The Most-Unforgettable Moments of Food Network Star: Comeback Kitchen, Season 2

Relive all the shocking, dramatic moments from the challenges as mentors Tyler Florence and Valerie Bertinelli oversee a cast of hopeful contenders.

Photo By: Eddy Chen

Photo By: Eddy Chen

Photo By: Eddy Chen

Photo By: Eddy Chen

Photo By: Eddy Chen

Photo By: Eddy Chen

Photo By: Eddy Chen

Photo By: Eddy Chen

Photo By: Eddy Chen

Photo By: Eddy Chen

Photo By: Eddy Chen

Photo By: Eddy Chen

Photo By: Eddy Chen

Photo By: Eddy Chen

Photo By: Eddy Chen

Photo By: Eddy Chen

Photo By: Eddy Chen

Photo By: Eddy Chen

Photo By: Eddy Chen

Photo By: Eddy Chen

Week 3: A Fresh Finale

The third and final week kicks off with a challenge to hack the salad bar and show off the creative dish they're making in a series of Instagram stories. Jamika takes the challenge to heart — perhaps too much — and delivers a whopping 7-minute story that includes seemingly unnecessary moments that confuse the judges. "I got a little — a lot — lost," Valerie tells her. 

Another Impressive Feature

No stranger to the world of Insta stories, Matt explains he's confident in this challenge, and after watching his video, it's clear he had every reason to be. "His video is flawless," Danushka notes simply, and the mentors agree that it's strong. His Southwestern-inspired pasta is successful too, as Tyler declares, "Man, are you getting good."

A So-Close Finish

Though Rob's Insta story showcases what Valerie says is his "absolute lovely, fun, magical personality," it's a bit confusing, just as his dish proves to be. "There's too much in here," Valerie notes. Ultimately, Rob's missteps are enough to send him home from this penultimate challenge. "I'm feeling pretty bummed," he admits. "I kind of feel my dream ends here."

Of Grits and Guests

Come the Star Challenge, Joy struggles to finish cooking her grits in time, so she results to "literally adding every liquid I can think of," she says. The plan backfires, though, as Tyler finds the dish to be "really wet." When it comes to her dinner party, however, her signature charm is infectious. "I love the way she's hugging them as if she's just inviting them to her own home," Valerie observes.

Mixed Results

In a much-needed rebound following her Mentor Challenge flop, Jamika delivers a welcoming video that attracts a full table of dinner-party guests. Tyler is so pleased with her jerk chicken-stuffed taco offering that he declares is the closet thing I've had to Jerk chicken off the Island, though her seafood entree leaves much to be desired. "This is a really terrific dish if you're on a diet and you can't have a lot of sodium," Valerie notes.   

An Intimate Gathering

Just two people choose to attend Danushka's dinner party, but that doesn't stop her from offering them a quality experience. She's quick to introduce herself, a move that impresses the mentors, before offering them a stand-out starter of tuna-topped cucumber. "I don’t think there's a lot of curb appeal," Tyler says, "but I think it's delicious."

Congratulations, Matthew!

Matthew's fine-dining approach to the dinner party lands him among the top-two remaining finalists this week, and his continued growth in the competition ultimate secures his victory. After not one but two attempts at Comeback Kitchen, Matthew ultimately earns the right to return to the Food Network Star competition.

Week 2: Ready, Set, Retro

When the mentors task the finalists with putting a 2017 spin on old-school ingredients, Emilia finds herself saddled with a jar of grape jelly. Though her dish is well-balanced, according to Tyler, Emilia's presentation is less impressive, as she waits too long to start cooking. She's left feeling proud of her dish, and she's confident that she can improve her camera work.

Harsh Words

"I'm starting to feel this is not your thing. You can't be combative," Tyler warns Danushka after she notes being distracted by his comments during her livestream. She assures him that she's simply "teasing [him]" (and then apologizes), and he concedes that she has demonstrated potential.

Pals and Rivals

Following his Mentor Challenge victory with a stellar livestream, Matthew earns the advantage of assigning the teammate pairs that will work together in the Star Challenge. He picks Jamika, who he considers to be his greatest competition. "It's definitely risky, choosing to put the best person to go up against me," Matthew explains, "but the risk is going to be well worth the reward if I can pull this off."

Welcome to the '60s

Both Matthew and Jamika must reimagine the 1960s classic of beef bourguignon — using only tools from that period, of course — but their approaches are wildly dissimilar. "My dish is extremely elevated and fine dining, whereas Jamika's making toast," notes Matthew of his rival's flatbread offering. It turns out that Matthew is justified in his confidence, as he goes on to earn the win on his team and is safe from elimination.

A '70s Showdown

Given the inferior tools with which they have to work, Joy and Danushka struggle to properly cook the chicken for their chicken teriyaki dishes, though both manage to plate their offerings, if only just barely. Come presentations, Danushka proves to be "enjoyable to watch," according to Valerie, but it's Joy who really wows them. Even Danushka admits, "That was a little bit too good." Sure enough, Joy takes the win on her team, while Danushka faces potential elimination.

An '80s Experience

"This is the guy that I wanted to show up since Day 1," Rob says of his presentation of his blackened shrimp tacos. He needed a strong showing this week, especially after his unfocused Mentor Challenge performance, and indeed bests Emilia in the team face-off, as she once again fails to fully convey her point of view.

Emilia's Exit

Just one week away from the start of Food Network Star, Emilia is ultimately sent home from the competition, following repeated on-camera missteps. "I'm shocked," Emilia says afterwards. "I'm honored that I got to have another chance, but if anything, it's just going to help me grow stronger and figure out where I go from here."

Week 1: A Familiar Face

Not only has Matthew competed on Season 11 of Food Network Star, but he also enjoyed a stint on last season's run of Comeback Kitchen as well, so when Valerie and Tyler see him in the kitchen, they can't help but smile. "This is like deja vu," Tyler says. Even Matthew jokes, "For me, this is like the Keep Coming Back Kitchen." All jokes aside, though, he demonstrates significant growth in the first challenge, demonstrating a personality that Tyler says is "an older, wiser, more mature presenter."

Making an Impression

To no one's surprise, Danushka's Achille's heel is lacking warmth, and after two presentations in the first week, she's making progress. "Your sense of humor is coming out," Valerie tells her following the Mentor Challenge. Come the Star Challenge, however, though she's still funny, she no longer has a compelling message, according to Tyler. "My notes on my card were 'Blah, blah blah. Zero content,'" he explains.

On a Roll

"I've been on tons of television shows on Food Network, but I haven't been the star," Jamika notes of her recent past. This week, though, she's surely demonstrating her Star potential as she wins the Mentor Challenge and lands among the top performers in the Star Challenge as well. As for her food chops, they're mostly spot-on, as Tyler says he has "no notes" for her after tasting her first offering of Mango Mojito Pudding. "I don't know why you aren't a Food Network Star already," he declares.

Her Own Enemy

Emilia suffers two big missteps in the first challenge: a too-salty sauce component in her first dish and a too-slow presentation in the Star Challenge, and believe it or not, both mistakes occurred after she made conscious efforts to add flavor to her food and slow down her speech. "One of my strategies to be softer is to talk slower," she says. Ultimately, that plan backfired, as her lackluster presentations in both the Mentor and Star Challenges contributed to her placing in the bottom this week.

The First to Fall

No stranger to desserts, baker extraordinaire Duff Goldman joined the mentors for the Star Challenge to offer feedback on the finalists' revamped retro desserts. He had particularly constructive notes for Josh, who was ultimately sent home this week, after the finalist suffered an éclair flop at the hands of rice flour. "You do have a great concept, but your textures really threw you off," Duff notes. "Maybe that's just a function of the rice flour. It wasn't able to hold in the steam."

Want More Comeback Kitchen?

Check out Food Network's Food Network Star headquarters for more insider coverage of the competition, and read exclusive interviews with the finalists and mentors. Plus, get Star-powered recipes for every occasion.

Food Network Star