Martie 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
Lovely 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
"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?
Stacey 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
Stacey'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.
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.
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