The nature of the Food Network Star beast is such that no matter how much mentors Bobby Flay and Giada De Laurentiis have to teach the finalists, their time is limited, which means they’re forced to make quick decisions about who has the greatest potential for success. Week after week finalists will fall in a series of eliminations, and following each gut-wrenching exit, we here at Star Talk will bring you insider interviews with the fallen hopefuls. If you haven’t watched the latest episode, don’t read any further until you do, because we’re about to break down the show and talk to the person sent home.
It’s not easy to get to Week 1 of Food Network Star, and yet David Rose made it all the way to Week 7. This week proved different than most in that there wasn’t a formal process of evaluation and elimination. To survive the Star Challenge came down to one simple question: Can you beat Bobby Flay? After a harrowing Round 1 of the Beat Bobby Flay-inspired showdown on a team with Amy and Cory, David found himself in Round 2, tasked with making his signature dish of shrimp and grits while Bobby worked on the same, plus dishes inspired by Amy and Cory. While Cory managed to out-cook Bobby, Amy and David did not, but ultimately Amy scored higher than David, and in one fell swoop, she survived to cook another day, while David was sent home.
We caught up with David about what went down and learned his take on the shrimp and grits dish he offered. Read on below for his exclusive exit interview.
What three words describe how you were feeling when you found out you’d been eliminated?
David Rose: Wow, this is it? It was crazy to come so far, and the way I went home — I was super bummed out. But given the circumstances, if I had to get sent home, what better way to get sent home than by Bobby Flay? So, that was the cool factor to it, and I felt proud of myself. I discovered myself more as a chef. I pushed myself to the limits, and I feel like I grew in a lot of different ways.
Were you confident in your shrimp and grits dish?
DR: I felt very confident. They said signature dish, and I make some bomb shrimp ‘n grits; everybody I’ve made them for, they always say it’s the best shrimp ‘n grits ever. So, going into it, I really thought I had it.
How would you describe what this whole process is like?
DR: It’s not a sprint; it’s like a marathon. You have to pace yourself. You have to conserve your energy, and you have to always be in a creative mindset to be able to create, think on the fly and go with the flow. When you think you have it figured out, you’ve figured out nothing. The challenges just come out of left field as far as what they are, the ingredients and the setups. There’s always a surprise, there’s always a twist. There’s never a straight-forward challenge. Expecting the unexpected.
What one piece of mentor feedback will you always remember and take with you?
DR: Make sure in whatever you’re describing that you be very descriptive. Try to stay away from blanket words like “delicious” — that’s something I’m still battling with to get over now — and just being able to connect to your audience. I’m a very unique person, but honing in on that uniqueness and being able to own it on camera — whatever you say, whatever you do, be an authority in it, because at the end of the day, the only reason people are going to watch you is because you’re an authority and you own something. Even though some people might not like you, they start to respect the fact that you’re you and you’re sticking to your guns. So, whatever you do, just own it.
Which mentor or guest did you learn the most from?
DR: Bobby. That’s my boy. He was very real, very down to Earth. He’s a career chef, so he knows the struggle. He knows what goes into these long days, and he was just very supportive and gave me a lot of great, constructive feedback — on camera, off camera. He’s a genuine person to me. I feel like I connected the most to him. Sunny was cool too, because Sunny has my kind of bubbly, outgoing personality, but Bobby — Bobby’s the man.
What’s the greatest piece of advice you’re taking away from this experience?
DR: Being able to connect through the camera, not thinking about connecting to the masses — just trying to connect to one person and thinking about it as one person so that way it’s more intimate, it’s more organic, and it makes it a lot easier. It kind of takes the nerves away. It’s funny, because leading up to this show, I was like: “OK, it doesn’t look too bad. It doesn’t look too hard.” But just being in front of the camera, doing it, it’s apples and oranges. I respect them a lot, and this is definitely the beginning. This is not the end, so I’m looking forward to seeing what the future holds.
What were your most- and least-favorite challenges?
DR: My favorite was the episode I got eliminated. Who can say they had a chance to cook against an Iron Chef and come that close to beating him? That was my favorite. My least-favorite challenge? There’s challenges I liked less than other, but I liked them all, because they all forced me to push myself, to challenge myself.
Fill in the blanks with your fellow finalists’ names.
_____ is the class clown? Trace.
_____ is the quietest? Blake.
_____ is the most daring? I’d say myself, because I’ll try anything once. I don’t really scare easily.
_____ has the best recipes? I’m going to say myself.
_____ is going to win this whole thing? When I came here, I said to myself unless I could see myself winning it, I wouldn’t do it, so I’m going to say myself.
How did you handle the nerves of all this?
DR: Just kind of taking it at face value. I’ve been in a lot of crazy entertainment situations — different kitchens, different events — and I can take a deep breath and focus on my skills, focus on what got me here, focus on the game plan and just relax. Take a deep breath and think of it as any other day.
What do you want fans to remember most about who you are and what you did here?
DR: I want them to remember the biker chef. I want them to remember that there’s only one. I want them to remember I’m a fun, jovial person. Whatever I do, whatever I’m involved in, I want it to be fun, because if it’s not fun, why are you doing it? … Don’t think of cooking as being intimidating. Think of it like expressing yourself through your food. I want people to have fun. It’s all about fun.
Who’re you rooting for?
DR: After myself? I’d have to say Rusty. That’s my buddy right there — just a really great guy, great personality. And he’d definitely bring something new to Food Network.
Tune in to Food Network Star on Sundays at 9|8c.