Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Next Food Network Star, Week Eight

Yes, I know this is very late. I didn't get to watch the episode until Friday night, kept a running Word document-and promptly forgot to post it all weekend long.

I knew who'd been eliminated before watching, and it disappointed me a little, so that had something to do with the delay in watching. As far as the most recent episode, I again know who got eliminated and thought I didn't have an episode to watch, but Ed very sweetly remembered to tape it while I was at my event.

Anyway, here's the recap for week eight:

The show opens in the kitchen and the five are talking about homesickness.

They walk into the Food Star Kitchens to Giada and nothing else. They are instructed to take 45 minutes to make a dish that is THEM for the camera challenge.
Aria-Anchovies brought in by her son Luca.
Aarti-Okra brought in by her husband
Tom-White Pepper, brought by his fiancé
Brad-Ranch dressing, brought by his brother Alex
Herb-Canned Peas brought by his wife and kids

They’ve got 40 minutes to make their dishes with those ingredients.
Brad-Bacon and Spinach Risotto with Ranch Dressing The presentation was a little stiff, but more pizazz than we've seen. He's got a new PoV and it seems much better
Aria-Mashed potato pizza with onions and anchovies The judges liked both the presentation and the food
Herb-Pork Medallions with a pea puree. The judges said he’s scattered and it was quite obvious in the camera presentation and in how the food turned out.
Tom-Poached salmon with white pepper, salmon cake. The judges liked the food and were mixed on his to camera outing today
Aarti-Lucia-Lucica indian fried rice. They weren't as impressed with this dish and Aarti was off of her camera game.

Aria wins, the families get to visit for a few minutes, then leave. To me, that would have been worse then not seeing them at all.

Part two, the finalists file in and find hearts on the table. Giada tells them she won’t seem the finalists until the final two, because the rest are going to NY. She introduces Todd English. The star challenge, each contestant gets an emotion and the dish is inspired by emotion.
Aria melancholy
Herb joy
Aarti-fear
Tom-jealousy
Brad-surprise


Aria switches with Herb. Then it’s announced that they’ll be cooking for Giada, Todd and Eva Longoria. $300 and 30 minutes to shop. Then they'll have 90 minutes to prep in the Food Star Kitchens, with 30 minutes to finish at Beses.

Brad-Grilled steak with onions/Sea Bass with cream sauce
Aarti-Lamb pulauu
Aria-beef tenderloin Milanese and a potato gratin
Herb, braised short ribs, seared scallops and mofongo
Tom-tale of two tunas. Tuna Tartare, and Ahi tuna

Some of the finalists get the idea and run with it, while others founder. Brad decides to make a variation on Surf and Turf, but neglects to talk about the surprise in a way that pleases the judges. The potato coating on his fish (the surf) was not crunchy, to Bobby's dismay.

Aarti was a little subdued as compared to her normal demeanor and forgets to even mention fear. When asked, she said that fear came in because she was afraid of some of this competition and this is Mum's cooking, which calms her when she's in this state. Weak explanation, but Todd and Bobby love the food.

Aria was worried that she hadn't had enough prep time in the Food Star Kitchens, so as soon as she's ensconced in the kitchen here, she places portions of her gratin into single sized portions into a Blodgett oven. She runs out of time to taste the potatoes, which are crunchy. She talks to the judges and never mentions joy until asked, at which time she tells them that this is a family dinner for her, which brings her joy. She misses a huge opportunity to run with the emotion.

Herb's turn and he is worried that his mofongo won't turn out well, because it normally uses a ton of fat to hold it together. He's prepared for this and has a biscuit ring to mold it on the plate. The braised short ribs and the mofongo are well received and Herb's energy is finally back. Oh yeah, I need to see if they posted that mofongo recipe, because that looked so good. (I am on a quest for real mofongo after Guy Fieri raved about it)

Tom comes out and tells a tale of two tunas. One tuna was raw, tender and adored, while the other became jealous, crispy and fiery hot. The judges are pleased with both the food and the presentation and Tom shines.

It's time for elimination. Tom wins the challenge and he and Herb are told they are safe. Then Brad, Aarti and Aria are told the judges need to deliberate-the toughest one they've had. I'm thinking Aria is going home, because she's been stuck in neutral for a while. (I know the outcome, but based on watching the show, that would have been my call)

When they're called in, the three judges are visibly upset, with Susie crying. Aarti is told she is safe and then Aria...

is safe.

Brad goes home. (Whaaaaaaaa?)

We're down to four, who head to New York and two more episodes.

At this point, I'm rooting for anyone but Aria. She's just not creative enough compared to the other three and all three of them have personalities and culinary perspectives I would LOVE to watch, either on Food or Cooking.

Next week's episode up tomorrow.

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