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Alton Brown joins ‘Next Food Network Star’ as a mentor

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AP photo

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.”

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By Rodney Ho, Radio & TV Talk

9 comments Add your comment

I Neg Your Pardon

January 23rd, 2012
3:31 pm

I love this show! Watch every episode every year. I’ll miss Bobby, but Alton is a great replacement. Not sure about the judges mentoring, as it tends to bias the judging towards their own proteges. Live voting is a big plus, and should make it more fun to watch knowing the network can’t just shove a winner down our throats (e.g. Aarti was just brutal).

Rickster

January 23rd, 2012
3:34 pm

Alton Brown’s not looking so good. I hope his health is okay.

Rodney Ho

January 23rd, 2012
3:35 pm

@I Neg Your Pardon. I realize I didn’t make it crystal clear but Bobby, Giada and Alton will mentor, not judge. Bob and Susan will be judges, along with a rotating cast of guest judges. So technically, it’s not like “The Voice” or “X Factor” that way. It’s more like “Rachael vs. Guy: Celebrity Cook-Off.”

Lisa

January 23rd, 2012
4:00 pm

Please do not have him change the format. This is not American Idol. Viewers can’t taste food so shouldn’t be picking!!!

AJ

January 24th, 2012
8:14 am

Lisa – Who is “him”?

James D.

January 24th, 2012
9:34 am

IIRC, the first three seasons of the show had the winner determined by public vote as well. The gimmick was dropped after the Amy Finlay fiasco in Season 3.

BJ

January 24th, 2012
10:54 am

Lisa…you can not taste the foods prepared on any of the shows. However, you watch them because you like what you see and hear.

Kat

January 25th, 2012
7:07 am

I think “we” are picking the winner due to personality and what who we want to watch going forward. I presume that if the judges say the food tastes good, then I believe them. Since every person has different tastes (in food), the judges are the best to determine that. However, WE are better at picking who we will watch, and that’s what Food Network wants to know.

Dave

January 27th, 2012
9:52 pm

A few contestants are on on other cable channels, Travel and Cooking come to mind.