One-on-One with the Latest Food Network Star Finalist to Go Home

Food Network StarThe nature of the Food Network Star beast is such that no matter how much mentors Bobby Flay and Giada De Laurentiis have to teach the finalists, their time is limited, which means they’re forced to make quick decisions about who has the greatest potential for success. Week after week finalists will fall in a series of eliminations, and following each gut-wrenching exit, we here at Star Talk will bring you insider interviews with the fallen hopefuls. If you haven’t watched the latest episode, don’t read any further until you do, because we’re about to break down the show†and talk to the person sent home.

Food Network StarFresh off her struggles to make herself heard last week, Suzanne Lossia was set on having “a voice” this week, she said. Though she indeed managed to make the dish she wanted to for the experiential dinner, her challenges didn’t end. Unfortunately, the baklava she offered was “completely dry,” according to Bobby, and in terms of her presentation, she found herself flustered on camera. Ultimately Suzanne’s double whammy of struggles was enough to end her road to Stardom, and she was sent home after just three weeks in the contest.

Read on below to hear from Suzanne following her elimination.

Going back to that moment, what three words described how you were feeling?
Suzanne Lossia: Shocked, sad and hurt. Because they told me that I was unique and I made dishes that none of the other finalists could know. I was completely different than everybody else, and they told me over and over again that I was unique and the flavors are good. I was just in shock that they sent me home. There were other finalists, and I know theyíre outspoken and everything, but at the same time, Iím bringing something different.

Food Network StarDo you stand by your baklava? What do you think the judges missed in their evaluations?
SL: The presentation of my last dish I was not happy with. … Coming from Detroit and being from Detroit, thereís all these Middle Eastern, Chaldean, Arabic stores there. The phyllo dough that we had here wasnít the ones that we used back in Detroit. … I grew up making baklava my whole entire life. I asked everybody else here, “Could you guys make baklava?” Theyíre like, “Oh my god, no.” Itís hit or miss with filo dough.

So, you think the filo dough was the root of the problem for your last dish?
SL: The phyllo dough was, yes, because I mean, like I said, I grew up making baklava.

Food Network StarWhat piece of mentor feedback will you always remember and take with you?
SL: I need to keep it simple. As Giada said, simple is better, and I have a story. People donít know what Chaldean is, and she did say that simple is better, because you will show it through your dishes, of who you are. But Iíve never kept it simple. Yeah, I can make a crostini and put a little humus on it. Thatís when Bobby said to me, “Oh, why donít you make a crostini?Ē But I want to show them. Itís not just a crostini that all of us can make every day. Itís not just a chicken or a beef dish ó these are foods that everybody has seen. I wanted to show them who we are.

How would you explain to people at home what this competition is really like?
SL: Oh my god. First of all, the whole experience is surreal. I mean, Bobby, Giada, Chef Irvine, Monti Carlo ó †are you kidding me? I grew up with Food Network. The whole Chaldean community, the whole Middle Eastern culture, itís all about food and family, and this is right up my alley. For me to be here, I think everyone back home is going to say, ďOh my god.Ē Itís huge, but they think itís easy. Itís not easy. Itís hard, and you really need to listen to them.

Food Network StarWhich elements of this competition were you least expecting?
SL: It was probably when they put us in groups. Iím a team player. … The last challenge was not a good experience at all.

Fill in the blanks with your fellow finalists’ names.†
_____ is the class clown?†Cao. Sheís funny. Sheís different.
_____ is the quietest?†Matt. But Mattís very smart. He knows the game.
_____ is the most daring?†I am.
_____ has the best recipes?†I donít know whoís got the best recipes. Everyoneís different.
_____ is going to win this whole thing?†I think Matt.

Food Network StarHow did you handle the nerves of being here and working with Bobby and Giada and the guest judges?
SL: I was very nervous. Presentation and food are everything. I was shaking. I think I work better when Iím face to face with somebody [rather] than in groups. Very nervous. Itís a surreal experience. Who gets an opportunity and has a voice at the same time? Itís huge.

Which guest or mentor did you learn the most from?
SL: Giada. Her culinary skills. I listen to her when she talks. I admire her. I look up to her. Sheís a wonderful, beautiful soul inside and out, and I feel like sheís from the core.

What do you want fans to remember most about you?
SL: I want them to remember that unique is good. Different is good. … I want the fans to know that itís not hard to prepare our dishes. Itís easy. Itís simple. People go out to eat all the time to Middle Eastern restaurants. Itís all over the map, and they think itís hard ó no, itís not. Itís very easy.

Food Network StarWho are you rooting for now?
SL: Iím rooting for myself, really.

Whatís next for you? Whatíre you going home to?
SL: Hopefully one day I’ll have my own restaurant. Thatís what I want to do. I do cook privately and work in the kitchen. I donít like managing. I like cooking. I love my life. Like my son says: “Mom, follow your dreams. Believe in yourself.” Heís like, “Mom, nobody is like you.” … My cookbookís almost done. Iím just waiting for all the publicity, because Detroitís waiting for Suzanne. Nothing stops Detroit. Detroit hustles hard and Suzanne hustles harder.

Tune in to Food Network Star on Sundays at 9|8c.

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