Certifiably Awkward Moments — Justin’s Rebel Recap

by in Recap, June 9, 2014

Justin's Rebel Recap - Episode 2Last week we saw the first elimination of Season 10. Donna was shown the door, while Emma and Sarah were dragged to the next round, like babies attached to the wedding dress of stardom.

Alton's Teacher Challenge

The gang is split into two: Team Green Bean Casserole and Team Chicken-Fried Steak. The kicker is each finalist must talk Alton through a few steps of the recipe. I anticipated a few hiccups, but what ensues is embarrassment and certifiably awkward moments:

  • While Mr. Brown is Hulk-smashing green beans and throwing them into boiling water, Lenny, who sees through Mr. Brown's shenanigans, delivers a smart tip: "If you are going to chuck things in to boiling water, chuck them away from you, so as to scald your competition."
  • I would like to adopt Christopher for the holidays and show that man what a can of French's French Fried Onions looks like. Diced and sauteed onions on a green bean casserole is like putting ketchup on a hot dog in New York.
  • Seizing the opportunity, Sarah Zambonis Christopher's mistake and leaves a glistening, slick recipe for Luca.
  • Reuben forgets to make a roux. Rouxben. I bet he rues this mistake.
  • Aryen has to deal with Rouxben's folly. Lenny talks her through it and she overcomes, but Lenny is bummed she's getting credit for his clever solution.
  • Nicole navigates the sometimes-tricky world of breading a country-fried steak. She advises that Alton keep one hand for eggs and another for flour. I kind of wish she didn't because it would be very funny to see Alton with battered clubs for hands.

RoboChef Star ChallengeSarah Penrod

The gang gets a hodge-podge of pantry ingredients, which they use to make what the industry calls a "stand and stir" instructional video. Because nothing is ever as it seems on Food Network Star, Alex Guarnaschelli is waiting in the wings. I thought maybe Alex would be guest judging or sabotaging the kitchen. Not so! Chef Guarnaschelli follows every instruction the hopefuls give her. Some dishes are worthy of the Iron Chef, while others would be better suited for a show called Rusty Tin Fry Cook.

  • Lenny and his plate-size belt buckle get really "swanky" with a crab cake. Not only is the dish replicated with ease by A-Guarn, he is funny as heck. If anyone has any doubts about authenticity, get your DVR out and look at that man’s face when Bobby says he's a serious cook.
  • Loreal dials it down too hard and we are treated to a brunch salad with Ambien dressing. Luckily it's tasty.
  • The "Star de la mar" (who did swimmingly last week) is Nicole. I was stoked to hear her tip about "using your ears" in the kitchen. I feel like a lot of home cooks don't think about this unless they are microwaving popcorn. Unfortunately, listening to popcorn pop is more fun than watching Nicole cook.
  • When I see Luca, my head sings Right Said Fred, but my heart sees a good chef who happens to be the Adonis of Season 10. I think what makes him so approachable is that he isn't a prima donna. Somehow this manifested itself as shyness, and Luca couldn't look at the camera. It's one thing to be a head-down cook, but Star town isn't the city.
  • For real, I could listen to Emma talk all day. I don't care what the judges said. I felt like I was in some sort of egg being incubated by that warm voice. When it was time to hatch, I was born smarter and with a delicious plate of pasta before me.
  • N'awlins Chef Christopher is quickly becoming too "chef-y." I live in his world and speak the same jargon, but without a primer for words like "a la minute," "S and P," and "GarMo," a home cook feels "eighty-sixed" from the equation.
    • Kenny doesn't plate his dish, and to make matters worse, he tries to talk his way out of fault. As in life, when you screw up on Star, it's best to own it.

Kenny Lao


Cue the Scary Music: Lenny wins the challenge with his swanky crab cake and gen-u-wine personality. In the bottom of the barrel are Chris and Kenny, who didn't plate, and Luca, who didn't engage the camera. One of these things is not like the other, and Luca is shown the door.

The Moral of the Story: Food Network Star has never been about being the best chef on Earth, or René Redzepi would be on 24/7. Food Network Star is about finding a person who can be beamed from a studio to a flat piece of glass and still touch your heart, mind and stomach. If Luca could have looked us in the eye, he might have found his way to our living room, and we could have found our way to Luca's Italy.

Threat of the Week: I didn't include a TOTW last week because I was just getting to know the tenderfoots. Lenny brought out the quirt and made the other koozies look like real hat-benders. That's all the cowboy I speak, but if Lenny continues to bust broncos like he did today, we'll see him and his big belt buckle on the Jumbotron in two months.

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Comments (61)

  1. guest says:

    I agree with you about Emma -- I love her soothing voice! She does need to dial up the energy a bit, but I would watch her show. I didn't think I would like over-the-top Lenny, but I have to say he has won me over. He has great camera presence, can cook like nobody's business, and really does seem to be a sweet guy. I just wish he would lose the giant belt buckle, or at least not let the camera zoom in on it so much (we do not need to be focused on his less-than-svelte waistline!). Kenny and Christopher are approaching unlikeable status, so I hope they work on this, and I am wondering if Aryen can bring her food up to par. And a note to Food Network -- we are seeing a bit too much of perky Sarah as a commenter, which could make her become annoying to us. Looking forward to seeing what happens next week!

    • Dee says:

      Chris K. could become quite popular if he can finish a dish and do it well. I like Sarah. She's upbeat and I can learn from her but as you said, she doesn't need to comment quite so often. With Emma, she is easy-going but I am waiting to see if it's all going to become too much yoga, plant-based dishes and maybe feeding lion cubs in Africa. We'll see. How long do people think Christopher lynch will last?

    • guest says:

      Disagree. Emma has a soothing voice but it's too all at one level. I almost fall asleep. I want to see if Emma will make a very hearty full dinner wit meat. Say, a big pot roast dinner. She may be this year's Nikki Dinki. I'm willing to wait a little but a bit skeptical.

      Aryen may be going home next. She just isn't cooking anything people want more of.

      Sarah isn't too perky. She is nowhere near as loud as Lenny but she has more energy than Emma. It's easier for me to pay attention to Sarah. She holds my attention better.

      Chris L needs to humble himself and talk one on one with the audience when he's facing the camera. Too technical and doesn't explain.

  2. Bill O says:

    Some thoughts from Show 2-
    I'm going to break the contestants down into 4 groups

    Group 1- come across well but questionable cooking chops
    Chris K.

    Group 2- cooking skills, but problems with the camera
    Chris L

    Group 3- jury is out on both counts


    Group 4- strong personalities and strong cooking skills


    I think Group 1 is in the most trouble. I see Lenny and Loreal as the fronrunners. But I think there are at least 7 people still in the hunt over the long run if they progress

    • shannon says:

      BilIO, I am going to have to agree with you about Lenny. I think so far he is a front runner. I know it's the early days and a lot can happen. I did not want to like him, his humor is not exactly my cup of tea,however a few quips he made actually made me laugh. What strikes me about him is that he seems genuine. I adored the way you could see a compliment about his cooking from Bobby affected him deeply. He appreciated it. He seems like a really good soul. I also like the fact that even though this is a competition his first impulse was to help Aryen, true, he seemed to kick himself for it later but who wouldn't..after all it's a competition.

      • Bill O says:

        Shannon, I'm curious if the judges watch all the tape. Are they aware that Lenny helped Aryen and all the other things that go on outside their view?

        • shannon says:

          Bill O, I am assuming that they do know the "all of it" so to say. Keeping that in mind,there is so very much more that they know that we don't know because it is on the editing room floor. I guess it all comes down to perceptions, where as I like Lenny so much more after seeing the help he gave Aryen, someone (like Bobby for instance ) may view his actions as sheer madness and deem him as a person who is not hungry for this job. In any reality tv I try to remember that they show us specific scenes to cultivate a feeling or response in the viewer.
          The other thing I try to remember is if we see a competitor do or say a certain thing, they really did it or said it. Some people try to make excuses that things are taken out of context, well I am a firm believer that if you do or say something that's makes you look bad or seem bad...it is who you are and you never should have said it to begin with. Unfortunately you just happened to be caught on camera doing it.

          • Liz Cantu says:

            I would have to agree with you Shannon. These episodes usually take about a week to film, so that gives the judges plenty of time to review playback of things going on while they are busy. All the drama going on in comments this week makes me sad i missed the second half!

          • Crouton40 says:

            Just combing thru the threads again and I found where you said this: ..."In any reality tv I try to remember that they show us specific scenes to cultivate a feeling or response in the viewer."

            True enough. And I was thinking, that's not necessarily a bad thing. ( I know you didn't say that either) My point is: to all in the audience who say: "I'm so tired of hearing side-comments from so-n-so"....I don't believe it's because this or that person is "hogging the camera". Even if they were, the network can still easily cut/omit or edit it. So when people complain about it being "the (insert name) Show"....instead of harping about that person, I think they ought to be asking:
            1. Is this persons comment relevant, or maybe just kinda funny? Why would the *network* want us to see it (blame them, not who commented) and...
            2. It may look like so-n-so got more air-time this week, but the next challenge it may be more someone else's "show". (I wonder if those same viewers will *then* complain about it being the OTHER person's "show"). Funny how so many "allow" it for their fave and hate it for anyone else.

            While I certainly can't tell people how to write ( I wouldn't even try), my hope, is that as these challenges continue, that the Blog does *not* degenerate simply into a bash-fest, but rather that people will give POSITIVE reasons FOR their favorite. (In Politics we often hear people say: Don't tell me all the things you're against, tell me what you're FOR!--It applies here). It's always interesting to see what people think. It's even more fun to know--why. JMO

          • Elderleigh says:

            Luckily, since we have a DVR system, I have found that the fast forward button works. I apply the FF button to other shows as well. (Fast Forward is not just for commercials any more.)

            I don't mind a bit of background or story - but mostly it is over done. We seem to get either the same info over and over or constantly changing info plus an over abundance of "woofing", snarky comments and "threats" to best everyone else.

            I don't like the faux drama and hate to feel manipulated. Trying not to respond is sometimes easier said than done and I guess that's when the editors "win".

            Still - I hope for the day when we see more of the people in action and less of the edited faux drama. But that's just me.

        • MoHub says:

          I don't think they'd be shown the confessionals, which was where most of Lenny's grousing happened. Those are edited in just before the show is ready to go into the can.

      • CVeraS says:

        I have been trying so hard not to like Lenny because I intensely dislike phoneys. Nobody dresses like that when they out cooking for, and doing the hard, hot physical work these guys really do in real life. His accent seems a bit forced too. But the problem is, he can cook up a storm, he makes me smile in spite of myself and the Network saw fit to show the viewers the man doing a good deed.
        I like the man! What I really want to see is a clip of him in life. Does he wear jeans and a t-shirt and talk like most of us do? Anybody have a link or something?

    • guest says:

      Everyone's in group 1 should be next to go home, plus Reuben.

    • Elderleigh says:

      Bill - like your categories...am going to borrow the idea with a change or too. thanks.

    • Crouton40 says:

      Thanks, Bill O.
      I pretty-much agree. Would only tweak it just a bit. I'd move Chris K. to group 3, ( he has some dishes that are very well-plated/presentation on his website, so maybe this just wasn't his challenge, still, he does need to focus)....and I'd move Reuben to group 1. It's still early, but I'm also thinking Nicole should be in the top 3, with Sarah & Emma the next strongest 2 after that. While I acknowledge that good is good, and they are earning it by performance...in the back of my mind, even though I like them both (quite a bit!) now...I am not sure yet if I would later tire of Lenny or Loreal. Would it be fun for awhile, but then seem like too much wildness? Not sure just yet. I keep asking: who could I watch for a very long time sand not get tired of? Speaking just for myself, that makes group 3, minus Reuben, look quite strong to me. Will be interesting to keep watching.

  3. CarrieAnn says:

    I Agree with you Justin - loved Lenny ! And Nicole was great ! I loved watching the challenge w Alton too - you really saw who might be contenders - L'oreal and Sarah did a grqt Job at explaining the onions and chicken fried steak .

    • guest says:

      Nicole is great! Justin is wrong when he says listening to popcorn pop is more fun than watching Nicole cook. I couldn't disagree more. As a writer of these recaps, he can report what the judges say but he should be neutral.

  4. Bobbi says:

    The best thing about this show is reading Justin's Rebel Recap the next day. Spot-on, clever, and what a way with words. (Cracking up at Rouxben rue-ing the roux.) My 2 fav contestants so far this season are Lenny (funny and real) and Emma (a soothing comforting presence like the Barefoot Contessa). Sorry to see Luca go. Perhaps his camera skills could have improved. Wish they had given him another chance.

    • CVeraS says:

      I know the guy is controversial, but I am not bored reading anything Justin writes. My dad had that kind of sense of humor. I didn't start to appreciate it or enjoy it until I was quite a bit older. My husband still doesn't. We all enjoy different things - keep it up Justin. Some of us love you. ( :

    • Ardri says:

      Yeah , I could have watched Luca all day and he can learn to look into the camera. Kenny and Rueben annoy the bejeezus out of me. Sarah reminds me of the mean girls in high school. My favorites are Lenny , Emma, and Loreal. They are great cooks , friendly faces I would watch , and easy to follow.

      • Katie says:

        I like Loreal, too. She looked liked she had partied too hard last time, though. I like Sarah's outgoing energy. She doesn't seem mean at all. I like her smile and she's a good teacher. Emma would be better if she were a little more upbeat. Lenny cooks very well but I don't know if he would become too much of an entertainer and i don't know how many more dishes of his I would like. If he starts cooking elk, rabbit and big-game stuff, then he's lost me.

  5. Crouton40 says:

    Food Network Star, Episode 2. - "What a Difference a Day makes" (my title)
    Let's dive in! (Honesty can be painful sometimes)...

    LENNY-- My apologies for not including him in my ep. 1 write-up. This was an oversight. My fault. Last week, seeing that huge Belt-buckle and fancy shirt, I wondered if I could take him seriously but his cooking was great last week. And now this week: This guy is a Character! It cracked me up up when he talked about the lady on the stoop outside, adjusting herself. But more importantly, Lenny's food is good, he is more well-spoken/clear than last year's Rodney, and he seems like a sincere guy. I like him, and his work is good. Just don't get carried away. The Cowboy surprised me. Nice job!
    LOREAL-- What happened? I think this one is a serious contender. Butchering, baking and pastry experience. She knows her stuff. But--for me, it wasn't that she dialed it back a bit too much by slowing down, for me it was MORE: her eyes. Its like they were droopy/half-shut. That--made her look more sleepy than her actual voice.. Then again, a few people, looked "tired" a bit this time. Perhaps long hours filming at a bad time when folks aren't rested? Don't know. I think Loreal will bounce back. The one thing I'd be cautious about her is: will her spunkiness and confidence become too much of a good thing and backfire on her? Maybe, maybe not. She a contender.
    ARYEN-- Her smile is good on camera. But she needs to step-it-up, and fast!-with her food. Not good last time. Bland this time.
    CHRISTOPHER LYNCH--in a way, the opposite of Aryen. Good cooking, but vague teaching. He didn't measure anything. How do I know if I'm recreating his dish if I don't have measurements? How am I supposed to get the same good flavors he makes if I'm just throwing in a little of this and a little of that? Also, he comes across as TOO sure of himself. He has knowledge, but he needs more warmth.
    CHRIS KYLER-- The good: He thinks on his feet. And he's entertaining. The bad: Poor time management and needs to focus on cooking *first*. Didn't finish dish. Too much Flashiness, not enough nuts-n-bolts. (Long review, hopefully informative; SEE PART 2, next post.)

  6. Crouton40 says:

    (continued, pt. 2)...
    SARAH-- I am glad I was willing to wait-n-see and give Sarah another chance. She came through beautifully! Confident without being too sassy. Knowledgeable about the onions w/Alton. She didn't bash Mr. Lynch, she just said why her way is a good way. Her burger she made was too bland. Not good. But I have faith that, (as with any of the others, too), if she had a show and could make her own dishes, we'd see Faarrrrr better dishes. Chopped-basket ingredients, are tough for everybody. At the end, when she said something like: Join me again next week for another devoted to date night, she had a warm smile, wasn't nervous, and yes, I would tune in the next week. BIG improvement from last week. This was also acknowledged by judges.
    REUBEN--As I said last week, I would like to find out more about the flavors of Miami, but, maybe from someone other than Reuben. It's not over yet but this was a disappointment. The Big thing that needs immediate fixing with Reuben is: he talks MUCH too fast. I can't follow him. Even the English parts are difficult. He should have added the flour, first, with the chicken stock. Didn't Bobby say his food was "rubbery"? Maybe, he'll turn things around, but, like Aryen too, he better do it quick. (more below)...

    EMMA: "Dead-air is not your friend". While the meat is sizzling, give a useful tip, keep an eye on the meat but get something else going, etc. I'm sure Emma will easily learn from this. Her voice, while soothing, got to be a bit too (for lack of a better word)..?.."Breath-y". A little more inflection & enthusiasm would make a delightful difference. She gave good instruction. Gonna stick with her awhile.
    NICOLE--last week, her Tuna she made was quite a hit. And I still remember last week how when she introduced herself after getting out of the car in front of all those people, she was easy-to-listen-to and UN-pretentious. I liked that immediately about her. This week, she seemed a tad more subdued, but I think that's because she was so focused on what she was doing. Thats a strength. When they were all w/Alton, Alton said he liked her precision. From what I've seen of her, she strikes a very nice balance between being professional & yet informal/engaging. Competent cooking and I find her easy to follow along with. I would be happy watching her. (continued)....

    and now...LUCA & KENNY.
    First, LUCA---He was calm. He could cook. People liked him. (Note: this is a good time to mention: since Luca is calm and NOT an in-yer-face, larger-than-life, over-the-top kind've guy and people loved him anyway....that we should *not* pound to hard on the others, for "needing more energy". Think about it.) But--he didn't face or look into the camera. Yes, this is a BIG no-no! However--this is fixable. Teachable. I would think it's not even that hard to help someone improve with this. While I have good respect for Alton, Giada and Bobby, I am now going to be very curious. Watch the next 3 weeks. Where will we be then? Will Kenny be gone already? If he is still there, look at his level-of-goodness overall and then ask: suppose Luca had another 3 weeks, what might we have seen? Luca finished his dish. He was, i think, a better cook. And that leads me to....:
    KENNY--He does seem confident and more than willing to get in front of the camera, but in my opinion it quickly falls apart because: Are you kidding!? The guy doesn't even know how to make a good gravy! I saw--chris lynch and some of the women looking like, "oh, god. No. Don't do it. Don't!"...and then...(i could tell Alton was quizzing Kenny a bit on the why of it all) I thought Kenny was bluffing his way out of it by simply calling it chunky gravy. One more thing: earlier on TV around just before the time of episode one...here was a snippet on TV of Giada saying something like: All you've given us is a bunch of excuses". Now, I'm wondering if that was directed at Kenny. If it woulda been up to me, I would have had the bottom three (this time) be: Kenny, Rueben and Chris K. Thanks for reading!--Crouton40

  7. Elderleigh says:

    Wow! What were the judges thinking?

    LUCA should have been safe over KENNY without a doubt..
    Either someone is threatened - because LUCA wants to take the "mystery" out of Italian cooking or the PTB are trying to add drama and viewers to the Salvation show.

    Right now I too have four categories going: (Thanks Bill O)

    Those I would watch right now:

    Those I want to give another chance:
    CHRIS K.

    Those I am disappointed in and almost made the last category:

    Those, who are dead to me: (Thank you Kevin O'Leary)
    CHRIS L.

    LENNY - Right now, has earned his first place standing. I am really getting to like him; he can cook and he did well on camera. He comes off as a genuine character. That's the rub.

    It is fine to be a character - but one doesn't have to dress in costume.

    Lenny, please lose the rhinestones and dinner plate-sized belt buckle. Keep your hat and boots and make sure you always have a western cut shirt - but the glitz should go. It would improve your authenticity. You have a lot going for you and don't need to hide behind the costume.

    In terms of the hint to Aryen - just learn from it but don't whine about it.
    I don't want to see this turn into Cutthroat Kitchen...you tried to be a nice guy and it seemed to backfire. Lesson learned.

    if the judges are doing their due diligence, they know what really went down. Yes, it would have been nice if one of the three had said something on air.

    (Going to page 2...)

    • Shannon says:

      Elderleigh, Thank you for the homage to Kevin, you made me smile. Now when I think of the contestants I would never watch such as Kenny, I can only think "he's dead to me". Nice.

  8. Elderleigh says:

    (Page 2 continued)

    LUCA - Based on his Salvation performance, I want to see more.

    CHRIS K. - Not the strongest, but he has a little flair and I would like to see if he could improve.

    EMMA and NICOLE - I like both and might watch their shows. I want to tune in to someone who is pleasant, knows their stuff and can pass on information to me, I am tired of loud, wacky and most definitely perky. Either appear right now to fit this bill for me.

    LOREAL - maybe she was out partying the night before or is a night person. I have a few concerns about her being a bit of a costumed character too. She needs to show me something.

    ARYEN - I like her concept but her character is in question for not giving credit to Lenny for his assist. I am soured on her as a person.

    KENNY - by rights should have gone home.

    CHRIS L. may be able to cook but the attitude - sorry, not for me.

    REUBEN - Although I could understand him, I had to work to listen and I don't want to work that hard. Plus - the beard....sorry just doesn't do it for me. I worry about hair in a lot of the FN shows. Cupcake Wars is a prime example. People are always brushing their hands in their hair and tossing their hair about for affect. EW-W-W...Full beards - even worse. (JMO).

    SARAH - I just cannot warm to her-even though she did better this week. I am still not sure she knows who she is. As for a date night show Damaris is covering that in the context of her more expanded show concept. (See yesterday's episode) Back to the drawing board for Sarah - again. (Sigh)

    • CVeraS says:

      I agree with your assessment of Christopher Lynch. The arrogance of the man - throwing around restaurant terminology like he is more interested in showing off instead of teaching us. Measure ingredients and tell us how much? Why bother to give us little people such info. When he started to get high handed with Alex, I about lost it - boy did he start to play with fire, but then he toned it down. Somebody please give that man a lesson in humility.

    • Marlene says:

      See if you can find a youtube video of her when she's been on the news. She is quite professional.

  9. Crouton40 says:

    To Elderleigh, enjoyed the comments. When you say, as you did w/Emma & Nicole: "I want to tune in to someone who is pleasant, knows their stuff and can pass on information to me"--I am right there with you! And while I like informal warmth or enthusiasm as long as it isn't hyped (is that what you mean by perkiness?), I, too, am tired of loud-n-wacky.

    • Elderleigh says:

      Thanks for the reply Crouton.
      I do like warmth and enthusiasm in measured amounts. It's my perkiness threshold that is probably much lower than a lot of people's.
      Rachael Ray is my prime example. Now maybe she has mellowed over the years - I don't watch her talk show, but she was so-o-o up, so go-go-go, so energetic - what I consider over the top "perky" she tired me out and made watching her show - again for me - more labor intensive. I got exhausted watching her.

      I was a bit afraid Damaris would be the worse combination for me of southern y'alls and perkiness but she seems to have tempered that quite a bit. And, as I have said, I have grown into being a Damaris fan.
      But as always - JMO.

      • Crouton40 says:

        Good clarification, thanks. I can agree. I want a warm smile. Someone who looks like they are enjoying their work. But rah-rah, go-go-go, everything (even the tiniest things) are always super mega-awesome!!!!...is just too much. More down to earth, but with some surprising, unexpected bits of funny/cute humor out of nowhere at times, works much better for me. :)

        • MoHub says:

          And don't forget "Yummo!," "Delish," and "E-V-O-O." Ray's branded dog food was even called Nutrish.

          Spare me!