The Culinary Elevator Stopped — Justin’s Rebel Recap

by in Recap, July 14, 2014

Justin's Rebel Recap, Episode 7Last Sunday the gang of seven stared into the greenscreen of death with their POV-packed products in hand. Only six survived, and they headed to Las Vegas. Insert obligatory "steaks/stakes" joke here!

Salvation: If you didn't know it, over here on the Internet, Luca has been on a rampage in Star Salvation. After plowing through two fan favorites from previous seasons and the rest of the eliminated finalists, Luca walks back onto the set. The gang of six is now seven, and everybody's looking like they might get an endorsement deal for adult undergarments.

Nicole points out that Luca hasn't had as much of an opportunity for growth. While I agree to some extent, Luca has the confidence boost of personally slaying every other competitor.

Bacchus and Havoc: Giada offers to take the gang out to eat at Bacchanal Buffet. What sounds like a fun afternoon turns out to be Giada chewing up the contestants like they are linguistic linguini. Indeed, the crew must taste multiple dishes and articulate to Giada what makes each so tasty. Describing food is crucial to the career these cats covet, but only a few have a tongue that can taste and talk.

Emma crushes it. How? She doesn't once say the word "nice." "Nice" is a bank teller who offers you a lollipop even if you are 30 years old. "Nice" is an appropriate response to your friend who found a copy of The Physiology of Taste at a rummage sale. Food is not "nice." In my opinion, the best way to describe food is not to pay it a compliment (nice, delicious, yummy) or to say what it is (creamy, briny, chunky). Instead use words and phrases that conjure up magnified brain sensations. The burger doesn't just have a good texture — it feels like cherubs of grilled meat in a bouncy castle inside my mouth. See how it works?

With so many of the contestants now suddenly aware of their inability to vocalize their victuals, they are skittish as they head to the next round.

Piscine in the Pool: Alton rejoins Giada to drop some cast iron on the hopeful finalists. They'll be cooking for a fancy Vegas pool party, and each contestant must pitch a dish to the scantily clad revelers around them. The guests want to be entertained, and they want to indulge. Who will drown in the deluge of demanding dionysians and their dials of doom? Read on, Star fans!

Reinventing classic dishes is Chris, who swipes all the beef from the fridge and presents a beef tenderloin with cauliflower puree and mushroom chips. I don't know what dish this was in its former life, but it's overcooked in its current format. Maybe Chris knows this because when he gets up to spit the pitch on his dish, he practically just repeats "nice" and "tender" over and over.

Still miffed about Chris stealing her beef, Sarah compensates by saying "Texas" until we all assume that pork and grits is surely a Texas thing. Giada and AB like the grits, but that's about it.

Nicole Gaffney, Alton Brown and Giada De LaurentiisThe seafood star in Coley shines brightly in describing her scallop wrapped with Serrano. The dish even blows away, but she is unruffled. Unfortunately, it wasn't Serrano in the dish. For future reference, America, don't bs when Alton Brown is at your party. He practically shoulder-checks a party-goer in order to call out that food fibbery.

Why describe food when you can talk about how you like to get cray cray at ragers? Her Louisiana surf and turf is worth celebrating, but Loreal's pitch was meant for the yet-to-be-made Party Network Star.

Emma wings her presentation, and the unscripted, laid-back approach is perfect for the partygoers. Even better, she relates the dish to her personal life. Who doesn't want to taste a beach in Thailand? Too bad the guests can't manage to figure out her dish of scallop and mango, which has a whopping three components one could potentially add to customize the dish. It might not have been the best decision to make a customization station, but if she would have set up a taco bar, nobody would have batted an eye. This is the trouble with tentacles.

The culinary cowboy plays it safe with a burger and hedges his bets with the promise of a good ketchup. What's better, or maybe worse, the prize inside is more nekkid Lenny. He delivers on all fronts.

Luca comes back with a serious fuoco and has more adjectives to describe seafood salad than Thesaurus.com. He should have called it 1-900 Seafood Salad, the way he talked about it. His dish is stellar, and the partygoers can't stop staring at him and his handsome self.

Cue the Scary Music: Chris, Sarah and Emma are on the bottom. Chris couldn't describe or properly handle his beef. Sarah couldn't make Texas and pork happen. Emma put comestible nukes in the hands of people under the influence.

The culinary elevator stopped a few floors short of the top, and Chris was sent home.

The Moral of the Story: If you are going to compete on Food Network Star, you have to be careful about the promises you make. I really had high hopes for Chris in the earlier episodes. I also was a fan when he was on Cutthroat Kitchen. Chris is smart and delivered a nugget of crafty ingenuity in almost every dish he made. If Chris would have billed himself as the "crafty culinarian," I think he would have gone to the top. Unfortunately, "culinary elevator" was a promise he couldn't always keep.

Luca Della CasaThreat of the Week: Welcome back, Luca. Whatever happened to you on Star Salvation has given you the power to spit more fire than Mario and Luigi.

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Comments (155)

  1. Bill O says:

    Sarah and Chris were the right choices for the bottom two, IMO. Sarah annoys me more each week and doesn't seem to be much of a cook. I think Luca deserves to be back in the competition. Lenny, love him or hate him, is quite a character and the guy is probably the best cook of the bunch. Hopefully, Sarah goes next week, then we're down to the real contenders. It was nice to see them have the freedom to cook something of their own choice.

    • Maureen says:

      Emma, too. She is like Chris. People like her but she isn't the whole package. Has trouble getting both cooking and good speaking in same challenge. Not her first time on the bottom. People let it go because they like her but she is being outperformed. What does she cook, anyway? Farm fresh? World travel cuisine? Vegan? What!? I don't care about rock climbing or whether she's been to Nicguagua.

  2. CommonSense says:

    Frankly I like Sarah. I guess you all have your own reasons as to why you dislike her. I like her. She coulda left off the tiara last night. If she woulda just stuck with baby chef food maybe she would be more unbeatable but then again who would really watch a show telling you how to make cheffy baby food--what mother has the time to do that unless she is very resourceful and/or doesnt work? She probably will be going sooner or later anyway as will Emma, Nicole, and probably Loreal too. Alton planted the seed last night about disappointment with Loreal because she forgets her pov and plays up to the camera sometimes. He seems ready to let her go--especially when she didnt season that meat last episode.

    I think top 2 contenders might be Luca and Lenny. Seems like Luca was having a panic attack on the next episode so how he continues on remains to be seen. You might be right with Lenny being possibly best cook of the bunch but he sorta seems like someone you might watch a couple of shows just to see what he's about and then turn the channel and move on--and yet I know he has people that really like him and want him to win.

    So far I just don't have a connection to any of them to "hope for" any certain person to win whereas last season by this time, I was wanting Damaris to win.

    You're right Bill--it was nice to see them have freedom to cook something of their own choice and leave the skits alone for this episode.

    • Bill O says:

      Same here, CS. Last year I was pulling for Damaris by this time and this year not really anyone. It could very well come down to Lenny and Luca. Loved the line by Lenny that his handsome quotient goes down 30% when Luca stands next to him. And please, spare us the belly in future episodes, Lenny :)

    • Judy says:

      There is a famous saying: Oh, how the Mighty have fallen.

      This may happen next time with Luca (panic attack?) and Lenny (the time may come where people decide he is just too much after all). As you said, you might watch a couple shows to see what he's all about and then move on. Lenny is too loud. Emma is too much the other way. Luca, once we get him away from the women eyeing him at the pool, will we like his cooking and does he have star power? He has survived but I wouldn't say he "pops" or has any pizazz. Will those who are mighty take a big fall? Loreal is funnier than Luca.

    • Judy says:

      Oh how the Mighty have fallen. That could happen next week with Luca or Lenny. Luca due a panic attack? Lenny because people finally decide he is just too much.

      Once we get Luca away from a pool full of women eyeing him, how will he do then? He has survived but don't see any humor or Pizazz energy. Loreal has him beat there.

      Lenny is the loudest. Emma is the softest. Neither seems to last very long. As you said, you may watch Lenny a few times and then move on. Will others decide the same thing? What if Lenny and Luca both decline. Who might the last three standing be? Sarah should not have worm a Tiara. That was a dumb move. I like her but would not have done that. And what is Emma all about? Is she vegetarian? World travel? Nice lady but I could totally care less about what countries she's visited or yoga.

    • Sheri Scott says:

      Since 75% of the voters chose to send Sarah home, they must know something that Mr. Common Sense doesn't. I taught high school freshman classes for years, and most of them were more mature than Sarah.

      • MoHub says:

        I'm not fond of Sarah, but you have to remember that we only see what the editors allow us to see, and they seem to be building a sequence of clips to cement Sarah as the villain of the season. Who knows what the others have said in their own confessionals? They may well have put out more snark than Sarah, but we haven't been able to see it.

        On the IMDb board, there's a posting from someone who used to work with Loreal, and the comments aren't pretty.

        • shannon says:

          Mo,Interesting, do you care to share the gist of the comment? I understand if you feel it is inappropriate to do so.

          • MoHub says:

            Was afraid I might get deleted, but the commenter on IMDb basically said the following—verbatim—under the subject line "I Used to Work With Loreal":

            "I'm glad I don't anymore. She was bitchy. You had to be careful around her (watch what you said or did) or she would throw you under the bus."

          • guest says:

            Was that quote about working with her on FNS or somewhere else? On star, I haven't seen her like that.

          • MoHub says:

            It's on the IMDb board.

          • shannon says:

            Thanks Mo.

      • CommonSense says:

        Not a problem Sheri. Common Sense isnt common..therefore probably only about 25% of the voters would have it.

        • shannon says:

          Whew(wiping the sweat from my brow),luckily I too am in the chosen 25% club of commoners..oops, I mean folks with common sense. I too like Sarah, it's just a shame she could not pull it together earlier and nail down a workable POV.

          • Brock Oli says:

            You make it sound like it's over. There are some who have a POV and have not changed it yet. But so what, we still don't know what it means.

          • shannon says:

            Brock Oli, I agree, never say never. My point is, if Sarah had been able to nail down a POV from the beginning should would have been someone very hard to beat. She is very personable. So it's a shame it did not happen sooner.

    • Bob says:

      CommonSense, I admire your guts. To say you like Sarah in this firestorm of hate takes courage. Someone mentioned it may be mostly a few people posting over and over how bad she is. I can kinda believe that. The dogpiling on her that hard almost seems irrational. She isn't perfect but there's a lot of good her haters aren't giving her credit for.

      • CommonSense says:

        Thanx Bob. I saw Just Sayin's post..and he said something like

        Do the constant whiners and complainers about Sarah realize they too are whining and constantly complaining about Sarah.

        Something to think about. But they wont. They are too busy hating her and slam dunking a negative on anyone that says anything remotely kind about her.

        • CommonSense says:

          I think Just Sayin said...

          Does it strike any of those that whine and complain about Sarah being a whiner and complainer, realize that they too are whining and complaining about Sarah.

          Clever!

  3. Michaelene says:

    Surprise to me...but apparently Lenny has the REAL COOKING CHOPS. I want to TASTE that Curry-ketchup!!!! All who tasted his burger bites were crazy over them!

    Luca can do it....go for all the different regions in Italy....as they are all different.

    Was anyone surprised that Giada did NOT mention the Miss TEXAS Crown/Tiara Sarah was wearing when all she could manage to say much was Texas ad nauseum?????

    • Deb says:

      Yes, I was surprised Giada didn't mention it as it would have been the perfect way for her to get back at Sarah for the earlier "big wooden spoon" comment but she didn't.

    • Buffy says:

      Do you like the taste of curry? If so, add a nice curry powder to a nice brand of ketchup.

      • CommonSense says:

        Buffy you remind me of BeachinFrizzy who used to comment on previous FNS. She too was great with 1 or 2 liners and invoked a lot of humour in her comments and responses. It was fun to read her posts.

        • shannon says:

          So true CS, what is life without some levity?

        • Buffy says:

          Thank you commonsense and Shannon. I think people should laugh every day.
          I decided to make an effort to find something to make me laugh,

        • Carrie says:

          Betcha she IS BeachinFrizzy.

          • Buffy says:

            Carrie, I don't know BeachinFrizzy. I posted on the FNS board when I wanted Limone to win. I posted the last few episodes. This is the second time I am posting to FNS bogs. The person described does not seem to have a problem returning if that is what he/she wants to do.

          • shannon says:

            Could you please explain your reasoning? Why would Beach need a nom de plume?

    • Mike says:

      Those question marks and ALL CAPS really make your post stand out.

  4. Buffy says:

    "cherubs of grilled meat in a bouncy castle inside my mouth" - This does not work.
    conflicting and uncomfortable.

    • shannon says:

      Thank you Buffy, that does not in anyway make me want to try a dish either, actually quite the opposite. Maybe I am lame, but Emma's" buttery texture of grits that make her want to dance a tango" did not do it for me either nor did Lennys "this meatball is something you need to have in your mouth" followed by "the zing of tomato is fruity like a berry that pops in your mouth" all the while staring at Giada like he was. It brought to my mind....hmmm,I wonder if Lenny needs to register when he moves to a new neighborhood??? It was a really creepy moment for me. Truth? What Chris said about his dish"it's creamy and the mushrooms give harmony to the dish, it's earthy and creaminess are comforting" that I wanted to try. Giada was biased.

      • Buffy says:

        Giada was just pulling words. Yes, a tomato is a considered to be a fruit. I know some people have tasted a fruity tomato. I haven't I am laughing at your Lenny comment. Let's call this your real world intuition. :)

      • Janet says:

        I just can't get into Emma. Yes, she is nice. It's not her. It's her point of view and the lack of starpower. The point of view is too scattered. But if she tightened it up tomorrow I still wouldn't be interested in endless veggies and all those family stories. I know Susie Fogelson lives for that but I'm more into the actual dish than the history. She just doesn't hold my attention as much as some of the rest. Lenny is too wild, though.

    • MoHub says:

      I think Justin was having fun with an over-the-top figurative description. I don't believe he'd ever say or expect anyone else to say that.

  5. Luca forever says:

    I, too, am tired of Sarah's childish negative behavior and Lenny;s belly. And, what's with Lenny constantly combing his mustache and beard.

    Glad they brought Luca back. He can really cook and ha a natural charm. Emma and Nicole are also good. Eliminate the rest of them fast.

    • Mike Wagner says:

      Totally agree on Lenny and I thought it was just me noticing his beard-touching. I would never watch him if he got a show. I could only watch Emma, Luca or Nicole.. or Christopher, who was railroaded by Giada.

      • MoHub says:

        Christopher was never interested in teaching—only in showing off his superior cooking chops. I don't know how he'd do helming an instructional cooking program.

        Christopher was in the wrong competition, if competing is what he wants to do. He'd be better off on Top Chef or Chopped, where it's all about cooking skills.

  6. pool says:

    Unfortunately, no one this season is very consistent. They have all been in the bottom, unlike previous years where the frontrunner/winner was rarely or even never in the bottom. I guess I'm pulling for Lenny since he does seem to do the best often, but I agree with others that I probably couldn't watch his show. Nicole and Luca round out my top 3, but how well they do later remains to be seen. Emma is okay but she is very inconsistent and her POV is very unclear/boring to me. Sarah and Loreal are just plain annoying and hard to watch, but unfortunately it seems the judges are set on Loreal making it to the finale.

  7. Buffy says:

    Oh my goodness!!!! Loreal makes me laugh. she is wearing what she calls a sexy boa in her scullery maid outfit. I think men see a maid. Is this a new sexy look? The kitchen curtain dress

    • Mindy says:

      All Sarcasm, all the time. At least we know what to expect with you. Ever say something positive about a finalist?

      • Buffy says:

        Yes, I am consistent. This is one of my traits. Unlike this program which has not been consistent, as written by pool. The program has not presented the true person behind the contestants. I am not sure what I can say at this time.

  8. Crouton40 says:

    Good, happy pic of everyone, above. Glad someone captured the moment. :)

    PS--going thru notes. More comments coming...sigh...(this is gonna be a tougher one to write..i.e...I'm reminded of that line--"it was the best of times and the worst of times."

  9. shannon says:

    This season is not offering me much hope for an exciting new chef on the network to watch. I never really had a clear front runner that I was pulling for. I had a few that were leading the pack and I was rooting for them to do better. Then there were a few I knew I would never watch.
    Emma had been one of my favorites, she was very nice with a clear speaking tone and an easy to listen to voice. She expresses stories well to an audience, that is still true. I just don't think I am sold on her food,Heck I am not really sure what type of food she would cook on her own show. I am not liking very much of what I see,and I fear she may be a bit boring for my taste.
    I was rooting for Nicole, but she lost me in a very big way last night with the Serrano ham. If she feels people would not know better so why not liie to them... I don't trust her to teach me either. I wouldn't know better either if I were trying to learn a recipe or technique from her.
    Sarah has not pulled it together, why did she wear the tiara. Why did they even give these folks props last night? Feather boas and tiaras? What was the relevance?
    Lenny, not funny in any kind of a good way in my opinion. Very crass. Nice ketchup..I may steal the recipe/idea. His description of foods to Giada was so poorly done, I don't know if he was trying to be funny but it was simply creepy in my opinion.
    Chris was not half bad, I was sorry to see him go.I knew it was coming after watching Giada badger him during the food description segment.
    Loreal I just can't watch her. Her overdone hillbilly persona worked my last nerve last night. I would not care iF she spun food into gold from this point forward. I would never watch her show. She does not seem like an authority on "anything" to me.
    Luca is, I guess the only one I like at this point. I certainly believe he is an authority on Italian foods. I would trust and follow his recipes. He has a pleasant personality,he is very descriptive and I can understand him through his accent.
    I am really let down by this year's crop.

    • Georgie1960 says:

      Great thoughts, I agree with most. Even about Emma, who I still like, but beginning to think maybe her personality isn't "big" enough to offset what appear to be modest cooking skills.

      Don't agree on Nicole. I don't think trying to pass off the ham is indicative of any deep-seated moral flaw. She tried to slip it by, got caught - it was a little sneaky but then she said she'd never do it again. I believe her.

    • MoHub says:

      Once again, I am in agreement with you, Shannon. (Surprise!) Lenny and Loreal both make me squirm, and it's a shame because Lenny can really cook, and he's undermining himself with the schtick.

      I don't fault Nicole as much as others do, as I think it simply didn't cross her mind to actually say one could use prosciutto if serrano wasn't available, as she did herself. I don't think she meant to deceive anyone, she just didn't know how to verbalize the substitution.

      Chris, I think, is simply not ready. Given time, he might make a good frontman for a cooking show, but not yet.

      I'm completely on Team Luca now and hope he doesn't blow it again.

      • shannon says:

        Glad to know we agree. See my comments above to Crouton, it is possible I am making a mountain out of a mole hill where Nicole is concerned.

      • CommonSense says:

        I dont think Lenny is acting. I think that he is being himself and feels he will do whatever it takes to win.

        He reminds me of the Pie Man last season that was being himself, peculiar as it may have been to some. Pie Man couldnt always cook and Lenny does seem to get the judges raving over his food more often than they did for the Pie man. But neither seem to be creating a weird persona just to become the FNS..this is who they really are.

    • Crouton40 says:

      Nicole may soon be putting up an explanation at: http://www.toofullforschool.com

  10. Georgie1960 says:

    "Linguistic linguini," that's a good one, Justin. And it's true, they all brain-locked during the "mentor's challenge."

    I like Sarah when she reacts to the other contestants. They always cut to her for facial expressions or commentary, like the motor oil viscosity bit. But then she always blows it when presenting her own dishes. Her food didn't look too good; I'm afraid her days are numbered.

    Yes, Luca seemed to have whipped out a thesaurus to describe his seafood. I don't know if he can carry a show with those English skills. I can barely understand him. He can cook, and he has a big toothy grin like Giada, but hard to say what, if anything, is behind it.

    I'm still rooting for Nicole. Emma and Lenny next.

    • Monte says:

      "Don't use viscosity, because people don't know what it means" -- Giada

      Translation: "People that watch this network are stupid."