It’s About to Get Pazza in Here — Justin’s Rebel Recap

by in Recap, July 21, 2013

Russell Jackson - Food Network Star Season 9Martie Duncan and I used to say, "When one door closes, it's time to get out the jackhammer."

Since her elimination from this contest, Lovely Jackson, with help from Robert Irvine, has been the architect of her own reconstruction — drilling through six other competitors to regain a cutting board in the Food Star Kitchen.

With pizza doughnuts well behind us, the gang, now including Lovely, is to make a pa-sta deesh, for Gee-ah-da and her Food Network fratelli. That's not all. After the competitors cook their dishes, they have to describe with edible eloquence the dishes of their rivals. It's about to get pazza in here.

Damaris vs. Lovely

Damaris vs. LovelyLovely missed the "Bobby's Bleep-able Buzz words" challenge and takes us down a "beautiful journey through a nice, beautiful, delicious meat sauce mouthwatering journey and wonderful pasta delicious beautiful." It's kinda hard to blame her. She's describing the anti-glam. There's not a party on that plate in the least. It's pasta with meat sauce.

I don't know what in Lovely's dish conjured Damaris' story of broken-hearted couch-crushing. Nothing makes me want to buy Buitoni pasta like a depressing breakup story. I smell a Ben and Jerry's endorsement in the works.

Rodney vs. Stacey

Stacey conjures up a great story about eating pasta with her kids at the 29 of 30 seconds mark. Rodney doesn't really nail it, either:

"Sweet, nice, brown sugar-tasting chicken saltimbocca ham, Jack we're done right ... ?"

Russell vs. Nikki

Nikki's sinless dish gives Russell a run for his descriptive money. Apparently duck fat doesn't make all worlds go round, and maybe Russell could have benefited from a shot of whiskey before his tight-lipped sell. Ever heard a kid read the ingredients on a cereal box? Bingo.

On the very far other hand, Nikki gets all touchy-vealy with Russell's dish and freestyles about brininess and textural juxtaposition like she's Veginem.

Nikki's spontaneity is rewarded with the privilege of choosing her team for the next challenge.

The Field Piece

When I was shooting Rebel Eats, I was a Brooklyn hipster deep in the Deep South. Connecting with folks, making them feel like we're all humans with the same tongues who dig the same grub and like to have good times isn't always easy. Remember Ricky, the moonshiner?

Rodney at Vito's PizzaStacey wiped her feet on the host of the doughnut joint. It was certainly inadvertently and clearly due to the extreme situation, but alas, you didn't see Nikki shoving lines down the throat of the 6-year-old customer. Damaris had it easy, just setting the scene.

Russell had the same role as Damaris, but he injected his POV into a segment about someone else's gig — the pizza guy's. This leads us to Rodney, who seemingly showed the pizza guy his secret decoder ring because neither one of them said an actual thing. Somehow they seemed to be communicating just fine. You know who tells tales full of sound and fury that signify nothing, right? Ask Shakespeare.

From here we cut to Lovely for the customer testimonial. There are no cute 6-year-olds at the pizza joint. There are doctors and dudes, and these old eggs are just too hard for Lovely to crack. If only she could have mustered the chutzpah she had when she kicked Viet and Chad out of Star Salvation. It seemed like she was a reporter reading from a teleprompter on the scene of a jackknifed pizza on the 405.

Cue the Scary Music

Food Network Star Season 9Stacey's white-knuckle grip on her performance caused her sincerity to slip through her fingers. Nikki, as usual, did just great, and Damaris was truly charismatic. Stacey's composure is crumpled at the criticism of the committee, but she and her girls are safer than meat held below 42 degrees F, so she can live to see another Sunday.

In the danger zone: Russell, Rodney and Lovely are left to proof the dough of their missteps. Russell was too self-absorbed to properly introduce his host. Rodney, while being excellent at shuckin' and jivin' like a good ol' pie throwin' jack, couldn’t piece together the story of Vito's Pizza. Lovely's robo-journalistic take on the whole scene left a whole human's worth of desire.

Alas, Lovely's edible diamonds were cut and polished to the point of resembling cubic zirconia. That's still a sharp stone — sharp enough to knock out Viet and Chad, at least.

The moral of the story: Whoever throws the party deserves the most celebration. When you want to learn something, you have to make the person who's dispensing the knowledge feel like the font of all the world's informational treasures.

The food is always less than half of the equation. I'm really bummed that I had to consult a search engine to learn the actual story of Jim Nakano, "The Donut Man." I was in tears, not just because of his tale, but because this batch of "stars" couldn't stop talking about themselves and the damned doughnuts. There. Is. So. Much. More.

Threat of the week: Robert Irvine. He groomed Lovely well enough that she crushed most of the competition and next week Robert's back to do the crushing himself.Russell and Lovely - Food Network Star Season 9

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Comments (349)

  1. Jill says:

    Stop with these stupid "reality" shows! (except Mystery Diners, I do find that one entertaining) I do watch Melissa's show and Jeff's show and sometimes Big Bite if Guy doesn't have guests or family on because when he does he forgets to do any instruction of what he is doing. Don't watch any of the other winners who still have shows on. This season is completely rigged. Can't stand Stacey. Although kind of annoying I miss the Neely's (have made several of their dishes and they came out wonderful) and more Marcella please!!!! FN is becoming a real joke and I'm sad for it.

    Read more at:

    • Davout says:

      That's interesting that you request more Marcella since her appearance on The American Baking Competition has raised up such a furor. Frankly, there are very few FN people that I like. Jeff and Melissa are two of my very least favorites, but I do have to admit that with the supposed stars for this year, they make even Melissa, Jeff, and Justin look the tiniest bit better, but that's not saying much.

      • BillO says:

        I think Marcella fits the mold perfectly for what the emphasis currently is- someone good in front of a camera. But her recipes are awful. I haven't tried one in a year after reading the reviews. Is that what they want?

        • Jill says:

          I don't know what recipes you read and since you didn't try one I guess it would be hard for you to judge. I make her stuff all the time and they are wonderful. My husband is Hispanic and he approves.

    • Callie Carver says:

      I like to watch the Neelys, Anne Burrell, Bobby Flay, and Alton for instruction on how to make things. I have made several of each of their dishes with a lot of success. Then for further instruction I go to the sister station of FN (Cooking Channel) or PBS. I have been finding cooking shows on other networks (with cable there is a lot to choose from).
      The reality part of FN I watch Next FoodNetwork Star, Iron Chef/Next Iron Chef, Extreme Chef, Food Truck Road Race. Some have a few tips I pick up, but for the most part I know they are not instructional. As far as Diners Driveins and Dives goes, what I wish they would do, is have guy visit ONE restaurant, then go into the kitchen and try to replicate the dish (maybe with a few little changes), but to me that would be a better service tot those watching. You might even get more viewers, as that is a background show, and I jump on the computer when that one is on

      • Shannon says:

        Callie, if I jumped on the computer every time DDD is on, I would be on the computer for hours and hours just about every about played out! Who do they think actually watches all of those re-runs every day?

  2. Guest says:

    Just a few thoughts about this season:
    First, I find it interesting that what seemed of paramount importance last year, i.e., talking about your family, is not even being mentioned this year, and thankfully so! A season too late for poor Emily, though. Does it seem odd to anyone else that what seemed important enough last year to send someone home suddenly isn't even mentioned anymore. Seems as if the criteria for a star keep shifting from year to year. So inconsistent! (Although I'm glad the family thing has been dropped.)

    Second, at the very end the question was, "who would you turn off?" Rodney, yes, because I can't understand him, his constant use of "sucker" (hello, use a thesaurus) is annoying and he portrays zero food authority, which is supposed to be so important. I just don't see what Bobby sees in him. Russell, yes, another turn off, because I'm trying to watch my weight and the last thing I want to watch is someone who extols the virtues of those very "culinary sins" I'm trying to avoid. Lovely, yes, again, another turn off. Not that she doesn't seem charming, but her "glam up the kitchen" just doesn't register with me.

    I see potential in the other 3 ladies. Should be interesting the remainder of the way.

  3. Guest says:

    I used to rush home on Sunday evenings to watch Food Network Star...but this season has been sooo dreadfully boring...the entire cast is laughable...none of these remaining chefs are "star" quality in my opinion...The judges decisions are really a feeble attempt at choosing the best of the worst to stay on...sorry food network...this season should be scrapped.

  4. FN Fan says:

    Dear FN Producers of The Next Food Network Star,

    Next year, can you include a rule for contestants that they cannot have previously been on any other FN shows? Maybe with the exception that they won that competition?

    I believe we are tired of recycling characters.

    Also, can we include more actual cooking competitions as opposed to the interviews and other crap. Make them show that they can handle their own COOKING show before trying to show that they can interview someone else.

    Maybe change up the rules a bit, like they cannot help another competitor unless it Is a team competition? Everyone is responsible for themselves, unless it is going to be a tag team show.

    I like competition shows, but I watch the Food Network for cooking. A few competition how's is okay. But face it you are not going to find another Guy Fieri. He is the one and only. And other than Alton, whom I simply adore, to m knowledge everyone one of the Food Network personalities that are truly stars had to prove themselves as a cook/chef FIRST, stardom came later.

    A FN fan

    • A FN Fan says:

      Sorry should read "a few competition shows" is okay....

    • Crouton40 says:

      Hi-Five. Well said. Drinks are on me. Whatt'll ya have?

    • CVeraS says:

      Wow, do I agree with you. Everything is on tape, so surely the judges knew Stacy had help and not once was she critiqued for it. Melissa, in her season, was severely questioned about the same thing, and then when the judges found out she was set up to be thrown under the bus, they kicked those contestants off. In Stacy's case, she actually asked for the help, knowing she would be kicked off if she didn't finish her dishes, and the judges let her get away with it. That's called cheating. I know it's another network, but I stopped watching "The Next Great Baker" because somebody not only cheated, but turned up the temperature on someone's oven and did not get kicked off.
      This show is supposed to be for new talent. It should be in the rules that if you ever have been seen on the Food Network,you are disqualified. Viet should have been put on Next Iron Chef. He was overqualified for this show.
      Also, in response to someone else's comment, I think the bloggers do represent the core group of viewer. I'm a full-time working mother with a disabled husband, so I can't get online as much as I want to, but they should put you and Beachinfrizzy and Shannon and Crouton40 and a few others on an advisory panel and listen.

      • Crouton40 says:

        CVeraS, I am honored. Thank you very, very much. I promise I won't let it go to my head. That was really sweet. :)

        • CVeraS says:

          You are welcome. My family thinks I'm crazy, but I really enjoy these blogs.

          • Shannon says:

            Thank you CVeraS, I love to read every ones opinions and share my own. My family thinks I am nuts too, but since we both enjoy it no matter what they say, maybe they are the ones who are missing out? (and I know my family is a bit crazy- they are related to me after all..(smiling)) . We all know Crouton is crazy as well. (xx oo Crouton) . Guess we are all part of our own little asylum?

          • Crouton40 says:

            Aww, thanks. xx oo? (Right back at ya! I feel warmer already, but I guess it's better to be twice-warmed, than only half-baked) :)

            Same here. No one quite gets why I bother with this....but (wink) we are the future. Join the Blog! For America, for Mom, for Apple Pie!
            "A Brighter Kitchen, for a more Delicious Tomorrow!"

      • A FN Fan says:

        Iol! That would throw the network in a spin! Not opposed to it though.

    • Callie Carver says:

      FN Fan, I like you points. I also think maybe a 3 week boot camp, with classes on being in front of the camera, Interviewing someone, and feeding out the so-so cooks

  5. Team Nikki says:

    I hope Nikki wins! She is actually promoting a new idea for the Food Network which can attract a new audience.

    • BuffBabe says:

      It isn't new.
      Last year, Christy Schoen and her emphasis on healthy eating was the very first to be elimnated.
      This year, Andre was second to be eliminated. Nikki isn't that far apart from him.
      In earlier years, Herb, the Energy-Chef didn't go over well, either.
      Even before that, FN had some dark-haired woman with big eyes who was about healthy. That didn't work.
      They keep trying to revise and tweak this every year, and every year the public turns it down again.

      • AFN Fan says:

        I don't mind the meat on the side how idea but I don't know if it is enough for a show.

        But I think it is really between Damaris and Nikki at this point

    • guest says:

      Dinki !?
      Is it a show about tiny portions?

  6. BillO says:

    Has anyone else noticed this? You come back to the blog and the number of comments has gone up by 12 and you can only find 1 new comment?

    • Rambo says:

      It may not be on the last or most recent page. Probably buried in the thread somewhere.

      • BillO says:

        I go thru the entire thread, including replies

        • Swami Ramayana says:

          It's a hyper-dimensional wormhole vortexxing thru the ether of cyberspace causing a disruption in the space-time continuum.

          But we know the Truth, don't we gang.
          The Truth is out there. - Agent Mulder

  7. Tiffany says:

    I'm getting a craving for Rosemary and Pine Nuts.
    Maybe I'm pregnant.

  8. Ric says:

    I've watched all of this years shows and there are only 2 contestants that I would watch. Nikki or Damaris. Stacey is stiff and not very real. Rodney and Russell are side shows, I'm not sure they can do 5 minutes on air let alone a 30 minute show. Like I said I could see Nikki or Damaris doing a 30 minute cooking show. They have both personality that is real and a knowledge of cooking technique. As far as a winner I give the edge to Nikki her style of meat on the side is new and different enough to separate her from the crowd and gain an audience. But this is just my humble opinion. Oh and one more thing, get that Robert Irvine off the show. I used to watch his show but lately he's become an overbearing jerk. When I saw him turn over a table of food prepared for him I tuned out his show for good.

  9. Rburdi says:

    Sorry Lovely but happy to see you go again, would never have watched you just a complete turn off. Rodney next to go I expect, would be great if you could understand what he is saying. Really would love to make some good pies. The 3 remaining women I could watch any of them. Good luck to all remaining.

  10. Sunshine says:

    You People need to learn a few things! The Cooking Channel is for all you people who want to learn to cook, the future for FN is being groom for entertainment, and info and game shows styles and comedy cooking shows, i think Rodney wil fit right in.
    Just look at the websites light up with comments, you cannot wait to see what he will do next, or what Giada will say or wear and what Bobby and Elton will say next or do, these FNS are pure joy and make us forget about all the bad stuff going on in the world. Keep up the Good work Bobby Giada and Alton!

    • Uncle Bob says:

      You sound hopelessly out of touch. Things are only lighting up as everyone knows this is a short summer show. It would never continue. You completely ignore the fizzle-factor.

    • Asdfghjkl says:

      Funny, I thought it was a food network, not a game show network.

      I not mind a few competitions, but if this is truly about finding a STAR, then it needs to be more than a talking head if they are going to be on a Food Network.

    • Callie Carver says:

      That is not what the FoodNetwork is for or it would be called the FOOD ENTERTAINMENT NETWORK. Many people in their cable packages do not get the Cooking Channel. I get them both plus over 1000 other channels. But for many the Food Network is their instructional network.