With “Good Eats” production over, Atlanta’s own Alton Brown is being given a full-time role on “Next Food Network Star,” according to Variety magazine.
The show, which is set to return May 13 for an eighth season, will be reconfigured this year. Bobby Flay and Giada De Laurentiis will no longer be judges. Bobby, Giada and Alton will pick a set of finalists to mentor through the competition, like “The Voice” or “The X Factor.”
Brown in the past has done guest spots on the show.
The winner will be decided for the first time by public vote. The winner’s mentor is will be the producer of the test show the winner gets.
Bob Tuschman, Food Network GM and SVP of programming and production, and Susie Fogelson, Food Network senior VP of marketing, creative and brand strategy, will remain as judges, along with a rotating set of guest judges.
The summer series draws strong ratings for the Food Network but the track record of its winners has been mixed. Arguably, season two winner Guy Fieri is the only one who has broken into true all-star status.
Four of the other seven winners still have shows on either Food Network or sister station the Cooking Channel.
- Season four winner Aaron McCargo Jr. hosts “Big Daddy’s House,” which airs at 7:30 a.m. on Saturdays and has been on for six seasons.
- Season five winner Melissa d’Arabian’s ‘Ten Dollar Dinners” airs at 9 a.m. Sundays on the Food Network. She adds a second show on the Cooking Channel “Drop 5 lbs with Good Housekeeping” on Saturday, January 21 at 11 a.m.
- Season six winner Aarti Sequeira’s “Aarti Party,” airs at 8 a.m. Saturdays on Food Network. She will appear as a correspondent on “Drop 5 lbs with Good Housekeeping.”
- Season seven winner Jeff Mauro’s “Sandwich King” returns for a second season Feb. 19 at 11 a.m. on the Food Network.
“Good Eats,” which is shot in Atlanta, ended production last year after a 12-year run on the network and about 250 episodes. Brown said it was a voluntary move.
The final “Good Eats” special, which is about dark chocolate, airs Feb. 10 at 8 p.m.
Brown continues to be a host and judge on Food Network’s “Next Iron Chef” and commentator on “Iron Chef America.”
By Rodney Ho, Radio & TV Talk