Bobby Flay & Giada De Laurentiis crown newest members of Food Network Family
Food Network's hit series "Food Network Star" concluded on Sunday with chef and restaurateur Christian Petroni and food novelist Jessica Tom both named season 14 co-winners. This was the first time the show presented two winners.
Through nine arduous episodes of culinary challenges to test their cooking and on-camera skills, both Jessica and Christian impressed mentors and judges Bobby Flay and Giada De Laurentiis, as they beat out 10 other culinary hopefuls for the ultimate title. But Christian and Jessica's journey could not have taken more different paths - Christian (Portchester, New York) thrilled early in the competition with his charismatic personality and decadent dishes, while fan-favorite Jessica (Princeton, New Jersey) was eliminated during the season, but earned her spot back in the competition by beating other eliminated finalists on "Star Salvation." One-by-one, Jessica and Christian overcame every obstacle thrown their way, proving they have what it takes to be a Food Network star.
Heading into the finale, the 14th season of "Food Network Star" has been watched by more than 9 million viewers and has ranked within the top 5 cable programs in its 9 p.m. timeslot for P25-54, with 4 percent year-over-year growth for millennial viewers (P25-34).
"Both Jessica and Christian wowed Bobby and Giada and the viewers at home throughout the season, with their unique blend of charm and culinary talent," said Allison Page, president, Food Network and HGTV. "We are thrilled for Christian and Jessica to join the Food Network family and continue to entertain and inspire fans to follow their dreams."
Christian grew up in an Italian family in the Bronx, where he spent countless time in the kitchen learning to make Italian feasts. Starting at a young age in the restaurant business, Christian quickly fell in love with the industry, working his way up and is now the owner of restaurants in Brooklyn, Connecticut and Westchester. With his authentic home cooking and larger-than-life personality, Christian keeps his customers coming back for more.
As a food novelist, it was destined that Jessica would incorporate food into every facet of her life. An avid foodie and home cook, Jessica started out in the kitchen as a child helping her father perfect his dishes. While attending Yale, Jessica wrote restaurant reviews for the college paper, and soon after graduating embarked on her first novel. In her spare time, Jessica also runs a culinary blog, where one won't find anything run of the mill to make in the kitchen.