Monday, June 22, 2009

NFNS: Season 5, Episode 3

Summering with the Barefoot Contessa

Previously: It was a holiday celebration, but Teddy and Brett didn’t give any holiday cheer to Melissa, whom they helped plate her dish and then took all the credit for it. Karma’s a bitch, so that meant it bit Brett in the butt and he’s out. Tonight: Ty-Flo’s in the grocery store and the Barefoot Contessa has some friends coming over. Is Melissa planning to serve raw chicken? And more tears to come.

Is it just me but does it seem like there are fewer Food Network stars in the opening promo? It’s like they’re running out of big names. They better get cranking on the star-making machine.

Opening scenes of food carts in Manhattan. The contestants are waking up and Melissa feels the tension after Teddy threw her under the bus. (It was actually more Brett who did the throwing, and Teddy went along for the ride.) Michael misses home, and yes, his hair does stand up when he wakes up.

The contestants arrive at a grocery store called Stew Leonards and there’s Tyler Florence looking like he’s ready for a ski trip. He tells them “settle down.” Class is in session. Professor Ty-Flo tells them they have to shop for a budget dinner party, spending only $60 for 12 people. (That’s $5 per person, which is how much I spend for lunch, not dinner.) He also tells them they have to record a 30-second tip in front of the camera on how to stretch your food dollar. Melissa the Mom is stoked because you know moms and coupons.

They start scrambling to find things to buy and each contestant takes turns going up to Ty-Flo to record their tip. First up is Teddy, and he starts screaming into the camera. STOP says Ty-Flo, and he’s like, “are you always like this?” Teddy gives some tip about ground beef and meatloaf but I didn’t really understand it. Doesn’t matter because Ty-Flo thinks Teddy is cartoonish. Teddy’s like, OK.

Next is Jeffrey, and he talks about making crepes for dessert, which sounds difficult but he says can be cheap because you can just use Nutella instead of spending money on fruits. He says he makes it with his daughter for breakfast. Tyler likes Jeffrey’s smooth presentation, and I was impressed that he said a lot and was still able to come in under 30 seconds.

Meanwhile, Michael a Go-Go™ is busy trying to figure out what to buy. And then he says most of his dinner parties include tons of cheese and appetizers and typically costs $1,000. Um, are you sure that’s not your bar tab, Michael?

Melissa the Mom does her tip about green onions and how you can keep the roots and the white parts and put them in a glass of water and it’ll regenerate and you’ll have more green onions. Ty-Flo liked the tip, but I’m thinking, um, you usually get more flavor with the white parts so if you don’t use it because you’re busy growing green onions, then really you’re missing out lady.

Michael a Go-Go™ is up with his tip and he starts talking about entertaining on a budget, and he seems all over the place. He’s not even looking at the camera and Ty-Flo has to point him in the right direction. STOP. Tyler tells Michael that he’s not making any sense. Michael admits to that, and Ty-Flo mutters to himself, “utter nonsense” but it sounded like “udder nonsense” to me. Ha! That would be funny huh? You know, Ty-Flo is in cow country now that he lives in Marin, Calif., so maybe he did mean “udder” nonsense. Ha! I crack myself up.

Jamaican Jamika can’t find anything she wants at the store for her salmon. Ugh, salmon? She just made that for the Good Housekeeping magazine feature. I’m getting bored of salmon. Then she does her tip about re-using marinade, and even she realizes that that was a stupid tip because marinade that had raw meat sitting in it will still have the bacteria even after you remove the meat.

Debbie does her tip about using squash and zucchini, and Tyler tells her “you have no message.” Ty-Flo is brutally honest today and I love it. He’s like a grouchy law professor. Ty-Flo: “Ms. Debbie, cite the relevant case to support your argument.” Debbie: “But Professor Tyler, I just want to make dumplings.” Ty-Flo: “STOP. This is just udder nonsense.”

Eddie is next and he says he’s more nervous to be in front of Ty-Flo. He says something about using fresh herbs as a garnish, and I didn’t really get how that saves money. Tyler doesn’t think Eddie’s message is clear either.

Katie the Health Nut seems frazzled but she does her tip and starts talking about shopping for organic. STOP. Ty-Flo says she’s off point. Then she talks about how protein can be expensive so you should focus on grains and beans. Ty-Flo’s like “hallelujah” but I was more like, really?

After they pay for their groceries at the checkout, Ty-Flo tells them that Michael a Go-Go™, Jamaican Jamika and Teddy didn’t get the challenge. Tyler says Jamika’s tip about reusing marinade is going to kill someone, but he does like her energy. He tells Michael he’s lost and Teddy is a used car salesman. Teddy says he’s going to tone it done, although it sounded like he says he’s going to tune it down.

After all that, Ty-Flo names Jeffrey the winner and he gets an advantage but of course he won’t know what the advantage is until later.

Commercials. Today’s trivial tip from Terminix: cockroaches carry 3,000 infectious diseases. Doh.

It’s the next morning, or they’re using the same wake-up footage from earlier in the hour because they’re showing Melissa the Mom putting on makeup again. I mean, yeah, she probably puts on make-up every morning, but do we have to be treated to two scenes of her putting on makeup?

They jump in the van and head to East Hampton. Everyone’s trying to figure out where they’re going, but some of them already have a feeling that they’re heading to, no, not Martha’s, but to Ina’s place, better known as the Barefoot Contessa. (Even though Ina Garten’s laugh has had to grow on me over the years, I have to say her show is one of the few cooking shows that I watch consistently. And she hasn’t wavered from her demonstrating cooking unlike other stars who have hit the road, although sometimes she does do travelogues from Paris.)

They walk into the Barefoot Contessa’s beautiful home (which actually might not be her real home but just her studio home, but knowing her she probably owns several homes), which she calls her barn. Garten tells them they have to cook for her friends and the judges. Everyone gets excited until Bobby says they have to work in teams, making three courses.

Jeffrey gets to pick his teammate since he won the shopping challenge so he picks Michael (I would have picked Debbie). Speaking of Debbie, she’s worried she’ll be paired with Teddy (I’m guessing everyone interviewed they didn’t want to be with Teddy) and of course, Bobby names Debbie and Teddy as the first team. Other teams are Eddie and Melissa the Mom, and Jamaican Jamika and Health Nut Katie.

They have one hour to cook their dishes and then two minutes to present to the dinner guests. But the Food Network is really walking on egg shells around Garten (I guess when you’re a Contessa you get that royal treatment) and Bobby says they don’t want to mess up her set so instead of all four teams cooking at once, they’re going to cook in shifts. Which seems weird for the dinner guests because that must mean they eat twice with one hour between each sitting. (I bet a lot of booze was passed around between servings.)

Cooking first is Teddy and Debbie’s team and Eddie and Melissa. They plan out their menu and Debbie decides to do a vegetable linguine for an appetizer and they decide to collaborate on a Pan-Asian meatloaf for the entrée. Teddy agrees to do the dessert as his dish, and he’s going to make an English trifle.

Over at Eddie and Melissa’s world, Eddie plans on a watermelon-sweet onion salad and Melissa does a lemon-thyme chicken. They agree to work together on the dessert.

So far Teddy seems to be getting along with Debbie. They’re actually working really well together as they mold the meat loaf, and they’re loving the sweet-sour sauce they’re creating to go with it. But over at Eddie and Melissa’s, Eddie is constantly talking about how he doesn’t want to be with Melissa and how he’s just looking out for himself. There’s no I in “team,” Eddie.

Commercials. Dixie, please stop pushing your paper plates. You’re clogging the landfills with your seduction of America’s lazy people.

Back in the kitchen, Melissa’s stressing out as usual about cooking her chicken because she doesn’t want to serve raw chicken. Um, good plan. Eddie’s proud of his watermelon-sweet onion salad and I’m kind of wondering about it. I’m not a fan of onions, but I do like watermelon salad. I think the combo, though, isn’t going to work no matter how much feta cheese you put in it.

Melissa the Mom is picking up on the fact that Eddie doesn’t like her. She says he’s talking mean to her, and I have to agree. In fact, Eddie’s kind of being a jerk.

Teddy is all excited about “his” meatloaf, until he remembers that he’s working with Debbie. Then they have five minutes left to cook and that’s when Teddy remembers that he has to make the dessert. OMG, talk about absent-minded professor. How can you make a good dessert in five minutes? Apparently you can’t because Teddy whips together some pudding and cuts up some cake (I bet it’s angel food cake because you know how Debbie loves that) and then slaps some strawberries on top.

The Barefoot Contessa greets all her guests in the friendly, hugging way she always does and they sit down with the judges (Bobby, Bob Tuschman and Susie Fogelson) for the first presentation.

That’s Melissa and Eddie, and Eddie puts on his smiling face, which is so weird because he didn’t smile at all when working with Melissa. Melissa is bubbling as usual and talks about how she’s the pantry queen and makes dinner out of desperation by looking at what’s in the pantry. For their dessert, they collaborated on a banana fosters Nutella quesadilla.

Ina says Melissa glows in the dark, which is a compliment about her presence. But she doesn’t like her chicken, which is cooked but has no flavor. She likes the quesadilla, but people didn’t like the salad because, duh, the onions overpowered the watermelon. One guy says their personalities were better than the food, so they’re lucky we still haven’t invented taste television.

Debbie and Teddy present their dishes and he’s like another person. He’s totally calm, and he credits Debbie’s calmness for bringing him to a zen moment. Debbie says she’s proud of Teddy because he came off the most real so far. Bob likes their meatloaf but Bobby hated the dessert that really came off store bought. But watching these critiques, I really noticed that most people were differing to Garten and letting her do most of the commenting. She really is like a goddess on the Food Network.

After the commercial break, it’s the second shift and Michael and Jeffrey starts planning their food. (I wonder how they kept them from talking about their food for an hour while the first teams cooked?) Jamaican Jamika says she doesn’t feel like she’s melding with Health Nut Katie. Their dishes are clashing with her making an Asian marinated salmon and Katie making Italian pasta with chicken sausage.

Jamaican Jamika is worried weather the store-bought marinade will have enough sweetness, so she squirts an orange onto her baby salmon slices. (They do look pretty small, but I like that trick for a quick citrus bite to the salmon.)

While Jamika worries about sweetness, Jeffrey’s worried about spice. His soup might not have enough of it so he adds back the seeds from his chilies.

Nine minutes left to cook and Michael a Go-Go™ is falling apart. He cuts himself with his knife and then smoke is in his eyes and his mascara is running. Yep, you read that right. He says he’s off today, or more correctly he says he’s “oweoff.”

Seeing that Michael’s a mess, Jeffrey tries to prep him so that Michael doesn’t drag him down with him. They’re up first so they present their tomato soup, which was their combo effort, and then Michael’s broccoli rabe with sausage and grilled chicken. Jeffrey has to prompt him to talk about boiling the broccoli rabe. For dessert, Jeffrey made his Nutella crepes and he talks again about how he and his daughter would make it for breakfast together.

One of the guests asks Michael what’s on top of the soup and he totally blanks out and flummoxes for a bit until Jeffrey jumps in to explain the crouton.

The Barefoot Contessa likes the presentation of their dishes, calling them elegant. And Bob Tuschman says he couldn’t tell that these were budget dishes. Most people wanted more heat in the soup, while most liked the entrée. Garten thinks Michael was all over the place in his presentation but Jeffrey was able to connect with her.

Jamika and the Health Nut are next, and Jamika is smooth as usual. She’s always so warm and friendly in her presentations. They mostly just talk about their dishes.

Garten says she likes the salmon and that they were cooked really well, but she didn’t like the two dishes together. She feels the collaboration wasn’t there. Tuschman is still bothered by the Health Nut’s healthy eating messages. This is why he’s not working at Cooking Light.

Commercials. What’s with Why can’t they call themselves the Yellow Pages any more? I don’t need Superman to help me Google something.

Judgment time. Melissa the Mom is still nervous about her chicken and Eddie looks bored.

At the judges’ table, Bob says Garten is the most beloved Food Network star, which is probably true although I bet Paula Deen is battling for that title. Then they get into the team critiques and it went along these lines:

Jamaican Jamika and The Health Nut: They didn’t have any collaboration and their “international” theme was a cop-out. Still, everyone loved the well-cooked salmon by Jamika. Katie, not so much.

Jeffrey and Michael a Go-Go™: Couldn’t tell the dishes had a budget, but soup not spicy enough after all the promo, and Bob dinged Jeffrey for telling the story again about his daughter making crepes with him for breakfast. (In Jeffrey’s defense, there’s no way to know that the 30-second tip he taped would be seen by Garten’s guests, and I’m not even sure if it was. So it may just be Bob who heard the story twice, but to others it’s brand new.) Michael, on the other hand, is off his game and he blames it on being homesick.

Eddie and Melissa: Bobby calls Eddie on his eye rolls, which Bobby saw on the tape from their work in the kitchen. BUSTED! Bobby tells Eddie to have some chivalry in the kitchen. They felt Melissa’s chicken dish needed more seasoning and Eddie’s onion-watermelon dish was overpowered by the onions, and that’s when Eddie says he made this many times from a Paula Deen cookbook, which makes everyone drop their jaws and roll their eyes. (Eddie is really in this, I-don’t-have-a-clue mode huh? If you’re going to compete, don’t plagiarize other people’s recipes.)

Debbie and Teddy: They liked Debbie’s dish but Susie calls Teddy’s dessert “an abomination.” Then Teddy tries to distance himself from the dessert by saying the meatloaf was more his dish. That is so uncool because he worked with Debbie on the meatloaf and now he’s trying to pass it off as his own. Oooh, he’s a real cheater. Debbie calls him on it and says she has a problem with his honesty and integrity. I do to. So do the rest of the judges, and the viewing public. Teddy, you’ve sunk lower than any Next Food Network Star contestant has ever sunk. And that includes the whole JAG false resume fiasco. Teddy the Cheat cries a bit.

Commercials. Bank of America is pushing its “clarity commitment,” which supposedly are home loans that are easy to understand and clearly stated. Yeah, it’s clear you’re charging an arm-and-a-leg in interest.

Bobby names Jeffrey and Michael the winning team. They’re both safe and excused from the room. Also excused are Debbie, Jamika, Melissa and Katie. That’s all the girls, so that means Teddy and Eddie are left.

Upstairs, the safe contestants chat about the Teddy fiasco and Jeffrey calls Teddy self-destructive. Jamika is all like “here we go again” and they talk about how Teddy threw Melissa under the bus last week. Debbie feels like she’s been sucker-punched after having a mildly pleasant time working with Teddy the Cheat.

The judges talk about the two guys after they’re excused for a moment. It’s interesting how the judges are actually saying who they want out, I guess because it’s obvious that both men are pretty much goners in the next two weeks. Susie is frustrated with Eddie, saying he’s amateurish in the kitchen. Bob votes for Teddy and Bobby wants to kick out Eddie.

Upstairs, Teddy the Cheat apologizes and cries in front of the group. He blames the cameras for bringing out the bad in him and he says he’ll now try to bring the good. Yeah, it’s always the camera with these folks. Or the editing.

The two guys return for judgment and Bobby sends Eddie home, and Eddie says “no problem.” I would have rather seen Teddy go first before Eddie, but I guess the producers wanted to see what scheming, screwed up mess he’ll get himself into next week.

Teddy, of course, is all relieved and he admits to making some bad decisions to the group. Debbie says she hoped he learned from his experience. I wouldn’t put any money on it.

Next time: Guy Fieri and his big hair shows up, and they all go on a big Navy ship. Must be Fleet Week. Debbie gets whacked in the eye with a pan, and Bobby says no one is grabbing the title. (Really? I thought Jamika and Jeffrey have been doing pretty well so far. I guess that’s not saying much in Bobby’s eyes.)

The Next Food Network Star airs 9 p.m. Sundays (and repeats at the same time Thursdays) on the Food Network. Check your local listing. Photos courtesy of the Food Network Web site.

Are you a star?
We're not even half-way through Season 5 and the Food Network has just announced a call for applicants for "The Next Food Network Star" Season 6! If you think you have it to be on the Food Network, go to to submit your application. They're also having open calls in select cities. San Francisco is a logical stop, and casting directors will be here on July 26 at the W Hotel. Spruce up that frying pan!

Previous recaps:
Episode 1
Episode 2


Kim said...

I LOVE the Barefoot Contessa! The one cookbook of hers that I own is so well-worn, it's actually ratty.

egg to the apples said...

I hope you are trying out for the next season, you've got what it takes!

Mrs. L said...

You'd be a great Food Network Star! Seriously, you cook, you make me laugh...give it a try!

Carolyn Jung said...

I second that. If Food Network is running low on stars, they should hire the Single Guy Chef to inject some needed cultural diversity and panache.

Single Guy Ben said...

Thanks everyone for the vote of confidence! I'm debating about whether to tryout. I'm kind of worried that if Bob Tuschman and Susie Fogelson read my past recaps of the show, they may want to select me for the show just so they can eliminate me after the first episode! HA! Revenge is served cold, and with black bean sauce in my case...

Unknown said...

Ben - you didn't mention the Debbie- Teddy "misunderstanding" of who was responsible for which dish and the Eddie -Melissa unchilvoriness (sp) -- which is why I check in with you. I want to hear your take on the dirt!!!!

Unknown said...

I meant chivalry-ness I guess! Not the mangled spelling... we need edit capability here!!

Single Guy Ben said...

Sarah, I did touch on those two topics. You'll find the mentions during the judgment phase. Yeah, I didn't go really into it because by that time it was way past midnight and I wanted to sleep! LOL. Anywho, I thought Teddy is a real two-face now so he's not my favorite and I hope he leaves in the next episode. For Eddie and Melissa, I thought that was uncool of Eddie as well to not work as a team, and in a way a bit selfish. So I won't miss him either, even though he was the hottest contestant of the bunch.

Nate @ House of Annie said...

Teddy claiming the meatloaf as his own was so wrong, and so easily debunked. FN is just sending a message that Teddy is gone next week.