Food Network’s Damaris Phillips always brings her Southern charm to her food television appearances. As host of Outrageous Pumpkins, the talented chef, cookbook author, and television personality brings a vibrant flare to the visually stunning seasonal show. After watching the participants slice their way to some impressive visuals, she is ready to channel that experience into her own celebrations.
Food Network fully embraces its Halloween programming. From the slightly creep vibe of the current Halloween Baking Championship season to the always popular Halloween Wars, viewers cannot get enough of the spooky fun.
With Outrageous Pumpkins, the talented carvers turn gourds and other food into stunning displays. The various themes invite the participants to push the boundaries. Simplicity is thrown out the window. It is replaced with towering characters and visually impressive vignettes.
As the host of Outrageous Pumpkins Season 4, Damaris Phillips joins judges Terri Hardin and Ralph Attanasia. While eight pumpkin carvers seek to be the final person standing and to earn the $25,000 prize, the path to victory is not simple. The tools might be sharp but so are the judges’ critiques.
Ahead of the Outrageous Pumpkins Season 4 finale, FoodSided spoke with Damaris Phillips about her role as the host, her preferred themed, and the influence the Food Network show has on her Halloween décor.
Cristine Struble/FoodSided: This season of Outrageous Pumpkins is bigger, more creative than ever. Has the creativity that the carvers have shown been more impressive than you imagined?
Damaris Phillips: I watched all three seasons of Outrageous Pumpkins before I became the host, so I expected a lot, but I have to say season 4 has been off the charts in terms of creativity! I mean, the carvers have truly exceeded my wildest expectations. They’ve shown a level of imagination and skill that’s left me in awe. It’s been a delightful surprise, and I’ve loved every minute of it.
CS: Which theme has been your favorite? If you had a say in suggesting a theme, what would it be?
DP: Fashion through the decades was by far my favorite theme. I love vintage clothing and style and seeing it translated to pumpkins was a real treat. If I could suggest a theme, I’d go with “Fantasy World.” Picture pumpkins transformed into mythical creatures, enchanted castles, and magical landscapes. I think that theme would allow the carvers to let their imaginations run wild.
CS: Sometimes the displays play into the spookier side of Halloween. Do you think that there is a place for both the spooky and sweet in these displays?
DP: I love the creepy, but I’m always secretly hoping for something really pretty. I love all the ghoul, but would love to see something carved with little kiddos in mind!
CS: Has being a host on Outrageous Pumpkins helped with your pumpkin display?
DP: When I went to my first carving party this year, I was really expecting that some of the carvers’ talents had rubbed off on me. I had all these grand ideas of a porch filled with Jack-o-lanterns. “Filled” turned out to be exactly two.
CS: Sometimes a plate’s visual entices with the eyes. How has being a host on Outrageous Pumpkins influenced how you plate your recipes?
DP: I’ve been having a fun time attempting to carve other veggies. While they might not be as elaborate as the carvings on the show, it’s been a playful way to hone my knife skills!
CS: You’ve been a judge on many Food Network shows, are there some judging aspects that cross over into this show?
DP: Helping the viewer understand at home what we are seeing and tasting in person is always the job of a judge. I think no matter what you are judging you have to be able to say which is the best and why! Explaining the why is very important. It’s never comfortable giving suggestions for improvement, but it really is helpful when you are competing to understand how you can improve.
CS: Everyone loves seeing you on Food Network shows. Where can your fans see you next?
DP: I’ve got some exciting projects in the works. You can keep up with me on my social media and website to stay updated on all the delicious adventures I’ll be embarking on. Thanks for the love and support, y’all!
New episodes of Outrageous Pumpkins air Sunday nights at 10 p.m. ET/PT. Episodes can be streamed the next day on MAX.