Comeback Kitchen According to Mentor Valerie: "This Is Like the Roughest Boot Camp You Could Ever Imagine"

Hear from Food Network Star: Comeback Kitchen mentor Valerie Bertinelli as she previews what's ahead in this brand-new competition.
Food Network Star, Season 12

Mentor Valerie Bertinelli during the Star Challenge: Where Are They Now, as seen on Food Network Star, Comeback Kitchen.

Photo by: Tyler Golden ©2015, Television Food Network, G.P. All Rights Reserved

Tyler Golden, 2015, Television Food Network, G.P. All Rights Reserved

Recently Star Talk brought you a one-on-one interview with Tyler Florence, and today the focus shifts to the other half of the  Comeback Kitchen mentor duo,  Valerie Bertinelli. Together these Food Network chefs will not only guide the returning rivals through three weeks of no-nonsense challenges, but they'll also decide who is most prepared to secure the sole spot in the cast of  Food Network Star, Season 12.

"This is like the roughest boot camp you could ever imagine," Valerie told us when we caught up with her recently. She's no stranger to judging competitions, as she's one of the prestigious judges on  Kids Baking Championship, and she admits that her favorite part of the job as judge is being able to witness contestants' growth. "Watching all of them — every single one of them — learn and ... get stronger," she says. "I mean, any one of these guys that we have on Comeback Kitchen could easily have their own show. It's a very, very challenging thing to do because they are all so good."

The Comeback Kitchen finalists aren't ordinary competitors. Each has walked the road to Stardom before, but all of their journeys ended early. Now they've returned for redemption; those past experiences indeed impact the way Valerie will judge their performances this time around. "I think we expect a lot more out of [them]," she told us.

One key to a finalist's success on Comeback Kitchen — just like on Food Network Star — is a strong culinary point of view. According to Valerie, having that allows the finalists "to separate themselves from the pack." Reflecting on her own place as a Food Network Star, however, she admits there's a gray area in her own kitchen. "If someone asked me what my culinary point of view was, I don’t know that I’d be able to tell them," she explains. "I’m a home cook who was raised by amazing Italian women, but is that a culinary point of view? I don’t know."

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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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