Monday, July 13, 2009

Debbie "Selflessly" Attends To ONLY Her Dishes In A Team Challenge And My Dislike Of Jeffrey Knows No Bounds

Eww, Jeffrey’s shirtless.

The five remaining contestants arrive at the Jet Blue terminal to leave for Miami. (They've certainly made sure that the name Jet Blue is onscreen A LOT and prominently displayed.) They turn the corner and there’s Ted Allen with a chef.

It's interesting that Ted is there. He was all mad when he was replaced as a judge on Top Chef by the snarky Toby Young. It’s funny that here Ted mentions that he appreciates that his new show Chopped (which I like very much) doesn’t have any product placement.

Hmmm, there is Ted standing in the JET BLUE terminal, introducing the JET BLUE chef Michael Corey, “Concept Chef” of OTG Management, that runs the food operation at the JET BLUE terminal 5 at JFK. Isn't THAT a kind of product placement and, BTW, does a concept chef mean that he cooks up ideas rather than actual food?

The chef says they’re trying to give travelers “a true dining experience just like you would have anywhere in Manhattan”. Okay, THAT’S not always a good thing.

Each of the finalists will be placed in a different restaurant in the terminal and will have to come up with a dish that matches that place’s concept.

Jeffrey – Italian restaurant Aero Nuovo

Michael – French restaurant La Vie

Melissa – Tapas restaurant Piquillo

If Debbie gets an Asian one, that will be an outrage. That would be like giving Michael a gay one or Melissa a kid’s concept one.

Jamika – Sushi restaurant Deep Blue

THAT’S not fair. Sushi is a skill like flying a plane. They’re stacking the odds against her.

Debbie – American restaurant 5teak

Thank goodness!

Debbie actually makes a good point when she says the “panel” wants to see if they can go outside their comfort zone, but I still don’t think it’s fair to give someone sushi. Of course, I could just be speaking from my own inadequate sushi experience. Admittedly, I’ve only made it a handful of times, but my rolls aren’t round and the ingredients are NEVER in the middle, but on the bottom, so I’m feeling it for Jamika.

Whoever wins will get his or her dish on the menu. Whoo-Hoo!

Jeffrey says he loves going to Spain and eating tapas. Huh? He’s doing Italian. Oh, then he says he loves bruschetta and he’s going to make an Italian tapas-like thing and bring in his “COOKING WITHOUT BORDERS”.

I know I already don’t like Jeffrey, and so anything he says will get me going. But I can’t help feeling that using that expression “Cooking Without Borders” is supposed to subconsciously make us think of that irreproachably fantastic humanitarian organizationDoctors Without Borders and leave us feeling like he’s a real do-gooder. Sorry, it’s not working. It just makes me dislike his pompous self even more.

Jamika is having problems because THE KNIVES ARE CONNECTED TO THE CUTTING BOARDS! Wow! Is that so the chefs can’t run out into the terminal and stab somebody. That’s wild!

I’m noting that Jamika is not complaining at all about which restaurant she’s been given, so hopefully she’ll be fine.

Eww, eww, eww, Debbie uses her MOUTH to open a bottle. That should result in instant expulsion from the show. No kidding! Now her saliva will permeate every inch of her dish. That is truly disgusting!

Michael makes a mistake of choosing a dish with oysters and there’s no shucker, so he’s having a bear of a time getting them open. Luckily, he changes his dish to use clams instead. MUCH BETTER IDEA.

Melissa is annoying when she says, “A tapas bar doesn’t scream out family cooking”. Well, I guess she’s never been to Spain and seen entire families out with everyone from the baby to Grandma having a grand old time at tapas bars and everywhere else, as well. BUT Melissa says she grew up speaking Spanish and so that should help her. WITH WHAT? Her pronounciation? In fact, she doesn’t sound that great as she tells us she’s making Chicken a la Plancha.

Oh lookie here, Debbie’s going to be a rebel and NOT do steak at a steakhouse, but instead she’s doing an ASIAN Spinach salad. It’s not that it’s bad to do a salad, but she’s not really showing a lot of variation in her cooking.

Susie and Bob are there along with Ted Allen, the Jet Blue chef guy and a Jet Blue pilot and flight attendant. This is cool. The pilot is a woman and the attendant is a man.

Jamika – Deep Blue Sushi – Seared Tuna Salad With Orange Miso Vinaigrette

Jamika comes out all excited. She says she’s always late getting to the airport and once she’s there she’s always hungry. She creates a dish that you can eat there or take it to go. She likes that the judges are shaking their heads in agreement. Then, oh NO!, she mentions that she’s like to eat light, since “an airplane bathroom is nobody’s friend”. She knows instantly that that was a mistake.

Susie doesn’t like the toilet talk. Pam, the pilot, says it’s comfortable to listen to her. I like Pam. Bob says there isn’t anything particularly new about this dish. The chef says it isn’t the most original dish.

Debbie – 5ive Steak – Asian Spinach Salad with a Sambal Sesame Vinaigrette

Debbie comes out and says (to us) that a steak is going to be expected, but that this salad will be “a nice surprise”. I’m thinking not so fast.

Debbie describes her dish and Susie immediately says, rather angrily I thought, “Steakhouse, right? And no steak?” Yeah, nail her for it. Debbie says it’s a great way to awaken the palate before having a steak. I’m thinking that for whatever reason, she didn’t want to cook a steak.

Susie is mad as she says, “I don’t taste a lot of flavor”. And she’s really miffed that Debbie says it’s for women, who want to watch their waistlines. Susie is livid at the thought that only women care about their weight. RIGHT ON! Power to the People! Or whatever it takes to get Debbie off.

Jeffrey – Aero Nuovo - Bruschetta With Arugula, Poached Egg, Gremolata, Shaved Parmesan And Truffle Oil

Jeffrey comes out and says, “My life is kind of without borders and that kind of reflects my cooking”. He tells them he’s Lebanese and his wife is Iranian and raised in Italy. (Oh SO it’s really his wife’s background that he’s glomming onto?)

As he describes his dish, which includes gremolata, the Food Network folks feel it’s necessary to provide a description of this esoteric preparation in the form of a subtitle. Puhleez! I would have preferred one underneath Jeffrey that said “Poseur, Jackass and NO WAY IN HELL we’re giving him the title.”

Bob loves the “without borders” line. Oh, Bob, don’t fall for that! Susie loves the dish.

Melissa – PiquilloPolla À La Plancha With Potatoes And Chorizo

Melissa is proud of herself for reaching outside of her comfort zone and still saying true to herself. I can tell you one thing – that dish doesn’t sound like tapas AND, OMG, she describes à la plancha as meaning “on the plank”. NO! It means cooked on a metal plate or cast iron pan. l have to watch this again, maybe I’m being unfair. Nope, that’s what she says.

Oh no, they buy everything she says. The chef says it’s a perfect tapas dish. They love her tip of cutting chicken breast while it’s frozen and hearing about her Spanish SPEAKING (as opposed to Spanish) household, which she didn’t explain that well. It sounds like she had a Spanish babysitter. Plus, again, à la plancha does not mean On The Plank.

Incidentally, por la plancha means “On The Plank”. AND, actually, I don’t think it’s even a cooking term. It’s more like “He’s walking the plank”. HEY, Judges! Can any of you hear me! Don’t let Mel scam you! And please, any Spanish speakers, tell me if I have this wrong and even better, tell me if I’m right!

Michael - La Vie – Shrimp and Clams with Bacon Hollandaise

THAT sounds really good.

Michael comes out and describes his dish as a French inspired “Surf and Surf”. Funny. I think he does a great friendly job of telling them about the dish. Then troublemaker Bob has to come in with, “How does this dish represent you?” How about by the fact that HE COOKED IT, that’s how, Bob!

Michael isn’t thrown by the question and immediately comes back with “Global à GoGo, get ready to get on the plane, Honey”.

Bob thinks his presentation was dull. Ted has several problems with the dish, including the overly heavy bacon hollandaise and the vein that he found in the shrimp. (Jeffrey is sooo winning this one. Arrrggghhh!) Chef Jet Blue likes Michael’s “ambition”. Bob says the degree of difficulty was a 10, but the results were a 6. Well, no, not really. It didn’t look that difficult, unless, of course, the scale goes up to 100.

Jeffrey is definitely winning.

Michael’s dish lost. Jeffrey won and his dish is going on the Aero Nuovo menu. He says (to us) with nauseating seriousness, “Every win is one step closer to having this be my life.”

They run off to catch their flight. They arrive at Miami's Eden Roc Hotel (make sure you notice the glamour shot of the signage) and are thrilled with their suite. (Their website is pretty awesome. Turn on your speakers.)

They have to go immediately back downstairs. Ted Allen is there. (Was he on the same flight?)

Ted says Miami is famous for its nightlife and they’ll be working as a team, providing the food at one of Miami’s hottest nightclubs. (Jamika is instantly worried about the TEAM part. She SHOULD be, after Jeffrey chattered HER way right off the RR dem.)

They each have to come up with 3 hors d’oeuvres and a signature cocktail. They get to shop for one hour with $1500. Jeffrey gets to assign tasks to his fellow sompetitors and determine his own role as well. Jeffrey is going to host (OH? So he doesn’t have to take any responsibility for the food.) Michael is going to bartend. Debbie’s in charge of the kitchen. Melissa and Jamika are prepping and cooking.

They get to the Nikki Beach Nightclub to begin their prep.

Jeffrey – Crab Tostado and Cuban Bite with Spicy Bean Sauce

Debbie – Spicy Passion Fruit Chicken on Daikon and Korean Torta With Rib Eye

Melissa - Chicken Skewers, Salmon Shooters and Vegetable Asada

Melissa can’t understand why no one else thought it was important to have a vegetarian dish, so she decides to do three. She’s nuts.

Jamika - Mango Cilantro Shrimp With Pineapple Coleslaw and Jerk Chicken Skewers With Cilantro Chimichurri

Michael - Salmon Skewers Marinated In Margarita Mix and Chili Lime Shrimp

Jeffrey tells us the Team Drink is Spicy Chili Margarita. Oh, I thought they EACH had to do one. He’s getting nervous because the sugar syrup for the drink isn’t coming along fast enough.

Jeffrey says there’s more cooking that has to be done than time to do it. That’s a good line. They’re obviously setting us up for a bad time ahead.

Jeffrey wants to “pow wow” with everyone to figure out what everyone’s doing. No one else is ready. Jeffrey and Michael will be in the front of the house, so the three women have to get the guys’ dishes out as well as their own. Jeffrey and Mike want to have some time to explain to the gals how to do them. I see disaster lurking.

Folks arrive. Jeffrey greets the crowd. Why is he yelling? Jeffrey and Jamika are bringing out platters of hors d’oeuvres. Melissa says that no one has come up with an easy fast dish that can just go right out the door.

Susie and Bob are saying what a great host Jeffrey is. Bob chirps that Jeffrey just likes to make people happy. Thank goodness Ted is there, saying that crab meat on a store-bought chip (we watched Jeffrey agonizing in the store) isn’t that impressive. They don’t like Jeffrey's Pork “Cuban Bite” either, because the flavors aren’t “vibrant” enough, Ted says. Bobby agrees saying, “it was flat”.

Jamika brings over her hors d’oeuvres to the judges, but she’s trying to hurry because there’s so much left to do.

Susie hates that Jamika says she has other people to get to so she has to rush off. Ted says you should feel as if you’re the only person in the room. Ted and Bobby say her jerk chicken isn’t hot enough. Bobby says it should wake you up. (Gosh, you know, they really sound like I often sound - criticizing every little bite of food that comes out and being rather ungrateful and ungracious. I hope no one that would ever invite me for dinner is reading this. ) But the judges do think that Jamika’s shrimp and slaw dish was delicious, although a bit difficult to eat.

Jamika runs in the kitchen and asks Melissa how she doing. Oh, this is good. Melissa tell us that she’s plating hers and Jeffrey’s 5 dishes. Jamika is plating hers and Michaels. And Debbie? She’s plating her own. What did I say about her in the first episode of this season? That Debbie is a snake and cannot be trusted.

Michael is great in back of the bar. Melissa brings out her dishes to the judges. Ted appreciates that she did three. Bobby says “she has some technical issues.” I agree that onion looked completely uncooked on the chicken skewer. They like the flavor of the grilled vegetables. Bob thinks the execution was not ideal.

Jeffrey brings over what he says is going to be a spicy cocktail and Bobby says he can’t find the heat. He says you shouldn’t say it’s spicy, if it’s not. Jeffrey is walking around and lots of people are hungry. He sees that Debbie is busy doing her own dishes and not expediting the others.

The judges see that the guests are tackling the platters every time someone brings one out. Ted wonders if someone should go back to the kitchen to see what’s happening. Bobby gets up and goes into the cooking area. Bobby says he’s hungry and asks Jamika if he can have one of what she’s plating. He says they need to get more food out there. Debbie says to the camera that it’s bad if the front of the house knows the disasters that are going on in the back of the house. Well, that’s because she wasn’t doing her job of getting the food out.

Michael keeps doing a good job behind the bar, but he feels like there’s not enough food going out. He goes in the back and tells Debbie she should plate a bunch of stuff quickly, because lots of people have had no food. Michael “jumps in” and does it himself. He brings out a big platter to the judges and, just like Jamika, runs away to feed the crowd. They call him back to ask him about his dishes. They don’t think they have much flavor. “HE is memorable. His dishes weren’t”, says Bob.

Debbie comes out and brings the judges her food. They love her two dishes and think they’re the best things they’ve had all night, hands down. Yeah, but she wasn’t doing ANYTHING else. The crowd also likes Debbie’s. One vegetarian was grateful there was a vegetarian dish. The executive chef of the Nikki Beach Miami likes Jeffrey’s outgoingness. Michael is his least favorite. Debbie thinks the judges are going to blast their poor service. Melissa is worried, because she says the party was not a success.

Susie welcomes the contestants and guest judge Ted Allen. Susie says there were some high points and some pretty low points. Bobby says the biggest problem was getting any food and that he was starving.

Jeffrey, almost lecturing the judges, says the menu was too complicated to have the food ready in time. Bobby asked if HE was in charge. Jeffrey says he selected the positions and that he was the host and Debbie was in charge of the other two “girls” in the kitchen.

Bobby: “So Debbie was in charge of the kitchen?”

Debbie says she did the very best she could at that moment and that she was the only one in the kitchen the whole night.

Susie says Jeffrey’s intro was good, but that he may have over-promised a bit. Bobby didn’t get a lot of heat from his appetizers. Susie says the crab tostado had NO flavor. Bob says it was disappointing not to get everything that he had promised them verbally.

Bob tells Michael he was “the HOSTESS with the mostess” WHAT DID HE JUST SAY?!! Isn’t that kind of politically incorrect? Mike says thank you. Bob says he was not the favorite personality of the night and that his big personality turned ON some people, but also turned OFF some. And the judges didn’t like his marinated salmon or his shrimp. Wahwahwah.

Bob tells Jamika the crowd liked her, but he didn’t like how rushed she was to the judges. They didn’t like her jerk chicken, but they did like her shrimp.

Ted tells Melissa her vegetable dish was the tastiest of her three, “ a little bit messy, but good.” Susie says she shouldn’t have done three, and that it was too many with all that was going on. Mel shoots back that she was glad she did the third, because it was the only dish that many people ate that night. Okay, great, obviously, the vegetarians have to be fed, so she should have deep-sixed one of the other dishes.

Bobby tells Debbie that her two dishes were his favorites of the evening. But THEN, he says he wants to ask her about her role at the party and that everything seemed chaotic.

Debbie lies through her teeth and says, “I was trying to do whatever I could to just get the food out.”

Susie says it was scary how people jumped on whoever was bringing out the food. Debbie says she was under the impression that Jeffrey was the team leader. Susie says how would that have changed what you did? She explains…not well…that she could only do so much and she was trying to let the other two women get out there.

Then Debbie says - (this is a superb) - “I was being selfless.” Oh boy! This’ll be good!

Susie says she’s sensing a little martyrdom and she wants to know exactly what Debbie was doing. Debbie says she was doing whatever she could at that moment. Yeah, that’s true, she was doing whatever she could at that moment to ensure that HER dishes were the best and she doesn’t give a hoot about anyone else’s.

Ooh goodie, there’s a big discussion with the judges when Melissa says she plated 5 appetizers, Jamika plated 4 and Debbie only did her own. Bob gets all the facts reiterated, so he can really understand that Debbie is a selfish wench and did nothing for anybody.

Debbie finally says, “I wasn’t there to plate 6 dishes, I was there to expedite”. Yeah, Debs, we get the idea, we really do. Bob says with exasperation, “Okay.”

Oy, if they don’t get rid of Debbie, then there is going to be some kinda tension in the house. They all go back to their suite, and, as Jamika puts it, “The bell rings and the gloves go on.” Well, no matter that the gloves should come off, rather than go on, but whatever…

Jeffrey whines, “How many times did I say we had to be done a half hour early?” He was the boss and the Man Without Borders blew it. And he tells us he’s not going to let someone get away with a poor performance and pretend to be the victim, like Debbie was doing. Mommy Mel says everyone makes mistakes and it’s just a matter of WHICH mistake is going to get you sent home.

Back to the judges, Bob likes how Jeffrey makes everyone feel important and has a memorable personality. Luckily, Bobby chimes in with the fact that his food wasn’t “so” good. Susie believes in Jamika as a talent.

Bob says he could not love Melissa more for her spunk and her energy. Is he tearing up? They think her failings can be worked with. They’re talking about these people as if they’re prize ponies or show dogs. Nah, actually, no one in that group is THAT extraordinary yet.

Bob thinks Michael may have the most personality of all of them. But Susie reminds them of how he said, “I can’t do this in front of a camera”. She says, “That is really Job Number One.” Bobby says he neglected his food. Ted agrees.

Susie says that “Debbie showed a very unattractive side of herself this week.” Ted says but her food was the best. Bob says it wasn’t acceptable on a TEAM challenge for her to only do her own 2 dishes. He says that was kind of “shameful”.

If Debbie doesn’t go home, they must not be showing us 99% of what happened.

The five come back in. Susie says it was a tough decision. Jamika and Melissa are safe and so is Jeffrey. That leaves them with Michael and Debbie.

Bob wonders if Michael can overcome his fear of the camera. Bob says Debbie had some challenges in the kitchen this week and he’s not sure she totally owned up to them.

And the result? WHAT?!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! They get rid of Michael, not Debbie. Oh c’mon, they only did that to keep the drama. Michael says to us he’s surprised and that he bets we are too. That’s an understatement.

The preview shows them taking away all of Debbie’s Asian ingredients. Interesting…

In previous shows, they kept bringing in this whole ethical aspect…that The Next Food Network Star has to be a person of high morals. Then why did they allow Debbie to stay when they caught her in a lie? I suppose that wasn’t as bad as Michael making a salmon hors d’oeuvre not taste enough of a margarita. I guess I can understand that. Lying can be excused and overcome, but a bad appetizer…that’s forever.


The Short (dis)Order Cook said...

I missed it this time around. I was too busy having a late dinner at Red Plum and I got home and the show was halfway over and I found myself *ahem* busy anyway.

What really gets me about this season is just how it still seems to be anyone's game. I really thought Debbie and Jamika would be gone before Michael. Michael seemed like the best cook of the bunch (most of the time anyway). I can see the drama hapening with the judges. One likes Debbie and the other doesn't. Will Debbie go next week or will Jeffrey or Jamika screw up? You never know till you watch.

I don't know about how well these people can do on a cooking show, but this show is exceptionally well edited. They are really using good production techniques to keep the watchers guessing.

From what I'm reading, everything about this contest is unfair. Catering a nightclub has nothing to do with hosting a cooking show. Placing a contestant too far outside his or her area of expertise is cruel. None of this makes sense. Why can't this contest be about cooking good food and demonstrating how to make the dishes? Isn't that what a cooking show is about?

Tom said...

Hi Sue,

This is the first episode I wish I had actually seen instead of read about. Not having seen any of them, I am sorry to see Michael go -- anyone who would say "hostess with the mostess" on the air might just be worth watching.

What strikes me as weird about this is that they could media train the winner. I had some media training in my former life and it really worked. So why aren't they looking for really good food here? Maybe the finer points of camera personality can't be taught, but if I could improve enough to be on live TV answering questions, nearly anyone can.


DebCarol said...

As weasely as Debbie was in this episode I wasn't surprised to see Michael go. He kept shooting himself in the foot by repeating OVER and OVER how terrified he is of the cameras - he never indicated he was trying to overcome that phobia. And gosh why oh why did they make the appetizers so complicated? Those people were starving - they would have been happy with a wedge of cheese on a Ritz. Melissa is looking like an older, blonder, mommy version of Rachael Ray - and that looks like where they are heading ..... RR is way too huge to stay on Food Network, they'll need a replacement soon. (p.s. I love Chopped too).

Anonymous said...

Once again we have a challenge that really has nothing to do with being a Food Network Star. This was more like a Top Chef challenge. Team challenges are never fair.

Nandini Vishwanath said...

I can't stand Debbie. I could have hit the TV that night!

Sheila said...

I agree about Debbie. I thought she should have gone before Michael. I think Mel is going to win. I think DebCarol is right - she's a mini version of RR and RR has done very well for the FN.

I'm not really rooting for anyone now.

Sue said...

I wish I could help myself, but I have to keep watching.

It’s true that anyone could win and there doesn’t seem to be a clear frontrunner. Maybe it’s not only because of the editing, but because a different contestant has a bad week each episode.

Your last point is what is irritating about this (and other similar) shows. The challenges have nothing to do with the actual job description. I guess it’s kinda like running for President. You need an entirely different set of skills to run a campaign as you do to run the country.

I’m sorry Mike’s gone too, but more importantly, I'm sorry Debbie’s still there!

OF COURSE, media training would help them. It’s ridiculous they keep criticizing these folks without offering them a bit of help. ANYONE could use that. And, Tom, I have a feeling you would do just fine in front of a lens, or a crowd, without any coaching.

You’re much wiser than I am. I was shocked to see Michael go, because I think he probably had a pretty big following. I guess they needed Debbie for the drama, since she’s clearly the bad guy now. But just like Stefan couldn’t win Top Chef, they can’t make someone so unlikable their next FN star.

I certainly didn’t think this earlier, but you are right on the money about Mel. Plus she has that whole kid thing that Rach doesn’t have. Hmmm, so you really think RR will deep six the FN? Interesting.

I also hate team challenges. It’s like those dreadful group projects in school, where you constantly have to make up for the lazy members of the group.

Yeah! Debbie is the villain, definitely.

Hi Sheila,
I was also surprised that they didn’t get rid of Debbie. They seemed so offended by her behavior. Gosh, Mel winning? Who would have thunk it? It’s better than Jeffrey, but not by much.

I only ever liked Jamika and Michael and since Michael’s gone, I guess I want Jamika, but like you, I’m not too enthusiastic about anyone.

Emily said...

I watched this episode! And I watched the newest one, too! So now I know who everyone is. Honestly, I didn't love any of them. I kind of see Food Network liking Debbie, because don't they need an Asian cooking show? Her food seems to be really good. But yes, I can see what you're saying about her personality. She ran into some trouble tonight with lying as well.

Jeff Timberwolf said...

Yes it is interesting how they are sending Debbie home due to ethical & integrity issues, when that has been so huge to them. Plus, it's no wonder her food was the best when she only worked on her own.

I personally don't think Melissa is an older RR and I'm glad there's a home cook who has cooking chops and beating these chefs. It goes to show that snootiness from a cooking school always wins out. I like that!

I've watched every episode and think Jeffrey is fine and don't understand what is wrong with him. He knows his stuff, produces good food, and is calm & collective when presenting his food. I haven't read in your reviews of substantial reasoning for disliking him (unlike Debbie it is pretty obvious why one would dislike her show due to reasons already stated).

I do like how the title is still up for grabs on this season.