Foodies are thrilled to see that Hallmark star Jonathan Bennett will soon return to his old stomping grounds at Food Network. He’s already been hosting the network’s new show, “Battle of the Decades” since mid-August, but this month he’s back by popular demand as host of the network’s long-running “Halloween Wars.”
Bennett gleefully hosted five seasons of the kitschy cooking show, from 2016 to 2020, but was replaced in 2021 by Zak Bagans, a paranormal investigator who hosts shows including “Ghost Adventures” on Discovery+, the streaming arm of Food Network’s parent company, Warner Brothers Discovery. The move was made, in part, to allow for cross-promotion between the streaming service and Food Network, according to FanSided, but fans were not happy about the change.
In fact, many fans were so outraged over the hosting change and some format changes that came with it, they’ve been complaining in online chatrooms and even started petitions to get Bennett back. Here’s what you need to know:
Fans Have Been Asking for Bennett’s Return to ‘Halloween Wars’ for 2 Years
On September 2, 2023, Bennett posted a video on Instagram of him strolling through the set of “Halloween Wars,” celebrating his return for season 13, which is set to premiere on September 17. Over his video, he typed, “Guess Who’s Back Hosting Halloween Wars.”
One wrote, “The best decision @foodnetwork has ever made and I’m HEREE FOR IT 👏🏽👏🏽🙌🏽🙌🏽”
News of Bennett’s return began spreading over the summer as he was promoting “Battle of the Decades,” and fans could hardly contain their excitement, hoping that Bennett’s comeback will also bring format changes to the show, including bringing back pumpkin carving and other elements they loved when he hosted the series.
In an August 2023 Reddit chat about Bennett’s impending return, one fan wrote, “Do my eyes deceive me? Could it be? Could the show actually be returning to what made it great for ten years before they stuck a knife in its gut, disemboweled it, and disfigured it until it was entirely unrecognizable?”
Though promos for the show featuring Bennett as host revealed a spookier, darker set than diehard fans prefer, one of them wrote, “I have confidence that he can make even that awful set into a fun and campy experience.”
Jonathan Bennett Met His Husband While Promoting ‘Halloween Wars’
During the five-episode series, Bennett will be joined by judges Aarti Sequeira and Shinmin Li, according to Food Network, as six teams “made up of an expert pumpkin carver, a cake artist and a sugar master create mind-blowing and yummy Halloween-themed displays that depict the horror of being trapped in a nightmare.”
During an appearance on August 18, host Adrienne Bailon-Houghton asked Bennett whether he prefers acting or hosting. Bennett, who skyrocketed to fame in the movie “Mean Girls,” has appeared in Hallmark movies since 2010.
“I love acting because I get to be a different character,” he said. “But if you are lucky enough to get paid to be you for a living, it’s the best blessing and the most amazing job in the world.”
“I’m so excited to be back, yes, I’m back on Halloween Wars,” he continued. “It’s a big deal.”
Bennett also said that he met his husband, Jaymes Vaughan, while promoting “Halloween Wars” several years ago. In 2016, when Vaughan was a host on “Celebrity Page,” he interviewed Bennett about his Halloween show and the two hit it off. They were married in March 2022, per People.
“We met doing press for ‘Halloween Wars’ on his show,” he told E! News, “so I can actually say without ‘Halloween Wars,’ I never would have met my husband.”
“Halloween Wars” premieres on Food Network on Sunday, September 17 at 9 p.m. Eastern time. Meanwhile, Bennett’s “Battle of the Decades” airs Wednesday nights, also at 9 p.m. Eastern time.