Live It Like You Love It, and Love It Like You Live It — Justin’s Rebel Recap

by in Recap, June 16, 2013

Russell and DanushkaIt’s the third week of a live-action job interview. Ten contestants arrive at the Food Star Kitchen. We’re reminded by Danushka very early on that she’s been eligible for elimination for the past two weeks. I smell one of my favorite literary ingredients: foreshadowing.

Mentor Challenge

  • Chad’s been smoking (get it?) the competition for the past two weeks, but salsify’s subtle flavor isn’t listed one bit in the big book of baller barbecue, and that’s confirmed as Chad comically mispronounces it.
  • Danushka, the challenge is to showcase the bonkers ingredient, not use the dragon fruit as a duffel bag. Do you pay more attention to the filling of the taco or to its shell? If Danushka was a taco, would she have filling at all?
  • Russell's arrowhead root has more starch than a French cuff and is about as fun to eat as one, as well. Russell attempts to trick out this plain white T of an ingredient with his seven culinary stains sins.

  • I'd pay a Buick's worth of bucks to see Russell and Viet throwdown like Superman vs. Doomsday. There's actually a little resemblance, stylistically.
  • Viet's dish is freaking beautiful and highly technical — a dish worthy of presenting to the House of El, which we all know is the royal family of Viet's home planet, Krypton.
  • Lovely, on the other hand, channels her inner Ron Browz. I would have called it Glambutan Bread Pudding.
  • Rodney treats the karela to a day at the gin and berry spa, which is just what its bitter, wrinkly body needed. π-style indeed, as π-style is synonymous with excellence.

Alton and RodneyStar Challenge: π-Rod and Damaris, having laid waste to the rest in the Mentor Challenge, sat on the judges' table with guest judge and newest Iron Chef Alex Guarnaschelli. Whoever thought of this gruesome twist was a real genius, and I’d like to shake that person’s evil hand. Shoving the already bruised, battered and deep-fried competitors into a Chopped challenge is brutal.

  • Want to know a secret? Chad made a waffle. A man who can make a quick bread like a boss will always keep his family fed and his wallet nicely leavened.
  • If there was ever a Casey at the Bat moment in Star history, this is it: Russell, mighty Russell, added tofu to his dish.
  • Danushka gets fired up when Damaris tells her that she’s too apathetic about being involved in a competition that could alter her life’s trajectory forever. That’s the fiery Danushka I wanted to see so badly last week, but, again, she didn’t burn brightly when it counted the most.

Food Network Season 9The second batch of finalists is pummeled with the delectable detritus found under the back seat of an active mom’s minivan — or SUV, in Stacey’s case.

  • Chris: What a stand-up guy all of a sudden. Is this what Chris was talking about in round one when he said he wanted to help people with food?
  • Stacey’s pot pie and presentation both got rear-ended on the way to the soccer game of destiny.
  • Chris' breakthrough: Dr. Flay is like, “Zis iz zee breakthrough vee haf been looking for!”
  • I’m still drooling over Nikki's dish and will probably attempt to re-create it after a long night out with the boys.

Damaris Stormborn TargaryenThreat of the Week: Damaris. Damaris Stormborn Targaryen: The mother of sauces, the liberator of flavors and the rightful heir to the culinary throne. Her presence at the judges’ table was so stately and so powerful. According to Chad, it was like she was a different person. She’s used to sitting on that side of the culinary desk, red-checking pencil in hand. If she can maintain this poise, she will walk through fire.

Cue the scary music: Lovely, Danushka, Russell and Stacey were up for elimination. Lovely lacked depth, but the judges let her float to the surface of safety. Russell’s head-scratching food and performance, as well as Stacey’s pot-pie flub, were also forgivable. What couldn’t be forgiven was Danushka’s nonchalance and simple food. Seeya. I had high hopes.

The moral of the story: Something Alton told me and a lesson I live by: “The camera is always on.” Want to be a Food Network Star? Live it like you love it and love it like you live it even when you’re sleeping.Danushka

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Comments (276)

  1. jen says:

    Wouldn't it be nice to get someone who is both skilled and endearing?

  2. janice says:

    Explain what happened to last year's winner, Justin. (not sure I remember his name). It makes me question the point of the contest. You win and you are never seen again. I still wish Martie had won. She had something fun to offer.

    • heather says:

      The public was nuts. They voted for someone who makes fried fishbones. Why not? Unique was all that mattered. The network finally realized it wasn't the greatest happy hour appetizer.

      • ImaUzer says:

        He did the fried sardine skeletons ONCE. And the judges LOVED it. Outside the box thinking isn't always bad. He had an interesting, unique culinary perspective.

        The problem is, ever since Guy Fieri won, they think that the "drive around and stuff your face with food" shows work.

        Besides that, I don't think Bob & Susie have much of an imagination anyway.

        • heather says:

          Disagree. At the time that he won, those who voted for him were wanting to see more of his unique things. They didn't vote to see him stuff his face. If the judges loved it so much, then why didn't they continue it?

          Outside the box isn't always bad but this became too outside. It's one thing to be original. It's another thing to have any appeal. People might watch what he does. But they wouldn't do what he does. I think the network realized it too.

          • klink6224 says:

            I think they need to round out his approach to bring the unique into a cleaner package. Though he wasn't given a fair shake (for whatever reasons) with a 10:30pm time slot on a Sunday I think it was.

            All that aside however, how many of their shows actually flop? A lot! Outside Chopped, R.I. And Iron Chef there have been a lot of duds. I purposely left out Triple D in the successes because it does seem that the pulse of the boards and people I talk to (I'm a no one I know) are tired of it and turning them OFF to the channel now. Aaron Sanchez' show bombed. That meat show bombed. It's tough I'm sure but there's not that great a track record just lessening the "fault" of Justin's in my eyes. Still believe he has a voice and quality to show to us that want new and interesting programming.

          • tinker says:

            If all of these shows bombed and Tushman and Fogelson picked them, what does that tell you? All of those shows that bombed were very likely as you say, new and interesting programming when they started.

          • klink6224 says:

            Well that's kinda to the point. It's not so much Justin, as the original post was leaning towards, as much as it is a problem on the whole with the network programming. Though ill teasingly argue that some of those programs that bombed may have very well been new but not so interesting. :-P

        • derek says:

          So he did the skeletons once. Almost everything this guy made was weird. They just call it unique.

          • BillO says:

            I came across his nacho recipe the other day and it still looks like something I'd like to do. Maybe the aspic salad, too. Some of his things look pretty involved to make, but then just take a look at Bobby Flay's. How many of Bobby's recipes have about 30 ingredients?

          • derek says:

            Sometime a chef will use several ingredients. Involved might be ok as long as it turns out delicious. But many of Justin's things were just strange. Why isn't the network letting him cook if they are behind him?

          • BillO says:

            I can't answer that. The network or Justin would have to tell us. But I'd bet they had a lot more knowledge of what Justin was capable of cooking than the few things he made on FNS. Maybe there were artistic differences, or money or the time he'd have to be away from his restaurant.

  3. BillO says:

    I can't think of anyone who has a show on FN or CC who isn't personable and who doesn't do a good job before the camera. So that's the threshold for being a contender. For me, the only reason I watch the cooking shows is to get recipes I think I'll like. And so far, I haven't seen much of that at all on FNS. But that's probably more the fault of the network than the contestants based on the challenges they've given them. Hopefully that'll change soon and we can see what these guys can cook.

    • heather says:

      The more good recipes the better. Most cooks have them but how do they taste? Some are just better at cooking than others.

  4. Lily says:

    will someone slip "Lovely" a hint that she's barking up the wrong tree flirting with Alton? she is such a robot of barbie facial expressions and meaningless buzzwords. i've seen more convincing automatons at theme parks.

  5. carlotta says:

    Rachel Ray had yer Yumm-o. Bling it on.

  6. MB in SD says:

    I am still wanting to see more Justin Warner / Rebel Eats. Refuse to watch another FN Star until they wake up and realize the star they had last year and give him a show. We don't need more Diners, Drive Ins & Dives or Chopped... we want REBEL EATS!