What Not to Do: Food Network Star Edition

Food Network chefs share their top tips on what Food Network Star finalists ought not do in order to be successful in this 11-week contest.

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Bobby Flay

They need to be who they are and not try to be somebody who is already on the network. A lot of times people try to copy something that we already have. And so I think it's important for them to just be that person, so hopefully they'll become — like, if someone's name is Tina, for example, now we have Tina, as opposed to the next Rachael Ray.

Giada De Laurentiis

I think what they should not do is over-rehearse. I find a lot of people, they pretend like this job is sort of like reading the news, in a way, and I think that if you over-rehearse what you're going to do and say, you tend to come off as cold and inaccessible and untouchable. So I think, try not to rehearse and live in the moment and just say what comes to mind, and if you're not perfect, you're better off because you're genuine.

Alex Guarnaschelli

I would list off things Bobby said to me: Do not be untrue to who you are ('cause it shows in your face), don’t wear an outfit you don’t like just 'cause someone told you that it’s what you should wear, and don’t cook food that you’re not comfortable with when you’re in front of a camera.

Rachael Ray

Don't sell. Have a conversation. Television is about making people forget they're watching television and building some sort of intimacy with the viewer. So I think the best advice to all of these finalists is literally don't think about it too much; just be yourself.

Robert Irvine

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.

Jeff Mauro

Don’t come with some vague point of view, like, you're going to make healthy food delicious, or you're going to make crazy food approachable, or you're going to make rock 'n' roll food that’s awesome. You have to really know your voice. And sometimes I think that has to be kind of gimmicky and have that defined platform, such as sandwiches did for me, or budgeting did for Melissa, or Indian food did for Aarti, or anything else for whomever else won in the past.

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.

Katie Lee

I think that the biggest key to being successful in this type of work is to be able to be yourself on camera, and don’t try to be something that you’re not. If you’re true to yourself, that’s when I think that, you know, those are the people you gravitate toward the most in life and in television.

Melissa d'Arabian

What does not work is trying too hard to be funny. People skills and humor are things you should never tell anybody you have. That is always in the eye of the beholder. So trying to be funny does not work and it’s a huge turnoff.

Marcela Valladolid

Do not try to emulate anybody else. I think it’s a mistake we all make when we begin; it’s like watching the network obsessively perhaps and feeling like, oh, this works for her. But it might not work for you, you know? So I would just say, do not try to be like anybody else out there.

Anne Burrell

They should not try to listen to what everyone else is telling them about who they should be. To do a Food Network show is so incredibly unnatural and hard, and you have so many people telling you so many things. It's such a huge, steep learning curve, and you look like an idiot sometimes doing it. But it is so important to be true to yourself and not have everyone else's idea of what they think you should be. Be yourself because the camera will see through that every single time.

Sunny Anderson

It is fighting to be yourself and understanding that this is art and commerce put together. Anytime you bring commerce into art there are going to be some moments where you have to make some compromises, but it's picking your battles and understanding when something is going to affect you in the long term or just be something that is no big deal. Sometimes you have to really take a moment, take a step aside and realize that you came into this who you are. You want to leave the same way. So it’s just sticking with who you are and not being swayed by what others want of you and a check that comes with it. 

Marc Murphy

Try to do something new and unique. I think it's a lot about your personality and whether you'll be able to get whatever you're trying to across through the screen. But more importantly, you have to be passionate about it. You're not going to be able to sell it unless you have sold it to yourself first. If you're trying to pedal something you don't really believe in, it's not happening.

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.

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