'Food Network Star' Finale Recap: One Mentor Stands Proud
'Food Network Star' Finale Recap: One Mentor Stands Proud
Jenn Lee
Jenn Lee
Staff Writer, BuddyTV
In the Food Network Star finale, all 15 contestants are brought back to reminisce in a fancy studio along with the network and, of course, the show's mentors/producers/team leaders, Bobby, Giada and Alton. The 4.5 million votes have already been cast, so tonight is about reviewing the season's highlights before the ultimate reveal.

The Teams Show Their True Competitive Colors
During the course of the season, we saw a competitive spirit between the three teams, but with some behind-the-scenes footage, we see just how hostile the bad blood was. Most of the nastiness seems to be coming from Team Bobby, who, in accordance with Emily's stereotype as "the jocks," were "bully-ish" and "rude." I knew Malcolm had that arrogant attitude and it doesn't surprise me Nicki was one to call names, but I didn't expect that Michele was in it as well. She and Nicki apparently spoke ill of Emily behind her back (though, in fairness, I would probably be tempted to do the same if she sang that high-pitched "goood mooorning!" every day).

As to Alton's team being "the nerds" and Giada's "the cheerleaders," the two mentors don't seem to take issue with it. Even after Bobby's team is shown to be the source of the mean-spirited comments, the mentor says the characterization fits, because they are all from the "take no prisoners" mindset.

One Finalist is Eliminated
Though it's still early in the finale, one of the four finalists is going to be eliminated (since it's supposed to be a final three, anyway). My guess is it will be someone from Team Alton (read: Martie), so as to even out the numbers across the three teams. And sure enough, Martie is announced as the first one to be let go. The extremely warm Martie calls it "a bittersweet moment," but she's loved every minute of it.

The FNS Polls
As a way to introduce highlights from select contestants, the network announces they took anonymous polls. The first question: Who was the most competitive? It's no surprise Nicki won this title, and so follows a segment of Nicki's fiercest moments, particularly in the Pitch Room, where she knocked out her competition repeatedly.

Then comes the cockiest competitor, and Malcolm won by a landslide. The biggest reason for this is his insistence that he doesn't need a POV (which is a key part of being a Food Network Star), because his killing charisma and unmatched skills will be enough. Sorry, Malcolm--that's not how this show works. But even after watching his segment, Malcolm still stubbornly sticks to his pointless belief: "My POV right now is No POV," and all Susie can do is shake her head in defeat.

Next is a look at this season's oddest couple, Alton's Justin and Martie, who also stuck it out to the finale in a surprise twist. Their relationship and dynamic is sweet and unexpected; seeing how much they supported and helped one another (despite their vastly different POVs and age gap) reminds me of one of this season's high points.

The Producers Look Back
Giada likens her dynamic with Alton and Bobby to having two older brothers beating up on their younger sister. From the footage, it seems like it's mainly Alton who is the teasing older brother, and he wears it well. Each FNS also talks about their experience as first-time mentors this season. Bobby talks about his biggest regret, which was Eric being eliminated, but perhaps they'll work something out in the future? Eric says he's still out of a job and Bobby says he might have something available. Alton and Giada seem to have had similar experiences, which is basically learning not to fixate on the goal (winning), but to really mentor their teams with patience and compassion.

The Network in the Hot Seat
After a forgettable segment about the season's biggest mess-ups, the focus shifts to Bob, Susie and the Pitch Room. The network shares the biggest disagreement they had, which was the week Eric and Ippy were on the chopping block. Eventually Susie won over Bob in her plea to keep Ippy (which was the right choice, though don't know if I can say the same about Yvan over Ippy).

Then the contestants get to ask Bob and Susie any questions, so Judson asks Susie about the "BS artist" comment. She clarifies there were just moments and that she actually wishes she had said it sooner to help him find his weight-loss inspiration point. Nicki asks if they were particularly hard on her because they thought she could handle it. Bob responds by telling them the only way to make someone into a star in 11 weeks is the route of tough love.

The Winner is Announced
Finally it's time for the results. First, Justin, Michele and Yvan each get a highlight reel and it's apparent that the three of them really deserve to be in the finale. Michele has a real passion for New England food and culture, Yvan has really taken the family angle to heart--but it's Justin's culinary rebel POV (which was present from the beginning) that really shines as original and exciting.

Now it's time for the big reveal, so Food Network President Brook Johnson comes out to announce the winner. The curtain hanging over the mysterious portrait is dropped and JUSTIN's name is called! Everyone cheers and Justin shares a particularly heartwarming moment with Martie and his "proud papa" Alton. The finale ends with Alton staring at Justin's FNS picture alongside the other stars and walks away, which is a perfect image to end this emotional season.

(Image courtesy of Food Network)

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