Your Questions, My Answers


Another episode, another finalist sent home – this season seems to be flying by, doesn’t it? What did you think of last night’s elimination? I think we surprised many of you.

Keep your questions and comments coming on our blog, on Facebook and Twitter. I’m attempting to read them all (and respond to as many as possible).

There is an interesting variety of questions this week:

You mentioned Charisma and Passion. No argument there. Question: How do you decide when charisma is too loud – and how do you decide when passion becomes over-the-top (and simply too much)? What is your "yardstick?" – From James

That’s an excellent question, James. For which there is no excellent answer. It's always 100% subjective. The bigger the personality, the more polarizing they are. The personality that strikes me as electrifying and effervescent will oftentimes strike others as obnoxious and annoying. Ultimately, we go with our guts on which we think has the right combo of charisma, energy and passion to excite a wide variety of viewers.

Guy seems to be the most successful of The Next Food Network Stars and to me it is because the viewing audience voted on it. Have you reconsidered returning to that format? – Sarah Lyons

Sarah, I would offer that Guy's huge success is totally a factor of Guy's unique talents and personality. We love hearing from viewers which is why we have fan votes, polls, and chats. But we ultimately think what makes The Next Food Network Star unique and popular is that viewers get insight in to how the network chooses and develops its stars.

Do the stars and/or the contestants all have to have original recipes or is there a staff for that? – From Gillian

All of our stars and contestants use original recipes that they create for the shows they appear on. We do have a talented staff of chefs in the Food Network Kitchens, but they develop recipes for our non-television products, like the Food Network Magazine, our website, cookbooks, etc., but not for our stars.

In deciding elimination at this stage of the game, how much of the decision weighs into their performance this week versus their overall performance? – Nat Atkins

We start by just considering how each finalist did in this week's challenge. Then we broaden out to consider how this performance fits into everything we know about them so far. Ultimately we're trying to answer just one question: are we looking at a potential star?

How do the judges handle disagreements? – Dottie Jo

Bobby, Susie and I have had our fights and some have been real doozies. You'd think as head of Programming, I'd have the last word. But you'd be wrong. This week's elimination decision was made only after 4 hours of painful debate, which ended at 3am. Susie was so emotional about it, that when it came time to announce our decision, she couldn't get the words out through her tears. She whispered to me that I would have to announce it. It's a painful process.

I have so missed your weekly commentaries this season. Thanks for giving viewers this glimpse behind the camera. Unfortunately, there often seems to be some manipulation within challenges as to pairings and/or food prep assignments, even though that may not be the case. Would you consider some method for assigning partners, groups, or food that would dispel even a hint of manipulation--a drawing of numbers? – From tigergal75

Thanks Tigergal, I've missed writing my weekly blog too, which is why I'm hopping back into the weekly fray now. Assignments and pairings happen in all sorts of ways throughout the competition. Sometimes they're totally random. Sometimes the winner of a camera challenge gets to make the assignments as their advantage for winning. And sometimes we make the assignments precisely because we need to see how someone will react in a challenging situation. Personally, I like the variety.

Is there going to be another competition show for Anne Burrell? I loved the Worst Cooks in America show – she made it amazing and is my favorite and it doesn't seem she gets the air time like Alex and some of the other chefs. – From Sammie

This year was the first season of Worst Cooks in America with Anne Burrell, and it was a huge hit. Happy to tell you Anne will be back in January with an all-new crew of worst cooks.

Bob, any chances of seeing the judges cook alongside the contestants at any point? – From Miessj

Not a chance – for your sake as well as ours. I'm the first to tell you I'm a passionate food lover, but not a chef.

Would you consider bringing back some of the strongest contenders in the previous NFNS seasons to compete for a spot? Many of them seem to have grown in their culinary expertise (and perhaps camera presence) since they last competed. – From Nikki

We have actually discussed this. But every year we've found so many intriguing new contenders, we haven't wanted to give up one of their slots to someone who already got their shot.

When the contestants do a camera challenge, do they just get one shot, or does the audience just see one shot? In a real show, would not the host get a couple of takes to get a bit right? – From Lisa

The finalists only get one chance at a camera challenge, and you see it. Yes, in a real show, the star would get multiple passes, and eventually the final few will get the same opportunity. But for now, we're still testing innate camera skills, potential and charisma – so just one take per person.

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