One-on-One with the Latest Food Network Star Finalists to Go Home

Hear from Amy Pottinger, who was eliminated in Episode 9 of Food Network Star, Season 13.

Contestants Rusty Hamlin and Amy Pottinger react to being in the bottom two for Elimination from the Star Challenge ESPN Game Day, as seen on Food Network Star, Season 13.

Photo by: Eddy Chen

Eddy Chen

The nature of the Food Network Star beast is such that no matter how much mentors Bobby Flay and Giada De Laurentiis have to teach the finalists, their time is limited, which means they're forced to make quick decisions about who has the greatest potential for success. Week after week finalists will fall in a series of eliminations, and following each gut-wrenching exit, we here at Star Talk will bring you insider interviews with the fallen hopefuls. If you haven't watched the latest episode, don't read any further until you do, because we're about to break down the show and talk to the person sent home.

Contestant Amy Pottinger receiving critique from Judges for the Star Challenge ESPN Game Day, as seen on Food Network Star, Season 13.

Photo by: Eddy Chen

Eddy Chen

It's not a stretch to say that Amy Pottinger suffered her share of awkward moments this season. (Remember her ill-timed jokes and multiple apologies mid-presentation?) But despite her hiccups, she showed strong chops both as a personality and in the kitchen since Day 1. In fact, she placed among the top-three finalists in the premiere episode and has won several challenges since then. But this week, with just two episodes left until a new Star is crowned, the demands proved to be too much, and she was ultimately sent home following a less-than-ideal presentation during her Up Your Game Day live segment.

We caught up with Amy on set to chat about her exit and her thoughts on the experience. Read on below for an exclusive interview.

What three words describe what you’re feeling after what happened?
Amy Pottinger: I’m disappointed. I’m sad.
What was going through your mind as you learned of the news?

AP: I agree with Bobby and Giada. Matthew and Jason probably would have been the top two, so I knew it was probably Rusty or I, and we’ve both put a lot in at this point, so whether it was me or whether it was him, it was a tough call. I feel like neither one of us deserved to go home, but one of us had to.

Contestants Matthew Grunwald and Amy Pottinger filming their tv segment for the Star Challenge ESPN Game Day, as seen on Food Network Star, Season 13.

Photo by: Eddy Chen

Eddy Chen

Talk me through the game-day ensemble video. What was your approach to setting it up? Do you feel like you were able to accomplish what you set out to?

AP: Yeah. I know I didn’t answer everything perfectly. Obviously I had a few stumbling points. I looked down a little bit more than I would have liked to, but as a whole, I feel like I had a pretty positive energy and incorporated everybody else who was in the group, so I’d call it more of a success than a failure.

Do you think Bobby and Giada missed anything in critiquing the video and tasting your dish?

AP: No. I think they know what they’re looking for. They’ve been doing this long enough, and they’re also authorities in everything they do, so I think they know what they’re looking for from whomever’s going to win this show. That wasn’t me today.

Contestant Amy Pottinger prepares her dish, Giant Rainbow Dutch Babies, for the Mentor Challenge Ginormous Food, as seen on Food Network Star, Season 13.

Photo by: Eddy Chen

Eddy Chen

How would you explain what this whole process is really like?

AP: It’s a wonderful, wonderful experience, but it’s also really overwhelming, because, especially for me, I’ve never done anything like this. I haven’t taught a restaurant full of people how to cook a dish even. Pretty much every single other person here has. It’s basically learning 20 new skills at once and being asked to implement all of them at the same time with practically no background knowledge. It’s difficult. It’s a lot more difficult than it looks.

Was there one piece of mentor feedback you’ll take with you into the future?

AP: They said a lot of things that I tried to internalize and put into practice, but I think one of the main reasons I got sent home today is because Bobby just doesn’t view me as a food authority, and that’s a very valid observation. I haven’t been to culinary school. I guess the thing that probably sent me home is going to be the thing that I kind of hang on to the most. Probably that, because I’ve been trying to grow on the other stuff they’ve said. I guess that’s the big one at this point.

Do you consider yourself a food authority?
AP: No.

Contestant Amy Pottinger presenting for her team to see which team will have to go up again Host Bobby Flay in round two of the Star Challenge Beat Bobby Flay, On The Go, as seen on Food Network Star, Season 13.

Photo by: Eddy Chen

Eddy Chen

Where do you see your limitations?

AP: Cooking, for me, has always been something that’s incredibly natural. I just get it, I guess. I don’t know. I can’t explain it. There’s a lot of things where I can put it into practice, but I can’t explain why or how or the background or backstory. I wouldn’t consider myself a real food authority. I can tell you what flavors complement each other and how to build a balanced dish, but I probably can’t give you the history or the background on it.

What were your most- and least-favorite challenges?

AP: Cooking for a family of eight on $20 or $30 was really difficult. We, especially for our income bracket, allocate a lot of money towards groceries, so I’m not really used to having to pick and choose things, and I think that was probably the most-awkward presentation. As a whole I’d put that pretty low down there for me. … And then when we had to cook against Bobby Flay that was obviously insane and awesome in a really depressing I’ll-never-be-as-good-as-you, kindof awesome way, but it was a pretty low point for me when I froze in the middle of the presentation and was supposed to represent my entire group. I felt bad. I felt bad for them. I felt like an idiot for myself.

Contestant Amy Pottinger in her private Mentor Session with Hosts Giada De Laurentiis and Bobby Flay for winning the Mentor Challenge Ginormous Food, as seen on Food Network Star, Season 13.

Photo by: Eddy Chen

Eddy Chen

What’s the greatest advice Bobby, Giada or any of the guests gave you?

AP: They gave me a lot of feedback and I really tried to listen to all of it, but it’s a tough balance for me to not come across nervous, but then check off all the boxes I’m supposed to try to check off, because I can’t keep both trains of thought going in my head at the same time. I’m either being methodical and doing everything I’m supposed to be doing, or I’m being relaxed. I guess at the end of the day that’s another reason I’m going home. I just couldn’t do both.

Fill in the blanks with your fellow finalists' names.
_____ is the class clown? Me or Rusty.
_____ is the quietest? Jason, oddly. Off camera, Jason’s the quietest.
_____ is the most daring? Cory.
_____ has the best recipes? Cory.
_____ is going to win this whole thing? Jason.
Which guest or mentor did you learn the most from?

AP: Probably Alex Guarnaschelli. I was like: "Oh my god. You’re standing in front of me."

Guest Judge Alex Guarnaschelli meeting Contestant Amy Pottinger after her live stream for the Star Challenge Cooking Goes Live, as seen on Food Network Star, Season 13.

Photo by: Eddy Chen

Eddy Chen

What do you want fans to remember most about you?

AP: That I’m not as insane as I come across. I have some semblance of sanity from time to time. Hopefully it came across that I had fun. That I love to cook and that I’d love to do something with it in the future.

Who are you rooting for now?

AP: Probably Matthew or Jason. I love Rusty too, though. It’s so difficult to say, because genuinely everybody who is here has played fairly, has been kind and is a good person. I see so much growth in Matthew. I’ve only watched Seasons 10, 11 and 12, but I’ve seen so much from Matthew’s season to know who he is, and he’s a really good kid. Jason is so genuine and consistent and true to who he is, and I would say the same about Rusty. It’s really, really, really, really difficult to answer that one, because they’re truly all deserving people.

Tune in to Food Network Star on Sundays at 9|8c.

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