NFNS 5 Premieres Sunday, June 7th at 9pm ET

April 29, 2009 at 7:23 am

NEW YORK – APRIL 7, 2009 – The stakes are higher than ever when The Next Food Network Star returns this summer with a star-studded fifth season on Food Network. As television’s most challenging food fight, the series provides 10 hopeful TV chefs the chance to compete for the ultimate dream job: his or her own Food Network show. Iron Chef Bobby Flay leads the selection committee that ultimately decides the winner’s fate and launches one lucky man or woman into a food and television celebrity. The series kicks off on Sunday, June 7th at 9pm ET/PT as the finalists cater Food Network’s “Sweet 16” party with network talent and media there to judge.

“This season we’ve created the biggest and toughest challenges the show has ever seen,” said Bob Tuschman, Senior Vice President, Programming and Production. “We have an incredibly competitive group of finalists who are hungry to become Food Network stars, and they all came to win.”

The 10 finalists include: Brett August (Washington Heights, N.Y.), Katie Cavuto (Philadelphia, Pa.), Melissa d’Arabian (Keller, Texas), Teddy Folkman (Alexandria, Va.), Eddie Gilbert (Manhattan Beach, Calif.), Jen Isham (Orlando, Fla.), Debbie Lee (West Hollywood, Calif.), Jamika Pessoa (Atlanta, Ga.), Michael Proietti (New York, N.Y.) and Jeffrey Saad (Los Angeles, Calif.).

This season’s finalists must prove their culinary expertise and star potential through a series of complex challenges. In each episode, their cooking chops will be put to the test to see who can handle the pressure and present the most mouth-watering food. Challenges include catering a party for a roomful of Food Network stars, impressing the “Barefoot Contessa” herself in the Hamptons and preparing a comforting meal for returning soldiers on the Intrepid Sea, Air, and Space Museum. The show also flies to sunny Miami – for the first time – where the finalists must survive a beachside wood-grilling challenge for Red Lobster and create a delicious dinner for a group of culinary elite at a screening of Columbia Pictures’ movie Julie & Julia (in theaters August 7). Throughout the season, they will also have to prove they have star quality and dazzle a variety of media outlets with their personalities, including Access Hollywood, Good Housekeeping, Esquire, Food Network Magazine, and USA WEEKEND.

Rachael Ray, Giada De Laurentiis, Alton Brown, Guy Fieri, Ina Garten, Emeril Lagasse, Gina and Pat Neely, Masaharu Morimoto, Ted Allen, Tyler Florence, Michael Symon and the season four winner, Aaron McCargo, Jr., will appear throughout the season to help guide the finalists through the challenges. The selection committee comprised of Flay and Food Network executives, Bob Tuschman (Senior Vice President, Programming and Production) and Susie Fogelson (Vice President, Marketing and Brand Strategy), will narrow the field down until the finale. The winner will be revealed during the series finale on Sunday, August 2nd at 9pm ET/PT, and he or she will receive a six-episode show that will premiere in August 2009. The Next Food Network Star is produced by CBS EYE too Productions.

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Stuart Reb Donald

Stuart is a celebrity chef and award winning food writer. Donald performs live cooking demonstrations and penned the cookbook Amigeauxs - Mexican/Creole Fusion Cuisine. He hosts two Internet cooking shows "Everyday Gourmet" and "Little Grill Big Flavor."

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