Food Network Star, Season 8: Behind the Scenes of the Premiere

Get a behind-the-scenes look at the challenges and relive all the highlights of the Food Network Star Season 8 premiere.

Photo By: Todd Plitt ©2012, Television Food Network, G.P.

Photo By: Todd Plitt ©2012, Television Food Network, G.P.

Photo By: Todd Plitt ©2012, Television Food Network, G.P.

Photo By: Todd Plitt ©2012, Television Food Network, G.P.

Photo By: Todd Plitt ©2012, Television Food Network, G.P.

Photo By: Todd Plitt ©2012, Television Food Network, G.P.

Photo By: Todd Plitt ©2012, Television Food Network, G.P.

Photo By: Todd Plitt ©2012, Television Food Network, G.P.

Photo By: Todd Plitt ©2012, Television Food Network, G.P.

Photo By: Todd Plitt ©2012, Television Food Network, G.P.

Photo By: Todd Plitt ©2012, Television Food Network, G.P.

Photo By: Todd Plitt ©2012, Television Food Network, G.P.

Photo By: Todd Plitt ©2012, Television Food Network, G.P.

Photo By: Todd Plitt ©2012, Television Food Network, G.P.

Photo By: Todd Plitt ©2012, Television Food Network, G.P.

Photo By: Todd Plitt ©2012, Television Food Network, G.P.

Photo By: Todd Plitt ©2012, Television Food Network, G.P.

Photo By: Todd Plitt ©2012, Television Food Network, G.P.

Photo By: Todd Plitt ©2012, Television Food Network, G.P.

Photo By: Todd Plitt ©2012, Television Food Network, G.P.

Photo By: Todd Plitt ©2012, Television Food Network, G.P.

Photo By: Todd Plitt ©2012, Television Food Network, G.P.

Photo By: Todd Plitt ©2012, Television Food Network, G.P.

Photo By: Todd Plitt ©2012, Television Food Network, G.P.

Photo By: Todd Plitt ©2012, Television Food Network, G.P.

Star 2.0

In eight seasons of Food Network Star, the stakes have never been higher as network icons Alton, Giada and Bobby meet in an empty loft space to introduce their teams. They're all smiles now, but only one of these competitive mentors will coach a new Star to victory.

Team Alton

The teams got a chance to scope each other out before their first challenge. As Emily from Team Alton put it: "If this were high school, Team Alton would be the nerds ..."

Team Bobby

"Team Bobby would be the jocks ..."

Team Giada

"and Team Giada, I'm thinking the cheerleaders."

Game Time

The meet and greet ends quickly once Robert Irvine arrives on the scene. That could only mean one thing: The finalists' first challenge is to open a restaurant from the ground up, Restaurant: Impossible-style.

Southern Comfort

All five members of Team Alton have a tie to the South, like their mentor, so a Southern theme is an obvious choice for their restaurant. When it comes to planning the menu, though, the decisions aren't as easy.

Shopping Snafu

The teams split up to grocery shop, with some members heading to Restaurant Depot and the others to Whole Foods. Somehow, the eggs Josh needs for his dumplings are forgotten and he's left scrambling.

Kitchen Confidence

Team Bobby has the most restaurant experience and they're confident that they'll win this challenge. But Eric might not be able to pull off his ambitious "hand-crafted" lasagna, for which he makes both pasta and fresh ricotta from scratch.

Ask Alton?

Cristie, unhappy with her assignment of the soup course, second-guesses herself throughout prep time. When Alton stops by, she hopes for good feedback on her black-eyed pea and cabbage puree.

Like Mentor, Like Finalist

Nikki aspires to be the network's "Girl on Grill" and shows off her skills to Bobby, the grill master himself, with a grilled corn salad.

Helping Hand

Linkie is frazzled in the kitchen and can't figure out how to use a mandolin. Fortunately, her laid-back Hawaiian teammate Ippy is there to help.

Meet the Network

The sight of Food Network executives Susie Fogelson and Bob Tuschman along with Robert Irvine raises anxiety levels among the finalists, especially when they learn they'll be doing a two-minute presentation before opening their restaurants.

Over the Top

Josh decides he wants to do something to "grab their attention," so he kicks off the presentation with a somersault. It does grab Bob and Susie's attention, but not in a good way.

Honest Opinions

Alton, Bobby and Giada are all friends, but they're also competitors and give honest feedback on each team's restaurant. When Giada asks what Alton thinks of Linkie's key lime pie, he responds: "Cafeteria."

Front-Runners

"Bobby, you have more restaurants than anyone at the table. We're expecting to be blown away," warns Alton when the judges visit his team's restaurant, The Tasting Space. In the end, Team Bobby does deliver on their cooking chops and they take the first win of the season. That means the entire team is safe from elimination, and they're ecstatic.

Mixed Emotions

Linkie is relieved that despite her too-sweet Key lime pie, she's not up for elimination. Josh, with his odd nori dumpling soup and inconsistent presentations, is the one on the bottom from Team Giada.

Last Shot

Over on Team Alton, Cristie learns that she will face off against Josh in the Producers' Challenge for a chance to stay in the competition. "Your passion for healthy food is a wonderful thing and very timely. That dish didn't reflect you or your POV and came off defensive and somewhat joyless," Susie explained.

Make It Personal

Cristie and Josh are challenged to make a dish for Mother's Day brunch and present it on camera. Cristie struggles to think of a story to go with her dish, but suddenly a light bulb goes off when she remembers that her brother returned from Iraq on Mother's Day.

Frittata on the Fly

Giada is concerned about Josh's presentation and urges him to think about the story he'll tell about his frittata as he cooks. He ties it to his mom and her childhood in Denmark.

Got Your Back

The pressure's on for Cristie and Josh as their teams cheer them on from the sidelines. Neither team wants to be the first to lose a member.

One Take

"My strategy is to show Bob and Susie that I'm not that angry person. Alton is super relaxed, but I get as nervous as can be," says Cristie. She only gets one take in front of the camera, but Alton assures her that it will be plenty.

Josh Gets Real

Josh starts off his practice runs with bad jokes, which Giada immediately nixes. "Pretend you're talking to your mom," she advises. This technique works and Josh pulls off his presentation.

The Pitch Room

Cristie, Josh and their mentors enter the pitch room, where Bob and Susie will decide their fate. After watching the camera presentations, Alton and Giada make one last case for their finalists.

Gracious Exit

In the end, Cristie is the first to go. "I got confused and you lost me at the end," says Bob. "I don't see the joy and the excitement that will excite an entire nation to eat healthy." She keeps her composure and thanks them for the "amazing experience."

Team Giada Gets a Save

Having dodged a bullet, Josh thanks Bob and Susie for giving him another shot. He gives credit where credit is due: "With Giada's guidance, I think I really got to say what I wanted to say."

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