Being a Food Network Star means not just hosting a television show, but building a brand indicative of a unique point of view, and Episode 6 was all about honing that perspective and the products that would support it. The seven remaining finalists had to create products and package them in this episode, but then they also had to sell them in commercials that forced them into oddball places — thanks to a special green screen.
If you haven't yet watched the episode, don't read any further. Star Talk is about to break down the ins and outs of the episode — and reveal who was sent home.
In what would be Reuben's final week in the competition, he worked on developing and packaging his signature hot sauce, then selling it in a commercial — one that took place on the moon. The Selection Committee appreciated the taste and consistency of his dish — in fact, Bobby couldn't get enough of it. But they couldn't look past what Bobby called his "flat" commercial, which failed to acknowledge his lunar surroundings.
Read Reuben's exclusive interview below to hear more from him. Learn how he felt about his elimination, the trimming of his beard and who he would like to see win the competition.
Star Talk: What couple of words best describe how you're feeling right now?
Reuben Ruiz: To be honest with you right now, I'm actually happy I'm going to go home. I want to see my parents. I haven't seen them in such a long time. I'm a mama's boy and I really want to see her. Obviously, at the same time I wanted to win this competition. You don't come here just to go halfway — you want to win it. It kind of sucks I'm leaving. (Watch Reuben fight for his way back in on Star Salvation now).
How do you feel about the company you were with in the bottom three?
RR: You know, honestly, I thought it was right. We did do the worst this challenge. Emma's video: She didn't sell her product so well. Nicole: Her energy wasn't there, she was deflated like they told her. And the energy just wasn't there in my video. I wasn't myself — the me that they usually see — and I knew deep down I was going home. I even told the girls they were safe: "Don't worry, I know I'm going home."
You said you felt like you knew you were going home, but do you agree with the judges' decisions?
RR: Oh hell yeah. I completely agree with the judges this week. You know, I slacked on my energy and I know I felt bad, but that shouldn't be an excuse. Going forward, if given an opportunity, you always have to be professional and you have to put the best face forward at all times. I learned that the hard way today.
How was it without Alton, but with the addition of Bob and Susie?
RR: There wasn't that much of a difference. Alton always busts me in regards to my beard, which I shaved off for him. Dang it! I shaved my beard for that man! In all seriousness, Alton is a cool character — he's a cool cat, and I really like him. But it's nice being in front of Bob Tuschman and Susie Fogelson — they're the make-or-break people at Food Network, so I'm disappointed that they saw the bad performance. They never witnessed the good performances I've had along the way. I've been in the top a couple of times, and it's disappointing that they haven't seen that.
In keeping with the mentors, is there a piece of advice that you're going to take with you after this competition?
RR: Enunciating my words and speaking properly. And if I'm going to speak in Spanish, I need to translate that back to English, because there are many people who don't speak Spanish. But it's good that I know another language and it's authentic as well. I have to use that to my advantage.
You mentioned Alton busting you a little bit, but did you find any of the mentors intimidating at all?
RR: Oh! At first I found Alton very intimidating. He has this stare of death. And you really can't read that man too well. But after a while we started getting to know him, and at one point he actually played guitar outside with all of us. He sang and I really saw the true Alton Brown come out. So it's like he has a different facade in front of the camera, and off-camera he's just a really genuine guy.
Are you going to grow your beard back now?
RR: Oh hell yeah! Within the next few months, I'll probably have a beard again.
What was your favorite and least favorite challenge?
RR: My favorite challenge was the YouTube challenge. I got to eat a lot of Reese's Peanut Butter Cups (they're actually my favorite candy), and I was chosen to work with them. Plus, we were the winning team. Obviously, my least favorite challenge was this one (Episode 6). I was feeling terrible — and that damn astronaut suit. I don't know whose idea it was to have that astronaut suit, but I wish they were dressed in it so they could feel it too!
What do you want fans of the show to remember about you?
RR: What I would love for the fans to remember about me is just that ... well, not how loud I am, but just how energetic I am. I'm a very charismatic person, and I hope they saw that on the camera as well. I spoke about my family a lot; it's very endearing to do so. I really love my family. The best stories and the best times of my life are with my family, and I hope that showed on camera.
Who are you rooting for, going forward?
RR: You know, obviously — no, not obviously — the person who I honestly want to win this is Loreal. She doesn't think she can do it, but I want her to win. She always has such self-doubt, but she's such a genuine person. I really want her to win. But she needs to find who she is as a person. She's always quivering, and I think it's just a thing of nerves, but once she's able to embrace that, she'll do well.
Watch Reuben battle for a chance at redemption on Star Salvation. Click the play button on the video below to see the first part of the episode, then head over to Star headquarters to catch the second part.