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Next Food Network Star Interviewby Pattye Grippo    

This is an Interview with with Brad Sorenson on August 2, 2010 about the Food Network show Food Network Star.

Question:
I was sorry to see you go.

Brad Sorenson:
Oh no, it's all right. I'm pretty content with the way things played out. I got a chance to share a lot with a lot of people, and I worked my butt off, so I'm happy.

Question:
Was it intimidating cooking for Eva Longoria?

Brad Sorenson:
I gotta tell you, from a cooking standpoint, it was more intimidating to cook for Todd English. It was more intimidating to present to Eva Longoria.

Question:
How do you think your dishes stacked up in the star challenge?

Brad Sorenson:
In this week's star challenge, I thought I had middle of the road food. I got a chance to taste Herb and Tom's food, and it was just spectacular. It was fantastic, better than mine. I think my food stacked up pretty well with the rest, though.

Question:
How much of a boost was it to see your brother this week?

Brad Sorenson:
It was amazing. He's my best friend; we've been living together for almost three years now. We've lived in a couple different states together, had some great times. He's a big part of my life, so being able to have that during the competition was a huge boost.

Question:
What was going through your mind when, during the star challenge, you had a make a dish based on emotion, and you got "surprise"?

Brad Sorenson:
I actually think the concept I came up with was pretty solid, I just didn't communicate it well during my presentation. What I was trying to show were, two dishes from the beginning of my culinary journey that really shocked me into understanding the level food could be. The bass dish was something I had seen from a restaurant, Le Cirque, in New York City. And coming from a farm town, and seeing a dish like that, it blew me away. So when I thought of surprise, I thought of that moment. I didn't execute it well, I didn't convey that as well as I should've in the presentation, and I think that's what ended up doing me in.

Question:
If you were given another chance, what would you do differently this time?

Brad Sorenson:
Hmm. It's the first thing that came into my head so I'll just say it: I probably would've shown that I have hair, a little more, and maybe not had the hat on so much. But in all honesty, I'm really happy with what I did. Even though I struggled, I would've tried to be more comfortable in front of the camera, definitely a lot sooner. But I can't point at one thing specifically, where I was like, 'I would've changed that'. I went in and really did the best I could.

Question:
As the season began progressing and you began to get a feel for who was doing well and not so well, did you start to get a sense of who would be with you when you made it to the final five? Could you tell who would be there and who would be going home early?

Brad Sorenson:
From the opportunities we got to watch the other contestants while they were presenting, or watching them with the crowd for some challenges, the interactions, you could tell a few people were very comfortable to a certain extent and very natural. Aarti, from the very beginning, I told her a couple days after we first met, 'I'm rooting for you in this competition'. She's just got one of those personalities, one of those presences that just pulls you in. Aria has a lot of those same qualities. After I got to know Tom, like everyone else on the season as they got to know him, you just can't help but love him. You can definitely tell who's doing well when you actually get a chance to see them in their environment.

Question:
What's next for you?

Brad Sorenson:
Right now I'm cooking in Austin, TX and I'm working on putting a few projects together so I get the opportunity to keep connecting with people and sharing my love of food. Doing cooking classes around Austin, and hoping to get into doing some cooking classes online through Facebook pretty soon. Trying to stay connected to everybody.

Question:
What did you learn about yourself from being on reality TV, through this experience?

Brad Sorenson:
Probably the biggest thing I got out of this whole experience - it humbled my view of myself, in a very, very positive way. I was working for a long time on becoming that professional chef, I was so focused on it, that's really all I was about. And I showed that early on in the show. I went in being me, I went in as Brad Sorenson, professional chef, that's what I've been working towards. The show, and cooking in that environment, and the chefs we worked for - it's extremely humbling. Like I said, I took away from that, very positive feelings where I appreciate the experience and lightened up some of the pressure on that final goal of becoming a professional chef. I'm having more fun with food. That's probably the biggest thing I took away.

Question:
Do you still keep in contact with some of the other contestants? And if so, who?

Brad Sorenson:
I do! I actually just saw Tom and Aarti, Aria and Herb and Serena at the Atlantic City Food & Wine Festival, and we had a great time. Tom and I stay in contact, we talk and we text, and the same with Paul; Paul and I talk, keeping tabs on what he's up to. I developed some pretty good friendships, and met some great people on the show.

Question:
You really seemed so shy in the episodes preceding this one. What do you think made you regress and made you get stiff again in front of the camera?

Brad Sorenson:
The presentation for me in this last episode, I was really affected by the quality of food I was putting on the table. By any means it wasn't bad food, it certainly wasn't the worst thing I've cooked all season. [laughs] I had been feeling my stride, doing really, really well in front of the camera and with the food. And leading up to that, I had this great opportunity to really set myself apart. The food I was putting in front of the chefs, Todd English and Eva [Longoria], it had disappointed me, and I let that take away my energy when I first got to the table. Eva Longoria did a pretty good job of loosening me up, but it took something pretty shocking to put me at ease. [laughs]

Question:
What was your favorite challenge?

Brad Sorenson:
Definitely the Frank Sinatra house. Even if I wouldn't have done as well as I did, it was just such an amazing experience. We walked through these gates, and there's a piano-shaped pool that Marilyn Monroe used to swim in. It's kind of a cool thing! I grew up listening to Frank Sinatra's music with my grandfather, so it had a personal, real connection with me. On top of that, I ended up performing really well. I felt really good about that episode, far and away my favorite episode.

Question:
How was it working with Giada?

Brad Sorenson:
It was great. In this experience, you don't know what it's going to be like, meeting people who do this for a living. She's on TV teaching people how to cook everyday, and she genuinely wanted to see us do well. It was fantastic.

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