Next Food Network Star is Back

Those of you who have read the blog for a long time know of my attempts to be a finalist for The Next Food Network Star. Obviously, I didn't make it, but there's always next year, right?

Instead, I'll be among the ranks of those who watch and wonder if the people who were selected can handle the pressure, have the chops to pull off a show and if that lucky person is one of the people that initially appealed to us.

This year, it's time for some recaps. There is very little television that I follow avidly, so when there is something that tweaks me, perhaps it should be fodder for discussion. (It's a safe bet that Donna and Joyce will be sharing their opinions with me tomorrow!)

The premise of the show is that they select ten finalists from the hundreds of video applications sent to Food Network last fall. My opinions are purely my own, but after the first episode:

Brett August
-New Yorker, and boy it shines through. Not so sure about his comment last night about "we'll let the women talk about lipstick", because if I were there, he'd rapidly learn that some of us never bother with that crap. He was the Green team leader last night and you could see that he had a good handle on coordinating. Food didn't impress the judges, but with all of them, it could be a off week. My opinion is reserved, because he's kinda likeable, kinda condescending. He does get points for giving an ingredient to the other team, though!

Eddie Gilbert-Young, hip and a pretty boy from the west coast. That doesn't mean he doesn't know what he's doing. He seemed to have good ideas, but he was in the bottom two for an unexciting dish. The dessert he was *supposed* to make (more on that later) sounded really good. Kind of reminds me of Adam Gertler without the ADHD. Not a bad thing-reserving judgement.

Teddy Folkman-Seems like everyman. He works in the restaurant industry, but seems very approachable. That said, he got minimal coverage in the first episode. That may be because there was a lot of drama with other finalists-or because he's boring. Still not sure, but you can be assured that flying under the radar on this show will get the person eliminated before week five.

Melissa D'Arabian
Imagine Paula Deen without all the sugar. Warm, engaging and seemed real, especially when her Apple Tarts didn't get in the oven before the pastry warmed up. The tarts were the sleeper of the luncheon. She was later told that Giada and Alton scarfed up a bunch of them, Melissa's reaction was adorable. She seems like the neighbor who loves to cook and entertain, is really good at it, and does it for the love of cooking and companionship. Lack of culinary training could do her in, but it'll be fun while she's there.

Katie Cavuto-A cute, 30 year old brunette, she's a registered dietican. Unfortunately, food knowledge doesn't translate into cooking food that interests viewers. When have you ever raved about a hospital meal?
Unless she was holding back some pizazz in the first episode, I don't expect her to be around very long.

Jamika Pessoa
This young lady appears to have it all, an engaging personality, a concept that Food Network doesn't already possess and she seems to work well under pressure. However, her recipe was uneven.(Curry Shrimp that was "the gatekeeper of badness" according to AB.) Love the idea of a Carribean/Southern fusion, but the entire dish needs to be her A game. Cautiously optimistic that this was an early stumble while she tries to hit her stride.

Michael Proietti-Another hip, young guy, but this one is from NY. I know he's not everyone's cup of tea, but I found him instantly likeable, with great presence and food that showed he knew what he was doing. It's kind of funny that Food Network doesn't have any flamboyant gay guys in the lineup right now. Michael would fill that void quite nicely with food from "Bed Stuy to Bangkok." (Personal aside-any chef who says that he cannot live without Siracha is worthy in my book!)

Jeffrey Saad This guy seems like the sleeper. He's smart and well versed, seems very mellow, but knows his way around the kitchen. He's one to watch, because I suspect he'll be the solid performer week in and week out.

Jen Isham
-Cute, bubbly, just seemed like the girl next door. Yes, seemed. She's the one who was eliminated during week one for a simple recipe that they felt wasn't up to the level that was needed. It's a shame, she had great presence. My opinion is that they should have done a challenge without an elimination to let the competitors experience what is expected, then do a double elimination in week two.

That said-the last contestant was:
Debbie Lee-born in the US to Korean immigrants and raised in the south. Has a great fushion Seoul 2 Soul, mixing asian and southern cuisines. Very articulate, good camera presence and her food blew the judges away. HOWEVER, she was the Red team leader and 1. did not lead, 2. went shopping and went over budget, so she left behind requested key ingredients for three of her teammates and possibly would have done so for the forth and 3. Made the decision to serve STORE BOUGHT angel food cake to 75 Food Network luminaries.

The worst part? She laid blame on others, said the cake decision was made by the group (when the video of her shopping clearly showed otherwise). While her concept is compelling, I don't know if I'd want to watch someone who would so blatantly lie or make the decision to serve something in a cooking competition that wasn't cooked by the team.

Did YOU watch? Who are your favorites? What dishes made you wish they offered all the recipes on the website.


My money is on Jeffrey, but I liked Michael too. They both had great personalities and were comfortable in front of the camera.

I liked Debbie too, but the cake was an abomination and she let it happen.
Kaoscapt said…
I thought what Debbie did should be a huge red flag to the judges. She not only let the 'cake abomination' happen, she MADE it happen, and then tried to spread the blame.

Jamika is interesting, but I can't seem to get past those huge teeth...

Michael is my early favorite, but it's too early to tell yet.

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