Not certain what I think of the new format. I'm sure they changed it hoping to find a true star.
As a homeschooling mom, wife, life coach, and writer, I have little time to manage television. So, I TIVO my programs and watch 2 or 3 per week. Like Design Star, Project Runway, and American Idol, The Next Food Network Star (FNS) used to take precedence during its season. The new format is falling a little flat for me and I am not giving FNS the time I normally would have. In fact, I have only watched the entirety of the 1st episode.
I am thinking that this new format may actually allow them to choose a true star (as Guy has been their only true gem). With this new format, the mentor can spot the best candidate early on and really coach and prime him/her into a real FNS. Meanwhile, the selection process is a little flavorless for me.
However, I am planning to stick it out. If it doesn't heat up though, I will not be returning next year.