When the 14th season of Food Network Star premieres this Sunday at 9 p.m., there will be a familiar face among the finalists. Fortina chef/owner Christian Petroni will be among the 10 contestants vying for a chance to have his or her own show on the channel.
It’s not he first time Petroni has been on the Food Network. A Chopped champion and now judge, he’s also appeared as a judge on Beat Bobby Flay and as a guest on The Kitchen. “They contacted me because of the judging,” says Petroni. “I was always a big fan of the show and have been watching it for years. I thought it was a good time for me to dive in head first and go for it.”
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Though he remained tight lipped about whether or not we’ll see a Food Network show featuring his famous fried meatballs at the end of this season, Petroni says he was excited to get back into the kitchen and compete. “My favorite experience was getting back to cooking everyday. Cooking off the cuff, cooking on a time constraint, cooking outside the box, cooking food that I’m not necessarily comfortable with — all those things made it a lot of fun for me.”
That doesn’t mean the experience was easy. “The hardest thing was being away from my family … to leave them for such a long period of time. It was important to us, and we made the sacrifices,” explains Petroni. “I am just obsessed with feeding my son the best food that we can get out hands on. It’s so important to me.”
So what would Petroni’s Food Network show look like? “Oh my God, that’s the toughest question ever because there are so many things I would like to do,” he says. “As long as it best represents my beliefs, my standards, and being true to myself, that’s all I could ever ask for.”
Set your DVRs, The Next Food Network Star premieres June 10 at 9 p.m.