All Posts In Recap

There Is No Pause Button on the VCR of Reality — Justin’s Rebel Recap

by in Recap, July 1, 2013

Damaris, Nikki and Stacey - Food Network Star, Season 9Food Network Star isn't just a job interview, it's a learning process. It's akin to studying for a Ph.D. in public speaking or training for the culinary version of Battle Royale. With every learning process there are markers for self-evaluation. In Food Network Star U, they are called "midterms" and they're designed to thin the pack once the stragglers have been picked off. Simultaneously, the midterms provide a glimpse into the very harsh reality that none of the competitors "have it in the bag," regardless of what is said in the comments below.

Test #1: Giada in Prank-a-dise

Remember last year when I had to do a "live" demo with a "charismatic co-host"? The fish bones? The awkward start? It was easily one of the most harrowing experiences of my life. How could it be worse? Well, Giada summons one Terrence Jenkins — co-anchor of E! News — aka the smoothest dude in the game — this time around.
Keep reading

Crushing It Like a Can of Pinto Beans — Justin’s Rebel Recap

by in Recap, June 24, 2013

Chris and Lovely - Food Network StarFrom my experience on Food Network Star, I can tell you with authority that team challenges, and teams in general, are double-edged swords. A good team works harmoniously like gin, quinine and lime. A bad team? Well, read on to see why team-work, sharing and cooperation are things that were drilled into us in kindergarten.

The Planning Process

Team Western: Russell conjures the ghost of Fellini (not to be confused with Leone, the director most associated with the genre) to inspire a Spaghetti Western dish (not to be confused with my Spaghetti Midwestern recipe).

Team Musical: Rodney and Chris suggest that Lovely make a New Orleans beignet for the dessert course, but she doughs nut wanna do it. I'd pay any price to see a riff on Les Miserables, with Chris playing the role of Fantine, Rodney as Jean Valjean and Lovely as Cosette. Sing it with me! “Do you smell the tartlets baaake? Wafting the smells of meat and cake, it's the music of the stars of which Bob Tuschman surely maaakes! When you're speaking from your heaaart, and you are tasting with your tongue, it is a life for whom Food Network stardom will coooome!”

Team Romance: Romantically, the team goes for the KISS strategy (keep it simple, stupid), and makes a menu consisting of a chicken wing, shrimp and grits, and berries with whipped cream. This is why I didn't watch The Notebook.
Keep reading

Live It Like You Love It, and Love It Like You Live It — Justin’s Rebel Recap

by in Recap, June 16, 2013

Russell and DanushkaIt’s the third week of a live-action job interview. Ten contestants arrive at the Food Star Kitchen. We’re reminded by Danushka very early on that she’s been eligible for elimination for the past two weeks. I smell one of my favorite literary ingredients: foreshadowing.

Mentor Challenge

  • Chad’s been smoking (get it?) the competition for the past two weeks, but salsify’s subtle flavor isn’t listed one bit in the big book of baller barbecue, and that’s confirmed as Chad comically mispronounces it.
  • Danushka, the challenge is to showcase the bonkers ingredient, not use the dragon fruit as a duffel bag. Do you pay more attention to the filling of the taco or to its shell? If Danushka was a taco, would she have filling at all?
  • Russell's arrowhead root has more starch than a French cuff and is about as fun to eat as one, as well. Russell attempts to trick out this plain white T of an ingredient with his seven culinary stains sins.

Keep reading

Russell As a Haiku and in Defense of Danushka — Justin’s Rebel Recap

by in Recap, June 10, 2013

Russell Jackson Star Season 9It’s the second week of a live-action job interview. Eleven contestants pile into their Buicks and head to the mansion where Gone with the Wind was filmed. I couldn’t help but see the irony, as one more of the contestants will be gone with the wind by day’s end.

Bash:
1. Informal: A heavy, crushing blow.
2. Slang: A celebration; a party.

Yes, someone got crushed last night, and to the rest, it was a party.

Keep reading

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.

Read more

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.

Read more

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.

Read more

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