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. pierrettem says:

    I am so very happy Danushka is gone I could not stand her voice or her attitude and I would have never watch a show she would have been in :)

  2. guest says:

    I am so glad to see Danushka go home. She hade such an attitude.

  3. R-Teest says:

    Why do they even have this show? Where are all the past winners and their shows? The only winner I see on the network is Guy Fieri, who won the 2nd season. The winner is never seen or heard from again after the competition ends.

    • Nila R. says:

      Jeff Mauro, the Sandwich King, is still around. i just recently saw him compete for charity on Chopped. Melissa D'Arabien still has a show on FN. Arty Sequiera still seems to be around, though I do not know if she is taping new shows. I understand the Hearty Boys (first season winners) decided to devote more time to raising their son, so they have cut back on their public activities. Emily Finley found the pressure of doing a weekly show too much and moved to France (?). Not sure what happened to Aaron McCargo. I know he wrote a cookbook, but do not see his show nowadays.

      • BillO says:

        I don't know if Aaron is still making new shows, but Big Daddy's House is still on weekly.

      • jalp says:

        The Wikipedia entry for "Food Network Star" seems to have some "where are they now" commentary about the contestants from all eight previous seasons. How useful it is -- or how recently updated, for the earlier years -- I'm too new to this to say . . . but FWIW. . . .

      • beachinfrizzy says:

        "Aarti Party" was cancelled but they're still finding slots for her - there's a "Lose 5 Pounds" show on a weekend morning (Melissa's on it too) and she recently hosted a limited run evening program called "Taste In Translation". Because, you know, there just aren't enough "travel around and eat stuff" shows in FN/Cooking Channel's line up these days (eyeroll).

    • R-Teest says:

      I saw Aaron on the Spike network

  4. Drew says:

    The public is addicted to passing fads. There's only so much Aarti can do with her spices. Justin was so original that very few would actually make or serve his food and it's almost insulting that we would need Mauro or anyone else to teach us how to make a sandwich. But who cares? Just as long as its new and no one else is doing it. We see the results. Here today, gone tomorrow.

    • MoHub says:

      Aarti is on two Cooking Channel shows and has presented recipes from her real home kitchen on The Best Thing I Ever Made. There's no reason her POV should get old any more than Bal Arneson's—the Spice Goddess—has, and Aarti has the added twist of incorporating Indian spices into fusion dishes.

  5. k9whspr says:

    Justin, your commentary is hysterical. Thank God, relief from the boredom.

  6. BoonieSooze says:

    Justin: while I'm not QUITE hip and culturally relevant enough to get ALL your literary allusions, I will say: great post.
    Love your recap writing style!
    I can hear your "voice" coming through in every word.
    The Woman Who Is Old Enough To Be Your Proud English Teacher

  7. Dan says:

    At this point in time I can really feel like I can skip the next 5 episodes and not be surprised on who is left.

    They are going to cut Lovely - she will never seem authentic, and when you are cooking for family or friends, nobody gives a **** about glamming it up.

    They are going to cut Stacey, her cooking isn't strong enough. She was on Resturant Impossible, not a good back-story.

    They are going to cut Chris b/c his motivation is not something he'll want to bring up, or if over-used will seem like a pity-play.

    They are going to cut Pie Man eventually, since he is just hyped up cliche of a jazz player who sometimes refers to himself in 3rd person, and forces everything into a pie shell, and Guy Fieriri already travels and has more relatable style.

    • Dan says:

      They are going to cut Russel, are you underground rebel or likable nice guy? Seven sins of cooking? C'mon, you add bacon or liqour the dish is better. Not rocket science. Its like he's hiding the food behind that. FYI when I heard him talk about 'underground resturants' that setup in abandon warehouses my thoughts were 'How sketchy, Too cheap to pay the rent or staff? Too scared of inspections?'

    • Dan says:

      That leaves Damaris, Nikki, Viet and Chad. I think that FN is trying to force a woman to win this year (challenges, and selective editing).

      Chad said before that he's tried out for FN Star a few times, so why hasn't he been on before this point in time? (Scrapping the bottom of the barrel FN?) While likeable, I know too many people do not have time to do BBQ properly (low and slow), so it would be a slight waste of air-time. I don't know what he would make for a full (multiple seasons) worth of dishes w/o repeats. He's out.

      Viet's nice guy-ness, and humility will backfire in terms of star power, though his cooking will see him through far in the competition. Like the creativity, but FN is prob. looking for a woman to win.

    • Dan says:

      That leaves Damaris and Nikki. Damaris has enough personality, cooking skills and charm to host a show, once polish and coaching is applied, but since that it is a work in progress, she will be passed up, leaving.....Nikki.
      Aarti did the online cooking shows into a win in FN Star, I think that Nikki will end up winning due to the experience, and having a concept that can be a full fledge cooking show that will actually work for most people.
      FN cut to the chase already, and drop the flakes.

      • Shannon says:

        Dan, I also like to play the "forecast game". In the beginning, I also predicted that the winner would be Nikki. I don't think it is because she is a woman and that's what they are looking for. I think it is because of her POV or concept. I think THAT is what they are looking for. We'll have to see if her camera presence and cooking chops are up to snuff. Her concept appeals to a wide variety of cooks, she does not entirely eschew meat, that would turn off a lot of folks. She just highlights veggies.
        I like watching the episodes, to see along the way if my favorites get sent home. Year after year my favorites don't necessarily win. I also love to see how the competitors emerge and change. We will have to see who wins.

        • Janet says:

          Shannon, no disrespect intended but to me its troubling that people would choose a concept over personality and kitchen skill. If we can get a winner who has both of those first, then I'm sure that they can show us new ideas and concepts of their own. We still get to see new things. It looks like some viewers just want something new at any price. Because usually those same people don't even mention anything online about liking the chef or how good they cook. They don't seem to care. A boring chef could have a new idea. A rockstar chef could have a wonderful concept but be a jerk. People don't talk about that, though. I'm not saying you, personally.

          • Shannon says:

            Janet, I agree 100%. (see my prev response to Marie, below). As I have said before my personal opinion and way of picking who I want to see on FN is this: I need to like the person, be entertained by them, they need to be versatile and they need to have great cooking chops and show me something new. Everyone is different in what they value..and yes I value an engaging personality..if I am bored by you, I don't care how good you can cook, I won't be watching.

      • John says:

        Dan, We are not even halfway there. Viet or Chad may last longer than you think. I agree that the pie-man is too much of forcing everything into a pie shell. Between Nikki and Damaris they are both good but I could learn more from Damaris.
        Like her personality and great smile. She continues to grow. Nikki is a little too girly. Damaris has more training than a home cook. I think that would actually work for more people.

      • Marie says:

        This is starting to become a little bizarre. People talk as if Nikki were the only possible cook who could ever make a good veggie dish. This is just unfair to all of the other cooks in this competition. It is her point of view but she certainly does not have the whole market locked down on veggies.

        • Shannon says:

          I agree Marie, Nikki is ok. There is nothing at this point that I "don't" like about her. I would be ok with her POV. There are others that I personally like MORE. There are also some I like much, much less. I just feel like the FN starts out this show knowing who they want (this is just my personal opinion).

        • Roger says:

          I agree. I prefer to vote for someone I like and their expertise rather than just an idea. Ideas are good but if that's what Food Network wants they should get someone to show us food from different parts of the world. Daniela was the right idea. We just needed someone who could do it better.

      • Bob says:

        Nikki can have her cabbage and broccoli. Just gimme some of Chad's char-broiled ribs and a 6-pack. I'm gonna die happy. C'mon, Nikki. Live a little.

      • steph says:

        Lovely has not had a chance to show us what she can do. People have her of too much bling and they don't see her cooking or that she is upbeat. Nikki is too much like a woman they had a couple seasons ago who was a food commentator. Mary? Nikki reminds me of her. She talked good on camera but her food was just average. Nikki's idea does not strike me as new. Andre could have done what Nikki is doing.

        • Denise says:

          Stacey all the way!

        • Craig says:

          True. Better to vote for the person than the concept. People have concepts to offer anyway. What good is it for a chef to have a new idea if they themselves are not star quality? Or if they have a new concept but they aren't any good at it? Ideas can be hollow.

      • Juliet says:

        It's funny that you sound so sure of yourself and then at the end you cast your vote for Nikki when she has already been on the bottom in a challenge. You left that part out.

      • geri says:

        Dan, when you say someone is a work in progress and will be passed up, you imply that the judges are lazy and don't want to do any work on helping anyone grow. Not true. Are you saying Nikki is a finished product and doesn't have work or growth to do? They all do. Nikki has already lost a challenge. Could you still root for someone else if they lost one, too?

        • Dan says:

          Juliet - During these competition shows everyone ends up at or near the bottom once during the duration. I can't hold that against any of the contestants.
          Geri - Yes - the judges are judges, and while they 'mentor' that is not the primary role in this season. Why would FN invest time/effort/money when it doesn't have to? As far as finished product goes, its a question of how much polish is needed. I didn't say I was rooting for Nikki, I said it seems inevitable that she would win given what was seen and known.
          How many people watch the cooking shows of previous winners after rooting for them during the competition? How many do that after 2 seasons of cooking shows?
          Anyways, it is the concept that gets turned into the show in the end as the starting point.
          I'd like to add in that I feel Daniela got a raw deal. It was different style cuisine, but not being a strong English speaker is automatic boot. Which begs a question why was she a finalist in the first place? She had to have done a demo/casting tape.

    • Marsha says:

      Dan, It's good to eat healthy but what no one is talking about is that this is no guarantee at all that the food will be any good. It's as if I said to you, here, eat your green beans because they're good for you. That may be, but I can't stand green beans! Healthy, maybe. Meat on the side may be, too. But no guarantee on the flavor.

  8. klink6224 says:

    Does anyone know if there is a (virus free) way to watch old seasons of FNS? I watched the last 2 only prior to this year and loved last years format and want to be able to compare it to past seasons. This years seems very watered down and have a hunch this could be the last season of the show. Not many "made" it, less contestants, recycled personalities, (so far) no Bob and Susie and even losing a mentor "to film another project" on the only reality based show of the network does not bode well for future success.

    I wish FN would get some of the older shows on streaming sites like Netflix or Hulu

  9. Viktor says:

    I rather liked Danushka this week and she was kind, caring, and honest about herself (always has been) - didnt take stuff too seriously and even hugged Damaris good bye despite receiving her harsh critique. I rather found her refreshing and her humor came through. If she was more creative, I dare say she would still be in the show.

  10. Mhaque says:

    I love to make food.Nice item i cook .but family not i only eat.