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Tuesday, April 7

PICTURES: Season 5 Next Food Network Star Contestants


Here are the pics and bios of all of the season 5 contestants on The Next Food Network Star (available exclusively to anyone who requests them.)



Teddy Folkman
, 33 (Alexandria, Va.), co-owner and executive chef of Granville Moore’s Gastropub in Washington, D.C., developed his love of food at a young age while working at a deli and honed his culinary skills and style under several well-known chefs. Now, Teddy focuses on sharing simple techniques to inspire people to think and cook like chefs. Teddy spends his free time teaching cooking fundamentals to local high school students, and he won a mussels and fries challenge on Throwdown with Bobby Flay in 2008.



Melissa d’Arabian, 40 (Keller, Texas), pairs her varied culinary and life experiences to provide food lifestyle solutions and approachable recipes for today’s families. As a stay-at-home mom to four young daughters, she efficiently budgets time and money to prepare the finest in fresh, home-cooked meals every day. Melissa finds culinary inspiration in family, friends, cooking classes, and world travels.



Michael Proietti
, 28 (City Island, N.Y.), joined the restaurant industry at a young age and worked his way up from washing dishes and prepping food to become executive chef at the Radisson Hotel in New Rochelle, N.Y. The New York Restaurant School graduate infuses his bold personality into everything he does and admits that his “inner diva” sometimes comes out in the kitchen. A native New Yorker, Michael uses influences from the variety of markets available to him and brings his appreciation for global cuisine and his one-of-a-kind attitude to the competition.



Katie Cavuto, 30 (Philadelphia, Pa.), provides personal chef, cooking, and nutrition services through her self-started company, Healthy Bites. She developed her knowledge and passion for food at Johnson and Wales University and Tufts University where she also became a Registered Dietician. Katie brings a creative and competitive charm to the kitchen where she uses unprocessed, organic, farm-to-table ingredients to create simple and nutritious meals.



Eddie Gilbert, 30 (Los Angeles, Calif.), expands his culinary knowledge by working as an apprentice in a Los Angeles restaurant. After graduating from Vanderbilt University with two degrees, Eddie worked at a prestigious talent agency before turning his love for cooking into a career. The travel, sports and music enthusiast enjoys modernizing traditional dishes and making them more accessible for the home cook.



Jamika Pessoa, 30 (Atlanta, Ga.), a certified personal chef and businesswoman, loves exploring international cuisines in the kitchen. Family, friends, and clients rave about her bold twists on traditional dishes, especially those of her Caribbean heritage. Innovative style, sassy personality, and inspiring tenacity are Jamika’s key ingredients to the magic she produces in the kitchen.



Brett August, 32 (New York, N.Y.), keeps busy as the executive sous chef at Doral Arrowwood Hotel in Rye Brook, N.Y., where he has worked for 11 years while enjoying the music, sports and culinary scene in his native New York City. Inspired to cook by his father at a young age, Brett’s culinary point of view focuses on simple food for the home cook. The New York Restaurant School graduate exudes passion and ambition in and out of the kitchen.



Jen Isham, 30 (Orlando, Fla.), considers herself a modern housewife who loves organization in the kitchen. A sales manager at Orlando’s Crowne Plaza Downtown, Jen once worked as a line cook at Walt Disney World. The French Culinary Institute graduate spends Sunday evenings planning menus for the week and always creates tasty, economical meals for her loved ones.



Jeffrey Saad, 42 (Los Angeles, Calif.), a California Culinary Academy graduate, has more than 25 years experience as a restaurateur, food consultant, recipe developer, and chef. He enjoys cooking without borders: combining flavorful and often unexpected ingredients to achieve simple, tasty dishes in no time. The married father of two owns a real estate brokerage firm with his wife and has a second degree black belt in martial arts.



Debbie Lee, 39 (West Hollywood, Calif.), a former Hollywood caterer, now shares her branding and menu-planning expertise as a restaurant consultant. Her Korean heritage and Southern upbringing make a dynamic combination as she uniquely blends Asian and American cuisines. Debbie attributes her cooking chops to her mother, grandmother and notable chefs that she's worked with.

[All photos courtesy Food Network]

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47 Comments:

At 4/07/2009 7:05 PM , Blogger Courtney said...

Looks like an interesting group with many of them having impressive credentials. Can't help but think of another FN star when looking at Michael, but he has a good resume. Melissa's POV sounds too much like Robin Miller. Katie and Debbie are the most intriguing to me so far.

 
At 4/07/2009 7:26 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

Man, somebody slapped this cast w/the fugly stick!

BTW, Ellie Kreiger is in the new "Got Milk?" ads. I just saw it in a mag.

 
At 4/07/2009 7:35 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

Cat Cora's wife had her baby:

http://www.usmagazine.com/news/wife-of-iron-chefs-cat-cora-welcomes-a-son-200974

 
At 4/07/2009 8:22 PM , Blogger Charles said...

Wow, I 100% agree with you, Courtney. Philly in the house! Katie's my pick to win, like her approach. I also am feeling Michael and Teddy. Debbie could turn out to be pretty fierce to though. We'll have to tune in and see!

 
At 4/07/2009 9:21 PM , Blogger Little Ol' Liz said...

(Deeep Sigh) This group makes me miss Emeril and Mario.

My money's on Jeffrey. I'm betting he's all Guy Fee-Yetti without all the Guy Fee-Yetti-ness, if you know what I mean.

 
At 4/07/2009 9:29 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

oy
turns out the requisite Lesbian with a horrid haircut and typical tattoos turns out to be Michael Proietti
this season.....

 
At 4/07/2009 11:48 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

i know michael. wait til you see the show... stop being mean... haha

 
At 4/08/2009 9:05 AM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

Not one LATINO!!! What the hell is that>?!?!? and don't tell me about Daisy or Ingrid... there food sucks!! I want to see some real regional Mexican cooking!! Mexican-Americans are the largest latin demographic and there is no one to rep them>!>! Not white washed wanna be latin crap!! enough already!!!!

 
At 4/08/2009 9:16 AM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

I already am sick of the guy with the bad hair and tattoos and his unique attitude...BORRING!!!!!!!!

 
At 4/08/2009 9:18 AM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

So who do you think FN has already picked? They faked the whole thing last year with Aaron.

Who will this years Aaron be?

 
At 4/08/2009 9:53 AM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

Who's the return contestant?

 
At 4/08/2009 10:07 AM , Anonymous Alec Smart said...

This Proietti guy sounds like a total reprobate. Is a drag queen when not cooking. This should be good. I guess he didn't make the cut for Ru Paul's show.

we have enough freaks on TV already Bob.

 
At 4/08/2009 10:59 AM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

Jeffrey has a beautiful smile. He looks like a pro.

 
At 4/08/2009 12:32 PM , Blogger Lana said...

LMAO !! I'd L-O-V-E to see this Michael guy do a cooking demo at South Beach, eh? Haha, he'd fit right in with the craziness!

My prediction - FN doesn't want another Fietti - they already have one and they wanna keep him as their one-and-only party boy. Michael will be ousted.

I'm thinking Eddie or Jeffrey, and I'll throw in Debbie as the long shot. :-D

 
At 4/08/2009 12:43 PM , Anonymous Matt said...

At the beginning of each season of this show I'm always optimistic that someone really cool with a great approach to food will be selected... but then it turns out we end up with more of the same tired stuff that's recycled on Food Network. Here's to hoping the caliber of the participants will meet our expectations!

 
At 4/08/2009 12:50 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

I am thinking Jeffrey or maybe Teddy. Jeffrey jumps at me out of all of them. Good luck to everyone.

 
At 4/08/2009 1:55 PM , Blogger Mer said...

Hello, Eddie.

 
At 4/08/2009 4:22 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

people that NEED to draw attention to themselves with crap ass haircuts and 5000 tattoos need
mental health help not cooking shows.... don't they realize how asinine they look when they think they look so unique original and cool??? GAAAAAAAAAAA!!!!!!

(i have 7 tattoos myself so shut up.)

 
At 4/08/2009 5:52 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

Ugh, Melissa. "Food lifestyle solutions"? What the hell is that? Oh, and of course you're a stay at home mom. What do you know about "today's families"? Most people have to work.

I already hate her. I can't wait to watch!

 
At 4/08/2009 8:40 PM , Anonymous Sue Matt and Bella said...

Michael is a fantastic chef.His skills in the kitchen are amazing coupled with his hilarious sense of humor. He is a SURE WIN!!!!!! He will bring out the DIVA in all of us. WE LOVE YOU MICHAEL!!!!!!!!!!

 
At 4/08/2009 9:55 PM , Blogger Charles said...

Anonymous said...

I already hate her. I can't wait to watch!

LMAO! :P

 
At 4/08/2009 10:49 PM , Anonymous The Schmu's said...

Jeffrey or Eddie, your kidding me right? Do you know what Brett is capable off? Be on the lookout for this Hot New Yorker, Brett will cook his a.. off to get to the top.

 
At 4/08/2009 10:51 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

Watch out the New Yorkers are comming through!

 
At 4/08/2009 11:03 PM , Anonymous Mike said...

Not just another Chef please, c'mon
FN entertain us, keep us watching, Brett's my Fav.

 
At 4/09/2009 12:25 AM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

It will OBVIOUSLY be the black or the asian. Since they are looking to appeal to those viewers. Yawn.

 
At 4/09/2009 3:46 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

Korean food is the all the craze right now, The Food Network was smart to cast someone like Debbie. I know she's going to kick major ass!

 
At 4/09/2009 3:50 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

Every cast member has some cool thing about them, except Melissa. How boring can you be? A housewife from Texas with four kids? I can totally see it now, "Deep friend Peanut Butter and Jelly sandwiches" or "Chicken fingers with caramel sauce" or "Mac and Cheese with minced apples". All I can say is, she better not win this thing.

 
At 4/09/2009 3:53 PM , Blogger Tombo said...

From the pictures and bios, Debbie Lee just has something about her that will make me want to watch what she can do. I love Korean food and I can only imagine how amazing it is when it's mixed in with some Southern flavors. Good luck Debbie!

 
At 4/09/2009 8:32 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

Can you give us something different! I like Jeffrey's approach. Cooking should be without borders in this day and age but you don't give us enough of that. let's mix some flavors baby.

 
At 4/10/2009 12:32 AM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

This show is all about looks and viewer appeal and NOT cooking talent. The primary FN audience is women...25-55...with a kid or two, so the winner should be someone this audience wants to look at and listen to. FN already has enough lady hosts, so I'm guessing this years' "star" will most probably be a younger, articulate, somewhat hot guy...the kind a "cougar" would prowl after...such as Teddy or Eddie or Jeffrey or Brett. As for Michael...HAH!!! Ladies, pack your bags now...the train is leaving the station.

 
At 4/10/2009 8:49 AM , Anonymous Laura said...

Anon 350pm..If Pauler reads this, you know she will try the deep fried PB and J. She better give you credit. As for Korean food, I've never had it, but I would be interested in learning about it. I don't think I have an opinion yet as to who I think will win, but I see a Kelsey, a Danny Boome and the contestant from last year that did Indian food. At least to me they look alike. Did anyone find out who is the repeat?

 
At 4/10/2009 10:05 AM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm rooting for Teddy, although this is going to make his restaurant even harder to get into! If you're in the DC area, Granville Moore's is a must-try.

 
At 4/10/2009 2:25 PM , Anonymous That Gay Guy said...

The Kelsey of this season is going to be Jen (is it me, or does she look like she's about 4 years old but with some boobs?), and the Danny Boome is definitely Eddie Gilbert (although I think he's hot as hell. Haha). I'm not finding a Nipa (read: catty bitch that everyone hates, who can't do anything worthwhile).

The repeat...that'd be The Vulcan as Melissa. Gawd I hate her already.

Anyone else think Jamika is going to be like Nikki Shaw (ditzy but loveable) from TNFNS 3?

And I SWEAR I've heard of Katie Cavuto before...

 
At 4/10/2009 2:28 PM , Anonymous That Gay Guy said...

In addition to my last post...Eddie does kinda strike me as the Adam Gertler of this season. *facepalm* AND *headdesk*

 
At 4/10/2009 3:33 PM , Anonymous Laura said...

To the Gay Guy, you did see what I was seeing as far as Kelsey and Danny. Not seeing the Adam G connection though. I'll wait till I see him live though. I thought that Jamika looked like Nipa. I could be thinking of someone else. Maybe from the previous season. I don't remember Melissa at all, so she must not have gone far or she did not stand out enough. Katie Cavuto looks promising to me. Sure you are not thiking about Neil Cavuto on Foxnews? haha.

 
At 4/10/2009 10:59 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

We need a guy. we are done with the women.

 
At 4/11/2009 12:51 PM , Anonymous That Gay Guy said...

@ Laura: Yay, i was right for two :)

I meant that Melissa kinda reminds me as the prima donna Lisa Garza (although I did love Lisa...gotta say it). I already hate Melissa though...what the hell are food lifestyle solutions?

Nope, not Neil (I can't stand Fox). I swear I've met her before...I know I've heard her name before and she looks very familiar...

Oooh, I do kinda get what you mean about Nipa...hopefully this person's nicer though. I couldn't stand Nipa.

 
At 4/11/2009 2:49 PM , Anonymous ~j~ said...

Ugh, who cares? I was sick of last season before it even started. I doubt I'll watch this one. And even if someone you like wins, by the time their Tuschification is done you probably won't like them any more.

 
At 4/13/2009 12:00 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

Anon 12:32 where have you been? FN hasn't been about talent in a long time.

 
At 4/13/2009 10:08 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

If I were to pick a top 3 just based on these bios, I'd bet on Teddy, Eddie and Debbie.

 
At 4/14/2009 11:53 AM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

I think the big southern fried Korean eggplant will win, if she doesn't have a meltdown.

 
At 4/14/2009 2:04 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

This looks like an interesting group, diverse in age, sex, appearance and ethnicity. Way to go Food Network!! Just based on the mix of styles and approaches, I'm guessing this year's "star" will be a west coaster...so go Debbie...go Eddie...go Jeffrey!!

 
At 4/14/2009 10:03 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

Way to go guys, looks like a great cast! I dig the Korean chick Debbie, lets go south together and fry some chicken! yummmmmmm!

 
At 4/15/2009 5:26 AM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

The Food Network needs some variety in their shows. Debbie is the smart choice. She will do just fine.

 
At 4/18/2009 7:11 PM , Blogger Vyse87 said...

Are we done with the apefirmative action now? Could you make it more obvious food network. Shame on you and your lily livered, pathetic "judges".

 
At 4/20/2009 10:29 AM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

We need a handsome man for all of us bored housewives. I am telling you the new women on Food Network do not do justice to T.V. They should be doing their shows on radio. We need Eddie or Jeffrey.

 
At 7/15/2009 5:28 AM , Blogger Lynman said...

Melissa needs to go away, I haven't liked her since day 1. Gag me, you stay home with kids, that's sooo interesting. Her bio on the website is just ridiculous: "I go to Paris every year, the best thing I've eaten was in Turkey," ew. If I wanted some waspy bitch with a stick up her ass, I would watch Giada. At least she's somewhat attractive. Melissa is not just fugs, but so self-important and completely useless to the times right now. If Food Network wants to widen their demographic, they need to go with either Jeff or Debbie.

I'll never watch Melissa's show, just saying.

 

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