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'Food Network Star' announces Season 8 competitors, and a twist

April 2, 2012 | 12:43 pm

Food Network Star Season 8 Finalists_
The competitors won't be the only ones vying for bragging rights when the eighth season of "Food Network Star" returns May 13: Food Network celebrities Bobby Flay, Giada De Laurentiis and Alton Brown are also going toe to toe.

Flay and De Laurentiis, who have served as series judges in the past, along with mentor / tormentor Brown will square off in a three-way competition. Each will hand-select five of the 15 finalists, then mentor and guide their wards through the competition to find the network's next food star.

The last competitor standing at the July 22 finale will earn what is arguably the food world's most coveted prize: His or her own show on Food Network, to be produced by his or her team leader.

From today's the press statement: "Having Bobby, Giada and Alton compete against each other to discover and develop the next Food Network Star took this series to a whole new level," said Bob Tuschman, general manager and senior vice president, programming and production. "It's hard to say if the competition was more intense among the finalists or their three Star mentors."

If L.A. is looking for some home-grown talent to root for, you'll need to choose between Nikki Martin of West Hollywood and Martita Jara of San Diego. The rest of the finalists are: Philip "Ippy" Aiona of Kamuela, Hawaii; Judson Allen and Kara Sigle, both of Chicago; Martie Duncan of Birmingham, Ala.; Emily Ellyn of Orlando, Fla.; Eric Lee of Petaluma, Calif.; Yvan Lemoine of Maspeth, N.Y.; Josh Lyons of Jupiter, Fla.; Linkie Marais of North Attleborough, Mass.; Malcolm Mitchell of Washington, D.C.; Michele Ragussis and Justin Warner, both of Brooklyn, N.Y.; and Cristie Schoen of New Orleans.

The first challenge this season will see the competitors getting in on the pop-up restaurant trend, building their own eatery from the ground up with a shoestring budget.

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-- Rene Lynch

Photo: The Season 8 "Food Network Star" competitors. Credit: Food Network

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