This was originally posted Monday, April 24, 2017 by Rodney Hofirstname.lastname@example.org on his AJC Radio & TV Talk blog
“Food Network Star” has created one undeniably huge star in Guy Fieri and several smaller ones in its 12 seasons so far.
Last year, Tregaye Fraser of Lithonia won the competition, beating Grayson’s Jernard Wells. This was the first time in my memory that two metro Atlantans were in the final two of any major reality TV competition.
This year, two more Atlantans are in the running for the upcoming season starting June 4. Here are the press release descriptives:
- David Rose, aka “Big Swole,” is a recognized for being a biker, cigar aficionado, clothing designer and a culinary partner with the Big Green Egg Grill. David graduated from Le Cordon Bleu College of Culinary College Atlanta and began his career as a chef at Four Season Hotels in downtown Atlanta. David is the creator of the T.L.C. Experience: Tapas, Libations, and Cigars, a cigar and tapas experience with top-shelf libations and premium cigars, which he hosts in Atlanta and other cities around the country. Through his catering company, Big Swole Production, David is a personal chef to many high profile and professional clientele.
- Rusty Hamlin is the Executive Chef for the Zac Brown Band and Executive Chef and Owner of Atlanta-based restaurant Atkins Park. Born in Baton Rouge, Rusty grew up steeped in Louisiana’s famed culinary culture and considers himself an ambassador for a tradition of southern hospitality. After earning his degree from the Culinary Arts Institute of Louisiana, Rusty relocated to Atlanta in 1996. He joined Atkins Park Tavern Restaurant Group in 1998 to revamp the menu and he is now currently part owner of the restaurant’s second location in Smyrna. Rusty travels with the Zac Brown Band on tour to oversee the band’s farm-fresh, family-style fan eat-and-greet dinners for up to 200 concert go-ers. All the food is made in his state-of-the-art 54-ft mobile kitchen named ‘Cookie.’
A previous finalist Jamika Pessoa from Atlanta (fourth place, season 5) is returning in “Food Network Star: Comeback Kitchen.” (Read my initial interview with her from 2009.)
She and six other former finalists are shooting for one of 13 slots in “Food Network Star” over three episodes.
Here is how the other “Food Network Star” winners have done on the Food Network over the years. Most managed to get least get two or three seasons of a show on air. A couple flamed out and never got a series.
Season 1 winners 2005: Dan Smith & Steve McDonagh ended up airing 32 episodes of “Party Line With the Hearty Boys.”
Season 2 winner 2006: Guy Fieri. He is the king of the Food Network Star winners by a long shot with a coterie of Food Network shows, most notably “Guy’s Big Bite” (13 seasons, 191 episdoes), “Guy’s Grocery Games” (12 seasons, 138 episodes) and “Diners, Drive-Ins & Dives.” (a whopping 24 seasons, 260 episodes)
Season 3 winner 2007: Amy Finley. She taped six episodes of “The Gourmet Next Door,” then left TV, citing it was too stressful.
Season 4 winner 2008: Aaron McCargo. His show “Big Daddy’s House” aired 78 episodes on the Food Network from 2008 to 2011.
Season 5 winner 2009: Melissa d’Arabian. She hosted “Ten Dollar Winners,” which aired for four seasons.
Season 6 winner 2010: Aarti Sequeira. She beat out Atlantan Herb Mesa. “Aarti Party” aired for three seasons.
Season 7 winner 2011: Jeff Mauro. He has hosted several shows on the network including “Sandwich King” and ‘The Kitchen.”
Season 8 winner 2012: Justin Warner. Despite his connection with Alton Brown, he never ended up with a regular show.
Season 9 winner 2013: Damaris Phillips. She aired five seasons and 53 episodes of “Southern At Heart.”
Season 10 winner 2014: Lenny McNab. His efforts to get a series were derailed after Gawker found out he had been on social media saying some rather misogynistic, nasty things.
Season 11 winner 2015: Eddie Jackson. He hosted “Kids BBQ Championship” last year.