It's pretty clear by now that Brianna knows what she's doing when it comes to cuisine. So far she hasn't had a single dish come out less than great — no mean feat under typical challenge conditions, you know? But when will she start to thaw? Despite recent urging from the judges to start warming up to her guests, her demeanor is still detached, even arrogant. So how did she wind up with a win this week? Listen to Bob's take on her victory ... and see if you think she would have won without the "luck" factor he mentions ....
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I'm going to miss Dzintra. I must admit, I cringed with the rest of you when she shushed Aria – but, come on, you couldn't take your eyes off this finalist. Her unpredictability was fascinating. She was a pistol and the show won't be the same without her theatrics. I've written so much in previous blog posts about Ms. Dzenis, that now, I'm simply going to let Dzintra leave and stop talking about her. She has moved on and so must I. Farewell, Dzintra.
Brad (aka Justin Timberlake’s Lookalike) took his hat off in a few scenes this week and it totally threw me for a loop. I almost didn't recognize the guy. If Aarti stops wearing her flower I’m really going to be in trouble. I'm certain both Brad and Aarti wear these items to help them stand out from the crowd. I like these little added touches and think they shouldn't be filmed without them. You know how restaurant waiters have a pencil stuck behind their ear? I'd like to see DAS carry a utensil behind his. Perhaps a spoon? Yes, that should be his thing.
Herb. I dig him. He's an Atlanta boy and so am I. If for no other reason, I have to cheer for one of my own. However, if I could speak to him before Episode 4, I would offer my brother this advice, "Be authentic." Herb's enthusiasm, his smile and often times his whole demeanor comes across as forced to me. Be yourself, Herb. We Georgia boys have enough genuine personality – we don't have to be fake.
I did not care for how Paul treated Serena in the team challenge. I found him to be obnoxious, overbearing and a bit sexist with his comments. He needs to dial that mess down. He has a comedic, stand up background and maybe his shtick is funny in one of those venues? But, in this format, he's coming off as a big jerk. And, I like Serena too much to see her treated like this. Stop it, Paul.
Tom. I think he may be a sleeping giant here. He seems like that kid who sits in the back of the classroom all quiet and elusive, and then he graduates and invents something the world can't live without. Sure, his hair makes me nervous, but like Aarti's flower, Brad’s hat and DAS's spoon, it's his thing. Don't get a trim, Tom. I'll get used to it with time.
Clearly her teammate didn't want to hear anything she had to say (first paragraph), but Aria's voice comforts me. She has been told that she speaks to people like they are kindergartners (and she really does), but there is something about this cook that draws me in. I would so watch a show starring Aria. Perhaps more than any of the other finalists, I find Aria very easy to relate to.
So it seems a tad early to me, but Giada thinks the Star action has already reached a point where the "real contenders" are about to cut loose from the "don’t-quite-cut-its." Here's the catch: It may not be who you’d expect. Check out her philosophy on the concept of finalist potential ....
Alrighty! Let me dig in on some of my standout moments – and then I want to hear yours!
I must admit, I was expecting (and hoping for) a little Dzintra Drama. From the comments I’ve read, she has clearly rubbed some of you the wrong way, but as I explained last week, I enjoy her! If there was a Team Dzintra t-shirt, I would buy it. As a matter of fact, I’m going to make one and wear it around the office.
In the first challenge, Giada told the finalists that if they couldn’t “cook and talk at the same time,” that they didn’t need to be in the competition. This is where I would make my exit. Think about it – some of the tasks you do (and do well), can you clearly explain what you are actually doing while you’re working on that task? I’m talking out loud now as I type this and all I can come up with to explain my action is, “Writing. Typing.”
Poor Aarti was called out on the “dead air” she left while on camera. I felt badly for her. You know she just wanted to hide behind her hair flower. And Serena? She was criticized for speaking waaaay too fast. Sure, I couldn’t understand a word she said, but really, isn’t having too much to say and speaking super fast to get it all out better than silence?
Duff was a guest in this episode and introduced the second challenge. Who doesn’t love this man? Am I the only who thinks Duff’s cakes shouldn’t be eaten, but preserved? They are true pieces of art – they shouldn’t be cut into like savages! Hmm – I’ll save this topic for another day.
The Santa Monica Pier Challenge was CRAZY! The finalists had to create a savory party plate inspired by carnival food. Can you even imagine? Aarti’s inspiration was funnel cake – and she had never even eaten one before (which is just a travesty – someone get this girl a funnel cake, ASAP)!
Brianna seemed to shut down a bit in this competition. I think she was overly tired. You know how it is when you’re exhausted – you reach that point where you’re simply DONE. Brianna needed a nap to put that pep back in her step. If Bob and Susie had only provided her with an air mattress out there on the pier, she would have been fine.
Elimination time. As you saw, Doreen was the second finalist to depart the show. I did understand the judges’ decision to send her home. Giada had said earlier in the show that her facial expressions “made her not want to watch.” Well, that’s clearly not good. But in her defense, in the pier challenge, Doreen was given a “Root Beer Float” to inspire her savory dish. Merciful days, a Root. Beer. Float? My facial expression would have been far from cute, too. So long, Doreen. I’ll miss you.
That’s my take, what’s yours? Any standout moments for you? Oh, I’m thinking of devoting an entire blog entry to nothing but Tom’s hair. Thoughts?
Take two. Second episode, another hopeful's dreams, dashed (no spoilers until you check out the transcript). The top ten remain. Quite the dramatic evening here at Food Network. Duff was in the house--or on the pier in Santa Monica, as it happens--and had the Finalists cooking up savory dishes inspired by the sweetest of carnival foods. Sweet, or not so much. Cotton candy for dinner? A candy apple side dish? Waffle cones as a main? Not quite. The fair fare ranged from fantastic to brow-furrowing (Doreen, why are you so mad?) and the Finalists stepped up with confidence. (Aarti, that means you.) Bob, Susie and Bobby all had tough words, and so did fans. Plenty of you wanted to see Dzintra, Paul or Doreen go home--and even all three. Lots of you wanted Aria and Herb to stay. Wishes, granted. Call me Zoltar, just back from the carnival. In coming weeks, we'll have special guests joining the chat, so be sure to stop by. You never know if you'll catch a star, ready to share secrets. Meantime, vote for your favorite finalist and get every recipe (plus Instant Re-Flays, Bobby's makeovers of Finalists' dishes). Plus, check out the Episode 2 video gallery and check back here throughout the week to hear from Bob, Susie and Giada with their spin on all the action.
In every good competition show, there are always key attention-grabbing moments that make you think, “Wow. How awful/awesome/cool that must be for him/her.” In watching the Star premiere, I actually had this reaction to quite a few things, but one in particular surprised me. As I watched the Selection Committee tell Alexis why things just weren’t working … and explain to the other hanging-by-a-thread finalists why their outlook was not so good, either … I felt about as bad for the judges as I did for the competitors. Weird, right? But then it occurred to me: Despite the fact that the judges (obviously) know it’s a contest and are well aware there can be only one winner, they still have real hope for ALL of these guys. They spend lots of time around them off-camera and, you have to figure, they probably glimpse lots of potential that we never get to see. Check out what Bob says here about DAS, Doreen and Alexis:
Someone had to go – that’s how the show works! And, as you saw Sunday night, Alexis Hernandez was the first to bite the dust. Did you agree with the judges' decision to send him home? He seemed a bit shaky, but honestly, I liked the guy. What's your take?
The premiere became a bit dramatic with Dzintra’s eye situation. I like offbeat people – I find them interesting and they keep you on your toes. Dzintra definitely is one of those people! What did you make of her whole eye debacle? The other finalists seemed to think she was being super dramatic. Do you agree? I, mean, I go into a full blown, eye-watering, red-faced tizzy if a small speck of dust gets on my contact. So, perhaps she shouldn’t be judged too harshly?
Tell me what you thought of the premiere!
We're at the jumping off point for the all-new season of The Next Food Network Star. A new season means new finalists, new challenges, new recipes and ultimately, a new Food Network star. Everyone at the Food Network offices loves this time of year. It’s such an exciting time for everyone involved with the show.
But before we leap forward, let’s take a quick look back at the summer of 2009.
Our Season 5 Star winner was none other than Melissa d'Arabian. She and Jeffrey Saad were the last two remaining finalists in the nail-biting season finale. As you well know, Melissa has gone on to host the hugely successful Ten Dollar Dinners and is shooting yet another season of the hit show as I type this. Jeffrey hasn't exactly left the Food family, himself. He has contributed heavily to our Cooking From the Pantry series on FoodNetwork.com.
Remember Debbie Lee? Wow, she was quite the attention-getter. Some of you loved her, some of you loved to hate on her, but no matter your feelings, you couldn't help but talk about Debbie. If you want to catch up with her and all the other finalists from last season (and all the other seasons), check out our Where Are They Now? feature.
Who will be The Next Food Network Star for 2010 and have their life changed forever? I don’t know, but I'm excited to move forward and see!
If you were cast as a finalist for The Next Food Network Star, wouldn't you want to know what works with Bob and Susie? And what Bobby Flay is really like when he comes into the kitchen and you're frantically trying to represent your true culinary point of view? And whether you should act larger than life or (warning: here comes the cliche) be yourself?
There's no need to mess around with guesswork; instead go to a reliable source. Like Melissa d'Arabian. Melissa, winner of The Next Food Network Star season 5, has been uberbusy with creating recipes and producing her show Ten Dollar Dinners and traveling and talking to fans and, oh-by-the-way, being a wife and mom to four young daughters. But she found a few minutes to sit down and share how she feels a year later, plus her advice for the twelve Season 6 Star finalists.
"They really need to trust that they are enough," Melissa says, "... to know who they are, put their arms around that, celebrate it, and bring it to the table." See what else Melissa said, then check out her top recipes and visit her Facebook page. Read more
Check the Countdown Clock: There are only a couple days before the kickoff to The Next Food Network Star. In case you missed our all-out check-this-season-out fervor in the lead-up to premiere night, here’s a cheat sheet to catch you up.
- Bob, Susie and Bobby are back, making up the Selection Committee, prompting nervous laughs and shaky camera smiles among aspiring Stars everywhere. Each week you’ll find news from them here—last year Bob’s posts got more than 20,000 comments--I can only imagine how much you’ll have to say with this trio at your disposal. Guess which of them heats things up early by telling the finalists: "If you guys can't cook, you'll be gone, no doubt about it"? (A matter of seconds into this clip and you'll get the answer.)
- Shooting for this season was in Los Angeles, not New York; we Chelsea Market fans are a wee bit wistful but like the cool-kid approach to cooking West Coasties seem to have. Laid-back vibes, however, do not mean the stress level in the kitchens will be any lower.
- This year’s secret ingredient: Giada’s in the mix. But you’ll have to watch to see what she’s up to. Ok, so I’m teasing. Shamelessly. Read on...