The Next Food Network Star, And The Winner Is …

Food Network Star winner Damaris Phillips

The new Food Network Star has been named.

While America’s TV viewers were understandably fixated on Breaking Bad last night, the Food Network Star winner was announced on the cable network show’s season finale.

Kentucky culinary instructor Damaris Phillips won the reality show cooking competition over her last remaining rivals, Rodney Henry and Russell Jackson. Some observers are even touting the bubbly Phillips as the new Paula Deen.

Unlike past seasons, viewers selected the winner this time around, and Phillips profusely thanked America (see embed below) for giving her the nod in the online vote. Her victory was probably sealed with the impressive pilot for her proposed Food Network show — Eat, Date, Love. The show aims to teach dudes how to cook southern food and thereby get the ladies.

This season’s installment (season 9) started with 12 contestants, one of whom was voted out each week, and who were evaluated on both cooking ability and TV presentation skills based on their performance in various culinary challenges.

In evaluating Phillips’ win, the Los Angeles Times explained that ” Perhaps more than any other reality TV show, “Food Network Star” forces competitors to break down all their emotional barriers on air — and, if there’s time, rebuild a more vulnerable personality. Because audiences like vulnerability.And no one was more vulnerable this season than Damaris. The judges’ criticism brought her to hot tears on numerous occasions. But like any good Southern belle, Damaris determined to find a way around, over, under and then finally smashing through her preconceived notions about what a woman needs to do on TV to get the camera’s favorable attention.”

Phillips and the other chefs were judged this season by Food Network personalities Giada De Laurentiis, Bobby Flay, and Alton Brown. Network execs Susie Fogelson and Bob Tuschman took a lesser role (at least on camera) this season.

Are you looking forward to Damaris Phillips new southern-style cooking show on the Food Network?