Next Food Network Star-Week Three
The episode started off with the eight getting in a van,then being dropped off at a supermarket. Once inside, they found Tyler Florence, who issued a two fold challenge: shop for ingredients to make an appetizer, entree and dessert for twelve people for SIXTY bucks, as well as come to the camera station and provide a thirty second budget tip for the viewers.
Cook a meal for twelve under sixty bucks? Been there, done that many a time, but that's a hard thing for a restaurant chef to do when a high food cost equals raising menu prices. It was good to see Debbie struggle with this, in that she would only hurt herself this time, not a few teammates. Others were familiar with shopping on their own or a client's budgets, like Jamika, Jeffrey and Melissa.
[What Would Suzanne Do: Italian. You can serve a lot on the cheap. Pancetta wrapped Asparagus with Asiago cheese, Chicken Parm and Cannoli filling topped macerated fruit]
Shopping in an unfamilar store threw several for a loop to the point that some contestants had to adjust their menu on the fly. Eddie was looking for sale shrimp. Good luck with that, dude, you're in NY, where shrimp doesn't come out of the local waters. Teddy and Michael both struggled with the budget and their taste for expensive cheeses. It was clear that Jeffrey had a handle on the budget, as his menu came out to 48 bucks. Several contestants had to put stuff back, including the aforementioned Debbie (insert sarcastic HA HA here)
The other part of the challenge felled the majority of contestants. Michael clearly wasn't in the game today, making no sense at all. Teddy came off as an annoying side show barker yet again. Dude, stop yelling at us! Katie initially faltered, but when Tyler criticized her work, she stepped up to the plate with practical advice (cut back on protein portions and serve a heartier appetizer to save money). Jamika suggested to do something that I have heard a couple of FN chefs offer up on their shows-reuse your marinade for a sauce and Tyler chewed her out for it. Eddie's made no sense, Melissa did a decent job.
Jeffrey was declared the winner with his suggestion to make Crepes and fill them with Nutella for a budget dessert or as a breakfast with your kids. As result, he would have an advantage in the next day's challenge, which would be to use those ingredients to cook for guests to be revealed later.
The next day, they're on the bus and headed out to the East end of Long Island. As a former LIer, I would have immediately assumed the destination: Ina Garten's, the Barefoot Contessa. Indeed, they arrived at Ina's, where the finalists were told their challenge would be to cook a meal for Ina, some guests (owners of several high-profile restaurants) and the selection committee.
Then the twist-this challenge paired up the contestants. Jeffrey got to choose his mate by virtue of of winning the previous day. He chose Michael, a wise choice IMO, as they have similar culinary abilities and seem to get along great. (it seems like Michael has made a bunch of friends here)
The rest of the pairings were Melissa and Eddie, Jamika and Katie and Teddy and Debbie. This was an interesting pairing, as Debbie complained in an interview that she didn't want to work with him after he threw Melissa under the bus the week before. That's curious, as the editing of elimination implied that he said NOTHING bad about Melissa the week before, that Brett did it all the trash talking. What did Teddy say that we didn't hear last week?
Each team inventoried their combined ingredients and had an hour to prepare three dishes: one individual item each and then a collaborative effort. Two of the teams melded well, Jeffrey and Michael, as well as Jamika and Katie. Eddie felt that Melissa was calling the shots, acting passive/aggressive to her the whole time, complaining in interview that HE was the chef and she was JUST a home cook. She was getting flustered at the lousy treatment.
Debbie and Teddy worked on their menu and it seemed like Teddy did not like Debbie taking charge. Debbie told him he would be making the dessert, as she was making her pasta, they shared a meatloaf dish and the dessert was the only thing left. Teddy said desserts weren't his forte. Hello? This is the woman who decided to serve STORE BOUGHT Angel Food cake to Food Network luminaries! Clearly she has no clue on that front. Do you really want to let her submarine you with a crappy dessert?
Michael continued to have issues, but Jeffrey showed a lot of respect (and class), redirecting Michael as needed. The pairing was a good one. We saw limited coverage of Jamika and Katie working together, just a snippet of Jamika sweating her store bought marinade that she doctored and later worrying that the salmon didn't have enough flavor. Limited means that she and Katie worked extremely well together.
During the cooking portions, we see that Debbie pours her sauce into the meatloaf, but Teddy is spending a LOT of time on that meatloaf, to the point that with five minutes to go, he has not made a dessert. Did Debbie purposely sabotage him, or is it that he has no time management skills? He threw together cake, fruit, caramel sauce and store bought pudding just before time was up. This from the guy who wants to show us "The Mind of a Chef" as he's belittling the 'home cook' Melissa? I know many a 'home chef' who could blow this man away with a far superior five minute dessert! (Shout out to Karen in Maryland!)
Next, we see each teams presentations and the feedback from the judges:
Eddie and Melissa-Melissa charmed the judges, Eddie not so much. Melissa's chicken looked great, but needed more flavor and Eddie's watermelon salad was deemed 'inedible'.
Jamika and Katie-Jamika once again was the gracious presenter, and Katie looked good, but she had to put that lesson in her presentation. If she didn't mention 'healthy chicken sausage' perhaps the judges wouldn't have even noticed!
Michael and Jeffrey-Jeffrey's calm demeanor impressed the judges and Michael's zoning out was obvious. The judges loved all three dishes and said they did not look or taste like budget items.
Teddy and Debbie-Teddy was saved from looking like an ass in front of the judges because Debbie's calm smooth presentation caused him to be relaxed, too. They were asked what each contributed, verifying Debbie prepared the pasta, Teddy the dessert and the meatloaf was a collaboration.
The judges were blown away with the first two dishes, with Bob saying it was his second favorite meatloaf ever, behind Ina's. The dessert was anticipated as being a great finish, but it was unanimously ruled horrible.
Next stop-Elimination. The eight file in and get feedback on their dishes. This is where two idiots shoot themselves in the foot. If there was an integrity rule, they both would have been eliminated.
First Teddy, by claiming the meatloaf as his own, which gets "Ms. Lack of Integrity' herself upset because it was a shared effort, that they conceptualized together and it was her sauce that went into the meatloaf. All because Teddy didn't want to fess up that "Hey, I ran out of time and threw together the dessert."
I will say this: every time we saw those two in the kitchen, Teddy was working on the meatloaf, while Debbie was working on her dish. Perhaps he felt that since he did the majority of the work, he should get the credit? We'll never know-but Teddy, you need to man up and admit your mistakes. (and stop with the annoying yelling...and the 'mind of a chef' BS...and the belittling of those with less training than you...)
Melissa and Eddie get their feedback and Melissa is informed her dish LOOKED good, but needed more flavor. Eddie was told his dish had far too much onion, that it seemed like it was something he'd done before. He chirps up "Yep, I actually got it from a Paula Deen cookbook."
Are you freaking crazy, Eddie? Not only fessing up it being someone else's recipe, but a Food Network cook's own? What a moron you are! So much for culinary training!
Time to name the winners, and Jeffrey and Michael's effort earns them safety. They hug and head up to the townhouse. Then, others are informed they are safe and free to go: Katie, Jamika, Melissa and Debbie.
The bottom two: Eddie and Teddy.
I'm fine with either going, heck, at this point, either one can go for their lack of integrity. My preference would be Teddy, because he's annoying and just as condescending to Melissa for being a home chef, but to not own up to a lousy dish sucks. I won't watch someone who would rather cover their butt than admit a mistake.
Eddie has emerged as one of those entitled types that thinks that they are the end all and be all of the cooking world. He needs to learn humility. Arrogance is NOT a virtue, especially when the results don't merit that kind of behavior.
The judges deliberate, with Bobby and Susie voting to dump Eddie, since he doesn't have the culinary chops. Bob dissents, saying he doesn't trust Teddy-but he won't 'throw himself on the sword for Eddie', especially since they haven't seen ANY improvement from him in three episodes.
Thus, the two are ushered back in and Eddie is sent packing. When he goes in to tell the rest of the contestants, there is a collective groan. The kind of groan that says "Oh crap, we're stuck with the guy who we can't trust, instead of the guy that we'll beat because he's just not as good as his personal hype thinks he is."
Previews for next week show what looks like the Intrepid battleship/museum and the elimination room, in which the finalists get the requisite "You all suck and shouldn't be here' bashing that happens at least once every season.
Curiously, though, Bobby says something about "You are the last seven to have this opportunity and no one is grabbing it." Was he talking specifically about next week's challenge, or was he implying that this is the last season of Next Food Network Star?
Tune in next week to find out.