Hah, not that fast. I had to sit through the whole thing...
We have a quick wrap-up of the season. We get a quick bio of the three left. We see Lisa’s aprons, which look like they come from Victoria’s Secret. Adam is up. We see the spot of his restaurant that closed. (Boo-hoo) He did say one interesting thing. He said he didn’t mind serving food, but he just wanted it to be HIS.
We see Aaron at home. He wants to motivate youth and encourage them to have more self esteem. It’s not cockiness, he says, it’s confidence. Interesting, if he had shown MORE confidence this season, there would probably be no contest. I still think it will be him, though.
The three arrive at the Food Network studio. Bob and Susie greet them. This will be an AUDITION to end all auditions, Susie says. They’re doing a pilot on RR’s set. They get to work with Gordon Elliott as their producer. I like him a lot. I loved Doorknock Dinners. He looks a bit gaunt. I hope he’s ok. Maybe producing for the Neelys has taken away his appetite.
The three each have to present a pitch to Gordon. Lisa’s not a one trick pony, she says. (Yeah, there are LOTS of things people hate about her.) She wants to use lots of props. She presents THREE pitches to Gordon. I’m not sure that’s a good idea. One is something about green cooking, another has to do with fashion. Huh? Gordon likes the beautiful basics one the most. He says healthy looks beautiful and is stylish.
Aaron’s next. Uh-oh. He doesn’t really have any concrete ideas. Gordon asks what others call him. He says Big Daddy. They grab onto that and that’s the end of the pitch meeting.
Adam’s idea is called “I’m always hungry in Philadelphia”. He wants people to send in recipes from the web and he’ll do his spin on them. Gordon decides, “You talk to people live on the web.” That’s the end of it and it seems they have a complete idea for a show. Strange. Gordon says he’ll see them on the set. I’m guessing, I’m hoping that A LOT more went into their preparation than what we see.
OH MY, Lisa is wearing a FUCHSIA dress on RR’s ORANGE set. She’s not doing that well. She doesn’t finish the dish. She keeps looking down at her sauce and not at the camera. She ended up better than she started, but it wasn’t that great.
Adam is next. “The magic of the internet is coming into his kitchen.” He seems comfortable. No. Please, no, don’t do well. He is nervous about all the steps in the recipe. He starts off well.
His internet caller is “peppering him with tons of questions” and it’s getting his timing off. I like that Gordon tells him to wash his hands with soap (he rinses them) with soap (he keeps rinsing them), WITH SOAP! Finally he uses soap.
He wasn’t that bad. I have to say. Not good enough for a show, but that never stopped them before.
Aaron is anxious. “I’m known as the Big Daddy in this kitchen.” Yes, he sounds good! Good job. Oh, he forgot his lines. They start again. He makes mistakes. They do quite a few takes. Last take, Gordon says. We haven’t even seen ONE. We see a bit. He’s okay. Aaron says he feels like crap. Gordon says he did a good job.
WELL, if the winner is based solely on these pilots, then Lisa is probably out. They CAN‘T give it to Adam, They CAN‘T give it to Adam, They CAN‘T give it to Adam, They CAN‘T give it to Adam. I hope not anyway.
We see them getting ready for the finale. How did they do that, if it’s live? Oh, I guess the part where they see the pilots is pre-taped.
Bobby introduces the three finalists. Lisa’s first. Bobby REALLY smiles when he says Aaron’s name. He manages not to sneer for Adam.
Lisa has great legs. Do her chances go up? Gordon looks more filled out. Bobby introduces all the other finalists, who will also be watching the pilots. Gosh, I really hated a lot of then. Kelsey looks 10. Nipa’s smiling.
Lisa’s pilot is first. Beautiful Basics. Hiiiiiiiii, she says. She’s doing Black Cod with Zabaglione. She’s personable. Bobby is smiling...A LOT. She whisks egg yolks over boiling water. NO ONE is going to do that. I hate to say it, but why couldn’t she do a blender version? She tells us twice that she first made this at 13. Susie is nodding. “Accessorize the fish” with the zabaglione, says Lisa. Not bad, not bad at all.
Lisa says it was an amazing experience. Bob and Susie really like her. Bobby says she’s unpredictable in a good way. Why, because he found he didn’t hate her?
Adam goes next with “Hungry In Philadelphia”. He makes a joke and says once Gordon got used to the studio, he was fine to work with. Har-har.
The pilot starts with Adam saying that he’ll take your favorite classic dishes and put his own spin on them. His parents are gazing adoringly at him. He measures out 1½ cups brown sugar for one chicken. I hope there are no diabetics in his audience. He uses smoked paprika.
He pours out half a can worth of beer into a roasting pan. He crams garlic and herbs into the remaining beer in the beer can and shoves the chicken on top. That’s not a terrible idea.
He takes it out of the oven. He tastes it and he doesn’t do a bad job at all. He looks very comfortable in his interaction with the viewer. Susie says he nailed it. Does this just show that anyone can be made to look good with a talented producer? Even Bobby says it made him want to taste the chicken.
Aaron is last. “I’m gonna make you want what I got”, he promises us. Okay, Big Daddy. He makes a jerk seasoning blend. He puts a steak in a big hot pan. He fries plantains. They look gorgeous. I have to say he’s not quite as comfortable as Adam. He plates the steak on top of collard greens and finishes it with plantains. He tastes. “THIS is what Big Daddy is talking about. All the flavor in the world, baby.” He gets the biggest applause. I’m not sure why. Aaron admits to being nervous, but says he liked the pilot. Bob and Susie give him great reviews.
IF based solely on the pilot, I would have to give it to Adam. I mean it. I really liked that shoving of stuff in and on the beer can. Of course, when he’s done with that recipe, he may not have anything else to show us.
Lisa did okay, but her recipe was just not something that anyone would make. People are not going to use 6 egg yolks in a sauce for fish. So no, I don’t think she will take it.
Aaron, I liked him just fine. I would watch him and I think he has a lot of great recipes to share. Lisa’s I can get from Mastering. I don’t think Bobby will let Adam win, I just don’t, no matter how good this performance was.
The judging begins. (Did we ever find out why the judges refuse to call themselves judges and insist on SELECTION COMMITTEE?)
Bob says they got the right three people and that Adam was easy to watch. Bobby liked his technique. Susie says he blew her away. Bob says Aaron had confidence. Susie says you can’t manufacture that level of passion.
Susie says the zabaglione seemed accessible. Bobby says he finds her intriguing. Bob asks who can start tomorrow working on a show?
The judges come back out. Bobby says Lisa, Adam, Aaron - one of you will become part of the Food Network family. They introduce the president of the Food Network, Brooke Johnson. She says TOMORROW they will start on their show, which will go on the air in ONE WEEK. Crazy.
Lisa says it’s been awesome experience. Aaron says it will be a challenge he’ll never forget. Adam says this is a life he wants. Bobby says the winner is…AARON MCCARGO Jr. His wife and sister rush up. That’s nice. Lisa gives him a really nice hug. His wife and sister told him he was going to win. “It wasn’t an easy road”, he tells the camera. “Never give up on your dreams”, he continues. How did they do a camera interview with him if this is live? Bobby thanks us for watching.
WELL! I don’t want to brag and say that Aaron was an early pick of mine, but…The truth is there were precious few appealing possibilities and Aaron has been likable the entire season.
I wonder if this will encourage the folks who vet the initial contestants’ entries to look for more cooking skill the next time. They really dodged a bullet and I think one could even say that they engineered Aaron’s win…which is perfectly okay with me. I guess whoever the judges wanted to win was going to.
I'd like to thank you all for being with me these last 9 weeks. I think we deserve a celebratory swig of something or other to commemorate our Sunday nights being free again...To Aaron! To Us!