The Epic Battle of Stacey vs. Nikki — Justin’s Rebel Recap

by in Recap, July 29, 2013

The Epic Battle of Stacey vs. Nikki - Justin's Rebel RecapA week ago, we watched as our six hopefuls scraped through a foodie field piece. This week, with five left, the tension is higher than Anne Burrell's hair. I think we've all been waiting to see this year's Donner Party moment, and it's finally upon us: the epic battle of Nikki vs. Stacey.

Mentor Challenge

This is a challenge I can get behind because I love playing MacGyver in my pantry, and I feel that home cooks don't do enough improv cooking.

  • Nikki: From minute one, Nikki's been able to climb out of any culinary ditch with her golden stepladder of camera presence, and today was no different. You should go back and watch the look on Stacey's face.
  • Rodney: Rodney uses the sweet 'n' salty chips to make — wait for it — a pie crust. On camera, Rodney was as controlled and un-shticky as we've ever seen him. There wasn't a guitar in sight.

  • Damaris: Instead of pointing out that the cereal fixes the problem of wanting immediate French toast when it should have been soaking overnight, she highlights its texture. Regardless, AB digs the French toast and her on-camera vibe.

Alton and Russell

  • Russell: Being the chef-of-chefs' chef, Russell wants to create a dish reminiscent of a late-night pantry raid after a long day at work, which somehow means a rib eye with potatoes coated in sea-salted popcorn chips. When it came to the camera, it looked like Russell was reading tiny cue cards held by a tiny man in the corner of the room.
  • Stacey: In between laughing fits triggered by Nikki's cubes of smoldering cereal, Stacey bangs out some vanilla-almond crusted chicken. I dig these flavors together, and I think it's a winning combination. Alton warns Stacey to turn down the perfection in her presentation and get intimate with the camera. Stacey managed to do just that, much to the chagrin of Nikki.

Star Challenge

Filling in for Bobby is none other than Robert Irvine. As a living testament to how powerful Robert is, Stacey flashes back to the time Robert mouth-to-mouthed her restaurant in San Diego.

Rodney - Food Network Star Season 9

  • Rodney: Pie style at this juncture involves covering yourself in flour. He manages to entertain the judges, but the concept of cacciatore pie doesn't sell. A cacciatore calzone might have been a winner, but, alas, I am not pie style, so I wouldn't know.
  • Damaris: While her dish is tasty, it remains meat, potatoes and a vegetable. There was no twang in her dish, and that's what the Selection Committee wants most.
  • Stacey: This challenge fits Stacey like tailor-made suede. It's really hard to put on a sweet face when total annihilation of competition is what you're hoping for. Stacey does a decent job of masking this, but the judges and even old Phil Trani can tell that it is just that — a mask.
  • Nikki: When Nikki's dish is presented, it looks a dinghy of salmon in a sea of red rice. Therein lies the problem with being a self-taught cook. Sometimes you skip one page of one chapter and then someone calls you out on it. It happens to me more than you'd think, or I like.
  • Russell: When Russell isn't reaching or preaching is when Russell does best. Instead of trying to lead a revolution, he wanted to teach. When Alton met me for the first time, he said he wasn't looking for a star performer; he was looking for a star teacher.

Cue the Scary Music

Russell, the phoenix of culinary sin, is now leading the pack going into the final challenge of this season. This man has had so much growth, I'm afraid he might come after my Miracle-Gro partnership. I said it six episodes ago: I've got my eye on you, Russell.

Damaris - Food Network Star Season 9Damaris' food was a snooze, Rodney's cacciatore pie was good on paper but not on a plate. The stoic sentry that guards the tender Stacey seen in Restaurant: Impossible would not stand down yet again this week, and Nikki's pilaf problem portrayed her as greenhorn.

Sadly, the girl with the golden POV, our semi-vegetarian heroine, was shown the door. I was bummed. I think America needs her POV, and I admired her tenacity throughout this competition.

The moral of the story: If you don't know what you're doing, don't pretend you do. Has that ever worked out for anyone outside of Congress?

Threat of the week: Stacey. She drops hammers like a clumsy carpenter. Her food and POV are more solid than a frozen pork butt. If she dismisses the guard at the gate, drains the moat and lowers the drawbridge in the final challenge, it could be big. The previous challenges don't matter anymore. Whoever wows us next week will be the next Food Network Star.

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Comments (688)

  1. susan says:

    I'm so disgusted with food network. I'm sure there had to be something up with them picking Justin last year. Then they threw Paula Deen out. Next I could see how they were favoring the guy with "the hat". Who in the world in going to care about "pie food" and Rodney who has zero appeal. They got rid of the only contestant from the beginning who presented herself in a professional manner and could cook and had a beautiful smile and face. The final "girl" I hope at least beats out the boys, but come on food network you are a HUGE disapointment this last year

  2. susan says:

    I do belive the network has "their favorites" and I saw from the beginning they were picking that "pie man" to win. I don't care what the people vote says, the network has everything to do with the wiiner "they want" to keep on the show.

  3. GramyD says:

    Worse season ever!!! How the last three ended up being the only choices we have to vote for is pretty scary!
    Rodney…..REALLY??? He may have a fun personality but come on guys just how many times can you hear “DUDE” and “10-4” he can’t even complete a coherent sentence. And do you really think pie could be a staple in everyone’s diet? How many times in one week do you eat pie?
    Russell….is simply non-descript, nothing he has done appeals in any way.
    Damaris….well at least the “you-alls” are not being delivered as every other word like the last “Southern Bell.” Damaris at least appears witty and funny.
    Why Nikki was sent home baffles me. She was the only one with an original idea that made sense. Plus her take on a different way to put together a meal was something unique not seen before. Nikki I would have watched.
    It appeared this season the mentor’s were way to busy and didn’t have the time to appear on every program. Did anybody at the channel ever look at the on line voting that was taking place during this season’s episodes? The finalist who made it certainly weren’t leading the pack for the full 10 weeks. Almost seems like the Food Network just did another season for the ratings. Wasn’t Alton the only mentor there for all episodes?
    All I can say is Ina Garten is the one class act FN has. At least she is enjoyable to watch cooks great dishes and is very informative. All her recipes I have tried are always wonderful.

  4. Julie says:

    I am very disappointed that Nikki got cut, though I missed that episode. I thought she did some good cooking, had a really good idea with her "meat on the side" concept, and improved her camera presence as the weeks passed. I think this is the weakest group of contestants this show has had. I missed Bob and Suzy's insights this season - we haven't seen them much. This may be the last season I watch. I don't really care for any of the 3 left and don't feel any of them have good show concept.

  5. Richard Engle says:

    I am just sorry I wasted so much time watching this piece of garbage for a show, only to wind up with three of the biggest losers one can imagine. They should have named this tripe, "Food Network Losers". I won't make this mistake again and I could care less which one of these losers wins.

  6. Jane says:

    Sorry, Stacey was the best shot

  7. Elyse says:

    I don't really like any of them but I guess Damaris is the best of the worst. Rodney's Pie Style is stupid. What, he makes a pie out of something different every week? Why is that worth watching? He made very few things during the competition that anyone enjoyed. And Russell keeps talking about culinary sins. A culinary sin is something that went wrong, not something desirable. I can't really figure out his cooking style. In Damariis' case, at least I could tell that she was going to actually cook something and she made some items that I thought I could also make.

  8. Bob says:

    If it is so important to know what rice pilaf is, why didn't they ask Rodney? Does anyone think he would have had a better answer than Nikki? The fact is, almost every show started with one of the hosts (to call them judges implies a fairness and search for the truth that was seriously lacking this season) saying afood network store has to be able to do this__________. Then Nikki or Stacey would do it and Rodney would sing or mumble or put raw dough on the plate. The thing that is bothering America is the fairness factor. The ones who have demonstrated the ability to do the skills we were told were necessary are gone while those who can't but have "star power" remain. Next year those who still want to watch a stacked deck will probably watch Lindsey Lohan compete against a cooking wrestler in the finals. I will not be among them.