One-on-One with the First Food Network Star Finalist to Go Home

Hear from the first Food Network Star finalist eliminated from the competition in an exclusive interview.

Finalists Matthew Grunwald, Dom Tesoriero and Christina Fitzgerald during elimination, as seen on Food Network Star, Season 11.

Photo by: Eddy Chen ©2015, Television Food Network, G.P. All Rights Reserved

Eddy Chen, 2015, Television Food Network, G.P. All Rights Reserved

It's the nature of the Food Network Star beast that even though no matter how badly finalists want to achieve their dreams of stardom, ultimately only one can win the coveted title, and with that, 11 finalists will be going home. Every week Star Talk will bring you the first exclusive interview with the most-recently eliminated finalist. From thoughts on mentors' critiques to reflections on past challenges and hopes for the future, be sure to check back every Sunday night for the latest one-on-one chat.

Tonight's premiere episode showed the finalists getting their first tastes of potential stardom as they took those momentous steps into Food Star Kitchen, several with their eyes wide and mouths agape, and surely many had butterflies in their stomachs. We're about to break down the ins and outs of the episode and reveal who went home, so if you've yet to watch the premiere, read no further until then.

In true Food Network Star fashion, mentors Bobby Flay and Giada De Laurentiis wasted no time in assigning the competitors their first task: to wow the judges with a memorable first impression. While Jay shined in the spotlight, Matthew and Christina both faltered, as neither delivered clear representations of themselves. It turns out, however, that the pressure the finalists faced in that 30-second pitch would pale in comparison to the stress of their next challenge, which brought them to a Malibu-area vineyard, where they had to prepare POV-focused bites for 100 guests at a food festival — and where they'd be streaming videos of themselves for Bobby and Giada, as well as Food Network executives Bob Tuschman and Susie Fogelson, plus People Magazine's JD Heyman, to critique.

Finalist Christina Fitzgerald preparing her dish, Som Tum Salad with Grilled Shrimp, for the Star Challenge, Food Star Showcase, as seen on Food Network Star, Season 11.

Photo by: Eddy Chen ©2015, Television Food Network, G.P. All Rights Reserved

Eddy Chen, 2015, Television Food Network, G.P. All Rights Reserved

Once again, Christina stumbled, this time both on the plate and on camera, as her Som Tum Salad lacked a refined technique and her video struggled to convey a message. Ultimately her missteps were enough to send her home after only one week in the competition, and she had to say goodbye once and for all. Read on below to hear Christina reflect on the experience.

Photo by: Eddy Chen ©2015, Television Food Network, G.P. All Rights Reserved

Eddy Chen, 2015, Television Food Network, G.P. All Rights Reserved

Do you stand by your last-cooked dish and presentation?

Christina Fitzgerald: No. I choked. I know that that is not even, like, remotely close to what I'm capable of. I do competition cooking. I have, like, trophies and medals under my belt, and nothing but shame on my face. That's where I'm at right now.

What one piece of mentor feedback will you always remember and keep with you?

CF: Giada helped me discover my culinary point of view. I came in sort of wishy-washy. I didn't really want to be put in a box; I didn't want to be like, "Oh, she's the whatever chef, so she can only cook that." And then Giada said to other people that had similar issues about cooking, she's like, "I don't just cook Italian, but it's just what I'm the best at cooking." And it was like, "Ding!" That way I know — what am I best at cooking? I'm really good at cooking vegetables, because I need to make it a meal on its own, so that my mom and everybody else that doesn't eat meat can enjoy it. And then I eat the meat on the side.

Was it intimidating to work with and be mentored by Bobby and Giada? How did you handle your nerves?

CF: I don't think my nerves had anything to do with them. I don't get starstruck.

Finalists Alex McCoy, Christina Fitzgerald and Sita Lewis during the meet and greet, as seen on Food Network Star, Season 11.

Photo by: Eddy Chen ©2015, Television Food Network, G.P. All Rights Reserved

Eddy Chen, 2015, Television Food Network, G.P. All Rights Reserved

What do you want fans to remember most about you?

CF: One thing is ... just be true to who you are. The second thing is, don't be pressured into doing anything. For me personally, I don't talk badly about anybody.

Who are you rooting for now?

CF: Whoever really deserves it and tries their best should win. They deserve it.

Keep coming back to Star Talk for the latest on the Food Network Star competition.

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