Christian Petroni, Food Network Star Season 14 winner, modernizes Italian classics


Christian Petroni was a front-runner during Food Network Star Season 14. Can his interpretation on classic Italian dishes influence your home cooking?

During Food Network Star Season 14, Christian Petroni was a force in the kitchen. His dynamic personality engaged fans. After being named co-winner of Food Network Star, Christian has big opportunities awaiting him. What is next for this culinary personality and restaurateur?

Recently, FoodSided had the opportunity to ask Christian some questions about his experience on Food Network Star, his restaurants and his culinary inspirations. The professional chef has had a celebrated culinary career. While fans might recognize him from this particular culinary competition, it wasn’t Christian’s first appearance on the Food Network.

Previously, Christian won Chopped. The Food Network’s long running secret basket competition heightened Christian’s name in the culinary world. After that opportunity, he had appeared in other Food Network programs. But, did these experiences prepare him for Food Network Star?

Contestant Christian Petroni, as seen on Food Network Star, Season 14. photo provided by Food Network

Christian said, “I feel like nothing can really prepare you for Food Network Star. It is its own animal.” While Christian did seem comfortable on camera, his time on this culinary competition wasn’t always perfect. There were a few ups and downs. Although this program is unique, he was able to use all his experiences, both in the kitchen and on television, to help propel him to the top.

When it comes to Food Network Star, the finalists have to separate themselves from the rest of the competition. On the first episode at Volcano Bay, it seemed clear that the finalists were sizing each other up. Christian said, “I always had my eye on Palak from day one.”

Looking back at the season, Christian’s statement really rings true. While he may have had his eye on her, they worked together well. Each had different culinary points of view, but they were confident in their genres. Confidence can go a long way in the kitchen.

While Christian’s cooking always seemed to impress the judges, he struggled with one aspect almost every week. For some reason, tasting his food on camera was always a struggle. Professional chefs taste their food all the time.

Specifically, asking Christian why he had difficulty “tasting” your food on camera, he said “It’s just the weirdest thing. I would be so excited to talk about the food that I always forgot to taste it!” Christian was always able to weave both food descriptions and culinary tricks into his presentations. The presentations were informative and engaging.

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Guy's Big Project should replace Food Network Star as primary talent search competition
Guy's Big Project should replace Food Network Star as primary talent search competition /

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  • Although the Food Network prefers to see the “tasting” shot, I don’t know if it is always necessary. As long as the chef engages the viewer, I don’t necessarily need him to eat the food. Show the food, describe the food in detail and make me want to eat it. For me, it is more than just watching them taking a bite.

    Throughout Food Network Star Season 14, Christian showcased the depth and diversity of Italian cuisine. While he often referred to dishes that grandma made, his perspective was fresh and modern. With that idea in mind, a question was posed.

    As a chef/owner of the popular Fortina, are there classic Italian dishes that can’t be reimagined or reinvented in a modern way? Christian stated, “Absolutely not. Anything is open to the interpretation of a young chef.”

    Part of the excitement in today’s culinary world is the interpretations of modern classics. When the familiar is reimagined, it breathes new life into a classic dish or even food memory. Interpretation keeps the food community exciting.

    With his restaurants, one of the popular menu items is pizza. Since pizza toppings can be a hotly debated topic, the question was raised, are there toppings that should never go on a pizza? Christian believes “I think that when it comes to pizza there are endless possibilities and who am I to limit that.”

    Of course, everyone should be open to pizza inspiration. I wonder if there is a Food Network show that could be made out of that idea. Maybe there will be a “can you pizza it” on the Spring schedule?

    Throughout Food Network Star Season 14, Christian showcased his expertise in the kitchen. Looking into his culinary experiences, Christian has had the opportunity to be a featured chef at the James Beard House. Reflecting on that experience, Christian said, “The James Beard House is top dog when it comes to culinary experiences and some of the best cooks in the world have got the opportunity to cook there. That is why it is such an honor to be invited and cook in such a prestigious house.”

    Lastly, one interesting fact about Christian that wasn’t discussed this season was a previous job being a DJ. Christian said that “music is something (that) always keeps us going.” He isn’t alone. Legendary Chef Jonathan Waxman recently commented that music inspires his recipes. I wonder if Christian can incorporate his music inspiration into his Food Network appearances.

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    Thank you Christina Petroni for taking the time to speak with FoodSided. Best of luck with your reign as Food Network Star Season 14 winner and continued success for your Fortina restaurants.