LEAGUE CITY — After she hammed it up with talk show host Rachael Ray while talking about her take on taco soup, Sarah Penrod was feeling pretty good about her chances of advancing to the next round of “Food Network Star.”

Judge Bobby Flay called her dish perfect for a family. But after judge Giada De Laurentiis complained that Penrod failed to “engage the audience; she didn’t engage the kids (on the Rachael Ray set),” Penrod found herself facing elimination.

The judges announced that Loreal Gavin was the one headed home, and Penrod found herself in the final four — one step closer to having her own show on the Food Network.

“It’s been really real every episode,” Penrod said of the pressure each week of trying to win over the judges, including celebrity chefs Flay, De Laurentiis and Alton Brown.

The July 27 episode tested Penrod and the other finalists on their live TV skills. One segment was a 30-second feature on the Food Network, and the other was an appearance on Rachael Ray’s talk show.

While Penrod stumbled a bit, she joins Lenny McNab, Nicole Gaffney and Luca Della Casa as the show’s final four. For Sunday’s show, the four finalists make pitches for the concept of their Food Network show.

Penrod will be pitching her Lone Star Kitchen concept. She will have 30 seconds to convince the judges she deserves to get her own show.

An advance preview of Sunday’s program shows Penrod struggling a bit to get her words out during the promotion video, but so do McNab and Della Casa.

The top three will each get to shoot a pilot for their show to be directed by “Restaurant Impossible” host Robert Irvine.

At a glance

WHAT: “Food Network Star” episode 10

WHEN: 8 p.m. Sunday, Food Network

ONLINE: www.foodnetwork.com/videos/sc/star-episode-8-post-show-0219407.html

Contact Mainland Editor T.J. Aulds at 409-683-5334 or tjaulds@galvnews.com.

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