Houston-area reality show fans have a likable new contestant to root for on the latest season of Food Network's Food Network Star.
The series' 13th season premieres on June 4 with judges Bobby Flay and Giada De Laurentiis and 13 competitors showcasing their cooking and on-camera skills to prove they have what it takes to become the next Guy Fieri.
Among the contestants is 65-year-old Texas City resident Nancy Manlove, a Food Network veteran who competed on Season 9 of Cutthroat Kitchen, which aired in 2015. Manlove previously worked for NASA, then went back to school to earn a culinary arts degree. She's won food competitions and is currently chef de cuisine at a farm-to-table restaurant and a grandma who wants to get cooks of all ages into the kitchen.
A companion show called Food Network Star: Comeback Kitchen will give seven former Food Network Star finalists the chance to vie for a slot on the new season. And yet another companion series, this one web-only, called Star Salvation gives eliminated finalists a second crack at getting back on, much like Top Chef's Last Chance Kitchen.
Allison Page, program manager at Scripps Networks Interactive, says in a release that the show is inspirational to viewers. "To become a Food Network Star requires top-tier culinary skills, an impressive television presence, and the utmost dedication," she says.
The pre-season begins on May 21, with the premiere of Food Network Star: Comeback Kitchen, a three-episode miniseries where seven ex-finalists return for a second shot at stardom. Co-hosts Valerie Bertinelli and Tyler Florence will identify what kept each of the alumni from winning. The competitors will take on a retro dessert and shoot an Instagram video about their updated version. Duff Goldman will help judge the results.
The June 4 premiere of the main show takes place at the Orpheum Theater in Los Angeles. Guest judges are Robert Irvine and Monti Carlo. Other judges and guests throughout the season will include ESPN anchors Jemele Hill and Jaymee Sire, Sunny Anderson, Melissa d’Arabian, Anne Burrell, Josh Denny, Guy Fieri, Hannah Hart, Eddie Jackson, Sandra Lee, Sabin Lomac, Tiffani Thiessen, and Andrew Zimmern.
In addition to Manlove, there's one other finalist from Texas: Representing Dallas is Caodan Tran, a former food blogger who owns a personal chef service. According to her bio:
"Caodon didn't learn to cook until it became a life necessity as an adult. Raised in an ultra-competitive family, Caodan realized that cooking was the best way to learn about a culture without traveling. Caodan currently owns a personal chef service, doing everything from pop-up dinners to private dinner parties. Known for her fresh, clean, and simple approach to modern Vietnamese cuisine, Caodan considers herself hyper-ambitious and strong headed in a good way."
Other finalists hail from Louisiana, New Jersey, Georgia, Illinois, Michigan, Kentucky, and Hawaii.
Star Salvation returns on June 25 on FoodNetwork.com/Salvation and is hosted by Iron Chef Alex Guarnaschelli and Food Network Star season 7 winner Jeff Mauro. It'll run six episodes, and the winner will re-join Food Network Star on August 6.