HOLLYWOOD—I have always been a fan of the Food Network Series, “Food Network Star” since season two. The idea of an unknown cook competing in a competition to have their own series on the popular food channel is full of surprises. Well for the latest outing, which seems to come around every June, the contestants were in for a shock when a competitor from a previous season, got the opportunity to compete once again for a chance at the crown.

For the past 2 weeks, several contestants from seasons past (Michele, Martita, Dom, Chris, Matthew, Penny and Brianna) have been battling it out for a coveted spot on season 12. Is this fair to the newbies, not quite, but what better way to shake the competition then to throw in a curveball. I will admit out of all the contestants here I think Matthew shot himself in the foot last season.

The kid can cook, but his arrogance and ego was his downfall. Has he changed since, a bit, but his biggest threat in terms of technique was none other than Dom (whose cooking ability is one of the best), and underdog Martita has proven over the past few weeks that she has made the tweaks to earn another shot. In the end, it was MARTITA! Yeah, a bit of a surprise, but her consistency proved to be impressive to say the least.

It has become apparent that more and more contestants who have appeared on other competition shows on the network are considered strong candidates for their own show. I will argue at least 3-4 contestants this season I’ve seen before.

We got introduced to Erin (the bakery manager), Melissa (the food entrepreneur), Jernard (the chef of love), Monterey (the caterer), Tregaye (who has plenty of sass), Damiano (the pastry chef), Yaku (a competitor from “Cutthroat Kitchen”), Aaron (stay at home dad, and over-excited adult with a teen inside) Havird (a southern cook, with an accent to hook the ladies), Ana (a reality star not afraid to speak her mind), Melissa (who seemed energetic, but feel flat), Joy (a former Miss Carolina) and Rob (the funny guy with plenty of flair) and a few other surprises.

The contestants were forced to shoot a cold open giving their culinary POV to Giada De Laurentiis and Bobby Flay. Also in attendance were Chef Tyler Florence and actress Valerie Bertinelli, to judge the contestants not just on their POV, but a dish to showcase their style of cooking. Oh, the intensity. This looks like the season of the Southern chefs because there are a ton of them this time around. There definitely are plenty of personalities this time around, and I like that a ton, because cooking is one thing, but being a good cook who is one of a kind in front of the camera is no easy feat.

It was tons of fun to see those contestants who crashed and burned make a comeback (Monterey, I’m talking about you). Rob is a dark horse people; watch out for him, cause in just week one he’s shining. It was a tough battle, but in the end Ana redeemed herself bigtime, after her first disaster of a cold open video.

Giada and Bobby deemed Havird, Melissa and Aaron, who had dishes that were not up to par with that of a culinary titan. Its sucks to be the first to go, but in season 12 it was Havird who was sent packing. While there are plenty of people to root for, I must say the one who surprised me the most was Monterey. She could be the silent threat that no one sees as a threat who could rise to the top.

I’m going to say this now, season 12 of “Food Network Star” might have some of the biggest personalities to date in all of the seasons. “Food Network Star” airs Sundays at 9 p.m. on Food Network.