Local Restaurateur's Star Turn Starts Sunday

LA MESA -- Stacey Poon-Kinney, owner and operator of The Trails Restaurant just north of the La Mesa line on Jackson Drive, will be vying for permanent stardom on The Food Network.
The network has announced that Poon-Kinney, whose restaurant appeared on the network's "Restaurant Impossible" last year, will participate on upcoming episodes of Food Network Star.

The Food Network Star show features 12 aspiring on-air food talents who work with established network stars to prove their star potential. The first episode in the show's ninth season airs June 2nd and features Poon-Kinney appearing with culinary icons Alton Brown, Giada De Laurentis and Bobby Flay as the established stars try to discover the best and brightest new faces in food television.

In the one-hour season premiere on Sunday, June 2nd at 9pm ET/PT, the twelve contestants arrive in Los Angeles, ready to kick off the biggest audition of their lives to find out who has the personality, on-camera charisma and kitchen chops to follow in their idols’ footsteps and helm their own show. In new twists, focus groups of Food Network fans will also have their say on contestant performances and one finalist will be brought back after elimination for another chance at victory. Viewers will again be able to vote online or via phone before the August 11th finale to determine who will win the ultimate prize: their own show on Food Network.

“Alton, Bobby and Giada are not only enduring stars, but also star-makers, so they are the ideal mentors to bring out the best in our talented cast,” said Bob Tuschman, General Manager and Senior Vice President, Food Network. “These newcomers are competing to achieve their dream, and their journey is fascinating to watch.”

The finalists are: Nikki Dinki (New York); Andres Guillama (Waynesville, NC); Rodney Henry (Baltimore);Chris Hodgson (Cleveland); Connie “Lovely” Jackson (Los Angeles); Russell Jackson (San Francisco);Danushka Lysek (New York); Daniela Perez-Reyes (Haleiwa, Haw.); Viet Pham (Salt Lake City); Damaris Phillips (Louisville, Ky.); Stacey Poon-Kinney (San Diego) and Chad Rosenthal (Ambler, Penn.).

Each episode before the finale features a first-round Mentor Challenge, second-round Star Challenge and an elimination determined by the selection committee, including returning judges Food Network executives Susie Fogelson and Bob Tuschman.

In the season premiere, Alton, Giada and Bobby greet the finalists and immediately kick off their life-changing Star journey. Each finalist is challenged to refine their personal point of view and film a pitch tape in the season’s first Mentor Challenge, and convincingly explain why they are the best person to win their own show. In the second round Star Challenge, each contestant must prepare and present one dish to Food Network executives Susie Fogelson and Bob Tuschman and a focus group of Food Network fans.

Upcoming episodes feature a Chopped-themed mystery ingredient challenge before Chopped judge Alex Guarnaschelli; an anything-can-happen live, on-camera test with E! News co-host Terrence Jenkins; a fresh Italian-themed challenge with a twist using Buitoni® products; a pantry cook-off with Kellogg's® Special K® Cereals and Snacks; a Star-making screening evaluated by The Hollywood Reporter Editorial Director Janice Min and Senior Writers Gary Baum and Leslie Bruce; and guest appearances by Guy Fieri and Robert Irvine.

Poon-Kinney's restaurant had its first brush with fame when the show Restaurant Impossible performed a three-day makeover on the solid but unassuming strip center restaurant. The restaurant's look was overhauled to make it less diner, more stylish and a dinner menu was added, as well as major renovations to the kitchen layout to facilitate faster service. Revenues picked up at the restaurant after the makeover.

Poon-Kinney's ultimate outcome on the show has not been revealed, but one can assume the publicity will spur another run on The Trails from Food Network fans.





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Tags: Food Network, Food Network Stars, La Mesa Today, La Mesa news, Restaurant Impossible, Stacey Poon-Kinney, The Trails


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