saw eye to eye — literally — during this evaluation.

Episode 4: Picture of a Picture

Taken over the shoulder of a cameraperson, this snapshot revealed the vantage point from which the evaluation scene was captured.

Episode 4: Face Plant

The stress — or perhaps silliness — of the judges' table may have gotten to Giada, who took a momentary break during deliberation.

Episode 3: Climbing High

Alton joins a crew member atop an on-set ladder for a quick chat between scenes.

Episode 3: From All Angles

To make sure each finalist's progress is tracked throughout the challenge, multiple cameras follow them around the set, capturing their every move. Ultimately, however, because of time constraints, only select top moments are shown on television.

Episode 3: Behind the Camera

This is the scene at large in the Food Star Kitchen during the Chopped challenge, with contestants competing directly across from the judges' table.

Episode 3: Special Equipment

Viet tracked down the liquid nitrogen in the Food Star Kitchen, and he used this molecular product to quickly chill a portion of his crab roll during the Mentor Challenge.

Episode 3: Play Time

Although Danushka struggles to let her personality shine on camera, she has no trouble showing off her silly side during what would be her final Mentor Challenge, posing playfully with a halved lime.

Episode 3: Finished Dishes

Just after time is called on the food authority Mentor Challenge, Nikki stops by Stacey's station to inspect how the latter has turned smelly durian into a sweet custard.

Episode 2: Working Up a Thirst

Rodney pauses for a few gulps of water after cooking to rehydrate in the hot California sun.

Episode 2: From Their Point of View

When the competitors take their places on stage, this is the scene they'll see in front of them. All 100 chairs will be filled with hungry Burger Bash guests outfitted with the dreaded dials.

Episode 2: Fallen Food

Working in such a confined space at individual prep stations inevitably leads to a few spills on set, and during the Burger Bash challenge, it's Rodney's bison patties that find their way to the ground.

Episode 2: Digital Record-Keeping

While his fellow judge-mentors take notes within their Star journals, Alton prefers to keep a digital record of what's gone on, jotting down his thoughts on finalists and challenges on his tablet.

Episode 1: Can't Watch

For Giada, some of the finalists' first attempts at camera presentations are simply too much to bear, and she's forced to look away during the particularly difficult pitch-tape moments.

Episode 1: Judges' Huddle

Giada, Alton and Bobby grab a few minutes to themselves in the Star Kitchen during the Mentor Challenge. Are they chatting about the hits and misses they've seen on camera so far, or are they planning their next challenge for the finalists?

Episode 1: On Location

For their first Star Challenge, the finalists leave the Food Star Kitchen and travel to Los Angeles' Haas Building to cook potato-focused plates.

Episode 1: Friendly Competition

Lovely and Chad haven't let the stress of the competition get them down. While cooking during the first Star Challenge, they share a few laughs before time runs out.

Episode 1: What Are You Looking At?

Scared? Excited? Surprised? No matter how Viet's feeling in this picture, he's surely not concerned about hiding it, showing off an animated expression for all to see.

Episode 1: Joking Judges

Longtime friends and colleagues Alton and Giada playfully banter with each other during the Star Challenge as Alton attempts to introduce the fan group-controlled dial for the first time.

Episode 1: Plugged In

When the cameras stop rolling for even just a minute, the Selection Committee members are quick to catch up on correspondences by checking in with their cell phones and tablets.

Episode 1: Giggle Fit

The mood during evaluation may seem tense, but Damaris proves that there's always time for a laugh. Here she and fellow finalists Lovely, Danushka and Viet are overcome with smiles as they await their futures in judging.

Want More Food Network Star?

Visit Food Network's Food Network Star headquarters for more insider coverage of the show.

More from:

Food Network Star