Winning Moments, Captured: A Look Back at Food Network Star Finales

Go behind the scenes, and relive the winning moments of Food Network Star finales from Seasons 1-6, plus hear from the newly crowned Stars just moments after their victories are revealed.

Photo By: Eddy Chen ©2013, Television Food Network, G.P. All Rights Reserved

Photo By: Eddy Chen ©2013, Television Food Network, G.P. All Rights Reserved.

Photo By: Edward Chen/Creel Films ©2011, Television Food Network, G.P.

Photo By: Leanna Creel/Creel Films ©2011, Television Food Network, G.P.



The South vs. "Pie Style"

The Season 9 finale brought together Louisville-native Damaris Phillips and self-described "pie man" Rodney Henry in the top-two seats, but ultimately Damaris earned the most viewer votes and was crowned Food Network's newest star. 

Welcome to the Family

"I am beyond excited," Damaris said just moments after her victory. "It never crossed my mind that I could win — ever."

A Star Is Born

The newest member of the Food Network family, Justin Warner, won Season 8 after fans voted for him in a live finale vote. He impressed America with his creative ways of thinking about food and his unusual approach to the kitchen.

The Rebel Reigns Supreme

Team Alton's Rebel With a Culinary Cause told FN Dish just moments after his win: "This is something I believe in, but I didn't know other people believed in it as strongly as I did. When you're a rebel, you never expect anyone to go with you on a cause, but I think this was the right time and the right place."

Sandwich King Takes the Crown

"This moment is beyond anything I could ever expect," Season 7 victor Jeff Mauro reflected after edging out Susie Jimenez for the win. "I came in here with an immense love for sandwiches, and that carried me through this competition. And now I can entertain millions of people while giving them knowledge through the world's greatest food."

Proud Family

On hand to congratulate Jeff were his wife, Sarah, and his young son, Lorenzo, who was captivated by the cameras and bright lights shining around him on set. "I feel blessed," Jeff said later. "Not many people get to see their dream come true."

The Start of Aarti's Party

It was a three-way finale in Season 6, when Aarti Sequeira scored the win. She triumphed over Herb Mesa and Tom Pizzica with a culinary point of view that emphasized approachable yet creative Indian cuisine.

Wall of Fame

Aarti joined Bobby Flay and Food Network executives Bob Tuschman and Susie Fogelson for a snapshot in front of her Star portrait, hanging alongside Bobby's and Giada's photos. "I'm waiting for it all to sort of sink in," she explained later. "It just feels magical, like this is the beginning of something."

Cast Support

In the Season 5 finale, the top-two finalists, Melissa d'Arabian and Jeffrey Saad, taped their pilots, then came together with previously eliminated contestants for the reveal. Ultimately, Melissa claimed the win and was soon showered with confetti to celebrate.

Marking the Moment

Mom to four young daughters, Melissa was greeted by her husband and children just moments after her win was announced. "I feel amazed and grateful," she said simply. "This has been a tremendous journey and learning experience."

Strong Contenders

Although only one could be crowned the winner, the selection brought three Season 4 finalists, Lisa Garza, Aaron McCargo, Jr. and Adam Gertler, to New York City for the finale. In the end, Aaron earned the Star title with a smart pilot that left the network wanting more.

New Colleagues

Looking back on the competition, Aaron said: "It wasn't an easy road. I started doubting myself, a lot. But I made it. I'm here. I'm a Star. I won this so that everyone can know, never give up on your dreams."

Excited for the Future

Emotions ran high at the Season 3 finale, when Amy Finely was named the next Food Network Star. She was voted on by viewers across the country and later told her fans: "Thank you. Thank you very much. I'm going to enjoy being your Gourmet Next Door."

Sweet Success

Not only did Amy earn her own show on Food Network but she also took home an all-new car, a 2008 Mercury Mariner.

Fan Favorite

Guy Fieri can thank passionate Star fans for his Season 2 win. They voted for him to become their newest Star in 2006.

Surreal Experience

Once Guy was announced the winner, a billboard in Times Square lit up with his picture and revealed him to be 2006 Food Network Star for all of New York City to see. "On top of the world," Guy answered when asked how he was feeling just moments after learning of his victory.

Party Time

The Season 1 finale was broadcast live from Food Network Kitchen at Food Network's headquarters in New York City. There, Dan Smith and Steve McDonagh found out that their entertaining-focused point of view had won them a show on the network.

The First-Ever Stars

"We're thrilled and we hope that we can do Food Network proud," Steve said. He and Dan welcomed their moms to set for the reveal, when they learned that America had selected them to be premiere Stars.

Want More Food Network Star?

Visit Food Network's Food Network Star headquarters for more insider coverage of the show.

More from:

Past Seasons