Food & Drink

Auditions for 'The Next Food Network Star' come to Atlanta on Monday

Do you dream of becoming the next Giada DeLaurentiis or Tyler Florence?

Sharpen your knives, update your resume and get to the W Hotel Midtown in Atlanta on Aug. 9 for your shot at being in Season 7 of “The Next Food Network Star.”

“The open casting call in Atlanta is always very successful,” said Jennifer Sullivan, casting director for “The Next Food Network Star.”

In the past six seasons, there have been four contestants from the Atlanta open call — Hans Reuffert in the first season, Jamika Pessoa in Season 5 and Herb Mesa and Brianna Jenkins in the current season. Jenkins was eliminated, but Mesa is still in the competition, as well as Aria Kagan, who came to the Atlanta audition last year from Hollywood, Fla.

Sullivan is looking for people with “strong culinary skills, personality that pops, has a passion for food, has food knowledge and has lots of energy and enthusiasm.”

You can be a chef, line cook, home cook, caterer or just a foodie.

Sullivan says people who have dynamic personalities always make a great impression. But she admits even if you’re the most charismatic person there, if you can’t cook, you won’t make it.

“You have to have the cooking skills,” Sullivan said.

There are open casting calls in eight cities — Atlanta, Nashville, Philadelphia, Los Angeles, Cleveland, Denver, New York and New Orleans.

About 100 to 200 chefs usually come to Atlanta to audition.

“Atlanta is the Southern hub,” she said. “A lot of people come to Atlanta. It’s a great city. I’m always happy to come down. Atlanta, in the last 10 years, has gotten so huge. It’s a bustling urban area that brings a lot of awesome chefs.”

While she won’t be able to come to Atlanta for the casting this year, she’s planning on being in at least one of the cities.

Season 7 will air “sometime in 2010.” Sullivan laughs when she says after the casting, she has nothing to do with the show except to watch it.

Sullivan promised the auditions wouldn’t be as crowded as those for “American Idol.”

“It’s such a specific thing,” Sullivan said. “You have to be able to cook, and cook well, and you have to want to be on the Food Network.”

Many chefs, she said, would like to do the show, but own a restaurant and are afraid to take time off for “The Next Food Network Star.”

“If you have a big dream and if you want a show on the Food Network ... I know it’s hard, definitely. Sometimes, you just don’t have someone to cover for you. But you’re only gone for five or six weeks.”

And even if you don’t win, like runner-up Adam Gertler in Season Four in 2008, you can still get a show on the Food Network. Gertler hosted “Will Work for Food” in 2009 and just premiered a new show, “Kid in a Candy Store” last month.

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