Fans will now vote on winner
As Food Network’s “Food Network Star” heads into production for its eighth season, premiering May 13, it has made plans for changes both onscreen and off.The reality competition skein will shift the choice of the season champion from the judges to a fan vote that will be held before the season finale. The grand prize remains a show on Food Network, but this time around, it will be produced by the winner’s mentor. In addition, Bobby Flay and Giada De Laurentiis will shed their judging duties and, along with first-time series regular Alton Brown, will each select a team of finalists to mentor through the competition. “Bobby, Giada and Alton are the best of the best in food television,” said Food Network g.m. and SVP of programming and production Bob Tuschman. “Combined, they’ve produced hundreds of hours of award-winning programming. With their skills and instincts, they are the perfect people to help us find, develop and produce our next ‘Food Network Star.’ ” Tuschman and Food Network senior veep of marketing, creative and brand strategy Susie Fogelson will return to handle judging duties, aided by a series of guest judges. Tuschman said the intent of the changes is to “dial up the competition and the excitement.” CBS Eye Too Prods. produces “Food Network Star.” Principal filming is moving back to New York, the show’s original home, after several seasons based in Los Angeles.