Food Network Chefs Share Insider Advice with Food Network Star Finalists

Hear from some Food Network superstars as they offer expert tips and industry experience to hopefuls competing on Food Network Star.

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Guy Fieri

The best piece of been-there-done-that advice is what Rachael Ray gave to me 10 years ago, and that is "Don't burn tape." When you're in it and you're doing it, keep it going. You may make a huge mistake, say a stupid thing, you may be standing there with your shoe untied, I mean, someone walks right in front of the camera — just keep going, keep rolling, stick with this, stay in the moment. And that's proven to be really true in all my adventures that I've had ... "Don't burn tape."

Rachael Ray

They have to remember that it's about storytelling — it's not always just about the food. It's about making the viewer excited to get up and cook and share that food and that experience with their families. So it's really about making that connection with them and really holding that promise. You know that every time they tune in they're going to be entertained and they want to share time with you. It can't just be about the food, because mostly everyone knows how to cook a piece of chicken.

Damaris Phillips

Don't try to come up with, like, an idea of who you are. Just cook the food you love to cook. Everybody talks about that POV, and if you would just go in loving the food and liking yourself, then you're going to be good ... it's going to come out.

Melissa d'Arabian

Forty-five minutes flies by in the kitchen, but one minute of just you and the camera is an eternity. My tip: Know your opening and closing cold, have three points to make and prepare to drop the third point, going straight to your ending, if needed. And here’s the knock-it-out-of-the-park secret: Be clear on how your points are related to one another, and rehearse the transitions from one point to the next. Great presenters are usually smooth transitioners.

Geoffrey Zakarian

You got to own who you are and be who you are more than ever. You don't want to start trying recipes that are untested as far as your own personality. You just got to make sure you focus on who you are [and] let that come to the camera, because any mistake you make on camera, foodwise, is not really important; it's how you come across, how you hide it, how you talk about it, how it affects the visual. 

Alex Guarnaschelli

Keep it simple. Be true to yourself. When you're cooking dishes and talking about food, make the things that you know how to make that come from the heart. I think that simpler and more true is always better.

Scott Conant

Every time I see [the show], the one thing that the contestants seem to struggle with is their point of view very early. … I would say, know it going in. Hone your ideas. Years of therapy has taught me you got to get to know yourself and understand where you're coming from, and understand what your point of view is. And then live it, breathe it. Focus only on that. And don't sweat it, and hone the vision.

Aarti Sequeira

Try to keep a light sprit about [the Food Network Star competition], which I know is much easier said than done.

Sunny Anderson

Just relax and be you, 'cause at the end of the day, if you win trying to be something that you're not, you're going to try and be that, and it's going to be really hard to figure out what that is. So if you're just yourself and you're comfortable with you — warts and all — and you win, easy sailing.

Jeff Mauro

The biggest hurdle is coming in with a sense of style and point of view and a clear show idea. 'Cause I think you're not only selling yourself, you're pitching a show idea, so you need to know what that is or narrow it down to a couple options.

Robert Irvine

You have to imagine your boyfriend, girlfriend, mom or whoever is special to you, and think you're having a conversation with them. And that's it. The rest — once you've done that a couple of times and settled down — it's just that easy. And I know when we first start in this business people will say: "Oh, there's a camera. Oh, there are four cameras." People watch you all the time. It's the same as a camera. Just don't worry about the cameras.

Marcela Valladolid

Be yourself. It sounds so simple and so cliche and so cheesy, but can I tell you, I've been doing this for 10 years, and I just now … feel like I can stand in front of a camera and truly be myself.

Aarón Sánchez

Don't try too hard. There's no right way of doing it. Your personality is what's going to get it through. If you're genuine, it's going to get you where you want to be.

Katie Lee

The most-important thing is to just try to keep your calm, and that's a lot easier said than done. But as with anything in life, when you start to get stressed out and overthink it, that's when problems happen.

Marcus Samuelsson

They should clearly focus on who they are and their food. They cannot become something they're not. Really look at their character and personality and build off that.

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