By Lori Acken
It was a charm-and-grace race to the finish for Chicago-based corporate chef and “Sandwich King” Jeff Mauro and sweetly spicy Colorado caterer Susie Jimenez — two of the most likable Food Network Star contestants in recent memory.
But in the end, it was Mauro whom judges Bobby Flay, Giada DeLaurentis and network execs Susie Fogelson and Bob Tuschman felt would bring the most to the brand — and the best chance at the level of stardom achieved by Season 2 winner and network superstar Guy Fieri.
“Jeff has the perfect mixture of strong culinary chops, a breakout personality, and boundless food passion – a true triple threat we value in our stars,” said Tuschman, General Manager and Senior Vice President, Programming and Production, of Mauro’s Sunday night victory. “Jeff’s humor, warmth and smart ideas to make sandwiches into satisfying meals make him a perfect addition to join the Food Network family.”
Beginning August 21 at 11:30am ET/PT, all Food Network fans can hail “Sandwich King,” Mauro’s winning show idea which will feature the proud dad of 3-year-old Lorenzo creating sammies inspired by dishes from some of his favorite Windy City dining establishments, including the Peoria Packing Butcher Shop and the Isaacson & Stein Fish Market.
Superfans of Next Food Network Star can also purchase the series’ first ever compilation book, FOOD NETWORK STAR: The Official Insider’s Guide to America’s Hottest Food Show, which hits bookstore shelves and online retailers today and offers an all-access pass to what goes on behind the scenes of their favorite show.
Today also marks the start of the publication’s cross-country book tour and signing, featuring Mauro, Jimenez and their Season 7 costars Mary Beth Albright, Whitney Chen and Vic Moea (What?! No Penny Davidi?!!), sponsored by Harper Collins.