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Awkward Starts, Stellar POVs and Choice Words — Justin’s Rebel Recap

by in Recap, June 3, 2013

Damaris Mentor ChallengeIt’s an 11-week, live-action job interview. It starts with 12 or so fine foodie folks who compete to be the newest member of the Food Network family. In each episode, one or more of the applicants is shown the exit, and at the end, America will vote to determine who will get the chance of a lifetime: their very own show on Food Network. I survived this process, won my dream job and am living larger than a plate of disco fries on Triple D.

Welcome to the Rebel Recap, where I’ll be recapitating the heck out of what went down last night on Food Network Star. It'll be as though you and I are long-time bros: Neither of us remembers how we got home, but here we are on the couch, shooting the breeze. Grab a slice of cold pizza and let me know what you think in the comments.

This season's teamless format should prove to be very interesting. It should encourage a lot more competition out of the gate. Being mentored by all three superstars could be a double-edged sword. If the finalists are able to take the best powers from all three mentors, the end result could be the Captain Planet of Food Network. On the other hand, having to interpret three very different styles of mentoring could lead to confusion and mania. Personally, I'm glad I was with Mr. Brown exclusively. Even if it's just a customer at my restaurant taking a picture of me, I think about what Alton would have to say about my on-camera presence.

Let's start with GAB (Giada, Alton and Bobby) walking in and explaining what’s at stake and the fact that someone will be sent packing every time they meet. Chad divulges his fear of Mr. Brown, who “knows just a little bit more about everything than you do.” This is entirely true, and I speak from experience.

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Melissa’s Insight: Four Rules for Finalists

by in Food Network Star, Recap, June 23, 2011
Vic Vegas
Melissa's advice: Take a cue from Vic and sell the heck out of your food.

Melissa d'Arabian won Star season 5 and has been loving her Food Network adventure ever since. Her show, Ten Dollar Dinners, premieres its fifth season on July 3. As a Star veteran watching from her couch at home, Melissa shares her insider's take on what went down each week.

Next week, Melissa is live-chatting on Facebook on Monday afternoon! Join in at 1pm EST with your questions and comments.

Week three: I’m getting to know the finalists, and I’m emotionally invested. I crack up when Jeff talks about his mojo-in-sweat theory; I cringe at Chris “making the ice cream … oh yeahhhhhhhhhhhhh”; I brace for impact when Alicia announces that the “only thing” she is worried about is her cupcake recipe (uh oh); and I want to hang out with Susie over coffee and tell her how much I love her sleek hairdo. I have some early favorites: Jyll and Orchid. And I am dying to jump through the screen and tell Whitney and Justin B. to get out of their own way; this competition might be theirs to lose if they could only find a way to bring their genuine selves, however imperfect, to the audience.

This week’s BTDT insights for the finalists:

You eat with your ears first, not your eyes.
Make it sound good. What you name your dish counts, and how you talk about your food matters since your audience cannot taste it. A corollary: Don’t be a walking apology for a dish. Serve it and own it completely. Or leave it in the kitchen — there is no in-between. And a tip: Never, ever use the word “just” to describe food to Bobby Flay. It will drive him bananas, trust me. Justin B. starts off calling the orange fennel ice cream “just an anglaise base,” and Whitney is similarly tepid in her description of a brownie (although in all fairness, she was right — it was indeed “just” a brownie, which is not a good thing at all). Take a cue from Vic: He sells the heck out of his tequila lime cream puff with his culinary authority, no pitch needed.

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Been There, Done That: 10 Tips From Melissa

by in Behind the Scenes, Recap, June 9, 2011

Melissa d'Arabian

Melissa d'Arabian won Star season 5 and has been loving her Food Network adventure ever since. Her show, Ten Dollar Dinners, premieres its fifth season on July 2. As a Star veteran watching from her couch at home, Melissa shares her insider's take on what went down each week.

I feel a bond to each of the finalists, so I’m offering a little BTDT (been-there-done-that) insight, hoping to give the very advice (wisdom?) that I would have loved my first day on set.

10. Expect to cook. Immediately.
Anytime after the flight attendant tells you to put away your electronic devices is probably fair game. Wear something comfortable (or at least safe) for racing around in a crowded kitchen. Yes, I’m looking at you, Penny. And be practical: With 10 episodes to shoot and three outfits per episode (count them), you’ve got a logistical challenge on your hands. You cannot afford to allocate space to anything that can’t be reasonably worn in the kitchen.

9. 45 is the new 20.
Forty-five minutes sounds like an eternity to cook one dish, right? And it is — at home. Forget what you think you know about time. Forty-five minutes is nothing.

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Welcome, Aarti!

by in Food Network Star, Recap, August 16, 2010
Next Food Network Star Aarti Sequeira and Rachael Ray Food Network host Rachael Ray and Star winner Aarti Sequeira

We have a winner. And I mean a real winner.

Bobby, Susie and I agreed that Aarti is a fresh, natural and exciting talent. She’s both sophisticated and down to earth. Beautiful and relatable. Her food is both comforting and exotic.

Mostly, I think she’s a natural television presence: relaxed, radiant and warm.

Choosing wasn’t easy. She, Tom and Herb were each so different — in personality, point of view and cooking styles. There was something to love about each of them. And fans were passionate for their favorite. And sometimes against anyone who wasn’t their favorite.

Seeing the volley of comments last night from viewers showed the passionate emotional connection that Tom, Herb and Aarti were each able to establish with fans. That encouraged me that any of them could have been the right choice.

But ultimately, Aarti was our choice: a natural star, with an exciting point of view, amazing cooking skills and most importantly, ready to have her own series on television next week.

Aarti will be bringing her party to Food Network starting next Sunday at noon.

Over and out.
Bob

Susie Speaks: Steps Toward Joining the Club

by in Recap, July 27, 2010
 Susie Fogelson, Next Food Network Star Judge Watch Susie tell why the Supper Club scene matters

Do you Supper Club? Susie hadn't before this week's episode, and neither had I--dinner out or in with friends, sure, but not as an exclusive foodcentric standing date. So it wasn't surprising that some fans balked during Sunday night's chat.

How is cooking a posh multicourse meal for a few dozen hipsters helpful to home cooks? In a get-it-only-here vlog, Susie Fogelson, senior VP of marketing and brand strategy, reiterates the importance of a Food Network star's versatility. He or she has to be able to cook and present food well, but also to present him- or herself well, too, regardless of the audience. Razzle-dazzle diners set an appropriately high bar, Susie says. "They were hip--one was hipper than the next," she adds. "Our star needs to be able to hold their own in that crowd and not be intimidated." Hear extra insights from Susie about why Aria wobbled, then see which of the finalists impressed guest Chef Michael Cimarusti, of Providence LA, as having a "true sense of self." Star power is revving up.

What challenge so far do you think best sets up the finalists for Food Network stardom?

 

A Love Story or Two (OK, Maybe Three)?

by in Behind the Scenes, Food Network Star, Recap, July 19, 2010

NFNS6_Brianna-Grating-Cheese_s4x3_lead
My first love was Dzintra, but as with all great love stories – ours was cut short far too early. After the enviable Dzenis-Dudley romance of 2010 ended, I knew I must move on and find my next reality star romance. Serena and Brianna both fit the bill perfectly. But, who would I choose? To love one meant I would have to hurt another. I’d been left so heartbroken before, I couldn’t stand to hurt one of them like that. Oh, how I’ve been conflicted!

Serena and Brianna have made the decision-making process very difficult. In my reality (yes, it’s a bit skewed), both have been competing for my affections. Serena with her unintentional comedic timing, Brianna with her diva-esque quality – both have been screaming, “Choose me! Choose me!” It has been embarrassing, actually. When the ladies argued a couple of episodes back, I knew that I was at the root of the tension. I hate it when ladies fight over me.

This sordid love triangle brings me to last night’s episode. Again, watching the two of them cook at Frank Sinatra’s house to win me over – or the judges, whatever – was difficult to watch. Even though Brianna was very hard on tuna casserole (a fave meal of mine), I knew the tuna hostility was really misplaced anger – she wanted my decision, and she wanted it NOW.

As Herb, Aarti and Brianna were left standing in front of the judges – one of them about to be eliminated – I finally made my decision. As I watched Brianna in her blue dress bravely stand before the panel, I knew she was the girl for me. The thought of losing her was terrifying! I couldn’t withstand that kind of pain. And once she survived this elimination, she and I would move forward with our relationship. She would forgive me for having been so confused for so long and Serena? Well, she would come to understand that cupid’s arrow had struck – and once that little dude strikes, he can’t be stopped.

And then, it happened. They sent my girl home! Can you EVEN? I threw my shoe at the TV! How dare Bob, Bobby and Susie, yet again, come between me and love?! It’s like they have a personal vendetta against me and are determined to have me die alone. Bobby, if you’re reading this, can’t you help a brother?! When did you turn on me?

Brianna, my love, I must let you go. I will always carry you (and Dzintra) with me.

Serena, you lucky girl – I’m all yours! Honestly, now that I sit and reflect, it has been you all along. Seriously. NF0607_Serena-Preview-Feature_s4x3_lead

 

From Where I Sit: Episode 3

by in Behind the Scenes, Food Network Star, Recap, June 21, 2010

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.

Chatterbox: Our Mr. T Gets His Groove On (A.K.A. the Episode 3 Chat)

by in Community, Recap, June 20, 2010

It's been an all-star Sunday: Bob Tuschman dazzled millions (overstatement is only slight) of chatting fans from Chelsea Market, our wee Mission Control, crackers and cheese complimentary. On the double big screens in the Boardroom and on single big screens in living rooms everywhere, there was bigger-than-life Guy Fieri guest-judging on Star--he was off-the-hook tough. The spectacle included a very long multitalentedish Tilt-a-Whirl dance down a very long red carpet. And then there was a handful (footful?) of drama between Serena and Brianna. Yes, a trip to a hospital was involved. Oh, and by the way how do you feel about glass with your slaw?

Bob answered burning questions: What are the  most important star qualities? Where do you most like to travel? Exactly how tall is Susie? But Bob also couldn't help but jump into the fray as duets were, um, challenging in the challenge and solos way went off-key, too. Happily, there were, well, sexy moments logging as highlights. Just catching up with your DVR? Follow along with the chat play-by-play below. Saw the action? Enjoy it again, with commentary. To call it entertaining would be an understatement.

Grab all of tonight's recipes and tell us what you cook and how it turns out. Then vote -- up to ten times every day -- for your favorite finalist.

Keepin’ It Real: Episode 2

by in Behind the Scenes, Food Network Star, Recap, June 14, 2010

Alrighty! Let me dig in on some of my standout moments – and then I want to hear yours!

NFNS6_Dzintra-Kneading-Dough_s3x4_tzI 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.

0137548_Giada-With-A-Smirk_s4x3_tzIn 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?

0137547_Duff-Goldman-With-Hand-Up_s4x3_tzDuff 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.

NF0602_Feature-Aarti_s4x3_tzThe 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)!

NFNS6_Brianna_s4x3_tzBrianna 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.

NFNS6_Doreen_s3x4_tzElimination 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.

NF0602-BTS14_Tom_s4x3_tzThat’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?

Two Things: Elimination & Dzintra Drama

by in Behind the Scenes, Food Network Star, Recap, June 8, 2010

NFNS6_Alexis-Brushing-Off-Hands-02_s4x3_leadSomeone 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?

NFNS6_Dzintra_s4x3_leadThe 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!