Food Network Star, Season 8: Behind the Scenes of Episode 7

Get a behind-the-scenes look at the challenges and relive all the highlights of Food Network Star Season 8, Episode 7.
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Photo By: Edward Chen/Creel Films ©2012, Television Food Network, G.P.

Photo By: Edward Chen/Creel Films ©2012, Television Food Network, G.P.

Photo By: Edward Chen/Creel Films ©2012, Television Food Network, G.P.

Photo By: Edward Chen/Creel Films ©2012, Television Food Network, G.P.

Photo By: Edward Chen/Creel Films ©2012, Television Food Network, G.P.

Photo By: Edward Chen/Creel Films ©2012, Television Food Network, G.P.

Photo By: Edward Chen/Creel Films ©2012, Television Food Network, G.P.

Photo By: Edward Chen/Creel Films ©2012, Television Food Network, G.P.

Photo By: Edward Chen/Creel Films ©2012, Television Food Network, G.P.

Photo By: Edward Chen/Creel Films ©2012, Television Food Network, G.P.

Photo By: Edward Chen/Creel Films ©2012, Television Food Network, G.P.

Photo By: Edward Chen/Creel Films ©2012, Television Food Network, G.P.

Photo By: Edward Chen/Creel Films ©2012, Television Food Network, G.P.

Photo By: Edward Chen/Creel Films ©2012, Television Food Network, G.P.

Photo By: Edward Chen/Creel Films ©2012, Television Food Network, G.P.

Photo By: Edward Chen/Creel Films ©2012, Television Food Network, G.P.

Photo By: Edward Chen/Creel Films ©2012, Television Food Network, G.P.

Photo By: Edward Chen/Creel Films ©2012, Television Food Network, G.P.

Photo By: Edward Chen/Creel Films ©2012, Television Food Network, G.P.

Photo By: Edward Chen/Creel Films ©2012, Television Food Network, G.P.

Photo By: Edward Chen/Creel Films ©2012, Television Food Network, G.P.

Photo By: Edward Chen/Creel Films ©2012, Television Food Network, G.P.

Photo By: Edward Chen/Creel Films ©2012, Television Food Network, G.P.

Photo By: Edward Chen/Creel Films ©2012, Television Food Network, G.P.

Photo By: Edward Chen/Creel Films ©2012, Television Food Network, G.P.

Photo By: Edward Chen/Creel Films ©2012, Television Food Network, G.P.

Photo By: Edward Chen/Creel Films ©2012, Television Food Network, G.P.

Photo By: Edward Chen/Creel Films ©2012, Television Food Network, G.P.

Meet the Press

To kick off the second half of the Star competition, the mentors announce that it's time to meet the press. The finalists head to Food Network's home in Chelsea Market to pitch themselves to a media panel: Jill Bernstein and Jess Cagle from Entertainment Weekly, Christina McLarty from Entertainment Tonight and Ed Levine from Serious Eats.

You're On Your Own

"Some of you have been advancing solely on the strength of your teammates," Alton says. "You will be judged individually from now on." One more curve ball comes from Bobby: "You won't have your producers around to protect you. We're taking the day off."

Welcome to the Food Network Kitchens

The remaining nine finalists arrive at Food Network Kitchens in Chelsea Market, where they'll cook one single bite to communicate who they are to the press. "It's a mecca for all people who want to be on TV and cook," says Yvan, taking in the surroundings.

Dig Deep

Giada gave her team a pep talk before sending them off into the challenge: "You need to tell a beautiful story. If you lack the stories, you will get bumped." As they cook, Martita and Yvan stress about how they'll serve up a good story along with their dishes. Ippy, as usual, seems cool as a cucumber.

Thanksgiving in a Bite

Emily knows exactly what she wants to make: "Nothing's more representative of that '50s family lifestyle than gathering people around that Thanksgiving table. I'm making Thanksgiving in a bite." The story part, however, presents more of a challenge. "I'm afraid to tell stories of my past," Emily admits, "and that could be a problem."

Still Got Your Back

Even though they're all working individually now, the teams still stick together. Justin jumps in to help Martie when the clock is running out and she's frantically plating her cake.

Grill Next Door

"I really need to focus on being that neighborly, approachable girl," Nikki says. She hopes serving a refined scallop dish will show the panel her delicate side.

On Fire

Malcolm kicks off the presentations with a strong performance — and he knows it. "Did you hear the alarm go off?" he asks his fellow finalists back in the stew room. "I was on fire!"

Martie Brings the Party

Martie opens up with a bittersweet story of how she started throwing parties after being left out of a popular-girls' sorority. "I love watching the faces of these guys as they watch you. Their faces lit up," says Bob. "You were terrific, just brilliant."

She's Got It

Michele's story about her lobster arancini gets mixed reviews. Some say she seemed nervous, but Entertainment Weekly's Christina still sees star power: "She's got it. She's a star. And the dish is one of my favorites."

Martita Bombs

Martita finishes her presentation and leaves 30 seconds of awkward dead air: "I didn't know what to do with myself. I stand there and I smile. It was a perfect opportunity to tell another story but I hold back on talking about my family. It makes me too emotional," she says. Susie warns her that she needs to break down those walls: "It was a bomb. It's week seven. You've got to show up."

Breakthrough

Yvan, on the other hand, gets personal, sharing his story of coming to the States from Venezuela with his brother and mom and not having enough to eat. He brings Susie to tears. "I've never felt so naked in my life," Yvan says. "This competition is a journey into self-exploration."

Step Up Your Game

Though Ippy's food is always strong, the judges are becoming more and more concerned about his lack of energy on camera. Ippy defends his laid-back nature: "I'm never going to compromise who I am, no matter what happens."

Who Is Emily?

The judges want more from Emily: "Retro rad is not just a concept. It's who you are. You didn't say anything about yourself when you embody this wildly fascinating POV to a T!" says Susie.

Dad's Dates

Justin presents a dish that Ed Levine calls "insane": Stuffed dates with peanut butter, duck and bonito flakes. But Team Alton's rebel pulls it off with a story of his late father, who was told he couldn't cook and rebelled by making stuffed dates. "I thought it was a perfect bite," says Bob. "I saw a joy and a sweetness and it made me love him that much more."

A New Nikki?

The judges were completely thrown off by Nikki's sweet, girly presentation and her scallop served with flower petals on the plate. "I'm having a hard time today with you. I feel like we’re experiencing an identity crisis," says Susie. "We didn't tell you to completely change who you are."

Miami Bound

The finalists who are safe will be heading to the next leg of the competition — in Miami for Food Network's South Beach Wine & Food Festival. Justin does a little victory dance when he hears he's in. Martie is also safe, which means Emily will represent Team Alton in the Producers' Challenge.

No Surprise

After Martita's presentation flop, she's not shocked to end up on the bottom. "This is my first time in the Producers' Challenge. There's no room for error. I have to let that wall down."

No More Nice Nikki

Nikki is confused by the judges' comments: "Last week I was too aggressive, this week they're like, where's that sassy girl? I'm going to stop worrying about being really sweet." She enters her third Producers' Challenge with a new determination.

Burger Showdown

The Producers' Challenge this week: Make a burger that represents you. "I know you can cook. You just need to make that connection with the camera," Alton advises Emily.

No Room for Error

"If you don't take the journey Yvan took, you're not staying," Giada warns Martita. "Show me why Martita should stay in this game."

Here We Go Again

"I'm pissed that I have to go to this Producers' Challenge," Nikki admits. "I didn't envision myself going in here for a third time. I'm done changing myself. I know what to say to fight for my life and I'm going to make it happen."

Peanut Gallery

The team that loses this Producers' Challenge will bring only two finalists to Miami. Team Bobby hopes it won't be them as they watch the burger challenge unfold and cheer Nikki on once again.

Martita Shines

Martita finally breaks down her walls as she dedicates her torta, a Mexican-style hamburger, to her baby sister and talks about being the oldest of four. "Today was the first time I saw you go deeper and I didn't want it to end," says Bob in the pitch room.

Third Shot

Nikki kills her camera presentation, talking about the classic burger she made for her dad. "You owned this," says Susie. "It wasn't too aggressive. You brought it home." Bobby is proud: "That's my girl, Nikki!"

Connect With the Camera

Alton pushes Emily to dig deeper: "Why do you love the past? There's got to be an actual reason." Emily is still hesitant to tell stories about her own past, but she likes the '50s because everything seemed so happy and perfect. "I hope the judges see enough in me to want to find out more," she says.

Emotional Pitch Room

The mood is heavy in the pitch room as the mentors make their pitches for finalists they've grown close to over the past seven weeks.

Team Alton, Down to Two

Everyone sheds tears when Bob and Susie announce that Emily won't be going to Miami. "What a great experience," Emily reflects after saying goodbye to Alton and teammates Justin and Martie. "It's taught me a lot about myself. I am moving forward and inspiring people as a result."

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