Sunday night's episode of "Food Network Star" narrowed down the finalist pool, which started with 12 hopefuls, to three finalists.
The episode began with four finalists remaining - Damaris Phillips, a Southern charmer; Russell Jackson, a swaggering purveyor of sinful foods; Stacey Poon-Kinney, a poised restaurateur; and Baltimore's Rodney Henry, the rambunctious embodiment of "pie style."
The finalists had to come up with a pitch for the 'Food Network' show that they had been dreaming of, based at least in part on the brand they had built up during their time on 'Food Network Star,' under the mentorship of the show's hosts Bobby Flay, Alton Brown and Giada De Laurentiis,
The contestants had to describe two concepts to their mentors, who would endorse one for the ultimate pitch, to Food Network executives Susie Fogelson and Bob Tuschman. For the purposes of this episode anyway, Fogelson and Tuschman were portrayed as not having followed the contestants' progress since having seen them on an early episode.
The mentors advised Stacey to combine her vague concepts of helping people update their vintage recipes. They helped Russell shape his sinful strategy. They told him to pitch a show about bringing his sinful twist to places like ice cream shops. They loved Rodney's concept where he'd take a restaurant's signature dish and convert it into a pie. And they warmed to Damaris' idea about teaching men how to woo women by cooking Southern food.
Then executives then heard the pitches. They thought Damaris' idea was fresh, and they were impressed by her growth over the course of the competition. They thought that Rodney's and Russell's ideas had potential, too.
But when Stacey pitched her concept to the executives, she made it sound maudlin. So, Stacey, an early favorite, was out. She never managed to loosen up and convey spontaneity.
So off the three finalists went to tape the 'pilots' for their 'Food Network' shows, under the tutelage of network mega star Guy Fieri, who won the second season of the competition show.
We see Rodney, Damaris and Russell taping their pilots, and gettting advice from Fieri, proved to be a personable and useful tutor, full of smart, insider advice on things like how to talk on camera with your mouth full.
You can see the finished pilots at the end of the full episode.
Now, the public gets to cast their votes on who they think should be the next "Food Network Star." Voting continues through 9 a.m. EDT on Wednesday.
And the winner will be revealed on Sunday night's episode at 9 p.m.
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