Just Eyeball It Exclusive Interview: Michael Proietti of The Next Food Network Star


The fifth season of the Next Food Network Star started five weeks ago. Ten people who love to cook were all trying to be the next “star” on the Food Network and get their own show. The most well-known contestant of the competition is Guy Fieri (Diners, Drive-Ins, and Dives, Guy’s Big Bite, Guy Off The Hook), who won the second season competition.

The sixth person eliminated from this season’s competition was Michael Proietti. Michael is 28 and from City Island, NY. He joined the restaurant industry at a young age and worked his way up from washing dishes and prepping food to become executive chef at the Radisson Hotel in New Rochelle, N.Y. The New York Restaurant School graduate infuses his bold personality into everything he does and admits that his “inner diva” sometimes comes out in the kitchen. A native New Yorker, Michael uses influences from the variety of markets available to him and brings his appreciation for global cuisine and his one-of-a-kind attitude to the competition. I had the chance to interview him the day after she was eliminated and here is what she had to say…

Did you try out for any of the past seasons of the Next Food Network Star?

Michael Proietti: No this was my first try out.

Why did you try out for the show?

MP: I needed a change. I wanted to get out of the kitchen and try something new. America’s Next Top Model was not calling me back.

Explain your try-out process in detail. How many rounds/interviews did you have to go through? What did you have to do to try out?

MP: There were 4 or 5 rounds of interviews. We had to do some demos on camera. There were also some sit down interviews as well. I think they wanted to get the range of how you would perform on the show.

Did you think you would make the finals to begin with?

MP: I was feeling good about it when I kept getting called back.

So last night you told the judges that you are better in person than you are better behind the camera. You knew it was a mistake almost immediately. Do you think that was the reason you got eliminated?

MP: Yes, I think that was part of it. I think I lost focus of the challenge. The challenge was to host a part not be the party! I was in Miami and wanted to have fun!!! I just let down my hair and rocked out.

When it was down to you and Debbie last night did you think you were gone?

MP: Well I was shocked at first. I think the cast was a little blown away too but as I said in retrospect, it was my time to go.

After which challenge, were you most confident that you were safe and moving to the next week? Meaning which one did you think you did the best at?

MP: Miami was the best and I did think I had done a good job. I felt like the crowd had a good time, I had fun. I think my food was simple but great. Obviously, it wasn’t a good assumption to think I was moving forward.

After what challenge, were you least confident that you were safe and moving to the next week? Meaning which one did you think did the worst at?

MP: I think the Rachel Ray challenge. I was not into it that week. I was struggling with being a part of the show having hit a bit of a wall mentally.

We have seen Brett, Teddy, and Eddie all say something about another contestant’s cooking or do something that lead the judges to believe that they didn’t like another contestant. They all got eliminated soon afterwards. So should the other contestants not say or do anything that might make it seem like they didn’t like any of the other contestants and become a target?

MP: I think there is more to it than that. The guys just got wrapped up in the game. I think when it’s your time to go, you’re going home.

Were you mindful of this at all?

MP: I don’t talk smack, just not my style.

What were you take on the arguments between Debbie and Teddy, Melissa and Brett, and Melissa and Eddie?

MP: I did not get involved in all that. I think sometimes the game gets the best of people. I chose to avoid confrontation.

Last night, Debbie really didn’t own up to how much she contributed to the team. When she was saying all of that right before elimination, what were you thinking?

MP: I was not happy, my shrimp never made it out of the kitchen. I was disappointed in the team, I think we could have made better decisions with who did what on the team.

How much Food Network did you watch before the competition?

MP: I am a restaurant Chef there is very little time for TV but when there is its always Food Network!

Favorite Food Network shows? Favorite Food Network stars?

MP: Morimoto- he’s a culinary inspiration and I love his style. I think my favorite show at the moment is Ace of Cakes.

Who have you been most excited to meet so far?

MP: Morimoto.

Anyone from The Food Network you would like to meet that you haven’t yet?

MP: HELLO Paula Deen!!!! She’s a true entertainer and I would love to get some of that positive energy.

Favorite meal to cook? Favorite meal to eat if different?

MP: My favorite meal to cook is any kind of spring roll or dumpling. I like folding them I think it’s kind of therapeutic.

Did you make any friends on the show that you will keep in contact with?

MP: I keep in contact with everyone, we are all cool.

Any finalist you didn’t like or one you think you will keep in touch with the least?

MP: No I have love for all of them.

Hardest challenge for you?

MP: I think the camera think was hard. I learned that it is something you need to practice.

Who do you think will win the entire competition?

MP: I don’t know, I hope Debbie. She’s a killer cook and I like her style. I also hope everyone gets to see how great of a person she is.

Hardest part of the competition for you?

MP: Being away from home for so long, not being able to speak regularly to anyone or have time to read.

We have seen a few Next Food Network Star contestants get their own shows (Adam from last season, etc.). What do you think your chances of getting your own show are?

MP: Yeah I think Food Network has love for me, or at least that’s what I am hoping!

What kind of show would it be? What would be the theme or “hook” of your show?

MP: I think a local food show, something NYC style where I was first inspired to cook.

If no Food Network future, what is next for you?

MP: I am working on a cook book, and I continue to work on my web site www.mvpchef.com I would like to open a restaurant in the next year.

The Next Food Network Star airs on the Food Network on Sunday nights at 8 p.m. ET/PT.