Monday, July 27, 2009

Next Food Network Star-Week 8

And Then There Were Three (or "Suzanne gets a birthday present from the Food Network")

This week, the show opens with the final three still in Miami, where they meet up with Emeril at his Miami Beach restaurant. Their challenge is a big one: after viewing an advance screening of "Julie and Julia",

Jeffrey, Debbie and Melissa will prepare a three course meal for twenty superstars of the culinary world, putting their "passion for food on a plate". Each is supposed to use the movie as an inspiration for what their menu will be and then will present a live cooking demonstration of one of those courses.

As we watch them head off to market, the voiceovers and interviews feature each finalist speaking about their similarities with Julia. They each came up with a different perspective from the movie.

Sooo, if you've got $1,000. and are feeding people like Rick Bayless, John Besh, Mosaharu Morimoto, Marcus Samuelsson, Emeril LaGasse, and others, what would YOU make to represent yourself and how you relate to Julia Child?

Debbie once again comes up with her Seoul to Soul concept with a spiced shrimp on a cold corn salad appetizer (corn is Korean?), Braised Korean short ribs and a pear egg roll in a spicy caramel sauce.

Melissa
decides to do a ratatouille with a potato tart, brick chicken with Orzo and a cheese course with salad and a apricot pastry for dessert.
Jeffrey opts to pan sear some sea scallops with an ancho sauce, a seafood risotto and chocolate mousse with a homemade biscotti for the third course.

Cut to Jeffrey at the checkout, where he's spent about 316 bucks. If that were me, I'd be going back and buying two dozen lobsters and then adding lobster to the risotto. As it is, both Ed and I are wondering why in the world the guy would choose to make a dish that requires constant stirring when he's got other things to do?

When they get back to the kitchen, they discover they've got sous chefs: former finalists Michael, Katie and Jamika who are paired with Debbie, Jeffrey and Melissa, respectively.

Now, the promos leading into this week showed someone getting blasted for raw dough and Samuelsson stating "this dish is an insult to Italy", so I'd assumed that Melissa, with two pastries and Jeffrey, with the risotto, would be the ones under fire. It seemed that Melissa was going to have issues, as she thought the dough wasn't done on her potato tart. Meanwhile, Michael was concerned that Debbie's short ribs were going to be tough, but she assured him that "Korean's like them tougher than Americans". (Drink!)

Presentation time and Melissa goes first-and hits it out of the ballpark. Her presentation is about how Julia said to be fearless, about her mother teaching her to cook, then her mother's suicide and how she found her way through her cooking. The audience was brought to tears. Francois Payard loves her goat cheese and apricot pouchette.

While they dined on the first course, Melissa told how her French mother in law gave her the tools for the perfect ratatouille, while they raved about both items on the plate. Next, she deomnstrated how to make brick chicken-a few of the chefs received dry servings, but most liked the flavor. Finally, the third course came out, and she explained that in her house, cheese and salad are dessert. Once again, her pouchette has earned her raves and one chef asking for a plate of them. She charms the chefs present with the statement "Julia is right, I should not be afraid."

Next, Debbie is up. She presents her Chili rubbed barbequued shrimp over cold corn salad. The feedback was that the course was more Southwest than Asian. Then, the ribs were deemed tough, with Alex Guarnascelli commenting that "We wanted to see you bleed your culture". The Asian pear egg rolls got mixed reviews, with several stating the egg rolls were raw. Aha! That's the raw comment from the promo!

Finally, Jeffrey comes in and flawlessly executes how to pan seared wild seas scallops with green chile chutney. Tyler Florence tells Jeffrey that there is not one thing he could have done better. Jeffrey beams-and then the seafood risotto is served. The faces tell the whole story. This dish fell flat, and Jeffrey is questioned about his budget, where he admits he only spent $317.14. I honestly thought Jeffrey was out after this faux pas. However, the man kept plugging away and served his third course to positive response.

The trio makes it back to their suite, where it seems clear that Melissa is going to move forward, but Jeffrey probably won't. Bummer, especially if it means Debbie the Deceiver might have a shot at a show and he won't.

Judgement time. Bob, Bobby and Susie tell Melissa that she blew away all the chefs, that the best pastry chef in the world was gushing about her dessert and the only real complaint they had was that she hid her part of the dish under the salad and cheeses.

Debbie and Jeffrey weren't as lucky, and each had issues that the judges addressed from the feedback given by twenty of the world's professionals. Wait a minute, maybe Debbie isn't guaranteed a slot in the final!

We see a little bit of the deliberations, and the only thing Bob says about Debbie is "she's camera ready." Um, that is not a good sign for 'I'm Korean' and probably means the end of the line for the drinking games. Food Network will no longer contribute the America's Monday morning hangovers.

And the verdict is that Ding Dong, the Liar is Gone! (Or Donna's version "Na Na Na Na, Hey Hey Hey, Goodbye", which Chef Jr sang all.day.long. )

Thank you, Food Network. How was I to know you were saving the dismissal of Debbie to use as a birthday present? I'll take it. Especially since either Jeffrey or Melissa will have a show I'll enjoy watching.

One more week to find out who will be the Next Food Network STar!

3 People talked back:

Baba said...

You have an Award!
http://babasfarmlife.blogspot.com/2009/07/new-awards.html

Kate said...

Rick Bayless! John Besh! Emeril! Morimoto! Must Tivo a repeat for the chef porn!

(No, I haven't been watching. I've been watching Top Chef Masters for the, uh, chef porn.)

ligirl said...

Hey...sorry for the Chef earworm! That song is waaaay before his time, though! I suppose the fact that he is familiar with it at all is just a by-product of having two parents who, between the two of them, know everything about all kinds of music, from all eras!