"Food Network Star" is now settling into middle age: So many seasons in, and it's hard to keep finding ways to make it new, fresh and unexpected -- and to keep competitors on their toes.
But there's one sure fire way to do so: Just turn up the heat.
The new crop of fresh faces who want to be the new face of Food Network walked smack into a series of challenges that didn't let up. They walked right into POV demos, a timed signature plate challenge involving potatoes, followed by appearing before a live audience.
Oh, and also knowing that the live audience held gadgets that offered feedback on just how well they were connecting with the viewers.
Or missing altogether.
Turns out the competitors from Seasons 1 through 8 were downright coddled.
These Season 9 twists are devious, and delicious. Keep 'em coming.
It made for a perfectly paced hour that flew by, and left viewers wanting more. No dull moments, and yet viewers no doubt already have a feel for which competitors will rise, or flounder.