Hagerstown native Justin Warner is just one step away from turning the culinary world on its side.
Sunday night, the 28-year-old "Next Food Network Star" was named one of four finalists who were greenlighted to shoot a pilot in the hopes of being picked up by the network.
The biggest secret is that Warner has known for months he was a finalist, after wrapping up shooting the series earlier this year. Although his girlfriend and mom knew, Warner said keeping a secret wasn't too hard.
"All and all, suspense is my favorite ingredient," he said during a telephone interview from his Brooklyn, N.Y., home. "I got a kick out of fake Twittering that would imply my destruction and doom, and watching everybody freak out. I think suspense is awesome."
And keeping his mouth shut also kept him in good with the Food Network.
"I think this is kinda a gigantic job interview and by following all the rules it would get me closer to getting to the job," he said.
When the show premiered in May, 15 contestants were separated into three teams with celebrity Food Network chefs — Bobby Flay, Giada De Laurentiis and Alton Brown — as their mentors. Warner was aptly paired with Brown who is known for his distinctive approach in the kitchen.
At 9 p.m. Sunday, July 22, TV viewers will find out if Warner will indeed be able to call the network his employer.
The winner will receive his or her own show on the Food Network produced by his or her mentor, a feature in Food Network magazine and a featured spot at the New York Wine & Food Festival.