Next Food Network Star-Week Seven
This week, as last week, the finalists are at the Eden Roc in Miami. After a dismal team effort preparing appetizers last week, Jeffrey, Jamika, Debbie and Melissa are tasked with a live cooking demonstration-with a twist. Each contestant is sabotaged in some way, to see how they handle the realities of show biz.
To me, this would have been a better challenge if each was presented with the same snafus. Instead, it seemed like Debbie had it easy, as the problems she faced were not of the host's doing. She was missing utensils and her fish was substituted with chicken. She easily handled the missing forks and menu change.
Melissa encountered a host who kept calling her Debbie Lee (that would make me mad), a cameraman who wanted to get up close and personal. The host decided that Melissa's tapenade needed hot sauce-a LOT of hot sauce. She grew flustered and harried and this manifested in talking veryfast.
Jeffrey encountered equipment errors such as a microphone not working, a boom mike that was hitting him in the head, but he remained the unruffled, zen master Jeffrey.
Jamika's irritation with the missing or inaccurate cues from the crew was very apparent. The girl was T I C K E D! and she couldn't hide it. Not a good quality for a show host.
The four are given feedback and Debbie is deemed the winner for her ability to not show the slighted sign that there were issues. Melissa takes the feedback to heart and has a game plan for the next challenge. Then, they are told their next challenge will be the next day.
What they encounter the next morning is four cook stations on the pool patio with wood fired grills. Then, the finalists are introduced to the Executive Chef for Red Lobster, who tells them that the winner of today's challenge will have their recipe featured on Red Lobster menus across the country.
Each is expected to pick a fish and either shellfish or a crustacean to be grilled. Debbie gets to choose first and goes for Tilapia. As expected, each goes for their comfort zone, with Debbie and her passel of "I'm Korean" sauces and spices, Melissa for a simple but effective citrus marinade, Jamika for Pinapple to make a jerk inspired meal and Jeffrey with a bunch of chiles.
The clock stops and the contestants get turned upside down. Instead of the flavor profiles they are familiar with, they are swapped.
Jeffrey's chiles are taken away and he's given asian ingredients because as Bobby says "Cooking without Borders" needs to be more than South of the Border.
Jamika's given Celeriac to replace her pineapple.
Melissais given Habeneros to replace her oranges and limes.
Debbieloses the Asian ingredients and is handed Olives, Capers and Anchovies.
They all deal with this setback, some better than others. Melissa has a sense of humor about it all, but scares Bobby and Ted with the quantity of peppers she is grilling for her marinade. Jeffrey tries to work his artistic vision with the new ingredients, Debbie appears to accept her ingredients, opting to cut the saltiness of the three with a ton of honey. Meanwhile, Jamika is pissed and it shows. She has no clue what she will do with the Celeriac, only bringing it together in the last few minutes.
We see the judge's feedback to the dishes. It seems Melissa's got a good handle on the heat, as all the judges love the flavors she brought to the dish, Jamika expertly handled the Celeriac, but her attitude is all the judges could talk about. Jeffrey is complemented for making a broth that is expertly seasoned and a perfect complement to the fish.
Debbie is told that by using the honey, she muddied the Mediterranean flavors she was supposed to work with. Then, she is asked where the capers are. This is where she yet again shows her sneaky ways:
"They're in the dressing"
"Oh, I didn't have capers"
"I forgot to put them in"
"It was an oversight"
Yeah, right. Once again, she blatantly lied and then backpedaled when called out. You would think that for a group that made speeches the first week about honesty that they would not tolerate this.
You'd be wrong.
Chef Jr called it as soon as we broke for commercial-"Mom, Jamika's going home." Even he knew that food trumped all else, and even if we wouldn't watch a sneaky conniving host if Debbie won, Food Network wanted her culinary vision.
Elimination time. Jeffrey is told that his dish won the challenge and can now be found on the Red Lobster menu. (I'm tempted to go try the Barramundi now-that did sound really good). He is allowed to leave the room. Meanwhile, I feel that Melissa also should have left the room, because she took their advice and was fantastic in the Red Lobster challenge.
Each of the remaining ladies is asked why they should remain, then is ushered out. Commerical break and when they come back in, Jamika is told she will not be going on. Debbie, for the second week in a row, shows astonishment on her face. Yeah, toots, you should. Seventy percent of the voters on the Food Network website want you GONE.
Of the final three, I'd be happy watching either Jeffrey or Melissa. If Debbie wins, I will skip it. It is getting old hearing the "I'm Korean" as an explanation of why she uses the spices and sauces, rather than tell me what they do and why you would want to use them.
Taste isn't the only thing that makes a Food Network show. The host has to be likeable and trustworthy. Other shows on the network get a pass because the hosts are not likeable, like the Neely's and Sandra Lee. However, I don't know that they've had one that isn't trustworthy.
Let's hope that Debbie Lee isn't the first.