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The Dish on the "Next Food Network Star"

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ML's Susannah Locketti: I can hardly believe it's been five years since I competed on season one of the "Next Food Network Star." Man how time flies! Season five is premiering Sunday night at 9pm and I can't wait to tune in!

Season One of the Next Food Network Star

It's always fun watching unsuspecting and stressed out foodies whip up meals on the fly with the odds always working against them! As a mom of two boys I do this everyday and can relate! My favorite judge to watch is Bob Tuschman, FN's cute as a button senior exec who is as brutally honest as Simon Cowell, Tuschman challenges the finalists to improve with tough words of food TV wisdom. Trust me -- I've been there! I had a chance to catch up with Bob on what to expect with Season five and even hounded him on when the network is finally giving me my own show.

SL: How will FN be shaking up the competition this year? What do viewers have to look forward to?
Bob: This is the toughest year ever--we have a higher level of culinary competitor, tougher challenges and even more celebrity chefs making guest appearances to put the finalists through their paces. Ina Garten joins us for the very first time. And a little later in the season, we head down to Miami with some of the last contestants standing.

SL: What was FN looking for with their applicants this year? Do you think you found what you were looking for?
Bob: As always, we're looking for a combination of culinary expertise merged with star charisma and the ability to engage a nation of viewers. And yes, we found quite a few in this season who really impressed us.

SL: What is it like for you when giving such brutally honest feedback to finalists?
Bob: I think the kindest thing you can do for someone is to give them clear, honest feedback on how they can improve. I try to always be respectful, because I am truly in awe of our finalists who are willing to go through all we put them through, and on national television. But I'm sure on occasion when we're all exhausted my criticism can come out somewhat differently than I intended it.

SL: What does the winner receive?
Bob: The winner gets his or her own show on Food Network -- six episodes to start -- plus a feature in Food Network magazine, and an appearance at the New York Wine and Food Festival.

SL: What celeb chefs will be part of this year's competition?
Bob: Celeb chefs appearing this year is a virtual who's who in the food world, including Ina Garten, Giada DeLaurentis, Alton Brown, Rachael Ray, Guy Fieri, Pat and Gina Neeley, John Besh, Anne Burrell, Rick Bayless, Ted Allen, Sunny Anderson, Marcus Samuelsson, Francois Payard, Aaron Mc Cargo, Jr., Morimoto, Alex Guarnaschelli. And of course Bobby Flay returns as host and judge.

SL: Any moms competing this year?
Bob: Melissa D'Arabian is a mom of four from Keller, Texas. She is a fantastic home cook and has charm, energy and a fierce determination.

SL: Can you give us a sneak preview of some of the challenges?
Bob: Challenges include having to throw a Sweet 16 party for Food Network featuring a dozen of our top stars ... having to throw a budget dinner party for Ina Garten and her friends ... having to perform on the nationally syndicated "Rachael Ray Show" ... and that's just the beginning!

SL: I've had so many people ask me when I'm getting my own FN show. What can I tell them Bob? (tee hee)
Bob: You can tell everyone that I've always been impressed with you!

Awww, gotta love Bob! Tune in to season five of the "Next Food Network Star" Sunday nights at 9 PM beginning tonight!

next: 'My 10-Year-Old Has Breast Cancer'
6 comments so far | Post a comment now
Clare Stella June 5, 2009, 8:19 PM

Susannah, Thanks so much for sharing your personal memories and also for this neat interview. Have you written on MomLogic about your experiences with the challenges you faced as a contestant? As a resident in a nearby town, it was so exciting seeing a local girl making good. You were wonderful! Hope to see you on the Food Network again!!

Elaine Heitkamp June 6, 2009, 10:25 AM

Susannah…Like Mr. Tuschman I remain (still) impressed by your talents …but gosh darn it..WHEN will he give you your own FN show?!! We need a FN mom show to address kid/family nutrition and menu ideas! When? When? When!!! I am waiting! LOL :)

Erin Batchelor June 9, 2009, 4:49 PM

You are such a natural at all of this. I hope and wish to see you have your own show. We could use a show to help us stay at home moms make great meals for our family. I love all of your recipes and your spunk!!!! It is a joy to watch you and I have tryed many of your recipes that you have shared with us. Keep them coming Susannah!! Thanks.

neither here KNORR there June 10, 2009, 8:21 AM

A Food Network show…What??? what will you prepare? a pizza on the grill? openening a package of Knorr and putting it on chicken? or maybe you will stand naked and prepare a “nutritious” breakfast of eggs with potato’s and corn and cheese (why bother with the egg whites) or maybe grilled store bought cornbread and peaches or the most creative grilled asparagus and vidalia onions…Somebody should remind you why you DON’T have a show on the Food Network. uhhhhh maybe cuz you didn’t WIN!

Allie June 10, 2009, 8:46 PM

Well for someone who doesn’t believe Susannah deserves a show, you sure spent a lot of time familiarizing yourself with her specialities. Susannah I take my hat off to you for having the courage, talent, and ablities to even compete at that level. I really enjoyed your article and look forward to tuning in to whatever channel picks you up.

neitherhereKNORRthere June 10, 2009, 9:09 PM

first of all specialties is a stretch…..and as a fan of momlogic’s food segments of course I look at all of the posts! it is not a personal attack it is what it is…not good enough for a FOOD NETWORK is what it is..let’s not glorify it..sorry if this offends you but my 5 year old could come up with these recipes….. good enough for momlogic not good enough for any FOOD NETWORK..sorry to dissapoint you

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