There Is No Pause Button on the VCR of Reality — Justin’s Rebel Recap

by in Recap, July 1, 2013

Damaris, Nikki and Stacey - Food Network Star, Season 9Food Network Star isn't just a job interview, it's a learning process. It's akin to studying for a Ph.D. in public speaking or training for the culinary version of Battle Royale. With every learning process there are markers for self-evaluation. In Food Network Star U, they are called "midterms" and they're designed to thin the pack once the stragglers have been picked off. Simultaneously, the midterms provide a glimpse into the very harsh reality that none of the competitors "have it in the bag," regardless of what is said in the comments below.

Test #1: Giada in Prank-a-dise

Remember last year when I had to do a "live" demo with a "charismatic co-host"? The fish bones? The awkward start? It was easily one of the most harrowing experiences of my life. How could it be worse? Well, Giada summons one Terrence Jenkins — co-anchor of E! News — aka the smoothest dude in the game — this time around.

  • Chef Clark Kent (Viet) could have used his x-ray vision (or just turned around) to see that there were more bell peppers behind him. Isn't it amazing what powerful blinders our nerves are?
  • Having experience in cooking for subterraneans apparently gives Russell the ability to cook without light.

Terrence and Chad

  • There is no pause button on the VCR of reality, Chad, but man, your shirt was so cool I can forgive you.
  • Apparently things flying off of shelves is rather common in the wacky world of Damaris, so she blames it on a poltergeist. I was laughing out loud on a plane when I watched this and everyone looked at me. Thanks, Damaris.
  • There are two options when dealing with fake fire alarms, Nikki: Keep cooking or grab Giada and Terrence, one over each shoulder, and run to the nearest exit. Maybe Nikki didn't have enough protein for breakfast.

Winner: Rodney, you have a knack for winning when it really counts. Perhaps this is the true definition of pie-style.

Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Food Network Stardom

Almost nine and a half score years ago, our forefathers got together and signed a piece of paper on which was written, "Leave us alone, bro; we got this from here." This is the midterm and playing the role of Thomas Jefferson is Bob Tuschman.

Alton and Rodney

  • Rodney must have been denied trips to the bank as a kid because during his presentation, he keeps mentioning “suckers.”
  • Seemingly sending her to a cold winter at Valley Forge, Rodney assigns Nikki fried chicken. Smartly, Nikki says that her POV is incorporated into her fried chicken because it's so good, you only need one piece, but then she starts acting like Rainbow Brite.
  • The mentors want Russell to "let the dogs out," but his presentation has the oomph of a gerbil reciting beat poetry. Possibly displeased, Alton electroshocks Russell in to giving a "throw" to commercial and Russell sticks it like Kerri Strug did in 1996.
  • When Rodney sends Damaris to the cocktail station, I am immediately taken with visions of Damaris interpretive-karaoke-ing Bonnie Tyler's "Total Eclipse of the Heart." The shimmy returned.
  • Like being sent to Bunker Hill, poor Chad — the BBQ guy — gets to cook veggies with Farmer Lee.
  • Stacey made like the battle of Yorktown, brought out all the ammo and crushed the opposition. That was in 1781, as we all know, but please allow me some historic license just to get my point across.

Cue the Scary Music

Rodney was unintelligible, Damaris was silly, Viet was not confident, Nikki was giggly, Chris's food was meh, Russell was counter-innovative, Chad couldn't share the stage and Stacey was too polished. This kind of criticism is why you call in Bob, and these are the challenges that only one person will be able to truly overcome.

We are left with what I prophesied a few blogs ago, a showdown between the two Iron Chef contenders: Superman (Viet) and Doomsday (Russell).

Russell and VietBoth had weak food and meek performances, but it was Russell's uppercut to the commercial break that was the mortal blow.

The Moral of the Story: Finding a humble chef is like finding a piece of basil in Giada's teeth: It's rarely ever gonna happen, and if it does, you don't see it. That's the problem with humility — it's often an invisible virtue. But Viet was probably the best and most gifted student of the whole bunch, and when it came time to own up to being freaking awesome, he pulled a Shaggy and said, "It wasn't me." Never be afraid of being awesome.

Threat of the Week: Bob Tuschman because he wrecked everyone this week. The next time you see him, I'll wager we'll know who's coming to claim my sash.

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Comments (285)

  1. KatieGrace says:

    I am very disappointed in this season. Every year the program decreases in value. Has anyone else noticed we don't get to see these Stars as people? There is no more filming in their apartment, no more interesting challenges, and they've done away with expecting personal stories, or at the very least a distinguishing point of view.

    Does no one remember how demanded personal stories were in the past? It was great, because you really got to know and root for a contestant, as the person they were, and not as a generic restaurant owner/caterer. I have no idea who the contestants are this season (obviously other than their names and cooking ability).
    The Food Network has taken away all personal aspects of this show, and has even taken away that the contestants need a distinguishable p.o.v. For example- Stacey. We know she can cook. She was a restaurant owner. I have no idea how she grew up, or any personal experiences, or what kind of show she'd put out. Would I want to watch her? Maybe, if I knew who she was. The network has also done away with filming in the apartments. I loved those parts of the show. We got to hear the contestants interact , and overall it was very interesting.
    The challenges have gotten duller and duller over time. Remember when the network was creative? We met with Food Network icons, the contestants flew to different places, cooked for distinct groups of people (not all these "focus groups") and even had to buy their own supplies on a budget. Now every episode seems to have an outline- they are given a generic theme, generic supplies, and made to present to a camera, or (GASP!) another focus group. But with clickers! Wow.
    The Food Network seem to be trying to hire a professional to fill up another time slot rather than giving someone a chance to blossom, come out of the shadows, and change other people's lives by cooking. There are literally no home cooks. It's more of a career shift for these people- moving from high-end restaurant owner/caterer to television.
    The Next Food Network Star needs to reverse the path it's going or it will have no viewers and no interest. Who agrees with me? Bring back the old ideas!

    • Crouton40 says:

      They're WERE home cooks.
      It all changed after they hired Guy Fieri. He was originally criticized for "too much restaurant and too much pop", but he won. Ever since then, the seasons have had more restaurant owners as contestants, people from Cordon Bleu, etc...

      I don't think this is the season to do it, but after this, I wouldn't mind at all if they went (back?) to having a season of ALL home cooks and NO restaurant owners as contestants at all...i.e...the BEST undiscovered awesome cook you've never heard of, til now. Go back and watch the 1st two seasons and they are way-different than now.

      This year, I like the idea of people who have studied food. Personal preference. After about the last 3 years, we really need someone who can teach us things.

    • ImaUzer says:

      You're right that the program decreases in Value. I attribute that to Bob & Susie not having any real imagination. And they don't, either.

      As far as the "personal stories"? Good riddance! I'm GLAD they're gone! And I think if you did a poll, a lot of other people are, too. They were unnecessary. They made me roll my eyes and want to stick my finger down my throat every time. I really don't care whose grandma taught them how to make biscuits when they were 5 years old standing on a stepstool. Tell me you have an awesome recipe, mean it, and teach me (much like Alton did with Good Eats) how to make it. I know very, very little about Alton Brown. I think he's a GREAT food mind. I caught as many episodes of Good Eats as I could. It didn't matter to me that I didn't know about his background. What mattered to me is that he could entertain and educate me on how to make food.

      As far as what kind of show they'd put out, you (and the contestant) doesn't even really know that. I mean, except for maybe Jeff Mauro, name someone who got a show who matched their POV. Very, very few of them.

      You can't base whether or not you'd watch a show based on "who someone is". If that were the case, Yvan from last season would have a show because of his "dumpster diving" stories.

      • Crouton says:

        Alton knows alot. :)
        I'm glad that. so far, we are getting much less of the tell-us-who-you-are stories. If we wanna know, we can read someone's Bio. It's already posted. Or watch their video.

    • Just The Food Please says:

      I could not disagree more. I think they still have too much of that nonsense. I don't care about Chris' old drug issues or Andres' weight loss. All I care about is if the person can cook, and if what they would make and their show would be interesting.

      The main problem is the quality of the contestants and the fact that so many of them are rejects/contestants from other shows they had on FN and reality shows in general, or wannabe actors/singers.

      I would rather they have real chefs that have to grow into the camera stuff, than people who have no cooking authority.

      • Crouton40 says:

        I find myself agreeing quite strongly with your last sentence, above.

        Just gimme someone who is a great cook with a good smile and who communicates clear...and FN can help them with the camera.

  2. Sunshine says:

    Personally, I decided to give up on this show. I will never waste my time again. Why? Because last weeks show was very tacky. There is no class. The contestants are mostly O.K. except for sexual innuendos by Demaris. I was really put off by the judges laughing at sleazy sexual humor. I have had enough....I will not be watching Food Network Star anymore. By the way Viet could cook and was wholesome. I think you made a big mistake getting rid of him.. We could have learned something from him....You should have given him a chance, instead you kept the lesser contestants.

    • Denise says:

      Oh, please. Sleazy sexual humor? Like exactly what? Was she slyly licking her lips and saying come here, big boy to the men? No! That poor girl can't even say hi or give a smile without people exaggerating the crap out of it. I bet her competition is just too worried she's doing good. If she was a boring creep like Danushka they'd say that and if she has any life to her they complain, too. Alton doesn't think she's tacky. Stop magnifying everything.

    • Carl says:

      Viet is terrible for TV. One curve ball thrown his way and he is done. He could not get over the peppers and dwelled, dwelled, and dwelled some more. Look for them briefly and if they are not there, go slice up some more. Asked about 3 dips to recommend and he can't think. He is quite lost. Even i can name for you about 10 dips in less than 30 seconds.

  3. Ted says:

    I agree with Denise's reply. Exaggeration is right. Sunshine is wrong. You might as well condemn Stacey when she asked Russell, Hey Cowboy what'd you bring to the party and accuse her of being sleazy. That would be wrong, too. A smile is a good thing. Would you rather have someone glare at somebody and say what the H___ do YOU want, just so you can say they didn't act flirty? There's nothing wrong with basic warmth. Get some and get real.

  4. LeeAnn says:

    This is recent. Damaris looks fine to me. http://www.whas11.com/great-day-live/video/Chef-D...

  5. Bonnie says:

    She made a healthy salad and looks happy in her work.

  6. poindexter says:

    If you bought a used car in a gravel lot at Fast Eddie's Clunkers, Rodney would be the guy with the tattoos and hat selling it to you. All he needs now is a cigar.

  7. Leslie says:

    Bring back Judson Allen.

  8. ImaUzer says:

    Here's a new theory I'm positing, and I'll start with three names:

    Chad, Russell, Rodney.

    Think about this: A lot of the "shows" on the FN right now are DDD. And they have a lot of OTHER shows of the same format. People going to places, shoving food in their mouth.

    Think about this, for a second:

    Rodney, the pie guy, could be sent around (in a Guy Fieri way) but to places that do pies and other desserts.

    Russell could be sent to various "underground" and hoity-toity, "cool" places around the country. Same type of deal.

    Chad could be sent to BBQ joints all over the place. Maybe even have some sort of a spinoff of Bobby Flay's "Throwdown", except with BBQ.

    I'm not saying that's what I WANT, I'm saying that's something food network might come up with...

    • Obi-Wan says:

      This would upset the universe. It would be a disturbance in the Force. Don't fall to the dark side. Choose the good. Choose cooking. And restore order to the Galaxy.

  9. kate says:

    Oh no, not that. You picked the people to go to those places but I'd never watch it. It would be another case of the first three shows are neat but then instantly boring. Just three more shows where all people do is narrate and stuff their face and three less shows where we don't learn a good recipe. I want to impress my friends with something fantastic that I learned to make.

  10. Ernestine says:

    Who is best between Chris, Stacey or Russell?