This past Sunday night, technique-driven (but awkward in front of the camera) Juba Kali was eliminated from Food Network Star immediately following the Camera Challenge. One challenge later, and fit chef Katy Clark was given the boot.

If you missed the double elimination, check out my recap from Sunday.

Katy and Juba discussed the show, their eliminations and all that crazy kitchen drama with us during a conference call Monday. Read on and see what they had to say!

What was the biggest surprise for you this season?

Katy: Penny. Can I just say, whoa, was not expecting that.

Juba: When you hear a contestant say, “This is a lot harder than I thought it was going to be,” believe them. It really is.

Which remaining contestants do you think have what it takes to be a Food Network Star?

Juba: In terms of entertainment value, Jeff and Orchid.

Katy: Jeff. He’s hilarious, and his concept is great. But I think that there are a lot of sweet personalities. I love the energy of Susie and the sweetness of Orchid.

What lessons from this experience do you think will serve you in your future endeavors?

Juba: I’ve never experienced anything like this before. What I’ve taken away from it is being OK in front of a large group of people. Which, I thought I was, but then I got in front of the cameras. All that stuff got to me, and it was a little overbearing.

Katy: It’s a very vulnerable experience. Millions get to decide who we are and what we’re like. The judges gave me some harsh criticism, but a lot of it was right on. They gave me a lot of advice … and I think I’m going to run with that.

How have your lives changed since the show started airing?

Katy: I’m on the computer a lot more, getting familiar with social networking and interacting with people who are excited about me and Food Network Star in general.

Juba: I don’t know if it’s been on long enough for us to be able to really comprehend the impact it’s going to have on our lives. But I get a lot more shout-outs, and I get a lot more friends on Facebook.

If you were to be given your own show, what exactly would it be about?

Juba: There are a lot of different concepts that I have for shows. What I think is the most important would be a Louisiana and New Orleans food and culture presentation. That’s what I think is most important to the city, the state and the world.

Katy: I know for me, mine would just be a food and fitness combo show, just really showing a healthy balance. I love to speak to women, especially busy moms. I want to give practical advice for both food and fitness.

Out of all the judges, who was your favorite and why?

Juba: Alton Brown. The first time we met Alton, he just did his spiel in pretty much one take, without even knowing any of us. The preparation and the effort he put into that just wowed me, and I knew that was where I needed to get to.

Katy: Scott Conant is my Food Network crush. There he was, and I’m cooking in his kitchen.

Do you think Alicia should have gone home on Sunday night?

Juba: I’ll take that as a compliment.

What did you do when you weren’t cooking or doing challenges?

Juba: There was a lot of downtime, a lot of waiting. That was the biggest challenge for me. If I’m not cooking, if I’m not doing something, I’m going crazy.

Katy: Just chatting. It was fun to hang out with the crew and get to know them.

Is there something that you learned about yourselves that you would like to work on or change?

Katy: Watching myself on camera, I really noticed, “I do smile a lot.” I need to tone it down, close my mouth a little bit.

Juba: We all saw the show, we all know what I need to work on. I just need to work in front of the camera a little bit more.

This season seems more confrontational than past seasons. What was your take on that?

Juba: Lucky for me, I wasn’t involved in any of that. I tend to shy away from drama.

Katy: I try to handle that stuff with grace and finesse, especially dealing with Chris and the beer. I didn’t go in thinking there would be that much drama. I felt like I was in high school again.

What would you change if you had the chance to do this over again?

Juba: I would be more myself. A lot of people who know who I am and what I’m about would say, “That is not Juba.” I wish I was a little looser. But it’s such a crazy environment, nobody is really themselves.

Katy: I would have highlighted my fitness and health aspects. I feel like America and Food Network could use a lot more of that.

(Image courtesy of Food Network)

Matt Click

Staff Writer, BuddyTV