Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Countdown Begins for The Next Food Network Star

This coming Sunday is — finally— the premiere of “The Next Food Network Star,” or what I like to call at my home: “The Show That Won’t Let The Single Guy Chef Hang Out With Dave Lieberman.” (2 hours starting at 9 p.m.) As some of you know, this whole blog wouldn’t even exist if it wasn’t for that tiny speck of a dream I had last year that I, indeed, could be the next Food Network star.

So I convinced my breeder friends, Denise and Roger, to film my 3-minute audition tape. Then I started this blog to create “my food vision” so I’d have something to talk about when I made it to the final interviews. Then I waited. And waited. Made some brownies. And waited. Then nada. No phone calls. No “thank you for applying but here’s your Bobby Flay grilling cookbook instead.”

I decided that if I can’t be the next Food Network star, then I’d live vicariously through the 11 lucky souls (or who I refer to as “the suckers who stole my spot” or “SWSMS” for short) who did get the call. Every Monday night, I’ll be posting a recap of the show, and whenever possible, I’ll follow up with a blog about that week’s challenge and what I would have done.

To get you all primed for the show, here’s a preview of the contestants based on their clips on the Food Network site: (BTW, the site had a short promo for the show, talking about all the applications they received around the country and for a brief moment I was nervous that there would be a clip from my embarrassing audition tape. In all honesty, I can see why I wasn’t selected.)

SWSMS #1—Vivien. Chef and caterer from Brazil. She looks like a swimsuit model, and she says she actually did that for many years. She’s cooking in the kitchen with these big loopy earrings. She says her style is “ethnic with a Brazilian twist.” Um, so if the Brazilian twist isn’t the ethnic part, then what ethnicity is she referring to? I’m already confused. But Vivien has lots of big hair, and you know she’s going to break out into uncomfortable sexy dancing among the contestants whenever she can. Oh, there she goes. Cha cha cha.

SWSMS #2—Amy. Homemaker from San Diego. (I don’t know why the Food Network uses the label “homemaker” for Amy, it’s sooo Betty Crocker. I rather like Amy’s label of “stay at-home mom.”) Amy has been to some la-di-da French cooking school so she’s classic French for the suburbs. She talks about a city with glamour and chi-chi style, and I know she’s not talking about San Diego. In her audition tape, she talks about planning a “movie night” outside in her yard showing a French film. I’m already tired of Paris.

SWSMS #3—Josh. Chef de Cuisine from North Carolina. He’s a former military guy and his catch word is, wait for it, “JAG.” As in “Let’s JAG up this chicken.” He wants to make Latin cuisine sexy and fantasy-like. Oh-KAY. And he’s pegging himself as the poor kid from the ‘hood who’s going to make it big in the Big Apple. This kid’s got personality. You know? The kind you roll up and pop into the oven for oven-fresh-baked rolls.

SWSMS #4—Tommy. Financial planner from Massachusetts. Married with two kids and no cooking training. Tommy is the big boy or what Emeril or Mario would look like if they were one person. In his clip, he’s grilling big Fred Flintstone-size beef. It looks like he’s the guy that’s going to miss his family and have difficulty being apart and questioning whether he should be on the show in the first place. (Memo to Food Network producers: Single people, i.e., the Single Guy Chef, does not have family to leave behind and miss.)

SWSMS #5—Colombe. Yoga/fitness instructor in New York City. She’s been a private chef and small-time caterer. As a yoga instructor, you know she’s all about the organic and vegan meals. Sorry, but yuck. Colombe (pronounced like you think it’s pronounced, who knows) says she doesn’t want to be all “health nutty” but definitely wants to cook organic, fresh food. OK, I can get into that. Colombe is so Berkeley. (And her photo on the Food Network site reminds me of a young Helen Hunt. Go check it out and see for yourself.)

SWSMS #6—Paul. Caterer from Los Angeles. Paul looks like he could be the next Dave Lieberman. But wait! We still love our Dave Lieberman, why would the Food Network need two? Paul is all LA-buff with his tight shirts and jeans. He has the widest grin I’ve seen on a chef outside of Giada DeLaurentiis. (Hey, did you know DeLaurentiis had the double “i”? Weird.) Paul says if he had his own show, it’d be called “Chef Paul’s Simply Fabulous Party.” Thank you. Next stop West Hollywood. His mantra is “keep it simple but make it fabulous.” He says he has the total “package.” I think so too. ;-)

SWSMS #7—Patrick. Sous chef. (Excuse me, “senior” sous chef.) He’s married and is expecting his first baby in May. (Ooops, is he a new dad already? No time for diapers and a new Food Network show, right Patrick?) He’s into seasonal ingredients and what’s fresh. Yeah, another Alice Waters’ disciple. Working at a restaurant, he’s into the fancy restaurant-style food and it’s making me hungry. Do I have to tip him?

SWSMS #8—Michael. Food service manager from New York City. Michael’s photo on the Food Network site scares me. He looks like he’s brewing some kind of potion. But he says he’s trained at the Culinary Institute of America and runs a sit-down restaurant and food market, overseeing 150 employees and chefs. Dude, you can just produce your own show. Forget the Food Network. Go on You Tube. But lose the sorcerer’s look. He says he got into food because of his grandmother, who used to stuff food into his mouth and gave him a kiss to stop him from crying. He says food is about love and passion, and grandmothers who force-feed babies like they’re producing foie gras.

SWSMS #9—Rory. Restaurateur from Texas. She's building a restaurant called Boot Hill right now and she’s dating a cowboy. How more Texas can one blond get? She doesn’t follow recipes; she follows her heart. In a clip from the show she’s burning stuff and overcooking chicken. And she’s making a chocolate mousse that looks like lumpy oatmeal. She says she likes to make that dessert because it’s like her, messy. Hmm, that’s not what I think of when I think of dessert—or eating, for that matter. But Rory, good job on going with your strengths.

SWSMS #10—Adrien. Uniform delivery man from Jackson, Michigan. Another pretty white boy. (Hey, where’s the token Asian in this season’s Next Food Network Star? See producers, missed another opportunity with moi.) BTW, what’s a “uniform delivery man”? Does he deliver uniforms or does he wear a uniform when he makes a delivery? I am so confused. I can see Adrien hooking up with Paul, except for the fact that Adrien says he’s married and apparently has a whole gaggle of girls back home. (I’m talking about his little daughters, not a side dish of booty.) He’s self taught and looks like a young Tyler Florence. He already does is own show in Michigan called “Home For Dinner.” He wants to create a show that combines music and food together. Just don’t drop your iPod in the batter Adrien and you’ll go far.

SWSMS #11—Nikki. Caterer from Oakland, Calif. Hey, a girl from my neck of the woods! You go girl! Oh, her food looks like banquet food. I wouldn’t really cook that at home. Ouch, she just dropped a tray of glasses near some guests. I hope she doesn’t work as a server during her catered events. She says she puts a pinch of brown sugar in everything. She’s not kidding. She actually has a pinch of brown sugar behind her ears right now.

And finally, the pseudo contestant this season:

#12—Ben. Marketing copywriter from Oakland and food blog extraordinaire. Ben is single and likes to cook quick-and-easy dishes for the working person. His recipes reflect his Chinese background and growing up in Hawaii, but touches on the many flavors from his travels and his California home. Ben’s philosophy on food is “make it fun and tasty, even when it’s just for yourself because you deserve it.” (Can I room with Paul?)

Check back on Monday for my first recap of The Next Food Network Star.


Anonymous said...

I'll have to keep any eye on that #12 guy :)
Looking forward to your recaps!

Passionate Eater said...

I don't think you would be a good person on the Next Food Network Star--you are too talented! You'd blow all of the other contestants out of the water! ;) I can't wait to see episodes of "Cooking with the Single Guy" on television soon!

Anonymous said...

Colombe was a teen actrees! She was in Mighty Ducks 3 - (I am such a loser for knowing this!)