Expect the Unexpected — Star Commentary

by in Food Network Star, July 10, 2012

Nikki Martin

Sabotage was the name of the game this week, as the final seven Food Network Star contenders attempted to dodge unexpected hurdles during their live cooking demos. These obstacles ranged from a messed-up microphone during Yvan’s performance and a broken blender in Nikki’s presentation to a persistent audience heckler during Justin’s demo and everything in between. The idea was to play to the finalists’ weaknesses in an attempt to gauge how they instinctively react to unforeseen challenges and minor issues. “They’ve gotta roll with the punches and come out the other end,” Alton Brown explained.

Though some viewers were frustrated that the contestants were purposely messed with, others couldn’t help but laugh as they watched the finalists maneuver — some gracefully, some not so much — through their presentations. One Star fan, Holly Burtchaell @RandomCravings, Tweeted her reaction to this week’s challenge. “I hate to admit it…I love the episode when they mess with them! @FoodNetwork #Star,” she wrote, earning our Fan Post of the Week.

Join the #Star conversation on Twitter and Facebook and your comments may be featured in our weekly roundup of Fan Chatter. 

Who’s your favorite finalist still in the running? Don’t forget to cast your Fan Vote up to 10 times per day and tune in to this Sunday’s episode at 9pm/8c to see who from #TeamAlton#TeamBobby or #TeamGiada goes home next.

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Comments (321)

  1. Aloha OY says:

    Ippy had a bad attitude with the audience. Justin, too. Really dislike them both now.

    • Food Fan says:

      Pfffft. Get real.

    • Lindsey says:

      But they were the only two who had their "pre-arranged" problems originate in the audience - much worse than the other finalists. People who perform live in front of an audience have to gauge their presentation from the reaction of the people watching them, so when everything is going according to plan and people start walking out or shouting for (apparently) no reason, they have to contend with that and try to continue their presentation in a way that gets them to stop. I thought Ippy and Justin both did incredibly well under the circumstances. The only thing worse would be Michele's incorrect time cues - not just a glitch, but she was kind of lied to throughout most of her presentation by the camera crew, who she's supposed to be able to trust. A broken blender is a non-issue compared to those.

      • Aloha OY says:

        Still no excuse for boorish behavior. Audiences can be rude, but when you are the performer, you have to roll with it. When a performer lashes out at an audience member, it comes off as lashing out at the entire audience.

        Justin's responses were fine until the question about the kids not liking certain foods. Then he got ugly about it. Ippy was not as much of an a**hole about it (like Justin), but still displayed an unprofessional attitude to the audience.

        Stage performers have dealt with audiences for centuries. If you want to be a TV host, you need to have the same intuition as a stage performer. Yvan demonstrated a performer's intuition. Clearly, Ippy and Justin don't have it.

        • foodie says:

          Had the question about the food for the kids came from someone else, maybe, he wouldnt have been so sarcastic but the truth was that coming from the same person you realize its set up. Also "I dont know, put american food in it, I dont know what your kid likes" or whatever he said that was basically like that wasnt actually rude to me. If I was told that I would be like "oh cool. I could make this with food my kid likes as long as I loosely follow the instructions" but Im all about tweeking instructions to make things I like to eat.

          Also, anyone else would have got upset had they been in Ippy or Justins positions. Yvan yelled, something he is good at doing. It doesnt take a super smart person to realize when your mic goes out, raise your voice.

          • Aloha OY says:

            The words in a written context look harmless enough, but spoken with the edgy attitude, they came off as rude and sarcastic.

          • Hawaiian says:

            Ps it's aloha OE... Not aloha OY... That is not professional

          • Aloha OY says:

            Parody is lost on idiots like you.

          • BMB says:

            Yvan was given another microphone,and instead of using it, he decided not to take any risk, and instead raise his voice... Besides, everyone got a challenge according to their own weakness, Yvan the mic, Justin his intolerance, Nikki the broken blender, etc...

        • Greyhoundmama says:

          Agree with you, Aloha OY. When you're performing, you just can't get pissed off. EVAH. And Justin tried to redirect the guy with humour but make the critical mistake of engaging with him for too long. Maybe that's a maturity thing though.

    • Sean says:

      What?!? Ippy was chill, as usual - and Justin yielded humor until the same individual schtupped with him for the fourth time. You would not have been so cool, yourself.

      • Aloha OY says:

        First off, Sean, you have no idea how cool I would have been, so STFU on that score, pal. Secondly, It doesn't matter how many times you've been interrupted, a professional would handle it with more class than either Ippy or Justin. On a stage, you are not always going to have audience members who are courteous, but the minute you show that you're offended, you put the entire audience on guard. They knew that they were under a microscope on this challenge, and they both blew it.

        • Jewels says:


          Really? Where is all your anger coming from? Calling someong "pal"? Really?

          One thing that I haven't seen considered about both Ippy and Justin getting the jazz from the audience is that the longer they do it while you professionally allow it to happen, the seconds are ticking by on your 3 minute presentation.

          I think they both did the best they could under the time constraints. Neither of them was rude at all.

        • Smoke_alarm says:

          You dislike Ippy and Justin because you thought they were rude but then you told Sean to STFU. That's just precious.

        • Hawaiian says:

          Aloha OE.. Not OY.... Wannabe.

        • Food Fan says:

          Lead by example.
          A professional woulda handled it with more class?
          Define class.
          What do you think they should have said?

          • SilverScribe says:

            What Justin "could" have said was, "Well sir, if your kids don't ike this, you could substitute the filling with something you know they like. It's a versatile recipe, so both you and your kids could be creative."

            Of course, it's easy for us to say now, since we aren't the ones who were under the gun. :)

            But to be honest, after Justin's first two comebacks (which could be said were funny) he just got snarky. The "I went to college" remark was uncalled for and came across like he thought the man in the audience was stupid and uneducated. Sorry. Not cool. Not ever.

        • Sanita says:

          Hey Aloha, chill out. I guess we know how you would react. STFU????????? Really, get a grip.

        • Peter Nguyen says:

          Well by telling Sean to STFU he clearly offended you and by your own opinion is unprofessional so does that mean you consider yourself to be so, also if that is true isn't that kind of being a hypocrite expecting Justin not to get mad over someones continued comments when one gets you to react in a more aggresive manner? Based on the huge amount of Justin fans out there which according to the polls that are much greater than that of Yvan do you think maybe the audience was put off less by Justins actions and maybe it seemed like more of an offense in your own mind?

      • guess says:

        When you a re a public person you have to show manners... Justin lost his faked temper... he is rude

    • logic says:

      I liked Justin even more after that. Nothing wrong with not being all fake all the time. Of course he was miffed. I do not blame him at all. I also felt the same about ippy.

      • SilverScribe says:

        Sorry, but my reaction was the exact opposite. I thought Justin's last few comebacks were rude and one thing about being a "public" person is that no matter how you are feeling, no matter how bad your day is going and no matter how much you want to punch someone, YOU CAN'T.

        It's called self restraint and it goes with the job - so you have to smile, be nice, and be gracious. Period.

        • Peter Nguyen says:

          Look at it this way who are you going to trust more to make your food the guy who has the courage to be honest and tell a jerk off or the dude who kisses butt to please a customer who no one else wants to be around, it's one thing to be polite to the guy who is mad because there is a hair in his food or someone who got served something cooked unproperly but to just let "That one guy" be so loud and obnoxious for no reason that it actually ruins the meal of the other customers around him because he's just wants to make a scene would make me think you were more on the fake side and less on the professional.

    • Sumay says:

      If you want to really know what Justin is like look at the episode of 24-Hour Restuaurant Challenge - couples. I thought I remembered him from somewhere but couldn't figure it out. I hated him then and I've been voting for him now - but now that I know who I am truly voting for - I'm taking my vote somewhere else. Wisdom aside - having some kind of morals and properly treating others is something I don't take lightly.

      • Eyechick says:

        I have been trying to remember where I have seen Justin before, thought maybe Chopped but wasn't sure. I dd definitely remember that he was a jerk on whichever show it was.

    • Sumay says:

      If you want to really know what Justin is like look at the episode of 24-Hour Restuaurant Challenge - couples. I thought I remembered him from somewhere but couldn't figure it out. I hated him then and I've been voting for him now - but now that I know who I am truly voting for - I'm taking my vote somewhere else. Wisdom aside - having some kind of morals and properly treating others is something I don't take lightly. He's been hiding who he truly is.

    • guest says:

      What do you know?!

    • @Carmie1012 says:

      So glad you dislike Justin., He's horrendous.

  2. Nadia says:

    It was really funny seeing the contestants react to their "problem". I am super glad Martita is gone.

    • Bro says:

      Looks like blenders are Nikki's Kryptonite LOL yet she gets a free pass time and time again! I will CHEER when she gets kicked off!

      • Nadia says:

        I guess bobby thinks that blenders are Nicki's biggest problem. LOL

      • MoHub says:

        Somehow, I think Nikki will be Bobby's final protégé, and Michele will bid us adieu. A shame, because I really like Michele and think she has more potential.

  3. Cowgirl says:

    The challenge last week was a good one--provided the contestants to think on their feet. When doing presentations, one never knows what to expect, and you have to be prepared and go with the flow. The challenges were sometimes funny and sometimes a challenge (!), but this show really showed who could deal with the extra pressure, with grace and poise and humor, if needed! Michelle was given a challenge far more difficult than any of the others, and she managed to deal with it well. Martie's humor was fun to see. Most of the others did well, but Nikki did not do well--her blank stare and not finishing her presentation, thereby not meeting the challenge, did not bode well for her.

    • Deanna says:

      I also don't think Martita did well at all. After assuring the audence more than once that her correct ingredient was missing, she ended up finishing 30 seconds early AGAIN, and then just babbled. Jeez Louise. All she had to do was show how to blister a pepper (which she had), stick it in a baggie, and then get the skin off. Not only did Ippy have to deal with a rude audience, his scallops arrived frozen, and there was a question if they would thaw or be dry enough for his demo. Likewise, Michele dealt with not on the time prank, but she got teeny tiny clams to deal with, and had to reconsider her dish on the fly. Martita was a big baby about it.

  4. Food Fan says:

    I think Ippy and Justin handled their glitches quite well. They certainly could have done worse but they didnt.
    Martie--surprised people. She just let it all roll right off and was "unflappable." Great job!
    Also, Michelle and Yvan did very well, too and just went with it and it payed off.

    • Shannon says:

      I agree with you, with the exception of Justin. He got a bit mean spirited, that is never ok to do. Live performances are part of this "job" they want. We all have jobs and we can not be mean to clients or guests or patients or whoever our clientele is no matter how annoying we may find them..or else we would find ourselves without a job.

    • cjcal says:

      Here's a bonus regarding Martie - she moved her presentation to the front of the stage so the audience could get a better view.

      Likewise, Yvan went with his own vocal cords (with audience buy-in) and skipped the microphone.

  5. Bro says:

    SO glad Martita is GONE! Now we just need to get rid of Nikki and GIADA. Bring back EMILY!

    • Jeremy says:

      IKR! Emily wasn't ready to host a show in four weeks, but she definitely will be ready to someday!

    • Missy says:

      I am with you I hope to see Nikki to go next. She is very unfriendly, I would never watch any show she would put out. I really would like to see either Ippy or Justin win.

    • Alyssa says:

      Agreed. I don't need to see Giada jumping around like a damn cheerleader every time she gets good reviews about her team. Drives me INSANE....

    • Debra says:

      I agree, bring back Emily, get rid of nikki and giada,,

  6. Nice says:

    The thing that bothered me about the episode is that it was rather unrealistic. I understand that the judges were trying to see how the chefs would react in certain difficult situations, but we all know that such things would never happen when one is recording their own show. FN shows are prerecorded. Whoever wins The Next Food Network Star will not have to perform in front of a live audience and will not have to present everything in one go. If they mess up, they can start over and keep doing so until they get it right. If people had the wrong ingredients or have a mishap with some of the machinery, they'll stop filming and fix it before resuming. There wouldn't be hecklers, and if there were, they'd be removed immediately. As for the camera guy purposely messing up the timing cues... please! As if they would allow that to happen. So while it was a good concept, ultimately it was rather unrealistic, and was especially cruel to some of the contestants (Ippy, Michelle, Justin) who got the more difficult challenges.

    • mise_en_place says:

      Actually, Food Network personalities often have to appear at industry functions. I have seen many of them at various food shows nationwide where they are interacting with a live audience and on a stage with less than professio9nal crews and limited kitchen equipment.

      • Nice says:

        Ah, my mistake then. Though I still feel that the challenge was more cruel to some of the chefs over others.

        • mise_en_place says:


        • SilverScribe says:

          I also agree.

          I actually felt that some of the challenges were not only cruel, but downright mean. It's one thing to mess with a single ingredient but it's something else entirely to cut someone completely adrift with no time references, or have half an audience walk out.

          While some contestants did better than others, I felt Justin did the worst. You never lash out at your audience, no matter how bad a day you're having or how boorish you think theyre being. Just smile, do your job and be gracious.

    • majorwoody says:

      Don't forget, the winner will be doing a live presentation at a Food & Wine Festival (Aspen I think?). So they will be asked to perform live in front of crowds as part of being a FN Star.

    • kathy says:

      You're right. I saw Giada say that when she first started she was so nervous and made so many mistakes before she learned the ropes of filming and cooking in front of a camera. I also saw Bobby doing a behind the scenes once and the meat he was grilling fell right through the the grill into the coals. They were once where these contestants are. And they still have mishaps and retakes but we just see the final finished show.

    • Jelly Bean says:

      I totally agree with Nice. Even if the FN Star or FN veteran chef performed live, I seriously doubt some of those scenarios would happen: i.e. 20 people from the audience walking out at one time and most audience members would be too polite to heckle or act obnoxious (the audience is there because they want to be there and they already like the chefs that would appear live). I'm sure the food network works really hard to plan a great "Next FN Star show" but some of the challenges are ridiculously hard.

  7. FNGossip says:

    The only reason Nikki was safe was that someone from Team Giada had to go home to keep the teams even. Her hurdle was probably the easiest of them all and she had trouble overcoming it.

    • Shannon says:

      I agree, Nikki was terrible, she should have been up for elimination.

    • cjcal says:

      I'm at the point where I don't know who had the easiest or toughest hurdle. I mean, Yvan having a bad microphone seems relatively easy to overcome. And Yvan had all his ingredients and operational kitchenware. And you are completely right, Nikki turned a molehill into Mt. Everest. :-)

      • Christa says:

        Michelle definitely had the toughest problem, since she didn't know how much time she had left during her demo. However,Nikki had the easiest challenge,yet didn't know what to make of it. And Martita seems to have a problem with story-telling in front of a crowd.

      • SilverScribe says:

        As did Martita. Okay, so the fresh ones were the wrong peppers, big deal. She already had the correct type roasted in the bag, you laugh and make some remark about "imagine these are actually Poblanos" and go on.

        It should have been Nikki and Martita battling to stay, but by now we all know why that didn't happen.

    • HulaGirl says:

      I totally AGREE... Nikki should have been the one to go home.

  8. Reuben says:

    I did not like this episode. It's heartbreaking to see someone want something so bad that it is their total focus and then to be messed with and be sent packing irregardless if they would have been sent packing otherwise it seems like a cruel school yard prank. Martita was not my favorite contestant, but I felt bad for her. Nikki, not so much.

    • cjcal says:

      I agree with your opinion. I also give credit to Alton for really trying to get his team thinking ahead of time about "worst things" that could happen. Martie may have taken this info to heart.

      • Reuben says:

        Thanks. I do believe Martie has come a long way. She definitely handled her "situation" very well. I don't think she could have done this a few weeks ago. Kudos to Alton for being a great mentor!

      • beachinfrizzy says:

        Great point and so true. Whereas Bobby just admonished his charges with 'you should be happier' 'go for it' 'take charge, it's your time to shine' blah blah pep-talk cliches.

        And Giada? Her advice to Ippy was to 'embrace the audience" knowing full well they were going to walk out on him! Then when he did try to rein them back in ("guys! where are you going? We haven't even gotten to the entree yet!") she was gesturing like a wild woman, "Don't worry about them! Look at ME! Look at ME!" Then afterward when he said "Wow Giada, you saved me" she scoffs, "yeah well in real life I'm not going to be there". Talk about mixed messages...is there ANY limit to this woman's ego?

        • cjcal says:

          Yes! It hit me like a ton of bricks the other day - mentors also being devious (and in Giada's case, being a little heartless). Ewwww to Giada.

  9. Shannon says:

    I enjoyed this episode. Yvan did awesome!

  10. cjcal says:

    Bobby Flay seems to be a great guy, but I'm trying to remember how he prepped his team for adversity. Alton really attempted to make Justin and Martie aware. Giada was coaching while sitting in the audience. What did Bobby do? I am having a memory lapse!

    • Food Fan says:

      This is why I am leaning more towards Alton as the best Mentor.
      He alerts his people to upcoming pitfalls and advises them on here's what you need right now. I'll forgive on occasional rudeness for advice that is useful. (Look at how much Martie has grown).

      • Food Fan says:

        This does not mean I want his people to win.
        My opinion is that Ippy offers the most out of all those remaining.
        But I like Alton's: here what's good, here's what bad, here's what you need now, approach.

        • Joyce says:

          I also think Michelle has a unique point of view. I would love to watch a show celebrating the New England area! The mentors are all different with their approaches....with positives for each!

      • Nice says:

        What I like about Alton is that he doesn't sugarcoat things. He tells it like it is. Sure, it comes off as a bit abrasive and blunt at times, but clearly his methods are effective, manifesting itself in Martie's growth as you said. I much prefer his direct approach to Giada's mollycoddling... Alton treats his team like adults and as colleagues as well as proteges, while Giada treats her group like babies, plays favorites and gets cranky when they mess up.

      • beachinfrizzy says:

        Right, he got THEM thinking about the possible pitfalls and to expect the unexpected (without giving anything away) whereas Giada practically put the words in Martita's mouth - "make sure you tell them about having the girls over for dinner!" - and it still didn't work because she was totally thrown by a different type of pepper!

    • addie says:

      He told his team that there would be problems as in any live show there could be. Can't remember it exactly but do remember him telling Michele that the least of her problems would be the small clams and to just be herself.

      • Wayne says:

        I think he tried to hint to Michelle about her pitfall by telling her she had a problem with timing,

        • cjcal says:

          I guess this is as much as we can expect. I don't recall him saying anything to Nikki, but he probably did. Actually, his best advice apparently comes this Sunday when he informs her that she looks at the camera like it owes her money. (An interesting comparison and I am wondering if Bobby years ago owed someone money?)