Monday, July 23, 2007

The Next Food Network Star: Season 3 Finale

After just eight episodes (gosh, didn’t it seem longer?), tonight we finally find out who will be The Next Food Network Star. We cut to a shot of the Statue of Liberty at night and then we’re told by the mysterious voice that it’s a live show from the Food Network’s Manhattan studios, but it’s really not live because it’s probably taped delay here in California where everyone probably already knows who’s the Next Food Network star but I was too lazy to Google it.

So it’s either going to Rory, who cooks “real food for real people” (which is always better than fake food for fake people), or Amy, the “gourmet next door” (as opposed to one that’s galloping).

We get the opening scenes of the show (didn’t Rory look weird with that pseudo military cap trying to look all tough in the hood?) and then we cut to the live studio audience. Damn, they all look so old. Is this the typical Food Network demographic? Where’s the little girl crying for Sanjaya? Out comes Marc Summers, who they dragged out from Season 1. (Every year Marc’s role in the show gets less and less. Next year they’re probably just going to have him come out to deliver the envelope with the winner’s name.)

Marc says someone is going to get their own food show, just in case some of you forgot why you tuned in. Then he asks the audience who’s it going to be? Of course, I hear mostly people yelling “Amy,” but Marc, trying to keep up some semblance of mystery, says “it’s split down the middle.” (Hey, how come the audience doesn’t have any signs with their favorite’s names like American Idol? And did you notice they never really reveal the gazillion number of votes received, if even. But I’m getting ahead of myself. First, let’s see how we can bore viewers for the next 55 minutes.)

Marc introduces a taped segment reviewing the past season. And really, I don’t need to recap the recap when you can just read my previous recaps of Episodes 1 through 7. We do get to remind ourselves of some of the rejects, like Patrick from Seattle, who probably had the best cooking skills but has the honor of being one of the first two to leave the show. What’s interesting is some of these people are talking about their cooking vision, and it totally doesn’t sound like what they demonstrated on the show. Ooops, my screen just went black for a bit. Did that happen to you guys? I hate cable. Oh, there’s that clip of Paul talking about the country of “Plummy.” (Told you they would show that again. )

Geesh, finally. That was a long segment. OK, they bring out the two finalists and they’re both wearing black and white. (I’m not going to discuss the style of the clothing because I think it’s sexist to describe what women are wearing unless it’s relevant to the topic. So since this is not Project Runway, let’s move on.) Amy and Rory talks about “their journey” to this point together. You can tell Rory is more nervous than Amy. Amy’s cool like a cucumber. Rory’s from Texas, so she’s probably cool like a cactus, which really isn’t that cool. More prickly. And then Marc does the thing Ryan Seacrest always does on AI, which is tease that we’re going to find out who wins this, but of course they never ann ounce that right after the break and we know it, so why tease that fact people?

Commercials. Memo to Crystal Light. I like my water plain, thank you very much. Please don’t pump it up. Sincerely, Single Guy Chef.

Marc asks Amy and Rory if their lives have changed because of their new found celebrity. Amy’s talking about being recognized grocery shopping for a big bag of gummy bears. She’s such a mom. Rory says her small town couldn’t get the Food Network, so the town banded together and called the local cable network and now the Food Network is on Channel 99 in Vega, Texas. I’m sure the Food Network is excited to pick up the 936 additional viewers (no kidding, that really is the population of the entire town).

That’s the segue to the taped segment of Rory back in her little town of Vega. We finally see her cowboy boyfriend, who really looks more nerdy than rugged. He’s saying something about how the town is so small that when someone sneezes, it gets down to the other side of town in 10 minutes. All I can think of is, gawd, didn’t you learn any manners? Please cover your mouth when you sneeze! Rory reveals that she’s from New Jersey but went to Texas on another reality show where they took city slickers and put them in a rural town. Huh? Never heard of that show, but I bet it would have been fun. Or was that the “Simple Life”? Hmmm, Rory could be Paris. Not.

Since returning home after taping the show, Rory has opened a restaurant called Boot Hill Bar and Grill. It looks like some old town saloon. I expect Marshal Dillon to come get a drink and then beat up some bad guys who were pimping poor Miss Kitty. In Rory’s world, she’s having a private opening of her place and she’s cooking everything. The food looks pretty good and everyone’s loving it, of course. What’s weird is she’s wearing this bright red bandana and at the end of her opening, she’s talking in a black cocktail dress but still wearing that weird red bandana. She is so blue collar. (I know I contradicted myself about not talking about what women wear, but that black cocktail dress-red bandana combo couldn’t be ignored.)

Rory says after the segment that she learned a lot about patience and to be proud of herself. In the crowd are her divorced parents who are both remarried and her cowboy boyfriend.

They go to commercials, and see, Marc Summers does that stupid Ryan Seacrest thing where he teases about announcing the winner. Marc, we know we have 45 minutes of filler still to go. Commercials. Hey, have you all listened to Michael Tolcher’s “Voila” song on the Hilton commercial? I haven’t seen it on any other shows, so I’ll be sad to not hear it anymore. Ugh, Daddy Day Care movie preview. Cuba Gooding Jr. has really picked bad movies since he won an Oscar. So sad.

Marc reminds us that this season a woman will win this series, just in case anyone was confused of Amy or Rory’s gender. (It is actually nice to have a girl winner after two seasons of guys.) Then we see the taped segment of Amy back home in San Diego, where she grew up and is a third-generation San Diegan. She has a son with a pretentious name (“Indiana”), and her daughter, Scarlett, is the typical high-pitched screaming 1 year old.

It sounds like she lives in a compound with her parents in one house and her own family nearby, including a whole bunch of siblings. She’s preparing a barbeque for the whole family. Amy says she never used to grill until she got on the show and now she says she grills almost every night. She’s going to be the female Bobby Flay. It looks like a really big family and you know what? All the women in the family have big black hair. What’s weird is she doesn’t talk about her French husband. In the clip she’s sitting on the couch next to some guy, but I’m not sure if that’s her husband. It’s really weird she doesn’t mention him or show footage of him. And when she introduces who’s in the live audience rooting for her, it’s her mother, aunt, and two sisters. But not her hubby? Hmmm, odd.

Now it’s reunion time and they bring back all the other contestants. Everyone’s dressed really nice, except JAG (hisss) who comes in wearing a big white shirt and jeans. He does look like he lost some weight. Must have been the stress of lying. See, it never pays to fib, unless you want to lose weight. It’s the lying diet.

They show a taped segment about the 11 contestants living together. It’s soooo boring. They talk about snoring and Amy talking in her sleep. Gosh, can we see clips of people flossing their teeth? Maybe that’ll be more interesting. Oh, there’s a segment of the guys without their shirts. Hey, maybe this segment is starting to look up. Paul has the best body, I say. Oh no, Michael Salmon shirtless! OK, end this already.

Now they talk about the challenges and they show a segment about the wedding challenge and the “controversy” of Tommy making a vegetarian polenta with chicken broth. They ask Nikki why she didn’t say anything when she knew Tommy was using chicken broth. She says Paul told her not to. Paul’s laughing but you know in his head he’s thinking how to get back at her.

The other controversy is Colombe and the whole shopping bag being left behind that belonged to Paul. They show the clip of Amy fighting with Colombe, and that was definitely a drag out, knock down fight. But in the end Colombe, of course, says they’re all fine now. I’m so relieved.

Other boring reviews include the “meatloaf frying” incident from the military challenge. And now Marc asks JAG if he has something to say. He just thanks the fans and says “it ain’t over.” Um, I’m pretty sure it is in just 30 minutes.

Then the blooper reel, and basically they’re just showing people laughing. There’s just only a few bloopers like when Guy Fieri says New Jersey Nicks instead of Nets, and Paula Deen points out that Miss Everyday Italian Giada has spinach in her teeth. There’s this one scene where JAG slips some ice cubes down Paul’s pants. And I’m really surprised he could get any down there because those pants looked pretty tight. Tommy is seen dancing often in the clips, which prompts Marc Summers to do an impromptu “So You Think You Can Dance.” This is going to be so sad. Adrien comes out in support of his buddy Tommy, and they both do this weird robot-like dancing. Sigh, this moment probably best sums up this entire season! Forced and robotic!

More boring recaps: Nikki dropping her dessert on Bobby Flay’s suit during the wedding challenge. (Again, she says Paul made her do it.) Commercials. Design Star is back on HGTV. You know I’ll be watching that after this.

Now they talk about how they hated the elimination round. Nobody liked going home (except I bet Tommy). A few tears were shed. We’re reminded that Amy almost dropped out two episodes ago. She’s so lucky the producers knew better. They bring out the judging panel of Bob Tuschman, Susie Fogelson and Bobby Flay. Bob Tuschman says the judges may have come off mean but it was all “tough love.” Nobody has the guts to bitch about the judges. They know better. Bobby Flay says that if he were a finalist, he would have come in seventh because he probably wouldn’t be able to do the Iron Chef commentary and he’s only done one wedding cake. Thanks for sharing, Bobby.

There’s Bob Tushchman trying to make amends now by kissing up to Vivien and Patrick, saying they deserved so much better and are very talented. Oh Bob, unless you’re trying to sign them to their own shows, they don’t care what you think anymore. Patrick informs everyone that soon after he got kicked off, his wife gave birth to their son. So I bet his wife was glad that he got kicked off early.

There’s more boring banter between the contestants and the judges. Paul gets one last attempt to put the spotlight on him by asking Susie what he should do to become the next Food Network star, and she says to cook better food. Bobby does say something profound about how you should be nervous about your passion, because then that means it’s real. I believe that’s true, because I’m nervous every day.

They show a segment about how everyone got sad whenever someone left the show. This is the tear-jerker taped segment. And it seems like most of the crying were done by the guys. Paul and JAG are continuously talking about their close bond, and all I can say is “get a room.” JAG is constantly touching Paul’s left thigh, and even I get uncomfortable.

Finally, they’re about to announce the winner. And I can’t fast-forward any faster just to get this over with. They introduce Emeril Lagasse, who seems to be given the honor of announcing the winner every year. Emeril’s like the grandfather of the Food Network, even though he didn’t create it. Emeril says it was the most exciting season ever, and I am so not buying it. He reminds Amy and Rory that the winner will also get that big honking hybrid Mercury Mariner. (Memo to auto industry: Just because you make an SUV a hybrid doesn’t mean it’s still good for the environment. It still sucks up more fuel than other hybrids.)

They introduce the president of the Food Network who does the perfunctory congratulations. Bobby Flay hands the “magical” envelope to Emeril, who then asks the two ladies if they have any last-minute thoughts. Amy says she’s proud she made it this far; Rory gets all flekempt and says she can’t really talk. Emeril asks Bobby for help to open a simple envelope, and then he says in such an anti-climatic and quiet tone, “Amy.” Almost like he’s saying, “Amy, could you move down just a bit. Thanks. Rory, you’re the winner!” But of course, it is Amy who wins because we all know she’s the one with the poise to have her own show. But I have to say, Rory did put up a good battle and did show she could probably hold her own. So there you have it. Catch the Gourmet Next Door on the Food Network early Saturday mornings this October.

Thanks everyone for reading my recaps and for your encouraging comments. If you can’t get enough of my recaps, then be sure to check back in a couple of months when I start recapping the show, “The Next Iron Chef,” when real celebrity chefs (including San Francisco’s own Chris Cosentino of Incanto and Traci des Jardins of Jardiniere) compete to become an Iron Chef, joining the ranks of Masaharu Morimoto, Bobby Flay, Mario Batali and Cat Cora. Now that’s going to be an exciting food show to recap. Check back in October.


Rory said...

First I would like to say I have loved reading your blog each week.
Okay I had on a black tank top under my chef coat not a black cocktail dress. The red bandana? your gonna get the inside here, 30 minutes prior to everyone showing up to Boot Hill Saloon & Grill I was lighting some pilots that kept blowing out and it blew up in my face and burnt the hair of the front of my head . I'm glad I had that Bandana. They did not show that, You got to love editing!
Congrats to Amy! She did great and hell if you get a second chance, come back to win the whole darn thing thats pretty good.
I'm proud of how I did and can say I was the only one who was never officially eliminated.
To all the Rory Haters, Guys it was a show, there is alot you don't know and alot you were made to believe.
Yes I do have a big toothy, gummy smile we all know that so lets get over it.
I also want to make clear I'm a CIA grad and I have great food knowledge, you can't open a successful reataurant with out it. Remeber next time you watch a reality show......It's all in the editing!

Barbara said...

I think Rory should have won. The FN judges found Amy to be "inferior" to Rory and she left the show. Then ... because of liar Jag, Amy comes back.

And wins! I don't think so.

Steven said...

Sorry Barbara, but the Vox Populi have spoken, and I have to agree with them. Given the trainwreck FN has become over the past two or so years with their emphasis on surface style and presentation (ie physical looks and hyperactive energy) over the substance of understanding food, its proper preparation and the cultural meaning behind it, the voters have told FN to shove their big personalities up their rears and bring forward someone who wants to instruct about food first, with emphasis on style second.

Hopefully this will be a wakeup call to the FN execs that their audience does not consist of mere five year olds who have no idea what end of a knife is which who need pretty images and loud noise to hold their attention. There is clearly a large number of Food Network viewers who want not just to be entertained, but enlightened and educated about the food they eat and how to prepare it. And if that food comes from France, the culture that invented fine dining, or another culture far away from American shores (or perhaps bordering our lands), so much the better. After a couple years of producing shows seemingly aimed for beginners with little diversity in content of cuisine beyond the oh-so "foreign" Italian, FN now has the chance to develop with Amy a show that, while accesible to aspiring home cooks, also can offer inspiration to home chefs who want to learn some of the basic techniques and culture behind food, not just the easiest way to pop open a bunch of pre-packaged processed food from the big multinationals, SLop it together, and call it dinner.

Congratulations Amy - and know that you have a huge number of dedicated foodies looking forward to your new show.

Oh and on the Jag/Paul issue - there was something definitely up between those two during the final. Who knows, maybe the root of the inner demons that have plagues JAG during this series and before have finally been identified. Whatever the case, Paul seems to have been a very good friend to JAG during the contest and one would wager after the main taping, before the breaking of L'Affaire JAG, hence their apparently close interaction. It may or may not be the beginning of a beautiful relationship, but if this edition of TNFNS helped JAG come to better understand himself, then all the better.

Chef Ben said...

Wow, who knew my little recaps could generate such discussion. I love it! Thanks "Rory" for reading my blog, I'm glad you found time to drop by in between the taping and opening your restaurant. Good luck in your future endeavors! ;-)

Anonymous said...

I agree with Steven....while Amy isn't someone I would rush home early from work to watch, at least she doesn't seem to be a Raechel Ray-like clone in the making. Plus the only dish I can remember Rory preparing was a steak slathered with butter and potatoes with smoked cheese dumped on it. Is that the kind of cooking most Americans want to watch (and eat)? -- David

Anonymous said...

Thanks for your great recaps of the show!

I'm glad Amy won, but I don't see her 6 episodes turning into a long-term deal.

Rory, I'm sure we'll catch you on another reality show next season.

Paul and Jag, please post pictures of your commitment ceremony.

barbie2be said...

personally, i didn't care for ANY of the contestants. the finale was so anti-climatic i almost didn't even watch.

Mrs. L said...

Wait, no more recaps? Chef Ben, what am I to read!!!!????? I'll have to wait patiently for Next Iron Chef to start. Thanks for the recaps, I missed several shows and I really looked forward to your recaps of the show!