The Next Food Network Star, Week Three
The show starts at the house in the hills and Dzintra saying that being in the bottom was 'the worst situation I've been in my life.' Then, we see the remaining ten file into the Food Star Kitchen, with the prep tables lined with movie theatre boxes of popcorn.
Giada introduces Season Two winner, Guy, Fieri, who informs the contestants that this week's camera challenge is to create a dish inspired by classic movie genres. Each finalist pulls a card out of the popcorn box and finds what they'll be inspired by.
They've got 45 minutes to cook, then present to camera with Bob, Guy and Giada tasting the dishes. During prep, we see Serena has jumped on Spaghetti Western, but she's terrified of presenting pasta to Giada, and Tom doesn't have a deep fryer for his Pomme Frites.
First up, DAS presents, with a voice over that he has to get over his issues with the camera. He seems very wooden and his 'Peace' sign off is way too somber for a guy who I'll bet is pretty animated when the cameras aren't trained on him. His dish is called 'Taco 101', while Giada states they're not very foreign. True point for California!
Brianna says she wants to make the judges laugh because she has comedy, and she wastes the opportunity to get that category with a "Tempura Shrimp and Scallop Funnest." The presentation was flat talking about how she giggles when she buys shrimp, there was no amusement about the presentation of the dish, but Bob likes the flavor.
Aarti decides to ride the confidence wave and nails her presentation, saying that the thing that makes her amused in horror movies is how the victim walks past a painting and the eyes in it move, so she made a horror Meatloaf with Blood designed to look like an eye. The presentation is engaging, and Guy says that she's done the best of both sides of the challenge.
Brad is next, coming out with a huge smile that goes away when he describes his Salmon dish by stating "When I think of animation, I think big colors, lightness and he drew it into a fish" and his plate certainly had that with the orange of the salmon and some bright greens. Bob picked up on the smile issue and Guy loves the dish.
Tom comes out and the voice over is that he knows his dish (Chicken a l'Orange) is not an A plus, but his presentation was what appeals to me about the guy-he's a down home raconteur, talking about how when he thinks of romance, he thinks of France and of he and his fiance picnicking under the Eiffel Tower. The judges loved the presentation, but the food fell flat, Guy commenting that he was thinking he was having Chicken Chow Mein and Giada calling the side "Pomme Flats."
Aria is next and she is determined not to be critiqued as talking to kindergartners again. She presents her dish with a statement that when she thinks of SciFi, it's all about what lies beneath, so her dish is rice balls with a surprise inside. Bob says she's subdued this week, and Guy critiques that you told her to downplay her energy, and she gravitated towards the middle ground.
Next up is Paul, who says he doesn't know how to act any more, because he was first told he was too flat, then he was too over the top. His presentation still seems forced, talking about how a peppercorn steak makes him think of drama, especially when it's 'kissed with white truffle oil.' (Personally, that's not all that dramatic to me.) Giada observes that he's still too over the top and awkward in trying to figure out what the judges want on camera, while Bob says the strawberry sauce that the steak is served with (yuck) is too sticky sweet for the steak.
It's Serena's turn and she's so cute presenting how she married Italian flavors with Western flavors by making Spaghetti with Chili Bolognese Sauce. The judges love her energy, Giada says the spaghetti is cooked perfectly and she loves the combination of Chili and Spaghetti (hear that, Cincinatti?)
Herb comes in looking confident, but he blanks out on explaining why his Chorizo dish ties into his Mystery theme. Bob opines that this is 'not the Herb we've seen, while Guy says the dish seems to be missing a key element.
Dzintra says she's thinking don't overdo it. Her inspiration is adventure movies was Winding Car Chase pasta and she goes off on a tangent about writing letters to James Bond and she doesn't look comfortable. Food was deemed too sticky, with Guy's observation that it was "Peanut Buttery with a serious need for some jelly."
Cut to the three judges and ten contestants filing in before them. Paul is told he seems inauthentic, DAS is told his food didn't seem inspired. Aarti wins the challenge, with the comment that her presentation is flawless.
Guy announces that Bobby is in New York this week, so he's sticking around for the second challenge. The next morning, the contestants know they have to dress up for something really fabulous, and they're brought to the Highlands, a hot club, where there's a red carpet, paparazzi and their Star Challenge, where the judges want to see how they'll handle the spotlight. They're told not to forget to grab their swag bag because there is something special. Brianna does up diva, DAS keeps saying "What's happening, what's happening" over and over. Paul is too ramped up. Dzintra does pirouettes on the red carpet and she's too bizarre for her own good.
Part two of the challenge is that there will be a MGD after party for 150 in the very room they are standing in for Grammy award winner Colby Calliat. The contestants are paired by the color of their swag bags. Paul cops an attitude that he's paired with Serena, and he disses her home cook background, stating that he comes from a professional chef background.
The swag bags contain ingredients. They are asked to pull an ingredient out and the one in their hands will be used in a solo dish, but both ingredients will be incorporated into a collaborative dish with their partners. The teams are asked to state their ingredients:
Tom-Bananas and DAS-Red Cabbage
Brianna-Fennel and Herb-MGD 64
Dizintra-Mushrooms and Aria-Blueberries
Aarti-Taleggio Cheese and Brad-Dark Chocolate
Serena-Peanut Butter and Paul- Parsnips.
Five hundred bucks to shop and two hours to prep before the party. While shopping, Aria is not comfortable with the pairing with Dzintra. Brianna and Herb are 'Team Sexy,' which she comments that not only do they look good, they cook good, too. Brianna's solo dish is Pork with Fennel Chutney, Herb's is Beer Marinated Flank Steak with a Chimichurri Sauce (yum) and the collaborative dish is Bruschetta with a Beer Fondue and Fennel-Leek Ragu.
Brad talks about not being a dessert guy, so he and Aarti decide to put everything into savory and he thinks their dishes have to be perfect. Aarti says that their collaborative dish and Brad's solo dish are pretty ambitious to get done in the allotted time. Brad's making Chocolate Seared Pork, Aarti Taleggio Toast and the combined is Beef Skewer with Chocolate Sauce and Taleggio Cheese.
Dzintra's dish is Beef with a Wild Mushroom Gravy, Aria's dish is a Blueberry Napoleon and they've paired ingredients to make a Salad with Mushrooms and a Blueberry Vinegrette. Aria comments that they are not communicating, while Dzintra feels she has to justify everything she does. Aria says their styles do not flow.
Tom and DAS are rocking their partnership with a "Get R Done" attitude. Tom wants to use his bananas in a savory way, so he's making a Banana Avocado Mousse and DAS does Fried Pancetta Cabbage. They pair the ingredients in a Tempura Banana with Jerk Cabbage. It sounds crazy, but I'd try it. Tom says he may have overdone it on the Jerk seasoning.
Paul derides Serena's home cook status when describing their dishes, saying 'She's never cooked for 150 people.' Paul is making Shrimp over Parsnip Pureé, Serena's is Mozzarella en Carozza, and theiy collaborate on Tenderloin with Parsnip Slaw and a Spicy Peanut Sauce. Paul shows off by trying a knife trick on a bottle of soy sauce, the bottle breaks and shards went into the slaw. He's got to pitch it and start over.
While preparing their food, Serena was walking behind Brianna, who steps on her foot. Serena hears a snap, and her foot is turning blue, but she needs to keep going. (See, Dzintra? Even the home cook KNOWS this!) Time's up and then the contestants are introduced to Colby, who informs them she is HUNGRY.
Herb is schmoozing, while Brianna multitasks to get their plates done, so she can't be warm and energetic with the judges or guests. She couldn't even explain to the judges what the inspiration was for the dish. The judges love the collaboration, adored Herb's (I love Chimichurri and that looked awesome) and Bob loved Brianna's.
Brad says he's not pleased with their product, given the time constraints, but he feels he has to present it as if he LOVES it and Aarti is finally comfortable in talking about the food to the judges one on one. They try her dish and Bob loves how she took a traditional Italian dish and infused Indian spices, Brad's dish is missing the chocolate flavor and the collaborative dish was too tough.
Aria says she loves talking to people and it comes naturally, and Dzintra has nervous energy, telling guests they aren't getting poisonous mushroom. Dzintra doesn't like that Aria has engaged the judges and so she SHUSHES HER! She then goes on about how she's classically trained in France. Aria is stunned and the judges are dumbfounded, which Aria knows is not a good thing. They love Aria's solo effort, gag at Dzintra stating something about a hairball in relation to hers and feel the collaboration was not thought out. Meanwhile, every guest in the room is avoiding their station, probably because there was tension going on.
Next were 'Big DAS' and 'Big Sexy (Tom)' and they both have a rapport with the guests. Tom is nervous about their collaborative dish and Tom is hoping they love their personalities. The looks on their faces told the story-they were creative, but the jerk seasoning was too much. Bob loves Tom's Mousse, while Colby likes the Cabbage.
Serena explains to a guest that her dish is typical Italian comfort food, while Paul says they didn't have a plan for presenting. Serena is talking and schmoozing the guests, while Paul mocks her that she talks too much-in FRONT of the guests. She says she doesn't show it on the outside, she's in a world of pain. Their presentation is painful to watch. Colby says she hopes their food is better than the presentation.
Their solo dishes were horrible, but the collaboration is liked by all the judges.
After they all present to the judges, we Serena with an iced foot, trying to hold back tears-and she's taken out by paramedics. After the commercial break, we find that Serena's foot is not broken, but she is worried about the interactions with Paul.
Elimination time. Tom and DAS is told their collaboration was inedible, but Tom's mojo was in full force. DAS is told that his red carpet didn't have genuine appeal. Herb and Brianna, 'Team Sexy', were told they were the dream team. They loved the Flank steak, and Herb's personality. Brianna is told her food was fantastic and she was an expert chef, but the crowd was mixed on how she warm she is. They loved the collaborative dish.
Aarti looked nervous, but the judges tell her they love the way she infuses Indian spices into other cuisines. Brad is informed that his food and the collaboration were disappointing. He's overthinking his food and what he wants to do.
Paul and Serena were told they were 'Team Chaos'. They're asked about how they thought the collaboration worked and Paul digs in that he was hustling while Serena was taking a slow, measured, home cook pace. Susie tells him his behavior to Serena is extremely condescending, while Guy tells him that in the world of Food Network stars, there are a mixture of classically trained and home cooks-this is anyone's game to lose. Paul's dish was overcooked, Serena's was dry, but they loved the collaborative dish.
Guy asks Aria and Dzintra about their pairing and Aria is diplomatic saying "Sometimes we stepped on each other." and Susie says the Shushing made the hair on the back of her neck stand up. Bob comments about how talking over Aria was disrespectful and Dzintra says that's not how she meant it at all. She was told by Bob that this shows she is insecure. They LOVED Aria's Napoleon. Dzintra's mushroom sauce was great but the meat was not liked.
Decision time. The winner of the challenge is 'Team Sexy,' so they're safe and can leave. Next, Brad and Aarti, then Tom and DAS are told they're safe. Bottom four are Dzintra, Aria, Paul and Serena, who are asked to leave the room while they deliberate.
Aria is 'moving to the middle', according to Susie. Guy says Dzintra is not comfortable in her own skin, Serena didn't serve good food and Paul still annoys. When they return, Aria and Serena are dismissed, and Paul is told he is................
Dzintra is going home.
I'm doing a happy dance, because she rubbed the wrong way from the beginning, with Paul being my next least favorite. Alas, my DVR cut off the next week's promo, so I don't know what's up tomorrow!
My top three: Aarti, Tom, Aria
My bottom three: Paul for being smarmy and condescending, DAS and Brianna only for not showing any personality when it matters.