Part Food, Part TV, All Success: Tyler and Valerie on Mentoring Together on Comeback Kitchen

Hear from Tyler and Valerie as they look ahead to the first-ever installment of 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.

There are fierce competitions, sure. And then there's Food Network Star, the ultimate in culinary showdowns, a battle so great that it has the potential to redefine a person's life forever. There's perhaps no contest with greater stakes than Food Network Star — except, perhaps, Comeback Kitchen, as this prequel series gives just one person the chance to be among those lucky finalists in the running for glory on Food Network Star. Television veterans Tyler Florence and Valerie Bertinelli will be on hand this May to judge the hopefuls on the first-ever installment of Comeback Kitchen. It's up to them not just to pick a winner of the three-week series, but to find the one person among the cast of seven returning Star alumnae that has the culinary chops and on-camera charisma to be a formidable Star candidate once again. High stakes — not just for the contestants, right?

Recently Star Talk caught up with Tyler and Valerie to dish about what's in store this season and the magnitude of the task before them. After all, not only will they be judging the competitors, but they'll be mentoring them as well, offering critical feedback they'll need to heed in order to move forward. "It [is] just amazing to get a chance to actually coach a very talented group of people and really polish them up so they are prepared for this next competition," Tyler told us. Together he and Valerie bring careers' worth of kitchen and television-industry experience to the competition, and their combined expertise will be of the utmost value to the cast.

According to Valerie, the role of coach is an easy one for Tyler to assume. "He’s definitely an amazing mentor," she notes of her co-host. "He really knows what he’s talking about — obviously he’s a trained chef, he has restaurants, he knows how to run [a] business." While Tyler may have decades of experience in the kitchen, he notes that Valerie's own experience with TV gives her "a very unique perspective on television." He adds, "For her to have such a wealth of knowledge, being on television as long as she has … She has a very different point of view, which I think is really refreshing."

Tyler notes that since Valerie's series Valerie's Home Cooking is relatively new to Food Network, "she knows what the other side of this competition looks like from a very fresh perspective." But, speaking for himself, he knows that his nearly two decades of work on the network will have an impact on how he mentors. "This June will be my 20th year on television with Food Network," he explains. "She has this encouragement point of view, and I have this sort of tough-love point of view. I think together we really kind of pull out the best of everybody."

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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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