Justin Warner won last year's season of Food Network Star. The Season 8 winner was one of the most popular in the past several years and everyone had really high expectations for his show and future with the network. Because he was on Alton Brown's team, his mentor Alton was supposed to produce the initial six-episode run of Justin's show. Even people who didn't particularly like Justin or his quirky style of cooking were interested to see what the combined team of Alton and Justin would come up with for the show.In the past, they have filmed the six episodes of the winner's show even before the Next Food Network Star season finale is shown and have included them in the Sunday lineup the very next week. Last season was a bit different because the viewers were able to vote and choose the winner so production of Warner's show would not have been able to begin until after the August finale. Most viewers expected to see it debut sometime during the fall.
Production was delayed repeatedly and eventually Alton Brown was replaced by another producer. Instead of a six episode run of "cook and stir" instructional cooking shows, he wound up filming one 1-hour show called "Rebel Eats". Justin visited a couple of different places in the south to find "culinary rebels" and try their items, including barbecue, moonshine, deep fried peanut butter and jelly, and jellyfish pasta. The show was filmed in January 2013 and shown on Food Network on March 30. And that was the last that anyone saw of Justin Warner on Food Network. He never filmed another episode of Rebel Eats nor did he even make an appearance on this year's season of Food Network Star. He did write recaps ("Rebel Recaps") of each episode for the Food Network's web site and he did live-tweet at least some of them, but that is it. (He also live-tweeted the series premiere of Alton Brown's Cutthroat Kitchen but that may be just to support his former mentor and not due to any arrangement with Food Network.)
People have been asking Justin for months when he will finally get another show on Food Network or if he will be filming any other episodes of Rebel Eats. He seems to finally be out of patience with that question and responded on Twitter: "Guys, my show is called Twitter. Enough already." That seems to close the door on the idea that Warner has any future offers or plans to film anything else for the network.
It is a shame that Food Network did not use Justin, the culinary rebel, for more than one random show. He has some serious cooking skills and certainly has a memorable personality. He has a lot more "star quality" than we have seen in other recent winners like Melissa D'Arabian, Aarti Sequeira, Jeff Mauro, or even the newest "Star" Damaris Phillips. I think that he and Alton Brown could have come up with something really amazing together.
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photos: foodnetwork.com and Twitter