Food Network Star, Season 13: Top Moments of the Premiere

Relive the best moments of the premiere, and go on set with Bobby Flay, Giada De Laurentiis and the finalists.

Episode: Auditions

Photo By: Eddy Chen

Photo By: Eddy Chen

Photo By: Eddy Chen

Photo By: Eddy Chen

Photo By: Eddy Chen

Photo By: Eddy Chen

Photo By: Eddy Chen

Photo By: Eddy Chen

Photo By: Eddy Chen

Photo By: Eddy Chen

Photo By: Eddy Chen

All-Important Audition

When the competitors take their places on the stage at Los Angeles' Orpheum Theatre, they hardly expect the news that Bobby announces, "You are our 12 semi-finalists." To officially become finalists, they'll have to wow him and Giada in both camera and cooking auditions, and at the theatre, they kick off the performance component with 30-second introductions.

Timing Woes

Using just a few of his allotted 30 seconds, Cory, who's unsure if and how he wants to talk about himself, leaves a whopping 19 seconds of dead air after finishing his intro. Both Nancy and Suzanne, however, run out time as they struggle to share so much of their stories on stage. "Obviously 30 seconds is hard to tell a life story," Bobby says to Suzanne, who pleads for additional time.

Strong Start

Though Bobby and Giada note room for improvement in their presentations, Addie, Jason and Rusty make solid first impressions on the mentors. According to Bobby, Rusty exudes "a happy energy," as he speaks of his Southern POV. "It kind of leaves you wanting more," Giada adds.

Guess Who's Back

The surprises continue when Matthew Grunwald, a former finalist who's competed on both Season 11 of Food Network Star and the premiere season of Comeback Kitchen, joins the cast as this year's winner of Comeback Kitchen. For the other competitors, his arrival isn't exactly happy news. "A lot of people quiver when he starts to speak," Toya says, "because he came in [and] he didn't even have to audition."

Culinary Collision

Just moments into their first cooking challenge, Toya and Matthew smack into each other as they run around the kitchen gathering ingredients. "I really hit her really hard, and I feel so bad," Matthew admits afterward.

Similar but Different

Both Addie and Trace enter the competition with entertaining and lifestyle POVs, though they don't necessarily agree in the best way to present their dishes. While Addie opts for salmon-focused BLT sandwiches, Trace prepares grilled corn with spicy mayo, an offering that Addie deems simply "corn on a stick." She declares, "I do not think I would audition with corn on a stick. Let's get real."

A Home Cook's Perspective

Amy is one of the few competitors who is not professionally trained and does not have restaurant experience, so she's left feeling like the underdog. "I really feel like I have the most to prove," she notes. Though she calls herself "a hot mess in the kitchen," it turns out that her chops are pretty promising, as Bobby says that her skirt steak "is one of the most exciting dishes I've seen so far."

Flavors at the Forefront

Come the Star Challenge, Cao wows the mentors with both a lively presentation and bold food, so much so that Bobby tells her, "It's OK to, like, punch some people in the head a little bit with your food." Cory too delivers a memorable dish — Monti explains to him, "I think, obviously, the cooking part is your strength." — though he continues to struggle in the speaking department.

Early Flops

After near disasters in the kitchen, Blake, Toya and Nancy land among the bottom this week. "I think Nana had an identity crisis with this dish," Nancy admits of her steak-polenta-pineapple offering.

Blake Says Goodbye

Unfortunately for Blake, the way in which he delivers his healthy POV doesn't resonate with the mentors, and his shrimp dish is so lacking in flavor, something the judges simply cannot forgive. Ultimately he's sent home after just the first week, failing to make it past these initial auditions. "I still dream of being a Food Network Star, however, this just wasn't my time," he notes, reflecting on the experience.

Want More Food Network Star?

Check out Food Network's Food Network Star headquarters for more insider coverage of the competition, and read exclusive interviews with the finalists and mentors. Plus, get Star-powered recipes for every occasion.

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