Tag: Penny Davidi

Melissa’s Insight: The Art of Losing

by in Food Network Star, August 11, 2011

Mary Beth and Jeff

Melissa d'Arabian won Star season 5 and has been loving her Food Network adventure ever since. You can catch new episodes of her show, Ten Dollar Dinners on Sunday mornings at 9am/8c. As a Star veteran watching from her couch at home, Melissa shares her insider's take on what went down each week.

Today I’m dedicating my blog to losing. Yes, losing. Next week at this time, we will be focused on who won, so now’s our chance to talk about not winning. Believe me, I’ve earned the air I breathe around this subject. While I did win my season of Star, I know what it’s like to watch someone else get something I wanted so badly, something I believed was my destiny. I’ve had to step aside with a graceful smile and applaud the victories of others. And I’ve replayed events over and over in my mind, wondering if there was a key moment where I lost and, more importantly, what could I have done to avoid it.

I’ve learned more by losing than by winning. When I lose, I try to nurse my hurt ego for a short time and then set it aside. Only then can I see losing as the valuable feedback it is. I evaluate and adjust course. In my experience, losing is a speed bump on the way to winning.

I believe that any given moment, I am right where I am supposed to be, good or bad. If it weren’t uncomfortable, then where would I find the motivation to try something different? Besides, discomfort tells me that life is in session. And that’s a good problem to have.

Here are some truths that have become apparent to me, through the gift of losing:

You are always auditioning for life, never just for the job. Think how many people have lost out on the prize in front of them only to go on to succeed in ways unimaginable. Do you think Jennifer Hudson imagined winning an Oscar when she was sent home from American Idol? My advice: When you lose, impress anyway. Be graceful. Be so good that people can’t imagine not calling you when they are looking for someone with your skill set. Mary Beth may not be the best cook Food Network has seen, but I will be very surprised if she ever has to seek work again as a writer. She’s great at that, and she showed what a class act she is. (Her parting words, “A lot of people don’t ever find their passion; how could I be anything but grateful?” show exactly why she will be successful.)

Penny Davidi

Make people want to pick you first for the big dodge ball game of life. Which makes Penny’s decision to phone in her work this week such a crime — not against Mary Beth because I think she would have been edged out anyway — but Penny robbed herself of the opportunity to turn it all around. Imagine if she had just knocked herself out for her teammate? What could have come from that? We’ll never know, and sadly neither will she.

Your life mission is not becoming a Food Network Star, even if it feels that way. You weekly readers know how I feel about having a personal life mission — it’s critical. Indeed, knowing what small mark I want to leave on the world gets me up in the morning. Here is the secret: If a life mission is about winning a contest (or job or any achievement), then consider the possibility that you aren’t thinking big enough for your life’s mission. As much as I wanted to win FNS (a lot), and as much as I knew why I wanted to win (to pursue my life’s mission), I also knew that my life’s mission could be served without winning. Making the mark is more important than doing it exactly the way I imagined. My life’s mission is helped along by my TV career, certainly, but my TV career is not the mission itself. Means versus ends.

Making peace with not winning is actually pretty simple. Know why you are playing (meaning know your life mission), play a game you can win (for instance, no one can bring Susie’s family recipes to life like she can), put in the work to win that game (no shortcuts), and then let the results fall where they may, accepting you are right where you are supposed to be at the end of it, win or lose.

Lastly, I remember the Olympic creed, which states that the most important thing is not to win but to take part — just as the most important thing in life is not the triumph, but the struggle. The essential thing is not to have conquered, but to have fought well.

Good luck Vic, Susie and Jeff. Winning the FNS finale is not as important as what it took to get there, nor as important as where you will go after. Whoever wins, though, call me, and we’ll chat about winning, and your new life. Because it’s all about to change.

See what Melissa’s cooking up on Ten Dollar Dinners, check out her Facebook Fan Page and follow her on Twitter (@melissadarabian).

Caption It: Look Who’s Back

by in Food Network Star, August 5, 2011
Iron Chef battle sous chefs
Your Caption Here

No, this is not a recycled image from a previous episode. This sneak peek shot was taken on the set of Sunday’s episode of Star, during which the most recently eliminated contestants – Chris, Penny, Jyll and Whitney – return as their former fellow finalists’ sous chefs in an Iron Chef battle.

Don’t let their calm demeanor here fool you, though. The competition gets heated in Kitchen Stadium as these four join forces with their once-rivals in order to impress Iron Chef Michael Symon, Alton Brown and the selection committee. Will the remaining contestants be satisfied with their sous chefs, or will the latter add chaos and distraction to the already-complicated challenge?

Before you tune in this Sunday at 9pm/8c to see whose cuisine reigns supreme, we’re challenging you, Star fans, to write your best captions (tastefully appropriate, please) for this Kitchen Stadium moment in the comments below.

Only two episodes to go! You can still cast your Fan Favorite Vote up to 10 times per day.

Star Commentary: Aaaaand She’s Out

by in Food Network Star, July 20, 2011
It’s been fun, Penny.

Well, it finally happened. The moment many of you have been waiting for came on Sunday night: Penny Davidi, the Middle Eastern Mama, was sent home. But not necessarily because of her food. After seven weeks of mostly stellar dishes that the judges described as “great,” “very well-seasoned” and having “lots of great flavors and textures,” the likeability factor — or lack thereof — sent Penny packing.

While the comments on Food Network’s Facebook page and our Star blog are largely in support of the judges’ decision to eliminate Penny, many of you cannot deny her unique culinary point of view and have expressed interest in learning Middle Eastern recipes. One viewer wrote that she “felt sorry for Penny last night,” while another thinks “it [is] a shame that Penny had to go home” because she has “warmed up to her over the past few weeks” and because “Penny brought something Food Network is lacking.”

Other commenters noted that despite Penny's “awkward personality,” she may have been “worth keeping around,” given the judges’ apparent praise for her food. Another viewer wrote that she “would appreciate some education” on Middle Eastern and Mediterranean flavors but “couldn't imagine watching Penny to receive that education even though her food was so appealing.”

And then there are those of you who are simply gleeful over Penny’s departure. Viewers wrote that “Happy days are here again” and that “It is about time,” while another told Food Network, “Thank you, thank you, thank you for getting rid of Penny!!” It seems that Penny’s “penchant for drama,” about which you have been complaining since the second episode, is what most viewers found so frustrating and unappealing. Many wrote that “she was harsh,” “her attitude stinks” and that she showed “disrespect to all those around her.”

Given her previous tense moments, many of you were shocked at how Penny’s demeanor seemed to have changed during her final week as she handled her own dismissal. Several of you wrote that she “was a good sport,” showed “grace,” “behaved civilly” and was “more compelling this week than ever.”

Do you think that this week could have been a turning point for the Middle Eastern Mama, that, if given just a little more time, she could have become more personable, both on camera and off? Hear from Penny herself in her Exit Interview and learn her thoughts about viewers’ perceptions of her. Then, join the conversation on Facebook and Star Talk, and tune in next Sunday at 9pm/8c to see who has what it takes to make it in New York City.

Who’s your favorite finalist so far? Cast your Fan Vote up to 10 times per day.

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.

 

Melissa’s Words of Wisdom: Play Nice

by in Food Network Star, June 16, 2011

Food Network Star finalist Penny Davidi

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.

Week two is when I remember unpacking (literally and figuratively) during my season. I settled into the routine, and my place in the competition. This week, Susie embraces her Mexican heritage, Alicia is positively delightful with her truffle story, Mary Beth shows her warm personality and Penny takes a break from telling us she’s sexy. (Side note: There are some things in life I believe you should never announce about yourself; never tell others you are funny; never call yourself a “people person” in an interview. Show, don’t tell.)

Anyway, I like Penny’s new Middle Eastern mama angle and she wins the camera challenge. I settle into my couch, hopeful that this is a fresh start for a finalist who, I’ll be honest, didn’t impress me in episode one.

Hopes dashed.

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“Wake Up and Smell the Coffee, Penny’s Coming for Ya”

by in Food Network Star, June 15, 2011
The Middle Eastern Mama

Finalist Chris Nirschel warns his fellow Star constants in this video that they better be prepared for Middle Eastern mama Penny Davidi. In one of the most buzzed-about moments of the second episode, Penny strategically placed Orchid Paulmeier, an early frontrunner and favorite of the judges, on the all-male team of Justin B., Vic and Chris. In that group, "she's gonna fail," Penny told the cameras unapologetically.

On Facebook and our Star blog, you all certainly had opinions about Penny’s approach to the game Sunday night. While some of you noted Penny’s need "to fight for what she wants" in this fierce contest and her right to have "used the advantage that [Camera Challenge] win gave her," others simply couldn’t stomach her "meanness" and "anything-to-win personality." Your comments on her tactics prove that many of you are frustrated with Penny’s "bitterness and immaturity," but also that some fans are "almost starting to like Penny," as "she has a culinary point of view that is different, she can learn … and she's smart."

So, what do you think? Is Penny’s "in it to win it" approach her key to Food Network Stardom, or will it only add tension to the group? Join the conversation on Facebook and at Star Talk, and tune in this Sunday at 9pm/8c to watch the next round of drama unfold.

Who's your favorite finalist so far? Cast your Fan Vote up to 10 times per day.