Food Network Star, Season 12: Top Moments of Episode 8

Get an inside look at the finalists' challenges and relive memorable moments from the eighth episode of Food Network Star, Season 12.

Photo By: Eddy Chen ©2016, Television Food Network, G.P. All Rights Reserved.

Photo By: Eddy Chen ©2016, Television Food Network, G.P. All Rights Reserved.

Photo By: Eddy Chen ©2016, Television Food Network, G.P. All Rights Reserved.

Photo By: Eddy Chen ©2016, Television Food Network, G.P. All Rights Reserved.

Photo By: Eddy Chen ©2016, Television Food Network, G.P. All Rights Reserved.

Photo By: Eddy Chen ©2016, Television Food Network, G.P. All Rights Reserved.

Photo By: Eddy Chen ©2016, Television Food Network, G.P. All Rights Reserved.

Photo By: Patrick Wymore ©2016, Television Food Network, G.P. All Rights Reserved.

Photo By: Patrick Wymore ©2016, Television Food Network, G.P. All Rights Reserved.

Photo By: Patrick Wymore ©2016, Television Food Network, G.P. All Rights Reserved.

Photo By: Patrick Wymore ©2016, Television Food Network, G.P. All Rights Reserved.

Photo By: Patrick Wymore ©2016, Television Food Network, G.P. All Rights Reserved.

Photo By: Patrick Wymore ©2016, Television Food Network, G.P. All Rights Reserved.

Photo By: Patrick Wymore ©2016, Television Food Network, G.P. All Rights Reserved.

Photo By: Eddy Chen ©2016, Television Food Network, G.P. All Rights Reserved.

Photo By: Patrick Wymore ©2016, Television Food Network, G.P. All Rights Reserved.

Photo By: Eddy Chen ©2016, Television Food Network, G.P. All Rights Reserved.

Classics, Reinvented

"To be a success in the food world, you have to be able to put your stamp on some tried-and-true food classics," Bobby tells the remaining five finalists this week. They're tasked with reinventing such regional favorites as Massachusetts lobster rolls, Philly cheesesteaks and Louisiana jambalaya, which Erin is saddled with, in ways that make sense for them and their own points of view. 

A Delivery of Love

Jernard is set to bring his signature Creole flavors to a Philly cheesesteak, but he does something that shocks the mentors: He deep-fries the bread for the sandwiches. Though he expected that this would make the bread crispy on the outside and tender on the inside, the results prove to be full of oil. "The grease overwhelms every other flavor," Giada tells him. Jernard's presentation, however, is successful. As Bobby explains, "You really believe all of this about being the chef of love."

Making Strides

After making small steps of improvement in recent weeks, Ana knows the time has come to demonstrate substantial growth. She talks about her daughters in her presentation, which strikes a chord with Bobby. "I actually liked you a lot. When you talk about your kids, it shows how important that part of your life is," he says. Her Spanish-inspired lobster roll features a romesco sauce that Giada deems "spot-on."

Anxious Start

"I am so nervous that I am physically shaking," Erin admits at the prospect of selling her jambalaya-turned-hot dog creation. "Never been to Louisiana. Never really had jambalaya." She attempts to sell a story about her passion for Cajun flavors, but the mentors don't buy it. "It doesn't feel unique to you," Giada tells her. Her hot dog isn't a win either, as Giada finds the rice and veggies to be too underdone.

Mexico Meets Italy

Damiano, a native of Italy, has no personal connection to New Mexico, where his dish of Hatch Green Chile Enchiladas comes from. His solution? "I'll change it completely into something that is Italian," he says. Though Damiano forgets a few key words in his presentation, the mentors are simply wowed by his offering of ricotta-stuffed enchiladas, so much so that Bobby declares, "This is ... one of the best dishes you've made so far — and it's a Mexican dish."

Major Breakthrough

"This is for you to lose. You are so good at this," Bobby tells Tregaye in an inspiring declaration after she completes yet another entertaining presentation. Her take on Hawaiian loco moco is a hit as well, as Giada tells her, "I really like the concept." She goes on to win this Mentor Challenge and earns an advantage come the Star Challenge. 

Careful Consideration

The Star Challenge brings together all the finalists for a five-course dinner of guilty-pleasure dishes, and true to Food Network's show Guilty Pleasures, the finalists must sell the mentors on their own guilty pleasures before picking which course they'll serve. Ana selects dessert for herself in an effort to prove her range in the kitchen, but Tregaye exercises her advantage and takes that choice away from Ana, giving dessert to Erin instead. "I don't want to let Ana experiment and step outside her box and do desserts to impress Bobby and Giada," Tregaye explains of her decision.

Impromptu Mentoring

With Ana back in the appetizer realm, she set to showcase pork in a trio of starters, something she admits is "a big risk." While the judges are pleased with her food — especially her Cuban-inspired hot brown sandwich and the empanada, which is "decadent," according to Bobby — her presentation gets off to a rocky start. Ana is so anxious that guest judge Alex Guarnaschelli tells her: "You have to relax. … You're making me nervous."

Pasta Problems

Though Damiano says he's been cooking pasta since childhood, he struggles in preparing squid ink pasta dough; the sheets are falling apart in his hands. "Usually pasta takes 30 minutes in the fridge to rest. I don't have that time, so I got to do something here otherwise I'm going to be in trouble," he says, anxious because he also has to prep the sauce with limited time.

Decadent? Maybe

It's no surprise that Erin is happy to have received the gift of dessert from Tregaye, and she's set on prepping a familiar favorite: chocolate chip cookies. She's dressing up the dish with chocolate ganache and a mousse, but her fellow finalists aren't convinced that the offering will deliver the decadence of a true guilty pleasure. Nevertheless, she's confident in her choices, explaining, "What's so over-the-top about this dessert is chocolate."

New Words with Tregaye

Tregaye lands the seafood course and offers deep-fried scallops topped with butter-laced crab, and while the dish is a success — Bobby deems it "very pretty" — it's her presentation that leaves the judges particularly pleased. She tells the judges to "slither it" as they approach her corn sauce, and Alex is wowed by that. "I liked her vocabulary lesson," the guest says. Trisha Yearwood, another judge at the dinner, adds, "She makes it fun, and that's part of the whole Star quality." Tregaye claims one of the two top spots this week.

Welcome to Italy

With his pasta finally working the way he'd like, Damiano offers a bowl of sea urchin-topped tagliolini and a story of searching for sea urchin in the waters of Italy — and both impress the judges. "I really am transported by this dish. I am on the coast. I can smell the sea air," Alex says. Ultimately he joins Tregaye in the top two.

Two Times Too Much

Jernard goes big — too big — this week, not only with an overly decadent entree of beef with blue cheese sauce, truffle-laced potatoes and bourbon-spiked gravy, but also with his inappropriately suggestive commentary about aphrodisiacs. "It's one thing to kind of pepper in those innuendos once in a while, but to make it all about that it's just — it's uncomfortable," says Bobby.

Tough Words

Just as Erin's fellow finalists predicted, her dessert isn't received as the indulgent dessert she hoped it would be. Bobby explains that to Erin at evaluations, noting, "When I think about a rich chocolate dessert, I'm thinking, like, so rich in chocolate that ... you can feel, like, the pimples coming out on your face. That was not the case there at all." Erin is not pleased with the feedback. "I gave you the best dessert that I was able to give you," she tells the judges, set in her belief in the dessert's decadence. 

Erin's Exit

Ana and Jernard round out the bottom three this week, but ultimately it's Erin who's sent home. "It really sucks that I wasn't able to stay here longer," she says through tears before leaving. 

One-on-One with Erin

We checked in with Erin following her elimination. Hear what she had to say about the competition and learn her thoughts on the remaining finalists in an exclusive exit interview.

Go Behind the Scenes

See what the mentors, finalists and crew members are up to between takes by checking out insider photos from the set.

More: Behind the Scenes of Food Network Star, Season 12: Part 2

Want More Food Network Star?

Check out Food Network's official Star headquarters for more insider coverage of the competition, plus exclusive mentor interviews, behind-the-scenes photos and winning recipes.

More: Food Network Star

More from:

Food Network Star

Next Up

Food Network Stars As Kids

Browse photos of your favorite stars as you've never seen them before.

Get Cast: How to Be on Food Network

Check back here regularly for information on how to become a contestant on Food Network shows, send in questions, request recipe rescues and more.

Star in Training

The Next Food Network Star winner Aarti Sequeira takes us through the making of her new show, Aarti Party.