Food Network Star, Season 11: Top Moments of the Premiere

Get an inside look at the finalists' challenges and relive memorable moments from the first episode of Food Network Star, Season 11.
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Photo By: Eddy Chen ©2015, Television Food Network, G.P. All Rights Reserved

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Search for Star Power

With wide eyes, mouths agape and likely butterfly flutters in their stomachs, the finalists take their first steps into Food Star Kitchen. "It's overwhelming. It's exciting," Michelle says, trying to convey her emotions. Giada begins the competition by telling them of her and Bobby's seemingly simple assignment: "We have to find one person that has the perfect combination of great cooking chops and a personality so engaging that you deserve your own show on Food Network."

Big Apple's Italy

Dom's plagued by stage fright — and it shows — as he enters the spotlight to introduce himself and his take on classic Italian cuisine in a New York state of mind. Lucky for him, however, Giada tells him "that the nerves were charming," though Bobby wishes for him "to be a little more confident."

Two Sides of a Finalist

"You never smiled. You need to fill the room with your personality," Bobby tells Emilia after she delivers a performance that Matthew, in not-so-subtle language, says is like that of a "Stepford." Emilia, however, maintains, "I am lovable and funny as hell," and she's set on letting her true personality shine.

Falling Short on Expectations

Despite her confidence in her well-rounded culinary chops, Christina doesn't manage to get "an edge" through with her presentation like she'd hoped, and Matthew, not one to hold back, of course, deems her to be "mundane" and later "sassy," after the two riff on his feedback to her. 

What Goes Around

Matthew's been brutally honest with his fellow rivals after their turns in the spotlight, and sure enough, they're quick to return the favor to him after he delivers a presentation focusing on his favorite foods and ingredients, plus his years of experience in the kitchen. For Arnold, Matthew is simply "exhausting." Bobby tells Matthew, "Nothing made sense at all."

Hiding Fears

Though Michelle admits to the mentors that she's shaking in her boots, her nerves don't come across when she pitches herself in the spotlight; she leaves them with a positive first impression. "You spoke about yourself very easily," Bobby applauds her.

Feeling At Home

The finalists' first cooking challenge takes them to a picturesque vineyard, and while some find the prospect of cooking outdoors for 100 people to be daunting, Jay's at ease. "This is nothing but cooking at a Louisiana tailgate party," Jay says, noting that he's right in his element. Sure enough, his comfort pays off, as he delivers one of the best dishes of the day, grilled shrimp alongside corn maque choux, and wows the Selection Committee.

Varied Results

Rue's Mozambican offering leaves the mentors craving more of her food, but Rue's video leaves something to be desired. She describes herself as "aggressively charming," and Bob wonders, "What show do you think you're auditioning for?"

Mixed Messaging

Eddie bills himself as the maker of "cheat day" meals, though he serves a decidedly light dish of shrimp, the flavor of which the Committee is pleasantly surprised by. "My only issue with it is, if I'm going to cheat, I want to go a little further," Susie notes.

Better Than Before

"Talk about the comeback kid!" Michelle says of Alex after watching his 30-second video, a much-improved performance over his spotlight test. Giada agrees, noting, "We gave him feedback, and he sort of delivered on it," though she and her fellow Committee members were put off by clunky elements in his sandwich.

Strong Tastes

According to Bob, Sita boasts an "earthy, generous, momma-in-the-kitchen quality," but both the Committee and festival guests are struggling with her Italian-inspired macaroni and cheese — and its dominant flavor of rosemary.

Craving More

Rosa can hardly watch as her video is played before the packed lawn, but it appears she doesn't have as much to worry about as she'd thought — at least in terms of her presentation, that is. "I think she has glimmers of being frisky and spunky," Bob says. But it's her arancini that causes concern. "I want more flavor here," Bobby declares.

Problems Aplenty

It's one struggle after another at the vineyard for Christina, who wastes precious cooking prep time trying to shred her Som Tum Salad produce on the mandoline. She's concerned that the textures in the finished dish aren't going to be ideal, and the judges indeed pick up on those faults. "There's some random chunks of things in here," People Magazine's JD Heyman says. Christina's video, too, lacked uniqueness, as Giada explains, "She didn't personalize it enough."

Elegance Delivered

Although his mixed-message video — partly about budget cooking, but also about entertaining at home — leaves the Committee wondering, Arnold's nicoise salad is a runaway hit. "From the potatoes to the asparagus to the tuna, everything is perfectly cooked," says Bobby, who's also impressed by the plate's presentation. Later, Arnold is named one of the best performers of the day.

Early Faltering

Both Dom and Matthew deliver videos that leave the Committee questioning, and they join Christina in the bottom three this week. For Dom it's a matter of whether or not he can handle — or even simply wants — the spotlight, while Matthew's talk of social media messaging is simply confusing. "He said 'hashtag'; I say, 'WTF,'" Bobby remarks.

The First to Fall

"I don't know that she knows who Christina is and what kind of food Christina wants," Giada said of Christina, who ultimately learns that her journey to Stardom has ended. "I'm just really sad that I didn't get to show them my best," says Christina as she reflects on her brief stay in the contest.

Photos: Star Scrapbook: Christina Fitzgerald

One-on-One with Christina

Hear from Christina in her first exclusive exit interview to learn her thoughts on the contest and what's next.

Go Behind the Scenes

Get an insider's look at the making of the premiere, and see what it's like for the cast to cook in front of the cameras.

Photos: Behind the Scenes of Food Network Star, Season 11

Want More Food Network Star?

Check out Food Network Star headquarters for more photos, plus exclusive interviews, top video clips and insider coverage of the competition.

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