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. Pepper says:

    Should Robert Irvine have been involved in the judging? Here is the show about Stacey's restaurant.

    • Davout says:

      I seriously doubt that FN worries about conflict of interest, etc. Remember that Geoffrey Zakarian judged his own sous chef Alex G. on Next Iron Chef. There are probably other examples, but that one seems the most blatant. After all we all know the integrity of FN is without question!!!! (read sarcasm here)

  2. Eric Cartman says:

    Dude. Keep the Damaris chic. She's like, totally freakin' awesome.

  3. BurnThis says:

    How did the people who do the casting not recognize how cold, distant, arrogant and fake Stacey comes across. She calls herself a working mom - I think the word she's looking for is chef. She owns a restaurant, she's not some Susie Homemaker bringing her home recipes to life. Her smile is so off-putting, her cheeriness and enthusiasm are as calculated as the curl in her hair. She may be a sweet, wonderful woman and great cook in real life, but on the screen she is phony. You have to fake it much better than that to be watchable. She does not convey the kind of warmth you'd want to bring into your home. I'd rank the other three: Russell, Damaris and mumbles. Nikki's show would have been great - so long as pilaf wasn't on the menu.

  4. Tea Leaves says:

    People say Stacey is fake 500 times like that's all they have to do to defeat her. Might the judges give it to her just to assert their authority against them? Do the judges love Stacey or is there someone more qualified?

  5. BabyGirl says:

    It's the Russell Revolution. Comin' to your town.

  6. guest says:

    After reading Pie Man's comment in this section, I see his "personality" toward the viewers to be a bit defensive. He should be gone. I love pies and was interested in his POV at the beginning, but found his lack of ability to communicate clearly to the camera to be a bit of a turn off. Nikki had the best idea for a new show. I am amazed that the Food Network let her go. You'll have to develop some fine show to have my viewership with any of the remaining contestants.

  7. Angelina Clevenger says:

    I can't believe all of the negativity .... I know Stacy and she is the sweetest person. The person you are seeing on t.v. Is her she isn't fake! As far as "restaurant impossible" it takes a lot of guts to ask for help- I comined her for doing so. She didn't give up and the out come was a success for her and her family! Well done. I think she is doing an amazing job- I know I couldn't speak as clearly as she does..... Without any training could you? At Angelina, I am ashamed to have the same name as you- you should wash your mouth out with a bar of soap! Team Stacy What!

    • nomenis says:

      So, um, it doesn't bother you that she had to get help from FN to keep a failing restaurant going and now she's trying to be a food authority?? Also, don't you think she's had her fair share of assistance from the honchos at FN?

  8. Amy says:

    I like how this show reveals the true colors of the judges as much as of the contestants. Alton Brown is a grumpy old man, Giada is an uptight ice queen- who knew? Bobby Flay of course is the best and most respected of the three and the only real mentor. Maybe the contestants don't improve because the mentors do such a lousy job. They're constantly telling them conflicting advice from week- take Damaris who has been told everything from stop being yourself to be yourself. The proof is in the pudding: nearly every TV exec and outside judge has had opposite opinions of the contestants than the mentors, and so the fickle mentors change their tune from week to week. Bobby Flay not being a judge in the last episode was ludicrous, unexplained, and completely unfair. If 'Top Chef' takes itself too seriously, this show doesnt take itself seriously at all. I'm sure Nikki would have stood a better chance with him than with the Ice Queen and The Gomer. How soon they forgot her success of the prior week-when she single-handedly carried her team to victory in the Donut episode. Russell and Rodney are unintelligible. Seriously, as someone else commented, a 2 yr old is more articulate than them. What an embarassing example of the failed American education system. Chris was a much better and more interesting contestant, but then again, FN is just looking for shtick. The women are far more intelligent and better cooks. Stacy is creepy and her vintage idea is not even a thing- every chef uses the inspiration of their forefathers and traditional cooking practices mixed with a modern technique. Damaris and her idea are fine, certainly a step up from Paula deen who is disgusting, in the ranks of Martha Stewart and Rachel Ray. Nikki was by far the best contestant. Healthy balanced cooking is no where to be found in the restaurant world. Enough with the butter, bacon, salt, sugar, evoo, etc. Those are cheap tricks for ppl who dont know how to cook. Russell's sins and Rodney's pies=heart attack. No thank you. Good food should be good for you, which was Nikkis entire premise. I mean, just look at her, shes a knock-out! Would you rather look like her or Rodney? Iron Chef has become a hoax and laughing stock. Chopped is much better, and they would have been better off with Tim Allen than Alton Brown. Giada: no one watches your show or is turned on by your bobble head and cleavage anymore. Bobby, I'm sorry you have to judge alongside these amateurs.

    • Davout says:

      I don't feel sorry for Flay. All he cares about is getting his face on show after iffy show (such as that one "3 Days to Opening). MONEY is his schtick.

  9. Emmie says:

    I wouldn't watch any show hosted by Stacey. She is too fake. And I am a working mom and she alienates me every time she says that. She alienates me every time she smiles. It doesn't ring true.

  10. Vanessa says:

    I would like to know what was the real reason for sending Nikki (the best of the lot) home.

    That said, I truly hope they don't pick Rodney as the winner. I can't stand the obnoxious Guy Fiery already. Having two of them on the network would make food network totally unwatchable.