One-on-One with the Latest Star Finalist to Go Home
FN Dish – Food Network Blog
With only one episode until the final-four rivals will pitch their would-be Food Network show to executives, the pressure was on this week as the top-five hopefuls arrived in New York City for the last leg of their Food Network Star journey. If you haven’t yet watched the episode, read no further because Star Talk is about to dish on what went down and reveal who was sent home.
The name of the game in the Mentor and Star Challenges was live television, and after taping their first-ever live field pieces in Manhattan’s Chelsea Market, contestants headed to The Rachael Ray Show for a firsthand lesson in cooking with a purpose. It was up to each competitor to create a dish to solve the culinary conundrums on a particular family — everything from kids’ picky palates to grownups’ limited hectic schedules. And while Luca shined with a clever take on vegetable risotto, Loreal, Sarah and Nicole stumbled, each missing a key piece of the Star puzzle: education, engagement and targeted cooking.
Ultimately, though, it was Loreal who was butchered in the contest this week after she failed to prove her culinary expertise at a meat market of all places and offered a too-complex dish to a family looking for the basics. Read on below to hear from Loreal in her first exclusive interview since the competition.
What three words best describe how you’re feeling right now?
Loreal Gavin: Weird, relieved, satisfied.
How would you explain what this competition is really like?
LG: It’s like a Kentucky Derby. We’re all racehorses, and if you start out really strong, do you have the endurance to make it through? Like we’re all pretty, and there’s different people betting on us, but someone’s got to win the race.
What element of the competition were you least expecting, be it something positive or something negative?
LG: Surprisingly enough, I was really surprised at how much people fell in love with my food.
Is there one piece of mentor feedback from the whole nine weeks in the competition that is going to stick with you?
LG: Just focusing. With my artistic disposition, focusing has always been an issue.
What do you want your fans to remember about you?
LG: Always have good hair, the right red lipstick — because every skin tone needs to wear one — and if you’re going to do it, go big and follow your heart.
You were open about the fact that it’s been difficult for you to teach on camera and convey all that it is you know. Why do you think you struggle with that?
LG: I was born into this world like an artist, like we all have different personality types, OK? Well, being an artist is definitely one of them; it’s undisputable. I’ve always struggled with putting my feelings into words, and I’ve used lots of mediums throughout my life to release the feelings that I have. … So it’s always been something that I’ve struggled with. That’s why when they started to harp on me about it, it really hit home.
There are two ladies left in the competition. Are you rooting for one of the girls to take home the win?
LG: I’m rooting for both of those little badasses! Nicole just needs to get out of her shell because there is such a quirky, beautiful woman in there. She is smart, and I know she’s got it. She knows she’s got it. And Sarah, like we’re both Southern belles, you know? And she just has something so quirky and charming about her, and I feel like she’s very relatable.
What’s next for you?
7 Salads That Know How to Celebrate Summer Fruit
FN Dish – Food Network Blog
LG: I’m probably going to move back down to Louisville. … I might write an album. I’m going to start making a lot more artwork, and I’m going to polish that part of the diamond that I am, that cannot articulate the things that I know to be true, and I’m going to teach, because this is not the last time you all are going to see me.
Sweet strawberries. Juicy peaches. Luscious mango. If you’re looking for ways to upgrade a salad, fruits in their prime are an excellent place to start.
Figs: Fig, Bacon and Frisee Salad
Sweet figs are at hitting their stride right about now — and are the perfect complement to bitter greens, bacon and black pepper in this frisee salad.
Honeydew Melon: Honeydew and Arugula Salad
Here, honeydew melon sweetens up peppery arugula. Melon slices are pureed with fresh herbs, a bit of mayo and lime juice, creating a refreshing dressing that gets tossed with the greens and additional melon pieces.
Mango: Mango and Cucumber Rice Salad
Not your average grain salad, this sweet-spicy adaptation calls upon mango, cucumber, jalapeno, scallions, fresh cilantro and roasted peanuts — all tossed with rice and quinoa.
Peaches: Tomato and Peach Salad with Ricotta
This restaurant-quality salad is easy to pull off at home. Boiling the peaches and tomatoes helps bring out their natural sweetness while pureeing basil with olive oil, salt and pepper creates a pesto-like sauce that keeps things fresh (and fancy). A dollop of ricotta cheese topped with toasted almond slivers makes for a savory finish.
Strawberries: Arugula and Strawberry Salad (top)
Strawberries don’t have to spell dessert. In fact, they offer a perfect way to temper a peppery green like arugula.
Tomatoes: Tomato Caesar Salad with Parmesan Crisps
Wherever you fall in the “are-tomatoes-a-fruit-or-a-vegetable” debate, there’s no denying their awesomeness in this lighter take on a Caesar salad. Juicy heirloom tomatoes are sliced and topped with a homemade Caesar dressing, watercress and mouth-watering bacon-Parmesan crisps.
Watermelon: Jicama and Watermelon Salad
Chunks of juicy watermelon and crunchy jicama get tossed in a zesty dressing starring fresh orange juice, lime juice and honey. A sprinkling of fresh mint at the end makes the whole deal utterly refreshing.
Abigail Libers is a freelance writer and editor living in Brooklyn. She is also the creator and editor of notesonfatherhood.tumblr.com.