Next Food Network Star, Week Six

Yes, this is VERY late.

I started writing it last Monday with plans to come back to it when I got a moment. The moment did not come. Academic pursuits come first, and the efforts on that front paid off. It's not like you were all blog stalking for what I had to say, right?

This week, the contestants comment on their highs and lows before we see them enter into Food Star Kitchens. On the tables, picnic baskets. Bobby explains that before them is a party in a basket.

The six find that they'll be making party bites for the event with the ingredients contained in the basket, and they find various events, such as a Bachelorette party, New Year's Eve, A Sweet Sixteen, A child's Birthday party, Poker night, and a Tea party. (Herb's will be added in to this when I review the DVR)

Brianna was excited to get a Birthday party, until it was explained that the cheese, mustard and apple juice were for a FIVE year old's birthday. The look on her face would have curdled milk. She makes queso and mustard taquitos that Tom comments "what kid is going to eat that?" and most parents watching could tell that Brianna is NOT familiar with kids.

Many of the contestants go with a crostini of some sort, but that's where the similarities ended. Aarti's was on naan, for instance. The thing with these camera challenges, though, is that the presentation to camera means as much as the look and taste of the food.

Brianna's presentation about moms having a glass of champagne while the kids get dirty was cringe worthy, Herb talked about being the energy chef, but was so subdued he'd put you to sleep, Aria was lackluster-as was her food (it looked like she slapped together sandwiches). On the other hand, Brad hit it out of the ballpark with camera presence to match the quality of the food on the plate and Tom had Bob laughing. (I'm pulling for the Big Guy).

Ultimately, Tom and Brad are the winners, and we see Brianna whining that she keeps getting beaten by the camera challenges. Hey, toots, the camera doesn't like phony. Just ask Paul.

Time for challenge number two. Into the Food Star Kitchens comes Ted Allen, and he explains that the table full of classic dishes are there because they will be making dinner for some special guests at Frank Sinatra's estate in Palm Springs, where they are expected to reinvent classics.

Brad and Tom get to choose first by virtue of winning the Camera challenge and Tom is hoping that Brad doesn't take the Lobster Thermador. Tom gets that dish, because Brad takes Chicken Cordon Bleu. They choose who gets the rest of the dishes with:

Herb Beef Stroganoff
Brianna Tuna Casserole
Aarti Deviled Eggs
Aria Pigs in a Blanket
Serena Pineapple Upside Down Cake

They do their shopping, then they are at the estate, a 50's era sprawling ranch that oozes coolness from every corner. Joining Bobby, Bob, Susie and Ted will be the editors of three magazines. There's an outdoor kitchen set up and the contestants take their turns preparing food.

The highs of the food include Brad's bacon wrapped chicken as his reinterpretation of Chicken cordon bleu, Tom's grilled lobster, Brianna's crab casserole and Aria's tempura shrimp. Alas, Tom's presentation rambled and Brianna's negativity was once again the only thing the judges took away from their time with her.

Aria was called out on using shrimp to replace the pigs and she says "Well, I've done pork in every challenge," to which I'm thinking that it might show the judges that you've got a large repetoire with that one protein! Serena's interpretation of Pineapple upside down cake includes store bought puff pastry and misses the point of the dish. Herb is quite animated in talking of his latin roots, but the stroganoff isn't very good and Aarti charms them, but her budget dish at a swanky place is not well received.

Back to the evaluation room and as expected, Brad wins the week, and he and Tom are excused. Then Serena and Aria are told they are safe, leaving a final three of Herb, Brianna and Aarti.

The judges tell Herb that when he talks about his youth, he gets a sparkle and joie de vivre that they don't see from him as 'the Energy Chef'. He's afraid of cooking Latin foods because he was a fat kid, why not reinterpret that latin flavor into lower calorie dishes?

Brianna is called out on not doing the challenges as asked and her constant negativity and Aarti is told that her dish didn't have any flavor. The verdict...Brianna goes home. This is not a surprise. The camera does not like phony, and while she appears to have cooking ability, the "Hey Guys" forced chipper camera presence was quite annoying.

We're down to six and I suspect that Serena's days are numbered...

Still rooting for Aarti, Tom and Brad, though if Herb can get it together and run with the nugget they gave him tonight, it'd be a concept worth watching.


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