Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Food Network Star – Week 8: Lisa Got A Raw Deal, Likeable Aaron Wasn’t At His Best, And So What If Adam Can Cook...once in 7 weeks

The three who are left - Adam, Aaron and Lisa - arrive at the Venetian Hotel where a gondola arrives with Bobby Flay and Guy Fieri. They tell the contestants that they have to deliver a 30 second promo for their shows. That’s not so bad. They don’t even have to write it.

Lisa is fluffing her hair. She arrives at Aureole, Charlie Palmer’s Las Vegas outpost. OMG, she has to go up on cables and ascend the wine tower. I think this is really sexist and just an excuse for them to look up her skirt. Ok, I know she’s not wearing a skirt, but still. She IS in some sort of cat suit. They raise her on the cables and she says she’s nervous, but I think she’s doing fine, although it takes awhile to get the line right.

Bobby meets up with Aaron to the Planet Hollywood casino floor. Aaron says it intimidating to deal with the rolling cameras. He has to memorize the script. He does okay, although he is a little stiff. Bobby gives him a little advice and he does a lot better. He has to intro his show and then throw some dice. He gets through it.

Adam’s task takes place in the Jubilee Theater in Bally’s Hotel and casino with show girls and Guy. Adam gets to wear a tux. (Hmmm, let’s see…Lisa is wearing a skintight jumpsuit and Adam is wearing an elegant tuxedo.) Adam has to learn choreography and his script. He moves so fast that the camera can’t keep up with him. He finds it much harder than he thought he would. He wasn’t that good. He was rushing a bit. Even Guy said it wasn’t great.

Commercial. Oh, Michael Symon is the new host of Dinner Impossible. That was soooooooo dumb of Robert Irvine. He could have owned that franchise for years. He was good.

The big task this week is for the contestants to create their own lavish, over the top, monster buffet. Guy says this could be their last chance to impress “the selection committee” (c’mon Guy, just say JUDGES), as well as some of the chefs and entertainers from Vegas. They get 6 hours and $1000 dollars.

They head to Whole Foods. Uh-oh, a thousand dollars won’t go far there. Adam says he’s going to do a smoke-tacular. Lisa drops her fish on the floor of the supermarket. Oy. They go back to the place where they will be cooking and serving - the Tryst Nightclub in the Wynn Hotel.

Guy tells them that they each get a sous-chef. 3 former contestants walk out. Lisa picks Kelsey, Adam picks Shane… smart, HE can cook and Aaron gets Jennifer.

Adam’s Buffet:
Smoked Pork Chops
Smokes Chicken Wings
Smoked Mushroom Pizza
Sweet Potato Fries
Crab Salad
Banana Cream Pie.

Adam even admits that if Shane weren’t there, it would be an impossible task.

Aaron’s Buffet:
Sirloin Bruschetta
Orzo Salad
Chicken Bow Tie Pasta
Chicken Tortellini Salad
Crab Cakes
Chocolate Fondue

Aaron says he wants it to be impressive.

Lisa’s Buffet:
Monkfish Piccata
Pork Roast
Twice-Baked Potatoes
Asparagus Vinaigrette
Tomato and Mozzarella Salad
Poached Pears

Lisa gets Kelsey to prep every single vegetable that needs to be cut. That’s smart. She has “selected foods that would be dramatic in presentation, but be approachable from a palate standpoint.”

Adam decided to build a smoker out of 2 huge woks.

Lisa has discovered that she’s missing a bag of fish, so she only has 7 pounds to work with.

Guy is worried that Aaron has 3 different kinds of pastas. Aaron says he’s going to disguise them well, but he is kind of down.

We haven’t heard a word from Shane. Kelsey discovers that Lisa’s pork is burned or half of it is. Lisa scrapes off the burned part and throws it on a tray and garnishes and gets it out.

The three line up behind their tables of food. Aaron says Lisa’s food is elegant and making his food look like burgers and fries. He says he also has to deal with Adam and his over the top smokefest. He says he better come up with a great performance. At some point, they are told they have to introduce their food in a showy way.

The tasters come in - show girls, the cast of Spamalot, pirates and all kinds of Vegas loonies come in. Adam says these are his kind of people. This isn’t so bad. I thought they were going to have to feed Siegfried and Roy or Celine. Oh wait, more folks are coming in. Impersonators, and then the judges, AND THEN the chefs of the Wynn enter in their chef’s whites.

Lisa starts and blows them away by belting out a song. The judges are very impressed. She gets great applause. Bob is in love.

Guy introduces Aaron. He’s so nervous he wants to pay someone to go out there for him. He starts a weird act where he says he has an eating disorder with forks in his pocket. He’s acting kind of “special”. No one gets what he’s doing. He completely, completely bombs. Then in a perfectly normal way, he introduces his food.

Hello, Las Vegas, Adam screams. That was the high point of his presentation. He gives a fairly straight intro to his smoked foods. He wasn’t bad, just boring.

I don’t think Aaron should be held accountable for his poor intro. He would never have to write his own shtick.

They serve the food. One performer tells Aaron his food is an eight. Aaron says he needs a ten. Danny, one of the performers, tells Aaron to be himself.

The judges are in awe of Lisa’s singing. Guy says her pork is dry. Starry-eyed Bob says HIS was wonderful. Guy shows him his piece. Adam is intimated by the Wynn Hotel’s chefs.

One chef said Aaron’s food needed more creativity. Another chef said Adam’s was the best buffet. Another one said Adam did the best job.

Bobby liked Aaron’s crab cake. Bob didn’t like the tortellini. Susie thought the salad was strange. Various impersonators said Aaron’s performance wasn’t good, but one of them said the crab cake made up for everything.

A MAGICIAN said Adam’s was his favorite. Yeah, that WAS a real trick. Probably Shane cooked everything while Adam was making fires in the kitchen. Various other performers loved Adam’s. Some other weirdly-dressed folks liked Lisa the best. The three thank their sous chefs.

They go back to the hotel. Adam says rather pathetically, “Winning this would be a new beginning for my life. Right now, I got nothing. I’m not married. I don’t have a real job. My restaurant’s been closed for over a year. And I don’t know what I’m going to do if it doesn’t happen.“

That doesn’t really inspire confidence, even though he is being honest and sincere. Is it really the job of the Food Network to give purpose to Adam Gertler’s life? And at the expense of its viewers?

The three go into the eval room. Guy is sitting at the judge’s table and Bob says he was standing where they were 2 years ago.

Aaron’s promo is shown. Bobby said he came a long way in a very short time. Bob said his biggest problem has been a technical one of relating to the camera and that he did really well. For the intro to his buffet, Bob said Aaron took a big, big risk, which didn’t work. He said when the performer is uncomfortable the audience is too.

Well, you’re the ones that gave him that silly challenge. He was fine when you wrote something for him. I really don’t think his dumb performance should be held against him. Guy wishes he had told a story about his family or about how food had changed his life.

Bob said he thought Vegas would really inspire Aaron’s big bold flavored style of cooking, but he was disappointed to see 3 pasta dishes out of 5 or 6 dishes, “which negate what the draw of a buffet” is. That’s not a bad point.

Aaron says he wanted to keep it simple and the crab cake was meant to be the high end item. Bob says he loved the crab cake. Bobby says they’ve been big fans of his food, but they’ve had better food from him than what he served at the buffet.

I know where this is going. Lisa and Aaron both had somewhat disappointing buffets. Adam’s was really good, but they had better not use THAT alone as the basis of keeping Adam around. But I am feeling as if they may get rid of Aaron tonight.

Bob admits that Lisa had the hardest of 3 promos to do. Isn’t it interesting that the woman always has to work harder, be better and STILL fight her way to the top?

I do find this outrageous. It is so overtly sexist. The only reason they had her get up there in cables is because she’s a good looking female. And I think her promo was good, in spite of the difficulty. Bob doesn’t really us give a straight answer about how she did when she was all roped up and none of the other judges even comments (that we see), so basically the entire thing is gratuitous.

Why should I be surprised that sexism rears its ugly head, even in as non a political setting as the Food Network? After all, this is the network that shoots Giada’s show aiming straight at her chest.
But, honestly, that doesn’t particularly bother me. Giada can control her own destiny at this point.

But in THIS situation, 3 people are competing on a supposedly even playing field. Adam is with sexy showgirls, Aaron is gambling, looking all manly and powerful and Lisa IS the sex show wrapped in cables up in the air. I don’t think they actually planned it to look as stereotypically sexist as it did, but
the fact that this didn’t occur to anyone is troubling.

Susie moves on to Lisa's buffet. Susie says she took a huge, huge risk but it paid off. What was the risk, she has a great voice? Gosh, note to self, if I’m ever in that situation THAT is the time to bring out my championship hula hooping skills…

Bobby thought her buffet was incredibly elegant and that her “buffet looked like who” she is. She nods. Bobby loved the pork. Guy says he was disappointed that he got a piece of pork that was really dry.

All Lisa says is “I would have liked for it to be better, but it was the best we could with the situation.” I don’t mind that, I think apologizing is pointless and it only draws more attention to the mistake.

Adam said the showgirls were fun. The promo looked better than it seemed at the time. Susie liked it. Guy asked if he was as prepared for that 3 minute presentation as he was supposed to be. They never showed us when they were told about the formal presentation, but I guess it was supposed to be a big deal.

Susie said Adam's presentation was surprisingly boring. Guy wondered if he bit off more than he could chew with the smoking thing. He said he knew his food had to be really good this week. Bobby liked the pork, he liked the pizza. Adam looks at him meaningfully and says it means a lot. His pork chop was deemed the best dish in all the buffets.

Susie asks him why he’s getting so emotional when he hears good things about his food. Susie, I could tell you that. Low self-esteem, hard knocks the last few years, not feeling like he belongs… yada, yada, yada. He answers her... Low self-esteem, hard knocks the last few years, not feeling like he belongs…

Oh no...Bob says Adam settled all questions this week about whether he can cook or not. I knew it. He has ONE good week - food wise - out of eight and that’s going to be enough to send Aaron home?!! That stinks…..Bob says each of them brought a lot of positives and negatives to the challenge today.

Hey, I didn’t know that Everyday Italian was On Demand. It’s probably really old shows though. I’ll have to check it out.

They wait outside Caesar’s. Bobby says Lisa has a great package. See? I told you they just wanted to see her hanging in the air. Oh, he means she looks good on television and she can cook. Bob isn’t sure if people will like her enough to tune in every week.

Bob says it was heartbreaking to watch Aaron tumble so badly. He had 7 great weeks and one really bad week. Bobby also says this hasn’t been his strongest performance.

WAIT, they previewed Bob saying they’ve never done this before…I bet they’ll send NOONE home this week, because they know that Aaron’s not that bad and Adam’s not that good. They won’t put it that way, but let’s see...

Guy says there’s just something you like about Aaron. YUP, I think that’s what’s going to happen. Of course, I won’t mind if they send Adam home. He’s a nice guy, he really is, but, as Susie said, why should he learn on their dime (and OUR time)?

They move on to Adam. Bob says Bobby has been one of his severest critics and what did he think tonight? Bobby says he’s not a critic, “I want to believe him, I just have a hard time viewing him as an authority figure.” Bob says, yeah, but his food was the overwhelming favorite of the chefs and the performers. Bobby says (rightly) he showed tonight that he knows how to cook smoked meats, meaning that's ALL he can cook.

Guy likes Adam, but mentions his inconsistency of food and says THIS IS THE FOOD NETWORK. YES!!!! Thank you, Guy, YOU are a wise man.

Susie says she has a hard time believing that they could put Adam in a cooking show today. Okay, okay we all agree (except for Bob maybe) let’s send Adam off with a pat on the back, but let’s just send him…..

Guy says he wants the best of all three. Bob says he doesn’t know who to kick off.

Okay, here it comes and it’s…NOONE. ALL THREE are going back to New York. I’m sure I’m not the only genius who saw that coming.

They’re happy, especially Adam. He should be. He doesn’t deserve to be there. And, finally, next week, it looks as if they will actually be giving a cooking demo in a studio, without the help, hopefully, of RR and the girl scouts.


Cynthia said...

Your analysis about part of it being sexist is spot on! That is what I said to my other best gal, Susan. And yes, TROUBLING that no one seem to notice on the FN!!!!

Anonymous said...

Hoisting Lisa in the air like that, in a skin-tight catsuit, no less, was definitely sexist. (And unfair, given how much harder her intro was than the other two!)

Moreover, sorry, but I am NOT inclined to forgive or excuse Aaron for his pathetic and insulting introduction. I have a friend with an eating disorder. She is fighting very hard to overcome it and it is NOT an easy battle. Who the hell makes fun of people with heartbreaking disorders? What next? A Food Network show where they toss banana peels on wheelchair ramps and wait for people to spinout or slip? I expect a Food Network host to be sensitive to eatings disorders. (Not to mention how stupid it was to mock eating disorders in a room full of Vegas performers, some of whom probably are battling or have battled with eating disorders, and many of whom probably know people who have battled or are battling with eating disorders!) Aaron had a mediocre promo, a poorly conceptally buffet, and an abysmal presentation, and for that, he should have been kicked off TNFNS. For mocking eating disorders, he should have been kicked out on his arse.

The Short (dis)Order Cook said...

The Food Network has never exactly been politically correct when it comes down how women are treated. We are always seeing Giada in low cut shirts, Rachael Ray in hip huggers (eyeball bleach please!), and then there is that hair thing I always compalin about. The only TNFNS female died out after a few shows. FN doesn't seem to want women who can't or won't do sexy.

I don't get why they keep a contestant on who doesn't have expertise. Don't we watch cooking shows to learn something?

Thanks again for another one of yoru great recaps!

Andie Pandie said...

Totally agree with you about the sexist thing. I called that right away when Guy started talking about the "Wine angels" or whatever their name was. *puke* And Aaron's intro was horrifying to watch. Fully agree with Dartmouth, 1. don't ever make fun of eating disorders 2. especially in a room full of performers. Jeebus.

I must admit that it is Lisa and Kelsey's fault about the pork. No matter what, you always spot check whatever you have going on in the oven, most especially when it's an unfamiliar oven. They should have paid more attention.

KAMILLE said...

Thanks for your commentary--I think it's your best one yet for the show. As I was talking with my husband about it--we both agreed that it was totally Aaron who should have gone home (despite the fact that he's very likable & been pretty consistent with cooking)--it seems only fair.

You could just see the judges thinking, "well if we base it on how well they cooked, that would mean Adam would have to stay and Aaron leave--CRAP!!" I don't understand why they didn't send him home way before and now it's biting them in the butt.

I didn't like Lisa at all the first episode, but I would have to change my sentiments towards her and I think she would actually bring culinary skills and knowledge to the network.

About Aaron's intro, poor guy--it was bad for sure, but I think taking his intro so seriously about the eating disorder like other people have commented--give him a break. I'm sure he wasn't thinking, "how could I be insensitive to people w/eating disorders?"

Nancy said...

I love watching people cook and that's why I enjoy the FN. However, I don't care a thing about most of the other programming and only wish there were cooking shows on in the evening. Not in our area, anyway. I would not watch Aaron or Adam but I would watch Lisa.....to see her clothes. How's that for sexist???? I'm going to miss your comments when this is history very, very much. They are a hoot.

Sue said...

Hi Cyn,
I'm glad you said your OTHER best gal pal...Lisa’s challenge WAS ridiculous.

Hi Dartmouth,
There really are no two ways about it, Lisa got shafted. It almost makes me like her…

Aaron was definitely misguided and totally out of his element when he did his really poor introduction. I think it was more a lack of comfort in a public speaking situation than a stalwart prejudice against anorexics.

Kicking him off just for that would have been the Food Network folks shooting themselves in the foot, because then they’d be left with Adam, who can’t cook and Lisa, who no one likes.

Hi Rach,
This week there was definitely objectionable sexist stuff going on. But as far as Giada goes, I might be wrong, but I sort of think THAT is how she is in her personal life. Maybe they’re just picking up on it. I don’t mean that in a bad way. I just mean that in LA, they dress more briefly and appearance is a lot more important than in other places.

RR, I have never found attractive in that way, or really any other…she does have nice thick hair, though. PAULA, herself, would like MORE sexy action. I do love her, but I do wince a bit as she tongue kisses strange men from her audience.

I don’t get the whole Adam thing either. He can’t cook (except a few meat things, which took him 8 weeks to demonstrate) and that should be the end of it…and him.

Hi AP,
Their treatment of Lisa was appalling. Good point about Aaron’s audience, but let’s not forget that he works in a hospital, so I really think his cluelessness was the result of his nervousness.

You’re right on about the oven. I’m surprised Lisa didn’t accuse someone of sabotaging the oven setting. Oh, SORRY! Wrong Lisa, wrong show…

Hi Kamille,
IF the rules were absolutely black and white, heck, if there WERE even any rules, of course, you could say Aaron lost this challenge and should have gone.

But since the end of line is supposed to be a Food Network television show, there really is no way that they could have gotten rid of Aaron. You’re right that their HUGE mistake was keeping him this long.

Yes, I would say that Lisa is minuscule-y more likeable and she certainly can cook.

I agree about Aaron. He could just as easily have made insensitive remarks about people with purple hair. He wasn't thinking and he had no idea what he was doing.

Hey Nancy,
Actual cooking shows are what I love about the Food Network (when they’re good). They seem to think that opening up the programming to travel and whatever else they do in primetime is the way to court different viewers. That’s okay with me, it doesn’t interfere with House Hunters.

I watch Giada to see what necklace she’s wearing and Ina, in part, to see the cute huggable Jeffrey, so I guess I’m a Jewelry-ist AND a Jeffrey-ist.

Don’t worry, I've got plenty of cooking shows to write about. I’m way behind on Sunny and Anne.