Expect the Unexpected: TWO Finalists Won Comeback Kitchen!

We've got the first interview with both of them.

Contestants Adam Gertler and Amy Pottinger stand as the two finalists and winners of this season, as seen on Comeback Kitchen, Season 3.

Photo by: Michael Moriatis

Michael Moriatis

Just when we thought we’d seen it all in Food Star Kitchen, Tyler Florence and Valerie Bertinelli go ahead and do this: crown not one but two winners on tonight’s finale of Comeback Kitchen. The victors wouldn’t be more different: Adam Gertler, a TV veteran who we last saw on Star 10 years ago, and Amy Pottinger, a home cook who competed just last year. They both earned their second shots at Stardom, and we caught up with them as they looked ahead to what’s next.

Well, this was a shocker! What did you guys think about BOTH winning?

Amy Pottinger: Obviously Comeback Kitchen is an incredible opportunity and there’s a lot of talented people in it, and I think sending two people back not only creates a fun sub-competition dynamic but also helps support the premise of Comeback Kitchen.

Adam Gertler: Initially, I was very excited — I was the first name. I was also very excited for Amy because I would be lying if I said I didn’t feel a little guilty having had experience and gotten my own shows [since the last time I was on Food Network Star]. I didn’t want to take anybody’s opportunity away, but I still wanted to forge my own opportunity. So, I guess it appeased a natural guilt that is inside. And then immediately after that, I was very daunted by the thought of meeting 10 new people.

Contestants Amy Pottinger, Adam Gertler, Sarah Penrod and Jernard Wells discuss their challenge, as seen on Comeback Kitchen, Season 3.

Photo by: Michael Moriatis

Michael Moriatis

Adam, you had 10 years to prepare for your second chance, but Amy, your Star experience and all the skills that come with it was just a year ago. Who has the upper hand?

AP: I didn’t know a lot about Adam, but as we all got to know each other throughout Comeback Kitchen, I leanred that he has a currently running cable TV show, plus everything he’s already done with Food Network. Although I was just on this show a year ago, I think it could really be either of our games because it’s fresher for me, but he’s obviously very, very present in this space and knows what he’s doing.

AG: I would say that between Amy and me, it’s hard to say I really felt a strong advantage being on camera and presenting, because it’s what I do for a living and what’s what I do every week. I do it for Doghouse. I felt a big disadvantage cooking competitively. I hadn’t done it since FNS. I had no idea how I’d be able to do it. I felt that I got much better at cooking, and Amy really came into her own presenting, so I do feel like we’re on fair footing. It’s hard for me to say who has an advantage. I think we both have momentum, and I think that will quickly either accelerate or go right into the ground depending on what happens after the first couple of challenges.

What feedback from Tyler and Valerie will you take with you into the Season 14 competition?

AP: I think Tyler and Valerie gave us really great advice about the flow of a one-minute presentation: intro, talk about the food, tell a story, get into the food again. I think that really helped a lot of us. Also, I really appreciate that Tyler and Valerie were genuinely giving us advice.

AG: Choosing the right thing for the situation. The few times that I screwed up badly I got in my head and I was headstrong instead of listening to the situation. I became aware that I was not as perfect at presenting as I thought. I really had to become aware of my potential pitfalls being too overconfident in any presentations.

Contestants Sarah Penrod, Debbie Lee and Amy Pottinger in the kitchen preparing their dish during the Vintage Food Challenge, as seen on Comeback Kitchen, Season 3.

Photo by: Michael Moriatis

Michael Moriatis

How have your TV and culinary skills evolved since we last saw you?

AP: Food Network Star was quite honestly the first time — I think a lot of people forget this — I had ever honestly demoed a dish, presented to camera, done anything in that capacity. I have faith in my culinary ability; I never doubted that. But everything else in this experience was brand-new to me. And because of that, Food Network Star was a trial by fire – just go for it. so the confidence that I gained in Comeback Kitchen will hopefully help slow me down in Season 14 of Food Network Star.

AG: 10 years is enough to go to two schools. And I have been. My culinary world view was very myopic. I knew what I knew, which was mostly barbecue back then. And now it is literally a world view. I’ve spent the last 10 years traveling the country and the world, and my favorite thing to do while traveling is eat those flavors. There’s no comfort zone for me in terms of flavors [now]. As far as presenting, yeah, when I look back to even my first shows on Food Network, I was trying to be a character. And now I just be myself, which is so simplistic to say and so much harder to do than you can imagine.

What was your greatest lesson learned this time around?

AP: To get out of my head. And although that’s an internal dialogue for me, I think that’s what really held me up last season on FNS. If I made a mistake, I would continue to stumble over it. so I just had to learn to not take things less seriously, but to just decompress within half a second in my head so I can keep going. And I was able to do that, so hopefully I can keep that up for Food Network Star.

Contestants Adam Gertler and Amy Pottinger stand as the two finalists and winners of this season, as seen on Comeback Kitchen, Season 3.

Photo by: Michael Moriatis

Michael Moriatis

What past mistakes are you going to be sure you don’t make on Food Network Star this year?

AP: Bobby and Giada always wanted more personal stories from me, and I was able to do that on Comeback. So I think being able to be concise but also share a little bit of who I am and demo, fit that into a minute, talk about my dish and do so many other things at once is going to be really important.

AG: Yes, but that has also been the culmination of 10 years of life experience. I was nervous about making the same mistakes, but I was more nervous about the greater implications that the growth that I imagined I had had wasn’t as great as what was in my mind. Until I had to cook under a clock, I did not know. There were times when I felt so in the groove and then there were times where I felt some of the old habits coming back.

What did you think of the level of competition among the Comeback Kitchen castmates?

AP: That was such an incredible group of people. There was not a single person in our group that I did not like. Everybody was very talented. And not just in the culinary aspect, but in that presentation aspect as well. Obviously I was super excited to see Trace back; Trace is one of my best friends. But then I definitely made some other good friends.

AG: I was a little intimidated by the cooking, because to me, it’s so hard to think and do at the same time inside 30 minutes. I was so impressed how people had these really together dishes that represented themselves in that time. I’m still always racing to the plate in the last seconds. That is always going to be my biggest enemy.

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