All Posts By Grant Dudley

Sandwich King

by in Food Network Star, August 15, 2011

Sandwich King Jeff Mauro

We have a winner! Jeff Mauro is Food Network's Star. Congratulations, Jeff — you've earned every bit of your success.

Fans, thank you so much for watching this season and for your participation here at the Star Blog. Good, bad and indifferent — you have let us know exactly what you're thinking. The team at Food Network has enjoyed hearing from all of you.

Be sure to join Jeff for a live chat on Food Network's Facebook wall Wednesday at 1:15pm/12:15c. And, of course, watch the series premiere of Jeff's new show, Sandwich King, Sunday at 11:30am/10:30c.
 

And Then There Were 3 (Finale Bound)

by in Food Network Star, August 8, 2011

The Remaining Four Finalists

Mary Beth’s elimination was tough. I liked her so much! Her food may have been unremarkable (and I do understand that’s kind of the point), but her personality was sparkly. I think I was most taken with her genuineness — every word out of her mouth was honest and authentic. Even her parting words to the judges were endearing. Mary Beth can leave this competition with her head held high. As a side note, her line of having to work with Penny again was amazing: “Like a horror movie villain who you think is gone, she comes back.” Loved that.

I’m sort of stunned that Vic has made it to the finale. Yes, it’s impossible to dislike the guy, but he has had some memorable fumbles throughout this competition. But hey, how you recover from your fumbles is what people respect. My hat goes off to the “Mama’s Boy.”

Susie has a smile that lights up a room. Apparently her food is pleasing too, but that smile is unforgettable. As for Jeff, he’s a powerhouse and has been on a strong roll. The judges love his sandwiches, his personality and the guy even won over Alton — if he does nothing else, that alone is out-of-this-world impressive.

Next Sunday is a biggie. The reunion show starts at 8pm/7c followed by the finale at 9. I can't believe we're about to wrap this up (and crown a new star). Exciting stuff. I hope no one gets hurt at the reunion. Maybe Penny ought to come with bodyguards?

Funny Business

by in Food Network Star, August 1, 2011

The Remaining Five Finalists

Brevity can be a good thing. With that in mind, my overall summation of last night's show is this: They laughed, Whitney cried, she went home — and we now have our final four!

Jeff, Mary Beth, Vic or Susie: One of them is going to become Food Network's next star. If you were a betting person, who would you put your money on?

This post is short, you now have some free time. Fill it with:

Whitney's Departing Words

Vote for Your Favorite Finalist
Watch Last Night’s Recap
Top Moments From the Episode
Starlicious Recipes

The “Y”

by in Food Network Star, July 25, 2011

Jyll Everman

The judges made the absolute correct decision in sending Jyll with a y home. She performed well, but compared to the others she just wasn’t compelling enough. Even Whitney, who like Jyll with a y has been criticized for being too polished and not engaging enough, brought amazing energy to the Rachael Ray show. Never too bad, but never too good, Jyll with a y didn’t resonate with me. Frankly, the only thing I’ll remember about her is that persistent “y.”

Back to Whitney. Don’t you feel she, more than anyone, has grown exponentially from episode to episode? She has taken some hard licks from the judges, but Whitney seems to really absorb what they say and learn from the criticism. A friend recently pointed out that she looks a lot like Rachael — I never saw it until this episode. Seeing them side by side, I agree.

Jeff was supremely impressive. The man can make any sandwich look good. I am sooo not a fan of pork chops — the thought of them makes me cringe. However, I have to admit I was intrigued by Jeff’s pork chop/applesauce sandwich. I would actually give that creation a try (and that’s huge for me).

Mary Beth has a fan in Grant Dudley. I enjoy her personality. She’s warm, funny and there’s something about her that keeps me interested. I can’t quite describe her impact on me, but I’ll tell you this: I tend to do a thousand things while watching Star and most other TV shows (typing an email, looking for a snack in the fridge, searching for the remote, etc. ). When Mary Beth hits the TV screen, I stop all of that other stuff and pay full attention. She has a definite presence.

Vic: Bobby didn’t seem very impressed with his lasagna/chimichanga (“lachanga”) creation, but I loved it! Chimichangas and lasagna are two of my favorite dishes, and the thought of mixing the two pleased me tremendously. Vic, the others may not have thought that was a great combination, but I’m feeling you, bro.

Finally, Susie J. Now that Orchid is gone, Susie has stolen my heart a bit. I agreed with Susie Fogelson’s assessment that she needed to stop apologizing for Mexican food and its “stereotypes.” I think Susie J. is trying to get across that Mexican food can be elegant, but my question is, why does it need to be? I guess a hamburger can be elegant, too. But who wants that?

The clock is ticking — we’re getting closer and closer to the end here.

Penny for Your Thoughts

by in Food Network Star, July 18, 2011

Penny Davidi

Right or wrong, good or bad — she made for great television. Every interesting story needs to have an antagonist, and wouldn’t you agree Penny filled that role perfectly? Whether you like to admit it or not, I bet that she brought many of you to your TVs week after week. Every Sunday you all hoped to see her get her comeuppance. And, well, last night she finally did.

Yes, the self-proclaimed “Middle Eastern Mama” was a difficult personality, a pot stirrer and someone you loved to dislike. But, to keep engagement up, we needed a little drama — a bit of spice — and no one dished it out like Penny. Remember Debbie Lee from Season 5? She reminded me of her. I enjoyed that Penny brought some “Deb drama” back to Food Network Star. Come on, this is a reality show — drama is a good thing!

Then there was Chris. If I were to cast Chris as a character in a story, he would have been the resident class clown. I have no doubt that he’s a great, fun guy, and probably a really good cook. However, his endless bouncing off the walls wasn’t appealing to watch. I don’t mind “big kid” personalities, but know when to shut it down and act your age. I just kept thinking someone needed to give him a timeout (or a Xanax).

Wolfgang Puck is a trip. Anytime the man is on this show, I know something unexpected will happen (which I love). When he escorted Jyll with a y to the kitchen to show her how to properly make risotto, I smiled. Well, hey, he’s the master, and I think she should embrace his correction and learn from it. Was she embarrassed? Absolutely, but this is one of those times when she should simply feel honored to have a world-renowned expert show her how to better the dish. Shake it off Jyll with a y — at least you’re headed to New York. You did something right!

The remaining finalists head to the Big Apple next week. Let’s all get in a New York state of mind.

 

Oh, Orchid.

by in Food Network Star, July 11, 2011

Orchid Paulmeier

She’s gone and I’m sad.

Was I surprised by her elimination? I wasn’t, but I still hated to see her go. She started off as a front-runner in this competition and a fan favorite. But something happened. She began to change in the last couple of episodes. Did she start to lose confidence? Was she homesick? Were the other finalists intimidating her? Whatever the case, I had been hopeful that she would pull it together and bring back the Orchid we all loved. I guess it just wasn’t meant to be.

Sigh.

Breaking News: Orchid Responds

Holiday Recap

by in Food Network Star, July 4, 2011
Happy 4th of July!
Fireworks are on and off screen this weekend.

Happy Fourth of July, everyone! I hope you’re having an amazing weekend and that great food has been (or will be) included in your Independence Day celebrations. Enjoy!

Now, about last night’s Star episode — this is what I’ve been left thinking:

Justin D. – wow, what happened there? He got the boot and his performance definitely justified the elimination. I didn’t know what to make of the persona he put forth. That newly created hip-hop alter ego came out of nowhere. The judges had been asking him to show more of his personality, but that must have proved too difficult and he decided to make up a random one instead. It was strange and Justin had to go.

Penny, once again, stirred the pot. I find it amusing that she has spent five episodes being unfriendly to everyone in the house and yet became emotional when talking to the judges — almost insinuating she, herself, had been mistreated. Jyll with a “y” hit the nail on the head: Penny is self-entitled.

You know who really surprised me last night? Susie! She has previously been forgettable, but she came out swinging. I loved her in both challenges and I feel like I got to see more of Susie’s personality shine through. She’s one to watch.

And finally, Mr. Guy Fieri. He is the example of what this show can do for someone. Like Guy, one of these season 7 finalists will walk away from this experience with their life forever changed. I’m excited to see who that person is.

That’s it for this week. I need to prepare for this afternoon’s barbecue, so I’m keeping it short. Before you head to your festivities, tell me what you thought of the episode.

Code Blue

by in Food Network Star, June 27, 2011
Paula and Eliminated Finalist Justin B.
Paula and Eliminated Finalist Justin B.

Let me begin by stating the obvious: Paula is the absolute best. Any time I see her I just get the best feeling. Maybe it’s because I’m from the South and she reminds me of home, or maybe it’s simply because she is an amazing cook and I have enjoyed every buttery recipe she has created. Whatever the reason, she is a SUPERSTAR (far beyond just a “star”) and the finalists were completely justified in their awe of her. The kind of warmth and engaging personality Paula exudes is what they should be aspiring to.

When Melissa d’Arabian introduced the Kellogg’s Camera Challenge, I was intrigued. I live off most of those treats that the finalists had to use as ingredients. Rice Krispies? Um, I have a bowl every Saturday morning. A Pop-Tart is my go-to Monday through Friday breakfast choice. And Cheez-Its? I enjoy them regularly with little scoops of French-onion dip – so tasty! How though would the finalists use these snacks in serious dishes? Well, I was impressed to see what they did.

Chris’s chicken nuggets made with Corn Flakes sound delicious. I can just imagine the crunchiness of those flakes on little nuggets — I want to taste them. Bob was definitely impressed. Whitney’s use of the crushed Pop-Tarts on Parmesan crackers wasn’t a big hit, but come on — that’s a toughie. What could you make with a Pop-Tart? I eat them all the time and I’m completely clueless. I admire Whit’s effort. Justin B.’s Cheez-It crust on top of mac and cheese? That’s mad genius! Can’t you just taste it?

The Cougar Town Challenge was interesting. The Penny/Mary Beth teaming made me nervous. I kept expecting to see Penny be short-tempered with MB, but she wasn’t. Instead, I was surprised to watch Penny be so friendly to MB while working with her, yet in her video interviews talk so hatefully about her. The characteristic that I respected previously (and took heat for) about Penny was that she owns who she is and doesn’t seem to change herself no matter the circumstance she finds herself in. Sorry, Penny — I’m now questioning your authenticity. As for Mary Beth, this lady continues to shine.

Justin D. needs to wake up. Is he sleepy? It’s like Giada should snap her fingers in front of his face and snap him out of his “slumber.” He’s really beginning to stumble and I’m not sure he’s going to gain his footing. When Busy Phillips said of Jyll, “she’s very polished, but I don’t want to watch that show,” I smiled. That summarized beautifully what I’ve been trying to articulate for weeks now.

And now, back to Justin B. I enjoy the guy and was sad to see him go. I really feel with time, he would have been able to bring his personality out on camera. But, I guess that’s just the problem: There isn’t any time.

Finally, before I close, I want to give props to Orchid. She seemed to have had a calming effect on Jeff with her “Code Blue” signal. Chris’s frenetic energy is exhausting to watch and would irritate me greatly if I was there in person. I thought it funny that little Orchid could settle this big guy down.

That’s it for me — now let me hear from you.

Week 3 – Done.

by in Food Network Star, June 20, 2011
Duff Goldman and Robert Irvine
Duff Goldman and Robert Irvine

We’re moving along at amazing speeds, aren’t we? Hard to believe that four finalists have already been sent packing. Isn’t the show getting better and better with every episode? My Sundays are complete when I have Star to watch. Let’s get this party started, shall we?

So, last night had Team Robert fighting it out with “Duff’s Angels.” Had I put money on a team to win, I would have most definitely bet on Duff’s. I was surprised that Robert’s guys (and Penny) pulled it off.

Team Robert

Chris may be the “little brother of the group,” but little brothers can be annoying.

Jeff’s performance wasn’t memorable. Thankfully, he wore a headband this week (that should please Giada).

Justin B.’s presentation was boring. It took him six hours to make popcorn? Now, Bob said the popcorn was amazing – but, seriously, popcorn?

Justin D.’s food was apparently good, but his presentation needed more polish. He says he has a big personality – but where is it? Anyone who wears a bow tie must have a personality somewhere!

Vic’s cream puff looked great and sophisticated. His “Vegas in Mama’s Cooking” POV is moving things in the right direction.

Penny’s food was beautiful – truly Middle East on a spoon. As you all know, though, she is still coming off as very unlikable. Penny, what are we going to do with you?

Duff’s Angels

Jyll’s food may be wonderful. Her presentation may be wonderful. However, she needed to step up and be a leader – and she didn’t. She’s still not resonating with me. You?

Mary Beth: She has a great sense of humor, but her light was a little dim last night. Get back in the game, Mary Beth! I have confidence in you.

Orchid continues to be my girl. She’s always having fun and is completely natural.

Susie: Her dish looked as bad as it apparently tasted. Her personality was great, though.

Whitney’s performance is getting predictable. I’m not excited by her.

And then there’s Alicia. Oh, Alicia. Her manic behavior got the best of her, and the judges had to send her home. Plus, she is a baker. She should have excelled in that challenge, but instead she failed miserably.

What’s your take? Oh, and vote in the Fan Fave poll – right now, Jeff is in the lead.

On to week 4!

Double Trouble

by in Food Network Star, June 13, 2011
Finalist Justin Davis
Justin D. and his snazzy bow tie.

Were you surprised by last night’s double elimination curve ball? I certainly was. Bob and Susie are tricksters, aren’t they? But, let me tell you: I was not surprised that of all the finalists, Juba and Katy were the two sent packing.

Juba was waaaaay out of his element. I was stunned to see how stunned HE was at his elimination. Really, Juba? How that came as a shock to him I'll never know. As I told you last week, his performances left me very uncomfortable and with a blanket over my head.

And, Katy – look, she wasn’t good on camera. I get that. However, she is someone who puts on a brave face in the midst of adversity. Though her “grin and bear it” attitude came off as impersonal to the judges, I felt for her and understood her. And she fought back tears, which made me really respect her. I’m not a fan of tears on this show. Katy could serve as an example to other finalists (um, Alicia).

OK. Penny. I took heat last week for praising her, but today I admit it: I did not like how she turned on Orchid. How anyone could start a ruckus with that sweet woman is beyond me. Though I still enjoy Penny’s straightforward and honest way of tackling this competition, I didn’t like how she singled out Orchid. But, the thing is, she was very well aware of what Penny was doing. Again, with Penny, there is no question where you stand with her. At least Orchid knew what (who) she should watch out for.

Justin D. wears bow ties and so do I. I like this guy because of that. I know I should probably have more than just his attire to base my opinion on, but that’s all I got and I’m sticking to it. Jyll with a “y” did very well in this episode. But, for some reason, her personality isn’t resonating with me. She’s flying a bit under my radar. And more than anything, that “y” is really starting to bother me. Whitney needs to liven up. I understand that she’s a former engineer and still has that “engineer focus,” but she’s on TV now – and we’re not here to watch paint dry. Warm up a bit, Whit.

Oh, before I forget – Jeff’s sweating into his food. Wow. That made me a bit nauseous. Giada seemed horrified and rightly so. Thankfully, he got it together in the second challenge and I feel certain he won’t be without a headband in the future. Actually, a headband could be part of his shtick.

Finally, I thought Mary Beth was the true star of this episode. The judges’ comments last week really motivated her to bring her best. She was engaging and very funny. Simon Cowell is always talking about talent with the “it factor.” I’m not exactly sure what the “it” is, but in my opinion, she has “it.”

Till next week.