One-on-One with the Latest Star Contestant to Go Home

By: Sarah De Heer

Photo by: Eddy Chen ©2013, Television Food Network, G.P. All Rights Reserved

Eddy Chen, 2013, Television Food Network, G.P. All Rights Reserved

Every Sunday, Bobby, Giada and Alton take on the difficult task of eliminating one finalist in the quest to help guide fans to vote for Food Network's next sensation. And this is no easy task. Check back here every week to read Star Talk's exclusive exit interview with the latest Star hopeful to leave Food Star Kitchen.

If you missed the show and recorded it, don’t read any further — Star Talk is about to chat with the latest finalist to go home.

The mastermind behind Cleveland's first-ever food truck, Chris Hodgson, is the most recent finalist to be eliminated on Star. He delivered thoughtful dishes and presentations, but his lack of progress at the end of six weeks ultimately prevented his stay for more.

Do you think he deserved to go home? Tell Star Talk in the comments below.

Did appearing on Food Network's The Great Food Truck Race help prepare you for Food Network Star in any way? What did you learn from being on TV the first time that you brought with you to Star?

CH: They were completely different experiences. I knew the routine of filming, but was not used to the extreme pressure and degree of criticism that Star placed on contestants. The Great Food Truck Race was all about selling food and making the most money with my two favorite girls. With Star, everything fell on my shoulders: how to talk, cook and interact, and each week there was a new challenge you weren't prepared for. I learned to go with the flow, have fun and try to enjoy every moment while I was on the show.

Photo by: Eddy Chen ©2013, Television Food Network, G.P. All Rights Reserved

Eddy Chen, 2013, Television Food Network, G.P. All Rights Reserved

Which judge's mentoring style was most beneficial to you?

CH: I think Bobby's. Alton terrifies me because he's so dang smart [laughs]! I've been watching his shows and have been so intrigued by him for years that his knowledge was truly intimidating.

Do you think your "compassion"-focused culinary point of view was accurately portrayed on TV? How would you best describe it presently?

CH: Compassion is a hard culinary point of view to sell. I do know one thing though: In a world where we're constantly surrounded by negative news, it'd be nice to bring another "feel-good" show to the Network — one where families can watch and be constantly reminded that there are people out there with huge hearts that just want to use their gifts and talents to uplift people, bless them and hopefully make a positive impact on their lives. It's a part of who I am and I won't ever stop the pursuit of bringing joy and helping to change lives through food in one shape or form.

In Episode 4, we saw you sing on camera for Team Musical's movie trailer. Tell us what's more difficult: singing on camera or cooking on camera?

CH: I definitely think singing on camera. I am not a singer [laughs] — I leave that to my beautiful wife. It absolutely took me out of my comfort zone. I would have felt better if I had a bigger backup band to drown me out.

What was your experience like on Star Salvation? What was your first reaction when you found out you'd get a second chance?

CH: Stop playing games with my emotions — that was my first reaction! It was exciting, but very stressful. It's difficult to be constantly judged, and just when I came to peace with being off the show, they threw me right back in!

Photo by: Eddy Chen ©2013, Television Food Network, G.P. All Rights Reserved

Eddy Chen, 2013, Television Food Network, G.P. All Rights Reserved

It's getting down to the nitty-gritty on Star. Who are you rooting for?

CH: It's tough to say. The greatest thing I came away with from being on Star was 11 new lifelong friends. I respect, admire and love each of the contestants (in their own little way). I love Stacey's passion, Damaris' kind heart, Rodney's rock-and-roll, Chad's rugged Fabio likeness and fun, Nikki's unwillingness to give up and Russell's dark side. They are all such wonderful people that each one deserves this and so much more.

What's next for you?

CH: Keep plugging away on restaurants in Cleveland. Continue to give back to the community and find new and better ways to serve those less fortunate around me with food. It's an exciting season in my life — I recently got married, I have new restaurants opening and the overall growth of our company. It's exciting to see that each year we're able to reach more and more people.

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