The fifth season of The Next Food Network Star kicked off last night on television with ten wanna be chefs all gunning for that one premiere slot on Food Network.  All of these contestants though seem to be very talented and determined to win.  All of the contestants were sent for quick introductions amongst eachother then divided into two teams at the Butter Restaurant, in Manhattan, which threw them into the challenge of cooking for 75 guests at Food Network’s “Sweet Sixteen” party.

The teams are tasked to create and serve delicious dishes that they come up with on their own.  Amongst some of the fabulous all known Food Network stars are Giada De Laurentiis, Alton Brown, Duff Goldman, Sunny Anderson and Masaharu Morimoto, and also Access Hollywood co-host Nancy O’Dell.

Here are the contestants:

Jen Isham

Sales associate

Orlando, Florida

Dish: Green beans with toasted walnuts and grape tomatoes

Judges’ comment: “This green bean you can buy around the corner at the grocery,” Morimoto commented. All the judges agreed, Jen’s beans weren’t good.

Best quote: “I’m house wife version 2.0.” 


Jamika Pessoa

Personal chef

Atlanta, Georgia

Dish: Floribbean Shrimp cocktail with mango-jicama slaw

Judges’ comment: “It was the best of times, it was the worst of times,” Bob Tuschman said in reaction to the slaw (the best) and the shrimp (worst). “I thought the shrimp was a gate of badness,” said Alton Brown.

Best quote: “You have the sweetest smile,” Nancy O’Dell told her at dinner.


Teddy Folkman

Co-owner of Granville Moore’s gastropub in Washington, D.C.

Alexandria, Virginia

Dish: Herb and truffle-infused potato gratin

Judges’ comment: If the potatoes were cooked, it could have been a winner.

Best quote: “It’s a little intense, I’m a little intense.” 


Katie Cavuto


Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

Dish: Salad with orange, pomegranate, goat cheese, and red chard

Judges’ comment: It was a very safe piling of a lot of ingredients. Bobby Flay went as far to call it “a throwaway dish.”

Best quote: “Digestive health, digestive motility to be exact,” was her response to Alton Brown asking her why he should eat her dish.


Brett August

Executive sous chef at Doral Arrowwood Hotel in Rye Brook

New York, New York

Dish: Roasted filet mignon in a red wine mushroom sauce

Judges’ comment: They felt like they were in jail or the army eating it. Giada De Laurentiis compared the mushrooms to snails.

Best quote: “I think I just poot my pants,” the Green Team captain said when Butter chef Alex Guarnaschelli accused him of dissing her kitchen. 


Michael Proietti

Executive chef of Radisson Hotel in New Rochelle

City Island, New York

Dish: Five spice filet mignon with pickled veggies

Judges’ comment: All smiles. It was Susie Fogelson’s favorite, and she’s not easy.

Best quote: “It’s global a-go-go, hunny. I bring you everywhere from Bed-Stuy to Bangkok.” 



Eddie Gilbert

Talent agent/kitchen apprentice

Manhattan Beach, California

Dish: “BLAST Bowl,” a bite-sized BLT

Judges’ comment: The avocado, tomato, and Eddie’s personality had no flavor.

Best quote: “Recipes are a foundation that you have to allow your hands to create a symphony,” Eddie said when presenting his dish.


Melissa d’Arabian

Stay-at-home mom

Keller, Texas

Dish: Apple tart with caramel, inspired by her daughters

Judges’ comment: Fantastic! It was Bobby Flay’s favorite. Anne Burell might have liked it, but said if she had to watch a whole show of Melissa, she might get twitchy.

Best quote: “Good evening and happy SAW-eet 16!” 


Debbie Lee

Restaurant consultant

Los Angeles, California

Dish: Crab cake with spicy mayo

Judges’ comment: They thought the Red Team captain’s spicy mayo was bangin! 

Best quote: “I grew up on fried chicken…my mom didn’t know how to make kimchi and I don’t speak Korean.”


Jeffrey Saad

Food consultant/recipe developer/chef

Los Angeles, California

Dish: Cumin-rubbed grilled zucchini with a ragu of citrus and red chili

Judges’ comment: Very earthy and tasty dish. 

Best quote: “Is this a Greek god or a chef?” what was first asked by the other contestants, when Jeffrey first walked in the room.