Giada Dishes on Finalists' Biggest Mistakes and Their Must-Have Traits on Day 1

Giada dishes on the all-new season of Food Network Star in this exclusive insider interview.
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Photo by: Eddy Chen ©2015, Television Food Network, G.P. All Rights Reserved

Eddy Chen, 2015, Television Food Network, G.P. All Rights Reserved

Beginning this summer, on June 7 at 9|8c, 12 eager Star hopefuls will strut their stuff on food's most-inspiring stage, but of course only one worthy rival will be crowed the victor and Food Network's newest Star at the end of the journey. Bobby Flay and Giada De Laurentiis are back to mentor the finalists through telling challenges, and together they'll work to discern who has the chops both in the kitchen and on camera, and who simply can't cut it. Star Talk recently caught up with Giada, and she dished on what the Star experience is really like for the finalists and what fans should know about the competition. Read on below for her exclusive interview, then check out this insider chat with Bobby.

After mentoring for so many seasons, are you still amazed at the transition that needs to take place in order to find that glimmer of Star power within someone?

Giada De Laurentiis: I'm surprised that somebody actually makes the transition that fast. For Bobby and myself, it took a while to get comfortable. It takes a while to sort of understand yourself on camera and who you are and figure it all out. So I'm always surprised that in this short amount of time, someone can actually make that transition. It's pretty cool. I mean, of course Bobby and I didn't have mentors like what we're doing with them, but I think it's shocking.

Fill in the blanks: Every time I work with Bobby, I know there's going to be _____ and _____.

GDL: Every time I work with Bobby, I know there's going to be good days and bad days. And I know there's going to be laughs. I learn something from working with Bobby every time; I learn something about myself, about cooking. I learn something about perseverance and hard work. We have completely different backgrounds, and so I feel like I peel him like an onion every time I work with him, as I do the contestants as well.

What do you think is the biggest mistake finalists can make as they begin this journey?

GDL: I think being over-rehearsed is one. I think not knowing what makes them unique. I think the inability to connect, and truly it's because they have to connect with themselves. They're just not used to getting in tune with who they are and what they truly want. They try to pretend like they're giving us what they think we want, but really we want whatever they want.

For fans watching at home, how would you describe what this competition is really like for finalists?

GDL: I always say it's like having intense therapy for 11 weeks because that's what it truly is. We really work with them. And sometimes it's very difficult to hear. And you will see people break down, depending on what buttons we're pushing. It's an intense time. I would not want to be in their shoes.

Next to cooking chops, of course, what are a few traits or abilities every Star hopeful should come prepared with?

GDL: Well, definitely a lot of knowledge, both about what they're cooking and about themselves. I think that they need to dig deep for stories that will connect them to their POV or whatever it is that they're doing. And really figuring out why are you here. That is a question that I think has been asked all the seasons of Food Network Star. Why are you here? Do you know why you're here? And it's not "because I want to be a star" or "[because] I love food." That doesn't answer the question. Really figure out why you want to be here. And if you answer that question, most probably you'll end up winning the show.

Has it gotten easier for you and Bobby to tell who the front-runners are going to be from the very beginning?

GDL: I think Bobby and I usually can tell by the second or third episode who is going to be in the top. But people surprise you, and that's the thing about this show; as much as you think you know them ... you just never know who's really got it until the end and who doesn't.

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