TV & FILM
08/12/2013 04:26 am ET

'Food Network Star' Finale: It Comes Down To Southern Food Vs. Pies (VIDEO)

If you're ready for some new faces on Food Network, then the season finale of "Food Network Star" came just in time. The ninth season crowned its winner this week,and it came down to Damaris Phillips, a culinary teacher who specializes in modern Southern food, and Rodney Henry, a pie shop owner and pie specialist.

Apparently, the pie angle just wasn't enough to put Rodney over the edge, as it was Damaris' face who came into focus, declaring her the winner.

"America, I am so excited," Damaris said. "Thank you so much, and I cannot wait to be on the Food Network. Thanks guys.”

TV Line's Michael Slezak agreed with this decision, calling the 32-year-old Kentuckian the standout anyway. "[Damaris's] food has looked consistently excellent and [she,] for the past 10 weeks[,] has showcased a winning mix of humor, enthusiasm for Southern cuisine and the ability to convey real, actionable tips.” As for Rodney, Slezak called him a "Peanuts" character who grew up.

Laurel Brown, writing for Zap2It, is interested to see where she goes from here. Damaris' pitch for a show was to pair her with men looking to win over women by cooking them southern meals. The network doesn't have to go with that idea, but her show -- however it is developed -- should premiere in the fall.

And whatever it ultimately becomes, E! Online's Tierney Bricker and Jenna Mullins note that Damaris' presence on Food Network will fill that "Southern comfort food" void left by Paula Deen after her unceremonious exit from the network earlier this year.

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