Susie’s Answers – Episode 4

by in View All Posts, July 3rd, 2009

Thanks for another great week of questions! I’m traveling sans video camera this week, so blogging answers to you instead. Back up vlogging next week (promise), so post all your questions for this Sunday’s Episode 5 over here.

Onto my Episode 4 responses…


Of course Teddy is the talk of the town this week! Courtney specifically wrote in wanting to know, “Was the decision to send Teddy home unanimous? If not, who did each judge vote to send home and why?”

I was really on the fence at first about whether we should let Teddy or Katie go. But Bob, and especially Bobby, really liked Katie and wanted to see more from her. I came down pretty hard on Katie for the under-cooked food, but Teddy just could not overcome being so forced and fake on camera. You saw in the challenge he had notes on his hand! So even though both of them were almost equally at the bottom for me, in the end, it was unanimous for us that Teddy needed to leave this week.

Jeffrey definitely had a tough episode this week. Debby asked me in the comments, “What the heck was Jeffrey supposed to do with blueberries and lobster? Since the baskets were chosen for them, are you trying to make Jeffrey fail?”

Bobby was actually very excited about Jeffrey’s basket and was looking forward to seeing what he would do with it. Look, I think it was a very, VERY difficult pairing of ingredients, but I’ve seen harder combinations on our show Chopped. This is where ingenuity, creativity and survival all come into play. The blueberries and taste of the dish weren’t his downfall; it was actually the consistency and preparation of what was, in fact, a failed pot pie. Jeffrey performed pretty poorly on this challenge, which is not typical for him. But his dish didn’t fail because it was blue; it failed because it was bad.

Megan wants to know, “Who is to blame for Debbie catching a pan in the face? Michael or Debbie? As a chef… if you are behind, say BEHIND!”

You are right. It was definitely Debbie’s call to let Michael know she was behind him. He had no idea that someone was there, especially with the pace and intensity of the clock ticking away. Just like when you’re passing someone on a bike, you should say, “on your left” or “behind you” – it’s more than just courtesy; it’s safety in a situation like that. Nonetheless, we felt terrible that Debbie got hurt, and we were absolutely worried about her. What you wouldn’t have known just by watching Episode 4 was that Debbie’s bruise was so severe, she had to keep applying and reapplying make-up as the bruise proceeded to grow and change colors. However, with all of that said, I feel a situation like this either makes you stronger, or you recoil in the face of obstacles. And in the end, I was disappointed that Debbie recoiled.

Dee, Susan, Brian, and Jennifer were all curious about the faulty equipment on this week’s episode. Dabney said, “It appeared not all of the stoves on the Intrepid were calibrated, resulting in some really bad dishes. Was this by design to see how the contestants would compensate?”

We didn’t plan to send the finalists into a faulty kitchen as a part of the challenge. However, I think cooking in different environments always presents different obstacles, so you have to be prepared to improvise. I was recently at a festival in San Francisco in which Guy Feiri, Aida Mollenkamp and Anne Burrell all performed culinary demos in the same outdoor kitchen. The wind was blowing hard that day, and it was very hard to keep the flame going. I noticed each one of them working through it, and even though they all handled it differently, everyone overcame the challenge with grace. These are very real situations the finalists are facing, and it tells us a lot about how they may face adversities as a Food Network star.


Remember to send in your questions for this Sunday’s Episode 5 in the comments section of the Ask Susie – Episode 5 post.


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Comments (226)

  1. pamela says:

    We all have our opinions and know that there has to be a “winner” but the reality is probably none of us would watch any of them! P.S. If Debbie wins, there is something really wrong!

  2. Karen says:

    Another season but it could really be a repeat of last year. No talent,same big cry babies oh get a grip you people. I agree with several people who are getting tired of Food Network programing. Too many repeats, Paula going over the edge,and too many challenges, for heven sakes how many times can you watch the same show over and over. More Ina more Alton more Giada even though she gets on my last nerve once in a while tell the Neely’s to tone it down a bit with the sugar. Oh yeah and if Debbie wins that’s all for FoodTV I’ll never watch again!.

  3. Jeffery is really good and so is Milissa

    but would love to see Jimika be the one

    she just has that want to watch her feel

    I was hoping that Debbie was leaving last

    sunday but you picked Michael instead.

    lets make it Debbie next week then we

    can all enjoy whats left.

  4. luvcookin says:

    As a matter of fact, I have yet to see any contestent wash his or her hands before beginning.
    Andy on July 13, 2009 at 4:09 pm

    Good points but I really don’t care about watching them wash their hands. This show is about television. It would be pretty boring to watch the contestants washing their hands. There is only so much that TPTB can cram into a show. I’d rather watch the cooking and behind the scenes like DTLKM not helping than a contestant washing their hands. Just my thoughts.

  5. WisconsinGranny says:

    luvcookin 15 July 7:38am —-You are so right about the hand washing. How much cooking time are we losing to hand washing time. I feel as if I’m watching Rachel, Paula, Tyler, etc.,from the rear as they are leaning over the sinks getting the hygeinic (sp?) lesson across to us. My mother taught me that over 80 years ago.
    My green onions in a glass of water per Melissa’s tip are three feet tall this morning. Time to harvest! Now that was useful information.

  6. Sue Atkinson says:

    First of all, I have been with the Food Network from the beginning. I have a husband with many dietary restrictions and he is a picky eater. I was looking for inspiration and new menus because I enjoy cooking for family and friends and you were a God-send. I have the TV on the FN most of the day and evening. I stop and watch or tape many of your programs, subscribe to your magazine, daily visit your website daily (in fact it is my homepage) and I buy products from you as well. So I guess I weigh in as a huge fan.
    But lately, that’s been changing. I don’t know where you are coming from any more or where you are going.
    Initially, your shows were crude and amateurish, but it was a new network and you were boldly going where few had gone before, so I hung in there through your learning curve and it was worth it!
    The FN matured and became more refined. You found the key to entertaining, instructing and inspiring me. You picked excellent people initially, worked with them, played to their strengths and played down their weaknesses and in general, I watched them grow as individual artists in their own genres. In my opinion, Bobby Flay’s career with you is the best example of this. And the formula worked…. for awhile…
    All of a sudden, everything is changing and it’s no longer improvements. You have over exposed many of your original stars (mostly the women) and taken them too far from their original elements and their charm is fading.
    Especially true here is Paula (whom I love), whose down home cooking, charm, warmth and easy laugh has transformed to over whitened teeth, too much makeup and fake eyelashes on Paula’s party, where she is frequently, crude, rude and lewd with the men in the audience and her quest stars. Rachael and Giada, also. I am sick of seeing them on too many shows and repeats. Rachael please-give up the cute talk (yummo-stoup, sammies-please!!!!) Giada the over pronunciation of all things Italian, correcting everyone and the fake smile-getting old now….
    The exception to this has been Bobby Flay. He has really come a long way and everyone we know love’s Throwdown and Iron Chef America (the Culinary Olympics..). Both brilliantly conceived and executed. Probably two of your best productions currently.
    The Next Food Network Star started out as an excellent idea. It gave all of the home cooks, caterers and chef wanna-bees a hope and a dream. It felt genuine, it entertained, it was fun and exciting, but lately, not so much. I’m not going to beat the ” get rid of Debbie” drum anymore, but realize, that her blatant lack of integrity is the trigger for this novella.
    You seem to be manipulating the viewers, stars and contestants for what you think is good TV-well think again.
    A few observations and suggestions:
    1.You seem to have lost the ability to pick good people and I know they are out there.
    2. Once you find them, don’t over produce and warp the very qualities we love. Let them be in their on niche.
    3. Don’t over-expose the same handful of woman. I bet most of your audience is women-bring on the men! What happened to Mario? Get Alton to be a contender on Iron Chef…use Michael Symone….more Tyler and Bobby etc
    4. Stop trying to make The Next FN Star be a fifth rate reality show. Nobody has to cook under the ridiculous situations you given the finalists this year. You have unrealistic expectations and seem to be enjoying torturing them in very condescending tones this year. Where is the coaching, nurturing and positive re-enforcement they need to progress?
    You did not give them the proper tools or time to get things done.
    You changed the rules midstream.
    You did not judge consistently or fairly.
    Add the pressure of working in front of a camera under the scrutiny of their chef idols..
    5. You seem to be manipulating the viewers and your contestants and I resent it. Let the viewers really vote. You can still manipulate the vote by showing us want you want us to see, but it will appear that our opinion counts.
    6. Last and most important return to your original high standards, ethics and integrity across the board. Respect your stars and their talents and your audience. You are no longer the only game in town for any of us.
    Thanks for reading-I hope you do!

  7. Kathleen Suzanne Turner says:

    Bravo Sue Atkinson! ‘You hit the nail on the head’ squarely and with masterful precision. I too hope the Food Network read your comments! Also, get rid of the DRAMA with all the judges looking like they’re at a hanging. I mentioned this once before but you guys don’t seem to get it. All the drama just before the commercials? You guys look like idiots. It’s a cooking show for Pete’s sake…you don’t have to look so intense. Nobody buys that. Do you think third graders are up a night watching you? Make the show a joy to watch…not a lesson in how to degrade and humiliate people! From the comments I’ve been reading, IF the Food Network is making high marks these days or IF you think you are or IF the ratings seems adequate just remember that people have the MUTE button and often use their time (when they don’t want to watch) to fix something to snack on or to go to the restroom. The restroom? Seems like a good place for segments of your shows!

  8. How many chances are you going to give Debbie! I’ve seen the promos for the next episode and she delivers so much drama. I guess someone in the group is mean! Bobby Flay made a criticism and she burst out crying; You should be able to take criticism; especially from an experienced “Iron Chef”! I will never watch her show! I don’t think my last response was posted.

  9. Diane in Jacksonville says:

    Hi Susie,

    I have to say I have been a fan of FN for years and years, and for the first time I am (honestly) totally disapointed in the Next Food Network Star series.

    First let me say that the last challenge – the cocktail party in Miami – was just WRONG. With Jeffrey as host and Michael as bartender (the most important job at a cocktail party, correct or am I missing something?) and Melissa and Jamika left in the kitchen to produce their food and the food for both Jeffrey and Michael (let’s not talk about Debbie now), how exactly was that a fair challenge? Michael’s food didn’t cut it and he was just having a good time? Please. If Michael had been allowed to prepare his food (and Jeffrey his food) and all five of them had the opportunity to tend bar and rotate as host/hostess, don’t you think that would have made for a more equal demonstration of their abilities at a cocktail party in Miami? Or is this just tag Jeffrey for bad judgement on his part? Are you really looking for a personality with integrity, works well as a team player, is straight forward nice with a combo of food talent and fun TV appeal (as our next “Star”), or is this whole series just a joke reality food let’s watch them cook, sweat, crash and burn deal?

    As for this last episode, Michael got the short end of the stick. Out of all your “Star’s” he was the only one I enjoyed watching. I noticed from other blogger’s that there was mention of running his fingers through his hair and such. Jeffrey is right there with him, especially figuring out what to do on the ship with those lobsters. He had an hour and a half and doesn’t tend to the lobsters first and formost? Put them in the oven, boil water – whatever, just get that wonderful product moving.

    Michael, in my opinion, won the “Holiday” challenge for Halloween. When he presented his food and said, “It’s hot in here”, and proceeded to take off his hat with his hair looking like a flame, well, I nearly fell out of my chair laughing. Michael is definitely a true “raw talent”. I couldn’t believe Jamika won, but feel that was a “diversity” issue on the part of FN. Trust me, Jamika is a beautiful woman who has amazing potential, but no “WOW” factor for FN. Michael, on the other hand, is who he is, and although I didn’t need to know he wanted to make out with Bobby or that his macara was running, enjoyed food, was creative, a team player, sensitive and by all appearences of “Star” quality. He is right up there with Guy in my book. I would watch his show any day.

    The “Debbie Thing”. I agree that her, shall I say, lack of any kind of integrity WHATSOEVER, shut me down the first episode. I am flabergasted that FN has nursed her along. There are good Korean’s and Southerner’s out there hanging their heads in shame. Not to mention she is featured in your magazine opening a place in LA this summer and a hot dog stand to boot? I hope she hires some good security because the FN fans hate her. Lastly, worst is that you, Susie, announced on national television that you were a “fan” of hers. In front of the other finalists. Shame on you. Very unprofessional and biased.

    At this point I am uninterested in the outcome of your show. Jeffrey is always moving his hands like he is watching a soccer game and he wants his daughter to kick a goal, Melissa is to “Mommy Oriented”, but very “real” about who she is (I might watch her) and Jamika is just cut out for a different opportunity.

    Good Luck, Susie, because I am one fan who will be tuning out, but I will keep tuning in for Ina. She is amazing.

  10. Anne says:

    I didn’t have to opportunity to watch the first episode of NFNS, but understand the “Party Boys” won that. I caught their show once. Then Guy competed. He irked me a lot but I voted for him in the end because he was the best at energizing his audience and made me want to try some of his food. The next year it was JAZ (did I get that spelling right?). He lied about his background and you dumped him. But the major thing was, he beat all the others and HE DID NOT have a culinary school certificate/diploma. You forgave Robert Irvine for lying about his background. JAZ should have been given the same consideration.

    I never watched the Gourmet Next Door, whom I didn’t take to during the show and who dumped you PDQ.

    Last year Garza made me crazy because her ego outstriped her cooking ability, IMO. Aaron seems like a nice guy but after watching his show a couple of times I found it boring and never went back.

    If the judges give the show to “I’m Korean” and I lie a lot and love to stab the others in the back, doing so with glee, I don’t believe that I would ever watch a future series.

    As judges you should be looking at the ethical acts of your choices for a star. I would never want anyone I know, particularly children, to think it is okay to lie to get ahead. I was more than stunned that you did not nail her when she said she did all that work in th kitchen at the cocktail party when all she did was her own food.

    You judges are coming across as foolish and it affects how I feel about you on other shows. Do you really want people to doubt you as much at the do Debbie?

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