Star Commentary: Aaaaand She’s Out

by in Food Network Star, July 20, 2011
It’s been fun, Penny.

Well, it finally happened. The moment many of you have been waiting for came on Sunday night: Penny Davidi, the Middle Eastern Mama, was sent home. But not necessarily because of her food. After seven weeks of mostly stellar dishes that the judges described as “great,” “very well-seasoned” and having “lots of great flavors and textures,” the likeability factor — or lack thereof — sent Penny packing.

While the comments on Food Network’s Facebook page and our Star blog are largely in support of the judges’ decision to eliminate Penny, many of you cannot deny her unique culinary point of view and have expressed interest in learning Middle Eastern recipes. One viewer wrote that she “felt sorry for Penny last night,” while another thinks “it [is] a shame that Penny had to go home” because she has “warmed up to her over the past few weeks” and because “Penny brought something Food Network is lacking.”

Other commenters noted that despite Penny's “awkward personality,” she may have been “worth keeping around,” given the judges’ apparent praise for her food. Another viewer wrote that she “would appreciate some education” on Middle Eastern and Mediterranean flavors but “couldn't imagine watching Penny to receive that education even though her food was so appealing.”

And then there are those of you who are simply gleeful over Penny’s departure. Viewers wrote that “Happy days are here again” and that “It is about time,” while another told Food Network, “Thank you, thank you, thank you for getting rid of Penny!!” It seems that Penny’s “penchant for drama,” about which you have been complaining since the second episode, is what most viewers found so frustrating and unappealing. Many wrote that “she was harsh,” “her attitude stinks” and that she showed “disrespect to all those around her.”

Given her previous tense moments, many of you were shocked at how Penny’s demeanor seemed to have changed during her final week as she handled her own dismissal. Several of you wrote that she “was a good sport,” showed “grace,” “behaved civilly” and was “more compelling this week than ever.”

Do you think that this week could have been a turning point for the Middle Eastern Mama, that, if given just a little more time, she could have become more personable, both on camera and off? Hear from Penny herself in her Exit Interview and learn her thoughts about viewers’ perceptions of her. Then, join the conversation on Facebook and Star Talk, and tune in next Sunday at 9pm/8c to see who has what it takes to make it in New York City.

Who’s your favorite finalist so far? Cast your Fan Vote up to 10 times per day.

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Comments (180)

  1. Guest says:

    What makes some people think Penny could cook? All we have is the word of judges who seemed more interested in creating drama and protecting certain contestants.

  2. subdjoe says:

    Geee....all the gentle, warm, caring comments here!

    What was Penny's sin? She used her advantage to her advantage and was open about it. And when faced with a whining, self-pitying sorority diva in the kitchen didn't want to put up with it.

    Oh, and she reacted when the sorority sisters ganged up on her to try to shred her.

    Wow, how RUDE and MEAN! Trying to win a competition and expecting a professional in the kitchen to act like a professional in the kitchen rather than a pouty, sulking, crying 10 year old.

    Now FratRat Jeff needs to go with his using the flag as a sweat rag and his 12 year old playground humor.

    • subdjoe says:

      And the anonymous "guest" said: Penny is nothing more than a terrorist Muslim Jew who wants to suicide bomb our viewing of the show.

      I'm quoting that in its entirety since I have a feeling FN will delete it soon (and likely this response too). At least "Guest" is honest in his hatred, rather than couching it in various shades of 'outrage' at how mean and nasty Penny (supposedly) is. And didn't start off with "Well, I'm very tolerant (or easy going, or don't hate Penny) BUT..." followed by a stream of invective worthy of a muleteer.

      (actually, I suspect Guest is a 12 year old troll who likes to get outraged reactions from people. Also kind of surprised his post hasn't gotten a bunch of thumbs up by now)

      • Onclewillie says:

        What program were you watching? The one everyone else was watching saw Penny separate herself from the other women. Instead of a meow at judges table, she should have simply said thank you for helping me with my onions. It wasn't going to hurt her to be honest but it made her look like a fool when she got all catty.

        How many times do the judges have to say that it is a big family and you must get along? Penny NEVER got the message and continued her arrogant, condescending ways right to the end. Well, she can go back to her franchise pizza joint and whine to the other Iranians that patronize the place.

        • subdjoe says:

          Hmm...I saw the other women, can't bring myself to call them ladies, ostracize her and exclude her from their little clique.

          Wasn't that comment by the judges directed at Sister MaryBeth?

          Arrogant and condescending? You must be talking about Jyll taking it on herself to lecture Penny.

          Yeah, cut the Town Crier slack because her feelings were hurt by one of the committee commenting on how she talks (and that comment showed a hell of a lot of uppity NY bias, IMO) and she pouts and throws herself a pity party at the expense of her team, but climb all over Penny for being up front about taking advantage of her advantage - exactly as St. Jyll did the next week.

          Also, notice how none of the guys seemed to have any problem with her? Even worked well with her as a team, from what was shown. That kind of confirms to me that it was something the Jyll/MaryBeth cabal ginned up to get rid of the only female with real cooking ability.

    • Williams says:

      I would much rather learn from Penny than most of the other contestants. I only found her to be driven and determined. Did she always use good judgement? No, but according to the judges, ALL of her food was excellent. When I watch Food Network, that's what I am more interested in... good food. There are personalities already on FN that I don't necessarily care for, but their recipes are sooo wonderful. I am not really a big fan of the plastic Paula Deen, but some of her recipes I have made are to die for. I personally hoped that Penny would have won the entire competition, flaws and all.

      • subdjoe says:

        I like Paulas earlier shows, when she knew what a hairbrush was, and her signature wasn't loud and crude. A little bit is OK, but she goes overboard with it.

        One dish that Penny did not execute was the scorched mac & cheese. But I have to give her credit on it for not going the route of 18 different cheeses and three inches of breadcrumbs on top, as seems to be the fashion now.

        The only contestant left that I think as any credibility in the kitchen is Vic.

  3. cpacook says:

    aaand she's out.......thank goodness there are other batters up who can relate to the viewers and cook.....

  4. subdjoe says:

    The two how REALLY need to go are Bob T and Susie F. Bob doesn't seem to really care about cooking ability, and all Susie wants is someone to build product around.

  5. Guest says:

    I agree with subdjoe, I didn't think there was anything wrong with having a strategy when she assigned people the teams. This was the point of winning an advantage in the camera challenge. How was that any different than Jyll putting Penny on the team with the guys? I think the fact that she was open about it rubbed her competitors the wrong way, but this is a competition. She felt that Orchid was her biggest competition at the time, so she put her at a disadvantage. It was up to Orchid to step up and deliver. I didn't see what was the problem with that. Mary Beth has started the majority of the arguments that they were in. The other girls were talking about her, very loud I might add, in the next room. She had a right to feel that she was an outcast because of that. She always delivered on the food, something that cannot be said about Jyll and Mary Beth. Not really sure how Jyll made it though after the Risotto incident. She should have been sent packing.

    Chris should have been gone last episode for the cream cheese lobster roll that everyone called disgusting. His immature behavior was more annoying than anything Penny ever did.

    • English says:

      I agree that contestants should have a strategy which might be to cook food that will "wow" anyone who tastes it and to adopt an inviting personality that will create a fan base. I guess I have been watching a different version of this year's competition because I have not seen Mary Beth as "starting the majority of the arguments," and I did not hear any of the judges comment on how Jyll's Risotto tasted. It was the appearance. WP says: "Look what Jyll has prepared for you" when they return from the kitchen. Also, placing someone at a disadvantage does not win most viewers. This is not some cut-throat reality show. This show depends upon a fan base. I am not sure how I and other posters can explain this to a few of you.

      • subdjoe says:

        Also, placing someone at a disadvantage does not win most viewers.

        Funny, it seems to have worked quite well for Gyll.

        Not a cut throat reality show? Really? There is only one winner, right? I don't know what it is worth, but you can be pretty sure it isn't chum change, even for just the six episodes.

        There is no need for you to 'explain' anything to us (who do you think you are, Jyll lecturing Penny? and how was THAT for hubris?). Some of us just don't see being up front about using an advantage to help yourself, and then being upfront about it. Unlike Jyll and her Sarah Bernhardt "Oh! I don't want the drama!" Anyone else think it odd that, not knowing what HER advantage would be, she was able to just rattle off the names for her team in under ten seconds? And then the smug, catty looks she and her team gave the guys and Penny, assuming they had stuck them all on the losing team? Can you say "mean" and "ugly?"

        I knew you could!

        Oh, and did you notice the clips of Penny that FN only showed on the exit video? You know, the ones of her laughing, smiling, having fun, interacting well with the public? Wonder why FN didn't see fit to show that aspect of her during the series?

  6. MissyB says:

    The final deciding factor for me re Penny was the food truck episode. Her wrap was delicious and appealing, but she was late delivering. Instead of owning that, and graciously thanking the others, she got into it with Mary Beth. (Mary Beth let Penny drag her into that catfight.)

    The job of FN stars and hosts is generate viewers for FN and have the ability to create product extension (I confess to owning a set of Paula Deen cookware even though I have never cooked one of her recipes. It's good stuff and I like the look of it.) Bob F. praised Penny's dishes many times, but in the end, she couldn't get past that inability to work with others.

    If Penny had just said, 'I was a bit ambitious with my wrap; it turned out well, but I did get assisted from my team, and that's something I can appreciate and take away as a learning experience" I think it would have been a game changer.

    Instead, she argued about cutting up the onions.

  7. chickaboomia says:

    I couldn't STAND this woman.......I had stopped watching this show and was on the verge of completely overlooking food network because of their decision to keep this woman around. Now that she has been booted, I can finally get back to watching a show on Sunday night that I enjoy. Since I didn't see the show...........THANK YOU TO WHOEVER IT WAS WHO FINALLY COULDN'T TAKE IT ANYMORE........neither could many of your viewers. I'm sorry if this is coming off a bit strong, but I simply can't overlook how the other contestants were treated over the course of the last few weeks by one of their colleatgues.

  8. Cajun Queen says:

    About Penny: Nobody likes a confident lady who can really cook. She was good, and that was her fatal flaw.
    Her sometimes off-putting comments made her easier to hate, but what the other contestants really hated about her was her ABILITY to be a contender. I did see a change in her attitude in the last week of the show where the women who were left in the competition started to warm up to her.
    Bobby Flay is a very good judge of people. He saw her talent. He knew she could cook, and she had a great
    culinary point of view. I don't think he was in agreement with her dismissal. I watched him as she walked off camera, and he said, "Thanks for giving it your all." Face it: Not a lot of people like Bobby Flay, either. I read online that he is a complete jerk. I disagree with that, too. He has a good TV personality, He can cook and hold his own on Iron Chef. He has a good sense of humor, and he is nice looking. The bottom line is: People are always jealous of talent. Penny and Bobby have it. Print that.

    • Pat says:

      It wasn't her confidence or her ability to cook. It was her rudeness, arrogance, and refusal to treat the other contestants with respect or kindness. She shot herself in the foot - no one else did it to her. No one is jealous of the women, she is just flat unlikable by her own actions and words.

  9. Sandra says:

    Ok, I have to admit - I detested Penny anyway, but she really, really ticked me off tonight. She said she was going to Istanbul and making dolmas. What was shown on air were stuffed peppers - NOT the same thing, My best friend is Turkish, I eat dolmas on a regular basis and what was shown were NOT dolmas. I hated Penny anyway and would never have watched a show she was hosting, but that sent me right over the edge.

  10. Pat says:

    Susie's status aside, you have certainly confirmed yours as an ugly bigot. It's revolting.