Top Moments of Food Network Star, Season 12: Star Salvation

Browse memorable challenges and shocking twists featured on Star Salvation, hosted by Alex Guarnaschelli and Eddie Jackson.
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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

Photo By: Eddy Chen

Photo By: Eddy Chen

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: Zac Hahn ©2016, Television Food Network, G.P. All Rights Reserved.

Photo By: Zac Hahn ©2016, Television Food Network, G.P. All Rights Reserved.

Photo By: Zac Hahn ©2016, Television Food Network, G.P. All Rights Reserved.

Photo By: Zac Hahn ©2016, Television Food Network, G.P. All Rights Reserved.

Photo By: Zac Hahn ©2016, Television Food Network, G.P. All Rights Reserved.

Photo By: Zac Hahn ©2016, Television Food Network, G.P. All Rights Reserved

Photo By: Zac Hahn ©2016, Television Food Network, G.P. All Rights Reserved.

Photo By: Zac Hahn ©2016, Television Food Network, G.P. All Rights Reserved.

Photo By: Zac Hahn ©2016, Television Food Network, G.P. All Rights Reserved.

Photo By: Zac Hahn ©2016, Television Food Network, G.P. All Rights Reserved

Photo By: Zac Hahn ©2016, Television Food Network, G.P. All Rights Reserved

Photo By: Zac Hahn ©2016, Television Food Network, G.P. All Rights Reserved

Photo By: Zac Hahn ©2016, Television Food Network, G.P. All Rights Reserved

Photo By: Zac Hahn ©2016, Television Food Network, G.P. All Rights Reserved

Photo By: Zac Hahn ©2016, Television Food Network, G.P. All Rights Reserved.

Photo By: Zac Hahn ©2016, Television Food Network, G.P. All Rights Reserved.

Photo By: Zac Hahn ©2016, Television Food Network, G.P. All Rights Reserved

Photo By: Zac Hahn ©2016, Television Food Network, G.P. All Rights Reserved

Photo By: Zac Hahn ©2016, Television Food Network, G.P. All Rights Reserved

Photo By: Zac Hahn ©2016, Television Food Network, G.P. All Rights Reserved

Photo By: Zac Hahn ©2016, Television Food Network, G.P. All Rights Reserved

Photo By: Zac Hahn ©2016, Television Food Network, G.P. All Rights Reserved

Photo By: Zac Hahn ©2016, Television Food Network, G.P. All Rights Reserved

Photo By: Zac Hahn ©2016, Television Food Network, G.P. All Rights Reserved

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

Episode 6: Alex at the Helm

In true finale fashion, the last Star Salvation battle kicks off with unexpected action: Alex Guarnaschelli in the kitchen. She leads a demo of how to make a next-level BLT, one of her favorite dishes from her hometown, as Yaku, Monterey and newcomer Ana, plus fellow mentor Eddie, look on. For their challenge, the rivals must follow Alex's lead and prepare and present a hometown-inspired dish.

Cuban Heritage

True to her Cuban point of view, Ana sets off to make corn fritters studded with chorizo, just like the ones her mom would make on the beaches of Miami. "This is my childhood on a plate," she admits. After wasting precious time in the pantry searching for baking powder, an essential ingredient in her fritter batter, she finally finds the item and manages to fry the bites before plating. 

Searching for Home

For Monterey, conceptualizing her dish is the first battle, as she notes: "I don't really have a hometown. We moved every two years growing up." Nevertheless, she draws inspiration from her mom's hometown of Pittsburgh and grounds her dish with kielbasa, mushrooms and beets. "This is just simple, homestyle food straight out of Pittsburgh," she explains. But as time ticks away, she notices that the beets are undercooked, so she scraps them from her dish at the last minute.

Chancing Chicken

Yaku's grilled chicken offering is a nod to the penchant for barbecue in Inkster, Mich., where Yaku's from. Though he has a plan to execute both the chicken and the side elements of his dish — cheesy corn and herb sauce — he realizes the potential for disaster. "I'm taking a serious risk trying to pull off barbecue chicken in 30 minutes," he says. And sure enough, his chicken takes nearly every available moment to finish cooking.

Time Continues

Ana knows she needs to control her nerves during her presentation, and although she wraps up a bit too early, the mentors are pleased with her performance — mostly. Eddie notes: "You had about five seconds left. In those five seconds, you could have got a few descriptive words out." In terms of Ana's fritters, they're a success according to Alex, who notes, "They're expertly fried."

Grilling Game

Yaku entered this competition in Week 1, which means he's the longest-running finalist still standing. "It has everything riding on it," he admits of his final presentation. There's no doubt Yaku's delivery is strong, as Alex notes that his opening line of "How you doing? I'm Chef Yaku" has become his "tag line." Eddie, however, tells Yaku, "You had a little issue with your flow." But when it comes to the dish, Eddie deems it simply "phenomenal." 

Mixed Results

"I've had problems with presentations the entire time. I'm really hoping that I break the trend with this final presentation," Monterey admits as she kicks off her video. Unfortunately, though, she stumbles in her speech of "negatives," according to Eddie, while Alex picks up on her nervousness. Nevertheless, her food stuns once again, and Eddie tells her, "You can cook — like, seriously." For Alex, it's all about the mushrooms on Monterey's plate, as the judge notes, "You have a real hand with vegetables."

Yaku's Victory

After an impressive six-week journey on Star Salvation, Yaku scores the win and earns the right to rejoin the Food Network Star competition. "I am feeling ecstatic," he says after literally leaping with joy upon learning of his victory. "I basically just went through a six-week boot camp. Bobby and Giada are going to expect a lot from me. I'm going to bring it."

Episode 5: A Smelly Start

In the penultimate episode of Star Salvation, the challenge kicks off not with a taste of food but with a whiff of it, in the form of what Alex calls "a blind smell test." Yaku, Monterey and Erin sniff a few items, but they fail to recognize smoked paprika, fennel pollen, ginger, marjoram and kumquat — and it's all of those that they'll have to showcase in their dishes this week.

Best When Baking

"I have not made this before, but I'm optimistic," Erin admits of her plan to showcase baked pork pockets alongside a ginger-kumquat mixture. Alex questions her about her penchant for baking, and Erin explains to the judge: "I have come to find that baking is my center. As long as I have some kind of baking component, I'm all right."

Familiar Flavors

Monterey once again goes international with her dish, this time taking "a little trip to the south of France." She's marrying shrimp and cauliflower — and is planning to make a ginger-kumquat mixture just like Erin. "I have to make sure that mine's better," Monterey explains, "'cause I'm not going to go home over some ginger-honey kumquat sauce."

Just Like Home

Inspired by the flavors of his childhood, Yaku channels his mom and sets off to make spice-rubbed grilled salmon with salsa, and it's that personal point of view that he says he wants to deliver to the mentors. And he manages to do just that. "I felt like I know more about Yaku in 60 seconds just then than I did in the past four weeks," Eddie tells Yaku. His dish is successful, too, as Alex notes, "The raw kumquat against the mango and the onion — fantastic."

Culinary Success

"'The question I am left not knowing [the answer to] is 'How does your food taste?'" Alex tells Monterey after the finalist presents her dish, which is so strong that Eddie compliments her with high praise. "There is no doubt in my mind that you are an amazing chef," he says. Alex, too, is pleased with the way the ingredients are married.

Mixed Reviews

Erin's presentation impresses mentor Alex, who tells her: "We saw a twinkle in your eye. You had a little bounce in your step." However, Alex adds that Erin's choice of words could be better when describing her dish. And as for her dish, Alex find the kumquat sauce successful, but Eddie notes, "Fennel was, like, extremely strong." 

Finale Bound

Yaku earns the first spot in next week's Salvation finale, much to his excitement. "I'm, like, this close to getting back into the Food Network Star competition," he says.

Erin's Exit

Alex tells Monterey and Erin that they "were neck and neck today, honestly," but ultimately the judges send home Erin after her struggles with her dish. "It's the closest call we've had to make," Alex notes.

Episode 4: Talking Trends

Joy joins the competition in Week 4, when trendy ingredients are the name of the game. Not only must she and the other remaining finalists fuse coconut sugar, seaweed, rainbow carrots and steel-cut oats, but Alex tells them, "You will also need to use a trendy technique or process to make a delicious and cohesive dish."

In Deep

"A little out of my element, but that's alright. I'm going to make it work," Joy admits of focusing on trends in this challenge. She opts to use the carrot tops in a pesto with salmon, which progresses smoothly enough, but she runs into trouble in the last five minutes of cooking when her oat-carrot side dish is still undercooked.

Presenting Color

Monterey pursues veganism in her dish, as she knows it's an of-the-moment culinary trend. When the mentors stop by her station at the stove, they're pleasantly surprised to find that she's cooking the carrots by color in three different pans because "otherwise the carrots bleed together," the finalist notes. "There's a trend right there," Alex notes.

Not So Colorful

Yaku, too, has plans for color on his plate, but they don't pan out as well as Monterey's. "I don’t see anything but brown. It doesn’t look that appealing at this point," he declares of his carrot puree, which encompasses all carrots of all colors. Nevertheless, Yaku plates the mixture below his seaweed-coated steak and explains, "I'm going to hope that they pay attention to the flavor more than the actual look."

A Bold Statement

Despite her initial confidence, Monterey stumbles in her presentation, tripping over words and laughing on camera, much to the disappointment of the mentors. "You laugh off something, which is light and fun, but it looks like you're laughing off what you just said," Alex tells her. When it comes to her dish, however, it's a runaway success. "This is the best plate of food we had in this whole competition," Alex declares.

A Mixed Showing

"The steel-cut oats may be my ticket back home," Joy admits after hearing from the mentors that her oat side dish is indeed undercooked. Alex and Eddie are pleased with her pesto, though, both in terms of its ingredients and the way it was presented on camera. "I love when you said 'not just any pesto — this pesto.' You specifically referred to ingredients and what makes this pesto unique," Alex explains to her.

Flavor Achievement

Eddie notes that Yaku struggles in the early part of his presentation, but he adds, "Second half, I thought that it was flawless." The mentors note that the poorly colored carrot puree isn't especially attractive, but they find Yaku's seaweed-blanketed steak to be full of flavor and texture. According to Alex, "The net result is this exterior crust that is sweet from the sugar you sprinkled on it, and [it] also got this deeply savory taste that is fantastic."

Joy's Journey Ends

With all three finalists encountering issues in their performances, Alex and Eddie do not announce a winner this week, and all three face potential elimination. However, it's Joy who ultimately falls, as Alex explains, "Your presentation was a little buttoned up — very nervous."

A Whole New Wheel

The Food Network Star finalists had to contend with a doozy of a wheel this week, and the same goes for the Star Salvation finalists when Eddie unveils what he calls "the wheel of innovation." The name of the game is for each finalist to innovate otherwise commonplace items, all while bringing his or her point of view, of course.

Rob vs. Rice

"Don't forget: innovation," Alex reminds Rob as he preps his offerings. He's faced with transforming a box of rice pilaf and feels confident with his plan of making both rice-stuffed tomatoes and a risotto-style rice dish. "No problem, Alex. I'm using this crappy pilaf two ways. That's innovative enough," he says. 

Mobile Mac

Yaku is thrilled to be working with a box of macaroni and cheese, explaining that he's used to prepping it at home. His plan is to turn them into two-bite fried mac and cheese balls with chorizo, as that reworks the usual texture of mac and cheese and the approach to eating it. "When you hear 'macaroni and cheese,' you picture this bowl of cheesy macaroni and a spoon," Yaku notes. "But I'm going to innovate it and turn it into a golden, crispy ball so you can eat it on the go."

Mission: Flavor

"I'm so afraid of this liver pâté right now," Monterey admits. She's left saddled with this less-than-glorious ingredient, and she's left trying to reinvent its flavor in a noodle salad for favorable results. "I have the hardest ingredient to work with," Monterey notes, "so I'm just spending so much time on making sure that this pâté is tasty." 

Mixed Results

Rob's plan to feature the pilaf two ways may ultimately come back to hurt him, as Alex notes that it's easy to compare both offerings to each other. "I think you did something that's a little bit muddled," she tells him. Nevertheless, she admits that his dish is indeed innovative. Eddie's pleased with Rob's showing of "personality," but he questions whether Rob's presentation is as seamless as it should be.

Succeeding Mightily

Though the judges find Monterey's presentation to be lacking in authority, they're wowed by her ability to innovate. When it comes to her noodle dish, it's so strong that she's given the first advancement to next week's challenge. "You took liver pâté and you transformed it totally. There's no way I would know what this is," Eddie tells her.

Room to Grow

Yaku serves his mac and cheese ball with a sweet-spicy ketchup sauce, and for Alex, that's too much of what she's seen from him in the past. "I would have really liked if you had let go of your little blankie — your little woobie — and just let that heat from the chorizo to be enough." Still, though, Eddie commends Yaku: "I love texture. And just right off the bat, I got a nice crunch from that panko." In terms of his performance, there's room to improve. Alex notes, "I really need you to sell me on how does it taste."

Rob's Farewell

According to Alex, this week's decision "came down to how you presented and described and sold us your food." Ultimately, Rob is sent home, while Monterey and Yaku advance to next week's midpoint of the Salvation competition.

Episode 2: Monterey Makes 3

Ousted in Week 5 of Food Network Star, Monterey enters the search for Salvation and joins Aaron and Yaku. With the focus on elevated drive-thru dishes this week, the finalists must create family-friendly road trip meals that, as always, incorporate their signature culinary points of view. "I'm at a little bit of a disadvantage," Monterey says. "I don’t cook for children. I do big, bold flavors."

Kid-Focused

As a dad, Yaku is no stranger to cooking with his kids in mind, so he sets off to make a shrimp-stuffed po' boy with rosemary-scented sweet potato chips on the side. "Something fun, something light that'll allow us to get there happy," Yaku explains of his plan. According to Eddie, "That's some fancy fast food right there." 

Gauging Spice

For Monterey, making Korean-style fried chicken is all about finding the right balance of heat, as sambal is hardly a kid-friendly ingredient. "I don't want to do too much of a coating because, after all, this is for kids," she says. "I don't want it to be too spicy."

A Melting Mistake

Aaron takes a play out of his at-home cookbook and makes a grilled cheese worthy of both his kids and the mentors. His sandwiches are layered with bacon and charred tomatoes, plus plenty of cheese, and it's that all-important ingredient that's causing him the most stress. "I slice one open and the cheese isn't melted," he explains. "I did cut the cheese too thick."

Mixed Results 

Monterey admits to being nervous ahead of her presentation, exclaiming, "Oh, this never gets easier!" She manages to deliver a concise description of her food, but it's what she's doing that's more of a concern for Alex. "I don't know if your body language always conveys that you are also an expert," she tells Monterey. Her Korean-inspired fried chicken wraps are a hit — "This is the bomb," Eddie says simply. But Alex wonders if the heat of the dish is appropriate for kids.

Looking for More

"The actual crunch on the bread — that's what I look for in a grilled cheese sandwich," Eddie tells Aaron. And just as the finalist noted earlier, the judges, too, find the cheese in the sandwiches to be insufficiently melted. In terms of Aaron's performance, "it just kind of petered," Alex notes.

Well-Done

"For me there's just no doubt that you really know how to cook," Alex proclaims to Yaku after tasting his po' boy. She commends his ability to explain a new word — "cutter" — in his presentation, though she wishes he'd avoided such generic words as "perfect, beautiful, convenient" because they don't lend much to the dishes. Nevertheless, for the second week in a row, he's deemed safe from elimination.

Aaron's Exit

Alex explained to Monterey and Aaron, "Your presentations were pretty much neck and neck." Ultimately the deciding factor must be whose dish was strongest. In the end, Aaron is sent home, two weeks into his quest for Salvation, and he thanks the mentors for their feedback before leaving. 

Episode 1: Leftovers 2.0

For the hopefuls' first steps toward Salvation, they're tasked with reinventing dinner leftovers into a next-level breakfast dish. Havird, Yaku and Aaron are set to let their culinary points of view shine with signature dishes showcasing standout creativity.

Bringing Down-Home Flavors 

For Southerner Havird, chicken and waffles is the name of the game. He quickly refries the chicken from leftover chicken Parmesan, then creates a savory cheesy waffle to serve with it. But just before time is called, he realizes he wants to incorporate one final element. "The one ingredient that I am missing is maple syrup," he notes. "How about a little bourbon in the sauce?"

An Egg-cellent Save

"The noodles kind of jump out to me," Yaku says when faced with Italian leftovers. He mounds the pasta and fries it, turning it into the base for his all-new take on eggs Benedict, aka Eggs Ben-Legit, featuring sliced meatball. When one of his poached eggs breaks on the plate with just moments left on the clock, Yaku avoids disaster by quickly hurrying to the stove to prep another egg just in time. 

Cutting It Close

Ever the master of meat, Aaron showcases steak tacos using leftover Mexican food, including a container of guacamole. The clock gets the better of him, however, and he fails to plate a few of his key elements. "I don't have potatoes on there. I don’t have bacon on there," he admits. "I'm not happy with this." But the judges praise the flavor of what is on the plate, even though they wish his off-topic story would focus on the food more. "Why are you telling me about hay?" Alex asks him. "Tell me about that delicious salsa."

Looking for More

Though Eddie is impressed with Havird's take on chicken and waffles, Alex explains that she's looking for more outgoing personality in his presentation. "I think that a little bit more energy that you normally give in your everyday life is what you need to really come across on the camera," she tells him.  

Starting Strong 

Alex is impressed by Yaku's ability to "be a human tip machine" in his presentation, in which he speaks of reinventing leftovers for his kids at home. His dish, too, earns rave reviews, as Eddie tells him, "It's what I was looking for." He is deemed the winner this week, and he's safe from Week 1 elimination.

Bowing Out

"It's really in the presentation that we saw some problems with the two of you," Alex explains to Havird and Aaron. Ultimately, though, Aaron is spared and Havird is sent home. "You have qualities that will be tremendous on camera," Alex tells him. "Maybe you just didn't quite get there here."

Go Behind the Scenes of Star Salvation

See what Alex, Eddie and the finalists are up to between takes by checking out insider photos from the set.

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

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