I've never seen a full season of Food Network Star, but I taped the first episode of Season 9 and watched it tonight. I don't know how much contestants change over the course of the competition. I was surprised at how many of the contestants whose demo tapes were subdued or staid had so much energy, life, and personality in the interview/commentary segments, and at least two have been on Iron Chef, a couple on Chopped, and the housewife/restauranteur was on Restaurant Impossible, so they're used to the people and the cameras. Maybe it was easier for them with a small crew than with their fellow contestants snarking away watching them.
I can understand to an extent why they made the elimination they did -- the person they kept is a producer's dream -- but at least the person eliminated can cook -- her potato dish looked mouthwatering -- and I would have watched that chef's show religiously.
There are a couple of people I might watch if I had closed captioning and could put them on mute, because their potato dish was interesting. I don't care if the "Meat on the Side" chef was perky: I found her warm and personable. When one of the contestants in the middle was called safe, I realized I couldn't remember a thing about him. I like the self-described Southern Girl: I thought she was pretty mellow. I adore the guy who beat Bobby Flay: I wanted to jump through my TV set to try his exploding potato thingies.
Is anyone else watching? From the website, it seems that the show is running concurrently in the US and Canada. (Top Chef played in Canada after it showed in the US, and I finally got a friend in Seattle to tell me who won.)