Season 5 of the Next Food Network Star starts Sunday night, June 7th.
The Next Food Network Star is about to begin Season 5, can we expect to see anything different this time around?
BOBBY FLAY: Yes, absolutely. First of all, very good cooking chops. I think the contestants are the best group of cooks we've had so far in the five seasons. Also, we get a look into Ina Garten, the Barefoot Contessa. She's sort of elusive. She doesn't do a lot of public appearances. She stays out in the Hamptons and does her own thing. So I got a chance to work with her and all of the contestants loved meeting her.
And we go to Miami at some point in the series which is, obviously, a beautiful setting...crazy grilling challenges...I think it's a really exciting season.
What is the ultimate quality that you look for in a contestant?
BOBBY: Because I'm the chef on the panel, I'm always protecting the food. There's three things: Obviously, they need to cook with authority, they need to be a good teacher, they need to inspire. All three of those things are the recipe for success.
Are you involved with the creation of the challenges and, if not, do you think they are sometimes unfair or too difficult?
BOBBY: Sometimes I consult on some of the challenges but basically it's done by Food Network and the production company. I do think sometimes they are hard but that's what this is about. If everybody was perfect in every challenge, there would be nothing to watch. Basically the idea is that you want to take people out of their element and see how they do under pressure. It's not just about acing the challenge. It's more about when there's an issue, like there is in TV everyday, how do you handle the pressure? So, yes, I do think the challenges are sometimes difficult but they're difficult for a reason.
How do you think the role of the chef has changed in the past few years in the era of the celebrity chef and the star-making power of the Food Network?
BOBBY: I think the chef on television has a lot of roles. They need to be a good teacher; they need to be able to inspire people; they need to be entertaining. In a lot of ways chefs on television are becoming role models for adults and children. From an adult standpoint, getting people to eat better and more nutritiously. And there are tons of kids that watch Food Network. It's amazing. It's one more profession for kids to look up to. I think that we do have a responsibility to be role models for people.