Food Network Star, Season 12: 1 Game-Changing Prequel, 13 Formidable Rivals and 2 Expert Judges

Get all the details on what to expect from Food Network Star this season, including a pre-competition, called Comeback Kitchen.

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

Eddy Chen, 2016, Television Food Network, G.P. All Rights Reserved.

You heard it here first: Food Network Star is returning this summer, and just when you thought you knew what to expect from a summer of Stardom, this season is here to change the game. Before this year's hopeful finalists meet mentors Bobby Flay and Giada De Laurentiis to kick off their quest for Stardom, a whole other competition — Comeback Kitchen — will take place in Food Star Kitchen that will transform Star as you know it.

In the three-week journey on Comeback Kitchen, beginning Sunday, May 8 at 8|7c, seven former finalists from past seasons of Food Network Star will return, and they have one common goal: a second chance at Stardom. They'll work with mentor-judges Valerie Bertinelli and Tyler Florence, who will not only challenge them with weekly camera and culinary tests, but will ultimately determine which rival is worthy of joining the ranks of Food Network Star finalists yet again. This winner will be revealed on-air in the Food Network Star, Season 12 premiere, so mark your calendars for Sunday, May 22 at 9|8c.

For the 12 Food Network Star hopefuls who are embarking on the journey for the first time, this year's contest will bring with it the usual stresses, of course, like the demands of Bobby and Giada and the nerves that come with the bright lights of Hollywood. But there will also be an unexpected 13th finalist in the mix. Not only does this person know the Star ropes from a past season's attempt, but he or she will be primed from another competition, so one thing is certain: The Comeback Kitchen winner will be a formidable opponent.

Bobby and Giada will be at the helm of the Food Network Star competition once again this year, both offering the hopefuls been-there-done-that industry advice and reflecting on finalists' performances in the hopes of discovering true Star power. Throughout the season the mentors will be joined by special guests from the food world and beyond — think familiar Food Network faces like Robert Irvine, Duff Goldman and Katie Lee, plus Modern Family superstar Jesse Tyler Ferguson as well as digital icons like Hannah Hart and the guys of Good Mythical Morning.

As the weeks progress and finalists begin crumbling under the pressures of competition, rivals will ultimately be eliminated — but not all hope for them will be lost. Once again this year, Star Salvation, a six-week Web-exclusive tournament, will take place on Iron Chef Alex Guarnaschelli and Food Network Star, Season 11 winner Eddie Jackson will team up as a judge-mentor duo to guide ousted finalists through a series of challenges. At the end of the journey, only one hopeful will have proved himself or herself worthy of redemption and be allowed to rejoin the Food Network Star competition.

Ready to meet the cast? Get to know the finalists competing on Comeback Kitchen and Food Network Star, Season 12.

Tune in to the premiere of Comeback Kitchen on Sunday, May 8 at 8|7c, and watch the Food Network Star, Season 12 premiere on Sunday, May 22 at 9|8c.

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