Day One of the contest found Rosa in the spotlight — she was the first competitor to be introduced to the mentors and at-home audiences alike when she gave her quick pitch in the center of Food Star Kitchen. For her, a culinary POV came down to what she knew from growing up in an Italian kitchen: "All of my food is everything that was handed down through my mother," she explained.
"It's Rosa Graziano on a plate," she simply said of the arancini she made for the premiere episode's food festival. This was the first plate she prepared for the judges, and while the Committee wasn't wowed by it, Bob Tuschman admitted to seeing "big potential" in her through her video.
The sweets-turned-savory baking challenge was a cause for concern for nearly all of the finalists; Rosa handled it in stride, combining both American and Italian ingredients to represent her Italian-American upbringing. "An apple is all-American and the figs are as Italian as it gets," she explains.
"She seemed like a regular old gal in a way that might capture my attention," guest judge Alex Guarnaschelli said of Rosa after she presented to the Committee and pastry chefs. They were not only impressed by her performance, but the tart, too, was a success. "I like the apple pie spices with the dried figs," Alex said.
The mentors were to select only eight of the 10 finalists' dishes to sample based solely on their photos, and lucky for Rosa, her meatball offering was selected. Unfortunately, however, the situation changed for Rosa when she presented her dish, as she called it "basic," which should never be said, according to Bobby. "I want it to be your meatballs that are spectacular," he told her.
After struggling to decide what to prepare at the Fourth of July picnic, Rosa finally chose chicken Parmesan — only to have her ingredients later swapped during an unforeseen challenge from the mentors. Forced to work with portobello mushrooms, she prepared a sandwich, but that also left her with questions. "Is a grilled portobello mushroom on a sandwich enough to win the judges over?" she wondered.
In true Rosa fashion, her presentation received rave reviews, with the guests giving her a high rating on what Bobby called "The Dials of Doom." But once again, it was her food that was the problem. "The only thing I want to eat here is the mushroom," Bobby explained, noting that the portobello got lost in the excess of bread. "When you make a sandwich, the ratio of bread to whatever the protein is is incredibly important."
Rosa said goodbye to the competition after a four-week journey, explaining through tears the importance of her family to her in this experience. "You always want to make your parents proud. They're the reason why I'm here," she said, "'cause they believed that much in me. My family will always be proud of me."