Stereotyping is not usually my thing, but the Food Network is making it sooo hard with their new season of The Next Food Network Star. Here are this season’s contestants and who they are “playing”:
Doreen - Is she like a less living-large version of Debbie?
Is Aarti a less unhappy version of Nipa??? No, in fact, she’s not a downer at all. Actually, she’s nice AND she’s a food blogger. I want her to win. So what if we’re only 45 seconds in!
Herb seems like Jorge Cruise. He’s a personal trainer and wants to combine that with a cooking show. Wouldn’t he do better on Bravo? I don’t hate him. Oh, he’s a dad too…okay, I like him.
Wait a sec, some real true sexism has crept in. I always hate it when the women mention their kids. I like women to show an identity outside of the brats. But now that Jorge, I mean Herb, talks about his rug rats, I get all misty. Not fair.
Okay, cut the kid-talk, Herb, and give me 40! (Preferably without your shirt.)
Brianna, self-described as “sassy” and “a diva” is obviously going to be the witch of the group. Actually, she has shades of Debbie too. Didn’t I hear Susie saying in a promo that the choice is not just about ability (if at all, if you ask me), it’s about likability? Brianna has no chance.
Tom is bearded and bellied and seems like he might have been a chef in a frat house. NEXT!
Alexis (a guy) is a food writer, so I SHOULD like him, but he’s full of himself. AND I don’t like his closely cropped, over-the-edges-of-his mouth moustache. Actually, once he talks a bit, he seems like he might be nice and interesting. We’ll see.
Dzintra Dzenis (Could that be her REAL name?) Hey, I just noticed that these folks are old!!! Yay! Zin-Traah Zen-Iss (the D’s are silent) is 45. Alexis (a guy) is 40.
Brad is the young Turk. He’s 25 and a seasoned chef (he says).
Serena starts by telling us that she has no culinary education (she’s a 31 year old lawyer), BUT she has strong women in her family who taught her to cook. She appears to be Italian or some
Darrell is a hot young guy, who immediately starts chatting up the ladies. As long as he doesn’t come off as smarmy (remember Teddy?), he can stay.
Oh gosh, there are more.
Aria is a cute as a button private chef who seems funny and nice AND she’s 40. Yay for old people! Oh, wait, she’s only 30…Sorry!
I still like her…almost as much. She brings up her 3 year old Luca (that’s a boy…with cute long hair). One sentence about her son is acceptable, after that, it’s annoying.
Thank goodness, there are no more folks coming into the house.
They have to go to the "Food Star Kitchens". I don’t like that name. They meet the judges, critics, whatever you all them…Bob says he wants their personalities to shine.
Susie comes right out and says the only the thing that’s important is how much crap they can shill…or words to that effect. Should she really have been so obvious? And Bobby says what he always says, THANK GOODNESS, that it’s all about the food.
Bobby then introduces Giada, who is acting as a mentor this season. She is forced to say some lines that are definitely un-Giada-like. She says Bob saw an article about her and wanted to put her and her recipes on television. And the rest as they say is history. Ugh.
The contestants have to cook chicken and potatoes in whatever way will define them and their style of cooking, but they only have 45 minutes. A bunch of them are about to serve raw chicken.
They also have to do a camera challenge and talk about their dish in 30 seconds.
Aria – good.
Doreen – bad.
Jorge/Herb talks too much, but he has a good line. He says he puts a lot of cilantro in his dish, because, just like him, you either like it or you don’t.
Tom - uneasy, slow and uninteresting.
Dzintra – they like her dish, she kind of mangles her words.
Serena – good food, not great presentation.
Das (is that Darrell?) – He’s so appalled his chicken is uncooked that he can’t even look the camera in the eye.
Aarti – Her presentation is really good, but her chicken is kind of raw.
Paul – He gets up there and says, “Today I prepared blah blab blah.” and then he walks off.
Brianna starts off kind of cute and then bombs. Bobby thought her dish looked and tasted good.
Brad – extremely nervous in front of the camera. Really boring, but a good cook.
Alexis (a guy) – not good, not good at all. “I did this, this and this.” No personality. Timid. Bobby thought his food was delicious.
The worst ones –
Das, Tom are the bottom two.
The two winners – Herb and Aria. They’ll have a real advantage in the next day’s “Star Challenge”.
They go to Paramount Studios where Giada introduces them to director, Andy Fickman, who will help them make their promos. You may remember his signature feature, Reefer Madness: The Movie Musical.
Didn’t Jeffrey’s promo last season have absolutely nothing to do with the pilot that he eventually shot for the finale? Actually wasn’t the same true of Melissa?
Before we see the promos, the folks are told they have to cater a 6 course meal for some mystery chef, which I think we already know is Wolfgang Puck. Didn’t we see him in a promo?
They’re divided into 2 groups with Aria and Herb each leading a team.
There’s a bit of drama when Dzintra gets something in her eye and is gone for hours getting it looked at. She NEVER returns until well into the next day. Was she getting a cornea transplant? Some of her housemates say she should have sucked it up. Nice Aartri says there’s nothing more important than one's eye.
They shop and cook. The next day they arrive at a restaurant and there is Wolfgang Puck. What a surprise! NOT! They have to present their food AND their promos to the judges and Wolfgang. (It IS a bit weird that they watch the promos BEFORE they taste the food. Should the food really sit there?)
Aria’s team presents its meal first.
Aria goes first and is confident and a lot of fun. Her promo and food are a success.
Paul’s salad is overdressed. His promo is “forced” and “contrived”, but with energy.
Aarti is lovely and so is her promo. Wolfgang even offers her a job.
Brianna’s seared scallop over potato hash looks good, but her promo is too party girl-like. Wolfgang thinks her food needs more spice.
Tom comes out looking messy and so does his promo, but he’s kind of charming in the way an adolescent boy can be.
The others had put together Dzintra’s dish and she comes out and basically apologizes for it, saying she had nothing to do with it.
In the most noteworthy quote of the night, Dzintra says, “It’s like putting your egg into somebody else’s womb and then the result that you get is what you get.” Huh?
Bob looks startled by her remark. He's not used to women's body part talk. WHY did she even present the dish? And in her analogy, who’s the womb, who’s the egg, and…oh, never mind…
The next team is up.
Herb/Jorge makes a beautiful ceviche served with a plantain spider, whatever that is. I think it might be a smashed and fried plantain. They watch his lackluster promo and hear Herb say it’s horrible. Bobby asks him about that.
Herb says he’s much better than that promo. He’s a dad, a personal trainer and a personal chef. Wolfgang asks him how many push-ups he can do and he springs into the personal trainer mode and does a bunch of tricked-up push-ups. They eat it up. Bobby says he does pushups like those only in his dreams. Herb leaves them on a high note.
Doreen is doing a soup that I love! It’s a potato soup with a beet purée. Fantastic idea, BUT she runs out of time and doesn’t get the beet reduction in the bowls on time. THAT is a real shame.
Doreen goes out and apologizes nonstop. They are not impressed by her dish or her presentation. Wolfgang tells her to NEVER let a dish go out “if it’s not finished.” What exactly was she supposed to do in this case? Bob says star power is about confidence ”and apologizing is the exact opposite of that”. Obviously, Doreen didn’t manage her time well. I don’t love her, but it’s a pity, because I do love beets.
Das does well with his three layer salad. The judges want him to stop flailing his arms in the promo and Wolfgang thinks he should edit his food as well. Also, they don’t like that he keeps referring to himself as cool.
Brad was dealing with frozen yucky salmon, which HE didn’t buy. He’s upset. His promo is boring and “tight”. Somehow his fish passes muster. Wolfgang says his dish is the best today. Bobby loves that he used red wine. Giada says THIS is her kind of dish. But he needs help on camera.
Serena’s promo is energetic. Wolfgang says her chicken is dry, but that it would look good on television like her. (She’s cute.) Bob says she was bit actressy. Wolfgang wants to know if the Food Network can live with two Italian princesses. Giada laughs and says, “The more the merrier.” Yeah, that’s what she says ON camera.
Alexis (a guy) says (to us) that his beignets look horrible. Then he says (to us) that HE wouldn’t watch his show after seeing his promo. Funny.
Alexis (a guy) tells the judges that these beignets are a dish he makes with his sister. In the second best line of the night, Wolfgang asks, “Are you still talking to her? THIS is unedible…My wife would divorce me if I would give her that to eat.” Ouch!
The contestants go into the evaluation. I’m guessing Alexis (a guy) will go home, unless they do the right thing and send Dzintra home, because she did nothing. It’s a shame that her eye got in the way, but the others actually DID something, plus her promo wasn’t good enough to save her.
They start with the grey team. The judges are unsure what to do about Dzintra, but if her team wins the overall challenge, then I guess she won’t be going home.
Aria – They liked her
Brianna – not so much.
Paul – Susie says he needs a little funny...”rightaway!”
Tom – They liked his promo.
Aarti – She says Bobby isn’t going to like her cooking. He says he DID like her soup and Susie tells her to pick up her big girl boots and stop sabotaging herself with self-doubt.
Bob says the grey team wins and Aarti is the overall winner. The judges say that Dzintra will get a second chance and she better bring it next week. Her teammates look less than thrilled that she’s staying.
The black team goes in. Susie says the team struggled. Did they really? Wasn’t it just that Doreen forgot the beets and Alexis’s dish stank?
Herb – enthusiastic, needs help on camera.
Doreen loses before she even opens her mouth with her apologetic attitude. Susie says it was unprofessional. That’s a bit harsh, I think. She was so disappointed that she ran out of time that it affected her spiel in front of the judges. I don’t hate Doreen.
Serena – They like her dish, but think she was kind of fake on camera.
They think Alexis (a guy) was a lot more fun than what he was portraying on camera.
They say Brad’s cooking is great. His camera work needs work.
They blast Das much more than is necessary. The judges basically say they’re beginning to hate his cool guy personality and they know nothing about his cooking. The last part is fair, but if they hate him so much, WHY did they make him a finalist??!
Brad, Herb and Serena are safe. They can leave. It’s between Doreen, Das and Alexis (a guy). Obviously, Alexis (a guy) is going home.
And it’s…Alexis. Of course it is. He was horrid. It wasn’t so much his fault, though. I just don’t understand how he got picked in the first place.
Not a bad start. I like the addition of Giada. I hope she gets a decent chance to really “mentor” the contestants. There are fewer strongly objectionable contestants this season and I do like that they’re skewing a bit older. I do wonder, though, if the old adage will be proven correct – If youth knew; if age could.