Food Network Star, Season 12: Top Moments of the Finale

Go on the set of the finale for a look back at the season, and see which hopeful is crowned Food Network's newest Star.

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: 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: 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.

On the Brink of Stardom

With the stage set for a life-changing finale, the nerves are high for the top-three hopefuls, Damiano, Jernard and Tregaye. Here they join their fellow cast members and their mentors, Bobby Flay and Giada De Laurentiis, to look back on this unprecedented season and learn who among them is the next Food Network Star.

Mixed Emotions

"Nervous, happy all balled up into one jar," Jernard notes of how he's feeling today. "I guess I have to say I have fireflies in my stomach." Though Bobby, Giada and Food Network executives have already streamed the pilots, he, Tregaye and Damiano will see them for the first time today.

Jernard's Journey

For this self-described "chef of love," the road to the final three was dotted with wins and losses. After the group recalls some of his best moments in the competition — including a few dance routines, of course — he tells the mentors how grateful he is to be where he is now. "It's beyond cloud nine ... just making it this far and having this opportunity," he says simply.

Cajun Invasion

Jernard's pilot takes him to the decades-old Harold and Belle's, a Los Angeles restaurant that specializes in authentic Creole cuisine, just like Jernard does. He chats with the owner, Ryan, about the making of tried-and-true gumbo and doesn't hold back from sampling fried shrimp and richly flavored crawfish etouffee. "Jernard, you definitely seemed to be having a great time, and you kept us very entertained," Giada tells him of his pilot.

Flashback: Rob Cramps Damiano's Style

In what was arguably the most-important cooking challenge of the competition, Damiano looked to his sous chef, Rob, for help in Week 10, but instead of making the task easier, Rob ultimately caused Damiano stress. What resulted was a tense — and, let's be honest, downright hilarious — exchange as Rob ruffled through the pantry in search of an all-important tool.

Spotlight On: Damiano

"When you have fun, you know, I think it shows," Damiano notes of himself in the competition. His most-memorable moments include a lively Snapchat video featuring a hacked turkey baster, plate after plate of impressive desserts and, surprisingly, Mexican cuisine. 

Prince of Pastry

In keeping with his culinary POV of impressive pastries and desserts, Damiano heads to Los Angeles' Pitchoun bakery, which is known for celebrating all things traditionally French, just like Damiano does with Italian goods at his own pastry shop. "It looks like a great show. He had Star power," Yaku declares of Damiano after watching his pilot.

Flashback: Letting Loose

Jernard wasn't the only one breaking it down this season. Remember back in Week 2 when Joy strutted her stuff during her rhyming presentation at Rev Run's throwdown? "Joy shocked the world," Bobby declared after her performance.

Flashback: A Will It Gone Wrong

Back in Week 6, none of the finalists could have prepared for the oddball dish pairings that resulted from the Wheel of Mythicality, but Tregaye's combo of octopus and macaroni and cheese was particularly demanding — and entertaining. "That was not popping," Rob says with a smile of that unfortunate ingredient reveal.

All About Tregaye

For Tregaye, the journey to the finale was a relatively smooth one — at least "after a few stumbles early on," as Bobby tells her. "You were consistently delivering good food and presentations," he adds of her growth. She looked back on stellar performances, including a wow-worthy plate during the hotel challenge and a creative twist on loco moco in Week 8.

Tregaye's On-Fleek Eats

In her pilot, Tregaye heads to Clifton's Cafeteria in Los Angeles, a spot she deems "extra fleek-y." This one-of-a-kind locale is both a restaurant and a nightclub, and it features such unexpected elements as taxidermy animals and a menu that includes daily Thanksgiving dinners. "It really fuses food and fun together," she explains in her video.

And Then There Were 2

Before announcing the new Star, Bobby says that they're "going to narrow the field" and eliminate one finalist early. Ultimately it's Damiano whose Star hopes are dashed, but he holds firm to his American dream coming true, noting, "For people out there that don't think there is still the American dream, you know, I hope I can inspire them." Giada commends him on an impressive journey and says, "I would say of everybody here, I have seen tremendous growth — and probably the most growth — from where you started to where you ended up."

Friendly Competition

Though ultimately only Damiano, Jernard and Tregaye made it to the finale, the other finalists couldn't deny the positive experience. "We all were kind of bonded," Yaku says of his fellow finalists. "It was like almost like competing against family in some ways." 

Never-Before-Seen Action

Not only do the finalists take a look back at brand-new footage of the action and drama that befell them this season, but Bobby and Giada also watch unseen clips of themselves from behind the scenes. And they couldn't help but laugh. "I've never seen you laugh-cry before," Bobby tells Giada after looking back on a particularly hilarious scene in which Giada was laughing with tears in her eyes. 

Anxious Moments

With the competition narrowed to just Jernard and Tregaye, the top-two hopefuls looked on with nervous anticipation as Bobby and Giada prepared to reveal Food Network's newest Star.

A Star Is Born

With the flash of her face on the screen, Tregaye learns that she is, in fact, the next Food Network Star. She's immediately overcome with emotion and drops to her knees. "Thank you so much for believing in me," she tells Giada. "This is like what I've been waiting for my whole life."

Tregaye's Winning Interview

Go on set with Tregaye just moments after her win to learn how she's feeling as a new Star.

Hear from the Runners-Up

We caught up with Damiano and Jernard at the finale as they looked back on a momentous journey and dished on their takeaways from the competition.

Go Behind the Scenes of the Finale

See what the mentors, finalists and crew 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.

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