June 15, 2011 08:28 AM by Megan Thompson
If you know the names Rachel Ray and Giada De Laurentiis it’s probably because of Bob Tuschman. Bob has helped discover and develop numerous cooking celebrities throughout his career. Currently Bob is a general manger/SVP at Food Network and judge on the Food Network Star. We were able to speak with Bob on a call and find out why Food Network Star really resonates with the audience and what truly makes someone a star in the food world. Keep reading to hear what Bob has to say about the network’s top rated show.
As the season progresses and you start to get a feel for the contestants and how well they cook, do you gain a sense of who is going to make it to the end?
You think I would after all this time, but I have to say I’m constantly surprised week to week. It’s one of the reason I really love doing the show and I think part of the reason why it’s so interesting for viewers. Even though I have people who I pick out early on as favorites, I have never stopped being surprised at what sorts of things trip them up both in terms of their internal struggles and in terms of certain challenges that we give them. I’m always surprised by people who start out the show at the very back of the pack and emerge through the sheer force of will, through their ability to really listen to notes and to just to never stop improving themselves. I often said the people who end up winning they are often the people who can grow the fastest in the shortest amount to time.
How difficult is it to get to know the contestants and getting attached to them – does that make it difficult when it is elimination time?
Yes, but having four selection committee members keeps you honest. When we do the deliberation at the end of the show, there is nothing scripted about it, it’s our honest opinions. We often come at it from very different points of view. Even though I may get personally attached to people that I’m rooting for, I think I’m pretty clear where their deficiencies are as well as their strengths.
What did it take for you to get comfortable on camera?
Well, I think if you watched the very first season you will have a good idea – I like to think I have improved also along with the contestants. In high school and college I did plays, so I have always enjoyed being in front of people. When I watch myself in early episodes I thought – I seem so low energy, flat and monotone. I was aware that I needed to ramp up my performance, just to come across more so how I would in real life.
How has what you’re looking for in a star changed from season 1 to season 7?
I think our expectations are higher now. As the seasons have progressed, so has the celebrity status of our current food stars. Our food stars have become national celebrities, far outside just the food world. Rachel Ray and Guy Fieri are national names, outside of people who are just food watchers.
If you have three criteria that help you to make your decision – what would they be?
I’m looking for comfort in their own skin. We are looking for a strong sense of who they are and who they want to be. A creative intelligence, so no matter what challenge we throw at them – they can handle it. The third would be, just a strength, not the physical, but in an emotional sense.
What would be your last meal ever?
I can tell you what genre it would be in, Italian or Mediterranean, those are the flavors that naturally appeal to me. In a former life I probably lived on a Mediterranean island.
If you could create the ultimate Food Network Star, what would be the combination of cooking, star power and personality be?
I would actually say evenly split, which is the huge difficulty of Food Network Star. We get pitched every year hundreds of people who are excellent cooks. And we get pitched people who are really amazing excellent personalities, but don’t really have the food sense. To get all three in one person is so difficult and is why I have gray hair!
Have you ever felt that you were too harsh on a contestant with your criticism?
Yes, I certainly have had eliminations were I regretted. I felt bad about Kelsey, this was a few seasons ago, who is now on Cooking Channel. I said repeatedly in that season that she was too young and I got such hate mail when she was kicked off because people loved her so much. I feel direct, honest and tough criticism is the biggest favor I can give someone because you give them the opportunity to approve. I want to give everyone the chance to raise their game – and they have to do it in a very short time period.
Do you find the show is less about food and more about star making?
Well I would say that we want every show to be unique. There are a lot of cooking competition shows on our network alone. The unique promise of Food Network Star is that you get a peek behind what it takes to be a celebrity chef in this day in age. It is very different than what people think, because most stars that make it – make it look easy.
Have you been surprised how strong the ratings for the show have been?
Yes, we are obviously thrilled by them. One of the great thing about this show is it brings all of our viewers together. So whether you like more reality programming, whether you like informational programming or competition programming- it appeals to everyone. I think people like it for so many different reasons.
It’s obvious that viewers are addicted to this season’s Food Network Star. Thanks to Bob Tuschman for speaking with us – he was great to talk to, very open and entertaining. We can’t wait to see what happens on the next episode of Food Network Star, airing Sunday at 9EST. Comment below and let us know what you think of this season!
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Photo Credit: Food Network
Topics: Food Network Reality TV Shows, The Next Food Network Star |
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