"Food Network Star" 2014 came to a dramatic close on Aug. 10 as chuckwagon cook Lenny McNab was declared the season 10 winner following an hour-long finale that featured plenty of previously unaired clips and competition highlights. Private chef and coastal cuisine lover Nicole Gaffney placed third, while native Italian Luca Della Casa finished second. As the big winner, McNab will star in his own network cooking show tentatively called "Cowboy Up."
Season 10 kicked off on June 1 with a roster of 12 eager hopefuls. Under the guidance of selection committee members and established celebrity chefs Giada DeLaurentiis, Bobby Flay, and Alton Brown, the contestants tackled a series of challenging weekly tasks designed to test and perfect their cooking, camera, and teaching skills. One finalist was sent packing at the close of each episode based on the results of said challenges until just Gaffney, Della Casa, and McNab remained. Viewers chose the winner via online and phone voting following the Aug. 3 semifinals.
Previous winners of the reality cooking competition have enjoyed varying degrees of success with their post-show careers. The best-recognized former victor is easily season two's Guy Fieri, whose huge personality and "off the hook" California cuisine scored him several Food Network shows, including "Guy's Big Bite," "Guy's Grocery Game," and the popular "Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives," which follows the boisterous chef as he discovers delicious culinary offerings available in oft-unlikely places.
Other chefs who have won "Food Network Star" include season one's Dan Smith and Steve McDonagh, otherwise known as The Hearty Boys; season three's Amy Finley; season four's Aaron McCargo, Jr.; season five's Melissa d'Arabian; season six's Aarti Sequeira; season seven's Jeff Mauro; season eight's Justin Warner; and season nine's Damaris Phillips. Phillips served as co-host of the summer edition of "Star Salvation," which paved the way for Della Casa's return to the competition following his initial elimination during week two.
To follow McNab's Food Network career as it unfolds, follow his official Twitter account. Keep an eye out for information regarding a potential 2015 season of "Food Network Star."