Monday, June 8, 2009

The Next Food Network Star Season 5 - From Ahhhhhhhsch-SHE-oat-tay (Achiote) To Store Bought Angel Food Cake

Let’s See How This Season’s Crop Does

The Next Food Network Star - Season 5

The FOOD NETWORK does something so stupid and makes such an elementary mistake that I can barely stand to watch this show! They are now SO MUCH on my bad side that I want to scream. What have they done?

In the opening parts of the show - the ones that give us our first impressions of the finalists - they REFUSE to put the names below the strangers’ faces, so we have NO idea who's talking. Later in the episode it doesn’t matter, but in the early minutes, it's infuriating! I hope they're happy. EVERYONE is on my bad side now!

We’re told that in this season the challenges will be tougher. INA is shown in a future episode saying “Welcome to my house.” I can already see there’s a Kelsey wannabe. And how did Rach get super long hair?

We see scenes of NYC. Jen, 30, arrives, with awful different colored bangs. She says she’s a modern housewife. Her husband is the most important thing to her.

The others and my first impressions:

Jamika - personal chef, “true island girl”. She thinks Jen looks like Barbie.

Katie - cute from Philly, dietician and personal chef.

Brett - executive sous chef. He looks like Adam…let’s hope the resemblance ends there.

Michael – annoying, lives at home.

Eddie – He looks just like the adorable Matthew on The Stagers. (I LOVE him!). But Eddie, unlike Matthew, seems really full of himself.

Melissa is the Kelsey-type, but older. She’s a stay-at-home mom to four girls.

Teddy looks like a real chef. Oh, he owns a restaurant. How did I spot the real chef in milliseconds?!!

Debbie - Korean spin on things.

Jeffrey - from LA. I like him okay, but he’s clearly NOT a cook, because he says he’s been “IN restaurants” from 13 to 32. Isn’t that kinda what Adam said?

They go to the FN kitchen. Gosh, one of them really DOES look like Adam. Someone trained them to call the judges “the selection committee”. So pointless.

“EACH of you has SOME of the qualities we’re looking for,” says Bob. “Humor, warmth, star quality.” How interesting that Bob doesn’t mention COOKING ABILITY. Susie says integrity is the most important. (They’re not electing the Pope for goodness sake!) Bobby says he guards the food stuff. Thankfully SOMEONE is.

They’re told the first challenge will be cooking for 75 guests at the FN 16th birthday party. Well, that’s one way to function in a recession.

Jen’s hair HAS to be updated. They keep showing the folks WITHOUT their names. I don’t know who the heck they are. If they don’t tell me, I’m not bothering.

They divide into two teams.

Green Team: Teddy, Jamika, Brett, Jen (I can’t help noticing the bad bangs which are 3 shades lighter than the rest of her hair…but that’s good, because now I know who SHE is, at least) and Melissa

Red Team: Debbie (Korean), Eddie, Jeffrey (long really atrocious hair), Katie (so earnest and kind of adorable…in a good way). She looks like Lisa Edelstein, without a dark side, and Michael (so fake and full of himself that he’s annoying and he’s barely opened his mouth.)

Each team gets $1200 to shop and they have 5 hours.

FOOD NETWORK!!! PUT THE NAMES UNDER THE FACES!!! WE DON’T KNOW WHO THESE PEOPLE ARE! OMG! I’m going to take it out on them. If they don’t introduce THEMSELVES before they speak, they will have points deducted. I’m NOT KIDDING!

SOMEBODY on the Green Team asks SOMEBODY else on the Green Team who has the most catering experience and that person should be team leader. Somebody pipes up that he owns a hotel, so he’s chosen. Looking at my list, it must be Teddy or Brett. I think it’s the one that looks like Adam, so maybe it’s Brett, but WHY couldn’t they show his name?

Oh good, Jamika refers to him as Brett. Thank YOU, Jamika. Bonus points for you. FN stinks.

FINALLY, they show Brett, WITH HIS NAME, telling us his dish. Here are the folks and their dishes:

Brett – Beef Tenderloin with Red Wine Sauce and Butternut Squash Soup.

Teddy – Herb and Truffle Infused Potato Gratin

Jamika - Floribbean (HUH?!! Oh, I get it…a mix of Florida and Caribbean) Shrimp Cocktail with Mango Jicama Slaw

Melissa – Apple Tarts with Caramel Drizzle

Jen – Green Beans with Walnuts & Grape Tomatoes...Okay Jen, unless you’re going to freeze dry those suckers or breathe fire on them, your dish seems to be the least inventive of all of them. Good luck to you. She’s my first pick for who goes home.

Red Team

Michael – Five Spiced Tenderloin with Pickled Vegetable Slaw

Debbie, who volunteered to be captain – Crab Cakes with Spicy Mayo

Katie, “I love healthy food J” – Beet, Pomegranate, Orange Salad & Sautéed Swiss Chard

Jeffrey – Achiote Grilled Zucchini with Mushroom Ragu. The food network won’t tell us the people’s names, but they give a special aside to Jeffrey to explain that Achiote is annatto.

Eddie – the lookalike of the adorable stager - Jelly-Filled Beignets (Did he SAY he’s using buttermilk biscuits OUT OF A CAN?!!) AND he’s making B.L.A.S.T. Bowls – Bacon, Lettuce, Avocado, Sprouts and Tomato. That’s a little too precious for me. Oh, maybe he said “BALLS”. Dunno.

Is it just me, or do these dishes (with obvious exceptions) seem to be on a higher level than other seasons’ early dishes? You may not think this from my remarks…but I do think this challenge is a decent one. They actually get to COOK and the other ancillary stuff is at a minimum.

2 folks from each team go shopping. Michael and Debbie have to take stuff away from their shopping, because they’ve gone over budget. They sort it out and leave. Then we see an entire basket of food which seems to have been forgotten. That can’t be good. I’m going to stick my neck out here and say that, à la apprentice, Debbie - as team leader - may be the one voted off the island tonight. She’s taking a lackadaisical approach to the whole thing.

FINALLY, they’re showing names. Jeffrey is upset because Debbie didn’t bring back any Ahhhhhhhsch-SHE-oat-tay. He draws out the pronunciation to impress us. It just irks me.

Debbie couldn’t find buttermilk biscuits (thank goodness), so she bought ready-made angel food cakes and is planning to serve them with a “ricotta cream”. OKAY, ‘NUFF SAID, DEBBIE IS LEAVING.

Blondie with the bangs, Jen, tells us that Bobby walks in his chef’s whites. She has EXACTLY the same intonation of being thrilled as Kelsey would have had. (Oh, wait, I thought MELISSA was like Kelsey. I guess there are two of them.) I won’t give her a hard time about that. I’m a sucker for chef’s whites too and Bobby IS looking pretty spicy these days.

Bobby asks Jen if she thinks GREEN BEANS are fancy enough for the network she wants to work for. Bobby have you SEEN some of what’s on the Food Network? She’s kind of offended and tells him it’ll be good. Well, at least, she’s not trying to palm off store bought angel food cake as something “fancy”.

Bobby is worried that Jamika’s shrimp appetizer is being made too far ahead. It’s being served cold, she assures him.

Mommy Melissa is happy with the apple tarts that “her girls absolutely love”. Well, Missy, you’re not in Kansas anymore and I used to love canned cherry pie filling as a kid ( I did!), but I wouldn’t exactly serve it to Bobby. Bob and Susie maybe…but not Bobby.

Teddy says he takes “BAR FOOD” and brings it up to restaurant quality. Huh? I picked him to be the real chef and he’s gonna be making snack food!?

Because he’s team leader, Brett feels he should be running off at the mouth as he cooks, kibitzing about everyone else’s food. Bobby says (to us) that Brett definitely has the most energy. If constant blabbering is an indication of great energy, then I would be able to get to the moon and back on my own power…so would Brett.

Michael tells Bobby that his culinary point of view (remember when they kept asking about that last season) is Global à Go Go. Bobby laughs.

Eddie’s B.L.A.S.T. thingamajig looks like it might be good, but I still don’t like him.

OMG, Jeffrey says Ahhhhhhhsch-SHE-oat-tay again! GMAB! Seriously, he’s an idiot.

Debbie’s crab cakes look really flat. Bobby says she looks (too?) happy about being team captain and if her team loses, she could be in trouble. SCORE!!! MY point exactamundo!

Blondie Mom notes that catering is a whole different ball game than home cooking. Okay, hon, but what part of this competition did you think was going to be about home cooking? Her team helps her get her tarts in the oven.

Katie can’t find her Dijon mustard and Debbie doesn’t help much. The green team lends her some.

Lots of the food network notables are in the house – Morimoto, Alex, Giada, Duff, Guy, Ted Allen, and Alton. Nancy O’Dell is there interviewing folks.

They bring out the captain of the green team first. Brett, the Adam look alike, (OH, there are Anne and Aaron!) is a complete pig and introduces his dish and says now I’m going to introduce our staff which is a bunch of pretty girls and good looking guy Teddy. Giada looks disgusted. Alton screws his face up in disapproval.

Jamika is cute. She introduces herself well with Bob smiling all over himself.

Teddy is pretentious and says “I’m coming at you with the mind of a chef.” Alton raises his eyebrows, thinking “WE’LL be the judge of THAT.” Teddy is officially off my list. Which list? Any of them. I’m ignoring him.

Jen is soooooooooo boring, “I’m a modern day housewife.” “I’m making green beans.” Duff and Bobby shake their heads. HON, even if that’s what you and the hubby want to secretly refer to you as…DON’T SAY IT IN PUBLIC!!!

Melissa has a lot of energy. She’s smart and says HAPPY 16TH BIRTHDAY!!! She was the first to do that. She’s cute and she’s even ok mentioning the kids. Oh, Sunny’s there too. Bob gives her his happy look. Okay, so he likes Jamika and Melissa so far.

Jerky Teddy says they’re face to face with the most influential people in the food industry. WELL, this isn’t exactly General Foods (or should I say Kraft?) and he’s irritating me.

Alton is on the buffet line and smells his food. I know he’s supposed to be judging, but sticking his nose in food (even if it’s his own serving) is slightly boorish.

This is good. Brett is serving Alex a cup of soup and he’s apologizing that it’s not super hot. Brett says they’re working in substandard conditions here. It was perfect, because they were having the party at Butter restaurant. Alex says, “I’m the chef here. Don’t talk smack about my kitchen.” Love it!

Alex is the perfect example of why this show is so frustrating in so many ways. Alex Guarnaschelli is a chef. She’s not on television with cooking as an afterthought. She IS a chef first. These people clearly aren’t.

Bobby’s fav is Melissa’s tart. Duff likes that she puts salt in the dough. (Gosh, he’d hate mine.) Sunny likes her presentation. Anne thinks she gave too much information too fast. (Pot calling the kettle black? Nah…I think Mom did okay.)

Bob – Jamika’s dish is the best (the slaw) and the worst (the shrimp). Giada likes her.

Sunny finds nothing special about Jen’s green beans and Morimoto says you could buy it at the corner deli. Bobby and Anne give it a thumbs down.

Teddy and Anne would have liked Teddy’s gratin if it had been done.

Giada and Duff hate Brett’s tenderloin.

The red team is up. Debbie is ordering Katie and Jeffrey to handle the angel food cake, which you just know is going to get somebody eliminated. Katie tries to salvage the presentation by adding mint. She says, “It’s like sticking a bandaid on a gun shot wound.” Eww.

Jeffrey notes that Debbie takes no ownership of dessert. This will be good, because if she manages to stay, the others will be gunning for her.

Debbie introduces herself by saying she’s not a typical Korean. She doesn’t speak Korean or make Kimchee. (That’s nothing to proud of…Kimchee is awesome!) She says she’s just a southern girl. (A southern girl would have come up with a pecan pie or something.) The crowd loves her.

Katie says she’s a chef and a registered nutritionist. Yawn.

Jeffrey isn’t dreadful when he says he takes ingredients from all over the place and tries not to insult every country involved. Duff likes him. Smile from Bob, although Jeffrey pronounces ragu “rag-GOOOOOO”, which makes me think of goop and Gwynnie’s greasy legs, but I digress. I guess I should be happy that he didn’t rue the fact that he was missing his Ahhhhhhhsch-SHE-oat-tay.

Michael seems hackneyed to me. “I bring you everywhere, honey, from Bed Stuy to Bangkok.” Eh, but he has the crowd laughing. He has a weird New Yawk accent, which he puts on for effect.

Matthew look-alike, Eddie is kinda serious, which verges on pretentiousness. I can’t tell what the folks think about him.

The food is served on the buffet line. Alton is full of himself as he says to Katie, you’re SUPPOSED to be nutrition savvy, why should I eat this? I personally would have served it on his head! Katie has the nerve to say that basically it will make you crap well. I’m NOT KIDDING. She uses the words “digestive motility” (which impresses Alton), but that’s what she meant. Between the bandaid and this, she has quite graphic turn of phrases at her disposal.

They liked Debbie’s crab cake sauce and Michael’s filet.

They even liked Jeffrey’s dish AND Jeffrey.

Katie’s dish was universally panned. Anne said it tasted like it came from a dietician.

Eddie’s dish? Thumbs down. Bobby wants more of HIM in the food. That’s not necessarily a good thing.

Susie says the cake is an embarrassment. She says her three year could have made it.

During the evaluation, Bob says they want them to demonstrate the “culinary expertise” that they demand of a Food Network Star. Guffaw, guffaw…

I love that Bob dresses down Debbie a bit for basically lying to her teammates when she said they came in under budget (after putting a cart full of food back). I don’t actually see how that matters though, but since I don’t like Debbie, I’m going with it. She better get busted for the angel food cake. She finally takes responsibility after saying at first it was a group decision.

They like Michael, Jeffrey, Jamika (not the shrimp) and Melissa.

They don’t like Katie, Eddie (no flavor), Brett, Jen (dish not worthy), or Teddy (good flavor but dish uncooked).

And the winner is…I think it will be Melissa…

The winner is…oh, there are, three of them – Jeffrey, Michael and Melissa. The overall winner is Jeffrey. Ugh! Those three can leave the room. Debbie looks surly. It’ll probably be Jen going home.

Jamika and Teddy are safe, as are Katie and Debbie. Bah humbug. THEY can leave. That leaves Brett, Jen and Eddie. Brett is safe and can leave.

Jen is the big loser. Not a surprise. She leaves through her veil of tears…I really think her bangs had a lot to do with it. Note to future FN Stars. Make sure your hair color is consistent.

Oh, I forgot the number one rule of these shows. The first person (or close to it) they show at the beginning is the one to go home. Jen was the first to arrive! I didn’t need to sit through an hour of this and you didn’t need to read almost 3000 words to find out that it would be Jen going home. Remind me of that next week.


The Short (dis)Order Cook said...

I watched last night and wondered how I would keep up with who was who since I'm not likely to watch every week. I automatically thoght, "I have Sue! She'll keep me straight."

I didn't hate Jeffrey or Debbie. Debbie strikes me as redeemable. I did hate Jen - total Barbie. I also don't like Melissa. She's a new Rachael Ray playing to the Rachael Ray demographic. She's annoying and she probably doesn't have more than a season's worth of edible recipes - just like Rachael. Jeffrey is definitely someone "different" - food wise and looks wise. I'll bet anything they'll keep him around for the drama factor and probably Melissa too.

Teddy and Brett were waaaayyy too full of themselves. I enjoyed watching Brett flop.

Of course they had to have the larger-than-life gay guy in there. He'll be on the show for a good long time for the drama factor as well.

Your comment about haircolor should also apply to Susie. I was thinking to myself that I should consider her haircut the next time I need a trim. Then I looked at that COLOR. She looks like a teenager who just went out with a lot of Sun-IN in her hair and then let the roots grow out too much. I would certainly never imitate that color.

DebCarol said...

Haha.... was waiting for your first review post on this season's NFNS and you didn't disappoint!! Had a grand time reading it, much better time than I had watching it. I thing Debbie should have been first one to go even though blond-bang girl was first runner up for that honor. I liked seeing all the big names there - especially Alex G. and Morimoto. Here is my big complaint -- lets do away with the 10 minute shopping trips in Whole Foods. Been there, done that so many times that it already seemed like a rerun.

JennDZ - The Leftover Queen said...

This was so great, I didn't even have to watch the show - which is a good thing considering we have no TV at the moment. But it is arriving on Wednesday. I am loving that you referred to Alton as Boorish - I find this to be true frequently. ;)

Sue said...

That's what I'm here for!

I actually dislike Debbie more than Melissa. You're right about Teddy, Brett AND Michael.

And I LOVED Sun-In! But it did take months and months for it to grow out.

Thank you, DC!
Double ditto about Debbie and Blondie. And that IS sooo true about Whole Foods. I guess they just wanted to show how scattered Debbie was.

You must be getting so much done without the boobtube! I envy you. I hope the move went well.

Adam said...

Ah, here it is! Thanks for the recap Sue. I don't even need to watch the episode now (If I could) :)

I think I agree with what you said with not putting the cooking first. FN is way too guilty of that now, it's kind of sad. Oh well. Looking forward to next week :)

Sheila said...

I hope it gets better as the season goes on. I thought the episode was boring. I AM excited to see the challenge involving Ina and her house!!!! Thanks for the recap Sue!

Kamille said...

After watching the first episode last week I was a bit perturbed with Debbie for sure. However, I knew when all was said and done Jen would be leaving, because she didn't make anything special.

However, I totally disagree with you on Jeffrey. He didn't come across as pretentious. You mention that he isn't really a cook, but it seems with this week and last week he is proving he has some real cooking chops. Plus, if he's never been a "chef" than that's even better for him (much like Ina Garten) because it shows he has skills that supersede a culinary education. I like him and after reading your gambling numbers I would agree that he's in the running for winning.

Also, I personally liked that Bob, Susie, & Bobby addressed three very different aspects of what they're looking for in the NFNS, because it was setting the groundwork for the viewers at the get go. Unlike last season, where it seemed a bit ambiguous as to why some were being eliminated and others were not. Plus, (in their defense) I like that they said what angle they were coming from in terms of judging. Each judge brought a specific element needed to the table, because the NFNS ultimately needs to be able & capable of more than camera skills and more than cooking skills, but both.

I wouldn't be surprised if Brett or Eddie are the next to go home.

Kamille said...

meant to say Teddy or Eddie, not Brett as he is home now.

Sue said...

It's my pleasure to give up my Sunday nights for you.

Yeah, the show did drag a bit. I think it gets better when there are fewer folks to follow.

I can't wait to see Ina. I bet she's going to be pretty tough, though. I wonder if Jeffrey is going to say hi...They probably won't be that lucky.

Hi Kamille,
I don't like Jeffrey on the show (I didn't this week either), but I thought he was okay on Adam's interview videos with the contestants.

You're right, it's good that the judges were upfront about what they are judging on, but it doesn't make me like it when they pick people who can't cook.

I have to check if the odds have changed this week...after I find someone to explain them to me.

KAMILLE said...

Sue--it's true about people not being able to cook. You would think there would be a list of requirements before someone can even apply, but I guess it makes for good ratings and they know if everyone was great the ratings might not be as high. Who knows?