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This was a tough week for Team Bobby, with two finalists going head-to-head in a Producers’ Challenge battle of cocktails. No matter how it shook out, Bobby would lose a member of his team. He was hesitant to say anything at all in the pitch room (or pitch beach, as it was this week): “I didn’t want to sway the judges one way or the other based on my comments.”
In the end, Bob and Susie decided to send Malcolm Mitchell home. Despite food that consistently impressed them, Malcolm was never fully able to hone his “soulful” POV. “Malcolm’s POV was confusing,” Susie says. “After eight weeks, we need to know who he is through his food.”
Malcolm left the competition in good spirits: “I leave happy. I wanted to win it, but at the end of the day, I did everything that I could do. I was real.”
Team Alton will bring only two finalists to Miami after saying goodbye to Emily Ellyn in last Sunday’s episode. Emily embodied her “retro-rad” POV to a T, but after seven weeks she was still unable to open up and get comfortable on camera. After her presentation to the media panel, “awkward” was the word Jess Cagle from Entertainment Weekly used to describe her. “That’s a word you never want to hear about someone in front of a camera,” said Bob Tuschman.
Alton saw great potential in Emily: “She was a ready-made package. You could look at her and know what she was about. Retro-rad was great. She lives it. When she wasn’t on camera, she was on the side crocheting. She was the real thing!”
Through “happy tears,” Emily reflects on the Star experience and working with Alton: “There’s no way to even prepare for something like this. The whole thing was awesome. I gave it my best, and I made great food. I was more upset when I was voted off that I let Alton down. He was there for us 5,000 percent.”
Just when they are thinking that Bob Tuschman and Susie Fogelson are their toughest critics, the remaining finalists meet a new team of evaluators this week: the press. This group of media professionals can potentially make or break a Star’s public image, so it is especially important for the contestants to wow them with their unique culinary points of view, engaging personas and stellar stage presences. Last week, Martita struggled to tout herself as “Mama Mexico” when Team Giada was gifted a Mexican-themed challenge, one in which she should have starred. Going forward, will Martita be able to embrace that individuality in front of the press? Is she hoping to phone a friend to save her from the challenge?
Before you tune in this Sunday at 9pm/8c, we’re challenging you, Star fans, to write your best captions (tastefully appropriate, please) for this call-worthy moment in the comments below.
Team Giada thought they had last Sunday’s food-court challenge in the bag. A Mexican-themed kiosk, with Martita on their side? No problem. But for South African dessert queen Linkie Marais, Mexican food was uncharted territory: “I don’t even know what they serve for dessert in Mexico!” Stumped, she ran with Martita’s suggestion of churros and hoped for the best, despite the fact that she’d never made them before.
Sure enough, the texture of the churros was off and Linkie tried to re-brand them as “biscotti.” But her confidence was shaken, and it showed. She ended up in the Producers’ Challenge, where she gave Bob and Susie a solid chicken dish, proving that she shouldn’t be pigeonholed into pastry. Still, in the end, it was pitch room veteran Nikki who prevailed, sending Linkie home.
The competition has reached its halfway point. Just five weeks from now, one of the nine remaining finalists will have his or her own Food Network show. In this exclusive video, we checked in with Giada, Bobby and Alton to see how they’re feeling about their respective top three finalists. Are they surprised at who’s made it this far, or were these their top contenders from day one?
They also size up the competition. Who’s the team to beat at this juncture? And who’s the most competitive mentor? Bob and Susie reveal which Food Network icon “does not want to lose, ever.”
Do you agree with the mentors? Midway through the season, which team do you see as the front-runner?
Aarti Sequeira won Food Network Star season 6 and expanded her popular blog into a cooking show, Aarti Party (catch it on Food Network, Sundays at 7:30am/6:30c). As a Star veteran watching from her couch at home, Aarti shares her insider’s take on what went down each week.
Well, didn’t Martie redeem herself this week?
I was kind of amazed at how many of you wrote, with some vitriol, that sweet Martie didn’t deserve to stay last week. Well, she certainly proved herself this week, cooking a rather elaborate multi-step dish (Southern-style arancini, which I would never have attempted to make for 150 people) and bowling the judges over with her warmth and humor.
Just one thing though, Martie, my love: That moniker you’re using? Martie Party? It’s kinda taken. Ahem!
When Bob and Susie declared that Team Bobby and Team Giada were both winners of the Guy Fieri live show challenge, it was bad news for Team Alton. All four members faced the Producers’ Challenge and the pitch room, where no matter what happened, one teammate would be going home. Alton went to bat for all of his finalists: “Every one of these people is going to make your brain tie up in knots. You’re not going to be able to let one of them go,” he told Bob and Susie.
But they had to pick someone, and in the end, Judson Allen bid farewell to the team. Judson had recently turned a corner with his new POV, focusing on healthy food and his personal weight-loss journey, but he continued to struggle with his authenticity on camera.
Before heading home, Judson reflected on the experience of working with Alton: “I don’t think words can sum up how much I have valued his mentorship.”
Bob and Susie also share their take on Alton as team leader: “He’s getting so attached to his team. When they suffer, he suffers. I don’t think people see that side of Alton,” says Bob.
When it came down to Eric Lee and Ippy Aiona in the Producers’ Challenge, Bob and Susie said it was one of the toughest decisions they’d ever faced in eight seasons of Star. Both talented chefs consistently impressed everyone with their food, but struggled to find a sweet spot on camera. In the end, Team Bobby’s Eric was the one to say goodbye.
Eric left the pitch room with the same humble, gracious attitude he maintained throughout the competition. “I just want to thank you for the opportunity to work with Bobby,” he told the judges. “It is just incredible how great of a mentor he is.” Bobby, in turn, had high praise for his mentee: “Eric may be the best cook in the entire competition.”
Hear more from Bobby, Susie and Eric in his exclusive exit interview. Do you think Eric deserved to go home?
Team Giada held strong in the first two episodes. Week one, Josh Lyons made it successfully through the pitch room, and then the team took home a win in week two’s food tour challenge. Giada still had all five of her finalists going into week three — but not for long.
After ending up in the bottom of the Chopped desserts challenge, Josh faced the Producers’ Challenge once again, and this time Giada’s pitch-room plea wasn’t enough to save him from elimination. Bob and Susie thought that as the front man of a rock band, Josh would be more comfortable in the spotlight, but he continued to stumble over his presentations. “I think he’s talented,” said Giada. “I just don’t know that he was ready for this.”
Hear more from Giada, Susie and Josh in his exclusive exit interview. Do you think it was Josh’s time to go?