Giada Talks Mentoring Styles: "I Really Want to Get to the Core of a Person"

In an exclusive interview, Giada dishes on how she and Bobby approach their roles as mentors to the 12 Food Network Star finalists.
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Photo by: Eddy Chen ©2014, Television Food Network, G.P. All Rights Reserved.

Eddy Chen, 2014, Television Food Network, G.P. All Rights Reserved.

On Sunday, 12 hopeful rivals will kick off their journey to stardom. And although how they portray themselves on camera and what dishes they prepare in Food Star Kitchen is ultimately up to them, they're not alone in the contest: Mentors  Bobby Flay and Giada De Laurentiis will be there throughout the competition, not only as judges but also as mentors tasked with fostering the finalists' budding Star power.

Recently Star Talk caught up with Giada to find out what it's like for her to mentor these rivals and how her approach to the responsibility differs from Bobby's method. "We have very different mentoring styles," Giada told us in an exclusive interview. "I'm more of a mom in the sense that I really want to get to the core of a person. And I really want to instill in them a sense of empowerment. I feel cooking is — for me, anyway — has always been part of an empowerment. I feel strong when I'm cooking. Everybody here who loves to cook feels strong when they're cooking."

She uses that sense of personal power to inspire the contestants and see that they're creating meals and telling stories that mean something special to them. "I want them to know that what I try to do is really allow them to dig deep within themselves to figure out why they're here, why they love what they're doing and really tell us who you are," she explains, adding that such a seemingly idea is, in fact, a feat for many. "A lot of people don't really know who they are or what they want out of this life. They kind of just go through life, and they figure out it, through relationships, through friendships, through things that happen — all these things. But it's about really paying attention to the choices that you make and how they translate into who you are and that's what I try to do. It's a lot of therapy, as I call it."

According to Giada, while she tries to mold the personal sides of the finalists, her counterpart, Bobby, is all about what goes down in the kitchen. "He focuses more on the food and trying to make sure that they have food knowledge and testing them on that and empowering them in that way," she explains. "I'm motherly in the sense that I want to give them positive feedback as much as I can, as well as critiques," Giada told us, adding later that Bobby is "a little tougher [and] a tough love kind of guy." It's this disparity in their approaches that she credits with creating successful finalists. "[Our approaches are] very different, which I think is probably why they work so well, 'cause everybody needs a little bit of both," she says.

Tune in to the premiere of Food Network Star on Sunday to see Bobby's and Giada's mentoring in action.

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