Monday, July 07, 2008

The Next Food Network Star: Season 4, Episode 6

They Cook For Miss Yum-O

Previously: Aaron is not a camera person, Kelsey is burning herself, Jennifer christens the stovetop by breaking a jar on the side, and Adam is on very, very thin ice with Bobby Flay. Despite that, Jennifer’s the one sent packing. Tonight: It’s a hot hour on the Emmy Award-winning Rachel Ray show (I know, still sounds weird), Adam is still on thin ice and judge Susie Folgelson feels uncomfortable.

Opening scenes of a flock of birds flying over the river. Cool. Everyone’s getting ready and our girl Lisa sure has some big curlers in her hair considering that she wears a short bob. Adam is working on a comeback since, as we’ve stated before, he’s skating on thin ice. Aaron promises to show the real Aaron this week. I hope it’s a fun Aaron and not the easily flustered one from last week.

They arrive at the Food Network studios and are greeted by Bobby Flay! Yes, he’s going to do some work this week as host. Finally. Bobby says this week will determine the final four and their challenge is to do a four-minute food demo in a TV studio. He’s all secretive about the TV studio and instead tells the contestants to watch the monitor for a special message from a fellow Food TV colleague.

Woah, up pops up Rachel Ray. There really should be a warning when she pops up on air. I get that initial jolt every time I switch the channel and she’s on. She says they’ll be doing the demo on her talk show and in front of a live audience. It’s weird how when she says they have to “cook up” a dish, she over emphasizes those two words like it’s some kind of code. Like they’re not really going to “cook up” some dish but are going to “wink wink” cook up some dish. My theory is that Rachel Ray throws in code words throughout her shows and that’s how she’s been able brainwash millions of viewers to watch.

Bobby Flay then tells them that their dishes have to be innovative, nutritious and “satisfy a discerning palate.” All of them guess some big name chef or foodie snob, but come on. This is a reality show. I knew right away it was going to be kids because you know what, they’re picky eaters and they come cheap.

And I’m right because in comes five girls dressed up in their brownies outfits. Bobby matches them up with each contestant and the girls will act as a “consultant” in planning the menu.

So each contestant spends 10 minutes talking with the girls. Aaron has a cute girl named Michaela who’s very enthusiastic and funny. She tells Aaron that she wants him to make a double-chocolate ice cream cake. Aaron’s a trained dad, so he’s all “um, no, that’s not happening.” So he throws out pizza and Michaela eats that idea up.

Kelsey’s talking to her girl as she’s standing on a step stool and Kelsey’s excited she’s no longer the shortest person in the room. She suggests a salad but instead of vegetables it’ll be entirely made from fruits. Her partner, totally not clueless, responds, “so a fruit salad.” Sigh, they grow up so fast.

Lisa has the most odd interaction with her girl. Of course, she’s throwing out all these weird terms like hari co vert and roumalade and kitsch. Lisa says her son has a sophisticated palate, but I think it’s more Mommy Lisa forces her son to have a sophisticated palate. She does the same with her brownie buddy, suggesting that she make a steak with horseradish cream sauce and cous cous. The girl says she’s willing to try it, making Lisa squeal in excitement, hugging the girl who in her head is thinking “mommy get me outta here.”

Adam is funny with his girl, because as he observes, he’s still a child. He asks if the girl likes barbeque chicken, and who doesn’t like BBQ?

I take back my comment about Lisa having the most odd interaction with her kid. That honor now goes to Shane, who totally doesn’t seem comfortable talking to his kid. Probably because he was just a kid a few years ago and he’s remembering how they teased him for being chubby. He suggests a few things and the girl is saying no to everything. Granted, his partner does seem like the shyest girl of the bunch but Shane isn’t helping with his straight act. He needs to be more animated and funny to get her to talk to him.

Time’s up and the girls leave. (Adam is so funny when he tells his girl to “hug it out.” Love him.) The contestants start prepping their dishes. Kelsey is making a breakfast meatball sandwich with a banana boat filled with fruits and granola. She says this is what she made for breakfast every day in college. I think she’s talking about just the banana boat and not the meatball sandwich, although I bet some guys in her dorm would have eaten a meatball sandwich every day for breakfast.

Kelsey asks Lisa, who’s working in the next table, about cooking with the sausage casing. It looks like Lisa is just trying to ignore her and pretend she can’t hear her. But then again, it could also be the editing. Hard to say. If she really is pretending, that’s really silly because “hel-LO” Kelsey’s standing right next to you. If you don’t want to help, just say so instead of being a kid and playing invisible. Lisa’s kind of weird that way.

Time’s up and they pack up their food and head over to Miss Rachel’s place.

When they arrive, they’re surrounded by a lot of orange and yellow walls. Now I know this is the theme color for the show, but it really is a lot to take in sitting in a room painted in those colors. The five are sitting on stools waiting when Rachel Ray arrives to greet them. Why does her voice always sound horse? She reminds them about the same-old Food Network tip about “telling a story” and she puts in a plug for her Yum-O organization, which helps get kids to eat healthier.

The show begins and Rachel says it’s going to be one hot hour. Is she in the Bay Area? Because we’re about to get a heat wave this week. (I hate global warming.) The judges, Bobby, Bob Tuschman and Susie Folgelson, are watching remotely, probably in the green room. Although knowing Rachel Ray, I bet it’s the yellow room.

Aaron is up first and he comes out with his brownie buddy Michaela, who is such a good partner because she’s animated and fun. The four minutes begin and Aaron talks about washing hands. What? He couldn’t wash his hands before stepping onto the set? So he walks over with Michaela and turns his back to the audience while taking his sweet ole’ time washing hands. Good commercial for germ prevention. Bad on the cooking. The clock has ticked down to 3 minutes 12 seconds and he still hasn’t started talking about what he’s making. He finally rolls out a pizza dough and Bobby Flay in the back says it looks fun. He starts to brown some meat, making like a cheeseburger pizza with broccoli.

Aaron is a lot more personable once he kick started his demonstration, and even Tuschman notices, saying he likes this Aaron better. (I don’t get why there has to be some many Aarons. Can’t we pick one and just stick with that?) He brings out his cooked pizza from the oven and Michaela takes a bite and gets all excited. He’s so lucky he got this girl, she’s so good. And Aaron has 5 seconds left to just chit chat with Rachel. I’m impressed he got it all under the 4 minutes, especially since he ate a whole minute just washing his hands. Michaela takes the tray of pizza and heads off stage before Rachel wraps up. Michaela is soooo cute.

The judges do a quick critique and they all like Aaron’s fun personality. Susie says his heart is in it, and when they try the pizza, they love it.

Kelsey goes next with her brownie buddy who has a name I can’t pronounce so that means I can’t write it. Let’s just called her Brownie Betty. So Kelsey gets Rachel to start scrambling some eggs, and then gets Brownie Betty to start making the banana boat, which is really a banana split down in half. Susie in the back can’t stand to watch how Kelsey is bossing Rachel around, and at one point calls her “Rach.” So basically Rachel Ray is cooking the eggs and Brownie Betty is making the fruit yogurt thing and Kelsey is playing host in the middle talking about her dish. Bobby Flay yells into the TV, “cook the food, yo.” She eventually brings out some meatballs with spinach inside and puts together her breakfast meatball sandwich. Brownie Betty takes a bite of the sandwich and gives it a thumbs up.

Kelsey realizes that she might be in trouble because she really didn’t cook that much. Bob says Kelsey is ordering people around like she’s the host, and Susie says she had nothing interesting to say when she spoke.

Shane is up with his brownie buddy Franchesca. He’s stressed out because he feels things are out of his control (because, well, it is Rachel Ray’s show). He starts making his chicken cordon bleu and uses monster cheese, which he says is more kid-friendly than the typical swiss. Rachel likes how he shredded his cheese before stuffing it in the chicken breasts. Then he has a breading station ready but he uses rice puffs instead of breadcrumbs. Franchesca is just standing there looking lost and Rachel and Shane are talking over each other. At one point they almost have a collision when he gets his glaze to pour over the ratatouille he made as a side.

The judges taste the chicken and think it’s good, but they think Shane wasn’t very comfortable. And Tuschman is obsessed with the fact that Shane didn’t remember his brownie buddy’s name. Maybe he should have just called her Brownie Betty?

Lisa goes next with her buddy, Haley, who looks like the oldest of all the brownie girls. She starts off by saying that she doesn’t like it when people dumb-down cooking for kids, and the judges eat that up, especially Tuschman. Then she pan fries her flat iron steak and sautés some broccoli. She also made cous cous, which she tries to put off that Haley was excited to try, but I think she’s just being a good sport. But what really happens is Rachel starts to talk more and more and then Lisa just smiles and nods her head instead of engaging Miss Ray. So it looks really awkward how Rachel is now busy talking with Haley while Lisa is just cooking. It’s like she’s overwhelmed by everything and doesn’t know what to do, so she decides to just cook. To me, this is like a train wreck and the judges know it.

Susie says that Lisa is either too hyper or too disengage. She wonders if there’s a middle ground for her?

Adam is the last contestant and he’s back stage with his partner, whose name sounds like Shenasia? They show him back all stressed but the girl is all zen. On the set, Adam sparks up and starts off with a joke about how he was going to make a recipe with whip cream, chocolate and ice cream. But instead they decided to make a barbeque chicken wrap. He gets Shenasia started making a fruit kebob while he gets Rachel Ray to rip apart some cooked chicken. He’s actually doing really well and is really smooth interacting with Rachel. In the end Shenasia drizzles some sauce over her fruit kebob and takes a bite from the chicken wrap and of course she likes it. (All the girls are really good with their acting.)

Tuschman says Adam really looked like he was a guest on the show as opposed to Kelsey who acted like the host. They try the food and they say it’s tasty, although Bobby Flay gave a lukewarm “OK.” I think it’s probably nice, but not great.

All the finalists come out and Rachel Ray tells them that the final four will be going to Las Vegas, and they all get excited even though one of them won’t be going.

Back at the Carriage House, they go down for their critiques with Bobby, Tuschman and Folgelson. At least the judges are smiling this time. It goes down like this:

Bob tells Aaron that he started off shaky and made the mistake of turning his back to the audience for awhile, but he saved himself later by just having fun. Plus they liked how the pizza tasted.

Susie tells Adam that he was very comfortable and the food was good (although again I bet it was just OK). Bobby says he’s a skilled entertainer but how good is he with his food knowledge? Then Adam talks about how he hasn’t cooked for a year after his restaurant failed, and Susie and Bob looks at each other like “did we read that in the application?” Susie says he has to put the focus back on the food, and he’s a big question mark.

Bobby tells Kelsey that she gave away the key cooking demo to Rachel. Tuschman says she was like an older sister to the brownie buddy, which sounds nice but really means Kelsey looked like an older brownie. He’s still looking for authority in her.

Bob tells Shane that his chicken was delicious but he didn’t even remember Franchesca’s name. (See what I mean about Tuschman and his obsession over one detail? I bet he’ll bring it up again later.) Bob says his performance lacks joy, which is one of the harshest criticism I’ve heard. How would you like to go around being known as joyless? I mean, it’s true. But still, gotta hurt.

Susie asks Lisa how she came up with the menu and she tries to say she got the most flexible brownie, but Bobby says it seemed like she steamrolled her idea and that the final menu lacked whimsy for a kid’s menu. Then they focus on how she froze and totally didn’t continue with her demo, letting Rachel Ray do all the talking. Lisa tears up and says she didn’t want to come off domineering and admits to being a bit intimidated by Rachel, more so than when Martha Stewart was around. Susie basically asks if she can keep it together and not have an emotional breakdown and Lisa says yes.

They eventually name Aaron the winner so he’s the first to be safe and heading to Las Vegas. Then Bobby asks Adam if he’s better in cooking or better in blackjack. And Adam, afraid of the response, says he’s better in cooking. Bobby tells him, well, he better bone up on his blackjack because he’s headed to Vegas, baby. Adam nearly breaks into tears he’s so genuinely surprised. He and Aaron leave the room and start packing for Vegas.

The judges ask Shane, Kelsey and Lisa to talk about why they should be the next Food Network star, and their responses aren’t really surprising. Kelsey wants to help a newbie foodie discover the love of cooking at a young age like she did, Lisa says she knows she can do it with a bit more guidance from the judges, and Shane says he can inspire people with his technique.

They excuse the three and the judge debate a bit more. At this point, I would say Lisa is the one to go, but it looks like they think she has a lot of potential. They think Shane can cook but Bobby Flay says he hasn’t really lived enough to share enough of himself with the viewers.

The three come back to face judgment and Bobby sends Lisa to safety first. She’s so grateful she does that groveling thing where she promises to work harder. The Susie says the final four to go to Vegas is Kelsey, which means Shane is out. Kelsey looks really sad because I think she liked working with Shane (remember how they were so cute together last week?) but at least she gets to go to Vegas if they don’t card her.

Next week: They’re going to, guess where? Um, Vegas. Did you even read my recap? Paula Deen is the guest judge and there’s going to be a throwdown. Paula doesn’t like something she ate. Oh oh. I bet it didn’t have enough butter.

The Next Food Network Star airs at 10 p.m. Sundays and repeats at 9 p.m. Thursdays. Photos courtesy of the Food Network Web site.

3 comments:

Anonymous said...

I really enjoy your blog, and your sense of humor.

Sorry to be a spoil-sport, but if you are going to get your thoughts across in writing, it's important to know how to spell.

Rachael Ray drives me nuts, but her name is spelled "Rachael". And yes, her voice is often "hoarse". Not "horse".

You have a great style. As Bob Tuschman would say, you just need to get more "authority". Basic spelling and grammar will go a long way toward that goal.

I don't blame you for hating to read what I wrote. I do, too.

Chef Ben said...

Thanks Anonymous for pointing out my errors in grammar. And like I've said before, I'm not really a fan of Racha-e-l Ray so that's probably why I didn't realize I was misspelling her name.

My recaps are always the longer posts to write, and often I'm writing them into the night because I want to try to post them as soon as I can for people to read soon after the airing. So although I want to be perfect, there are going to be a few typos here and there. It's not a reflection of the fact that I "don't know how to spell" but just I don't really have the time to go through and proof these long posts.

So I'm just warning you, you're going to find more typos here and there. It's just a reflection of how challenging it is to do these recaps. But they seem pretty popular from what I can tell, so that's why I still do it although I always ask myself why I'm doing them half-way through a season! :)

Anonymous said...

This is a blog, not a book you buy from the store, nor it is an assignment you had to turn into school. It's refreshing to read what other people think about something you have just watched with their own thoughts. Just to have the spelling police come in and have a cow. It's a blog, it's free and if the spelling bothers you so much, why mention it with your own disclaimer of how much you hate to say it? Do you correct others in speech as well? Life is too short to be so uptight 24/7.