The Iceologists’ favorite television network is Food Network (of course!) and they provided some memorable moments in 2012.  Beyond their popular mainstays like Iron Chef, Chopped, Restaurant:Impossible and Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives, Food Network produced some of the warmest and most delicious hours on television.

New shows, new celebrity chefs and specials caught our attention this past year.  With hundreds of hours of programming to choose from, we’ve selected 4 Food Network highlights of 2012:

Wedding:Impossible

In this special twist on Restaurant:Impossible, Chef Robert Irvine secretly plans his nuptials to wrestling star, Gail Kim.  We’re used to seeing Chef Robert get things done as the tough drill sergeant with a heart of gold.  But we’re not used to seeing Chef Robert as a lovesick puppy.

With his usual military precision, Robert planned a dream wedding for Gail in Napa at the picturesque Charles Krug Winery.  And he brought a long a few of his Food Network pals to create the wedding feast: Iron Chef Morimoto, Michael Chiarello and Elizabeth Falkner wowed the happy couple and guests with their array of delicacies.  Guy Fieri served as best man.

Taking viewers behind the scenes of his wedding preparations was a treat for fans of Chef Robert’s shows!  It was really fun to look back at the video footage of the Dinner:Impossible episode when Robert and Gail first met — it was clearly love at first site.  The way they look at each other is hot enough to melt ice!

Alex Guarnaschelli winning Next Iron Chef

The Next Iron Chef has to be one of the most intense series on television.  The chefs are all at the top of their game and the competition is intense.  This season was titled Redemption and the participating chefs had all made the finals, but lost, during previous seasons.

For the first time, 2 women made the finals of Next Iron Chef (girl power!); Amanda Freitag and Alex Guarnaschelli. Guarnaschelli won with her gritty determination and finesse.  To make it to the final round, Chef Guarnaschelli was charged with creating a “last supper” utilizing sea urchin.  It looked like her competitors (Freitag and Nate Appleman) had easier ingredients (chicken and haddock, respectively), yet Guarnaschelli pulled a rabbit out of the hat. Or should we say, pulled the urchin out of it’s shell.

There’s something really appealing about Chef Guarnaschelli and the Iceologists were excited with her win.  Clearly, Chef Alex has grown beyond her Italian background and can tackle any ingredient that comes her way.

Cheers to Chef Alex for her redemption!

Next Food Network Star

The Next Food Network Star is always fun to watch and this season was especially interesting.  The contestants were selected as part of teams, coached by celebrity chefs; Team Alton (Brown), Team Giada (De Laurentiis) and Team Bobby (Flay).   Alton Brown’s team quickly became known as Team Geek with players like Emily Ellyn (retro-rad), Judson Allen (always wearing a bow tie) and this season’s champion, Justin Warner (“Rebel with a Culinary Cause”).

This season, the show went with a new direction in determining the winner and it wasn’t exactly a hit with many loyal viewers.  Viewers were given the final vote to choose the winner.  But unlike popular vote-in shows (American Idol, for example), the only way to vote for NFNS was online.   No call-in number or texting.

Older viewers and those who are not tech savvy were reporting frustration in the process.  It’s no surprise, given the voting perimeters, that the youngest contestant was awarded the win.

Regardless of voting issues, this season introduced us to a wide variety of memorable personalities and culinary POV’s.  If you’ve followed the blogs and fan boards, you’d think Ippy or Emily won — they seemed to be the fan favorites this year.  We’re melting with excitement for the 2013 season of Next Food Network Star to begin!

Holiday:Impossible

Reworking Restaurant:Impossible into a heart-warming holiday special, Robert Irvine took his team and friends to Joplin, Mo, epicenter of the 2011 tornados to overhaul the Boys and Girls Club. Holiday:Impossible had 3 days and $30,000 to completely transform the Joplin non-profit that serves children in the community.

And in less than a day, the team cooked and served a mega-buffet to the hundreds of volunteers and the families of the Boys and Girls Club.  Robert brought in his friend Chef Michael Chiarello to help with the preparation of the meal which included chicken fingers (made from whole chickens), pizza, mac & cheese and desserts.

Viewers needed a box of tissues to get through Holiday:Impossible. The program aired just after Hurricane Sandy had hit the East Coast and the devastation of natural disasters was fresh in viewers’ minds. Seeing the joy and awe of the children and staff after Robert’s team’s renovation was a tearjerker!

With hundreds of channels to choose from, quality programming is rare on television. Thank you Food Network for giving us some of the best television moments of 2012!