Sunday, June 15, 2008

The Next Food Network Star: 6/15/08

Adam knows that he is in trouble, saying "I need to not do anymore with the raw foods," having served undercooked food two weeks in a row. Wouldn't it be hilarious if this week was a raw food challenge?

Their challenge is about their culinary point of view, as seen through a potato. They have 30 minutes and a pantry full of food. Nipa says that she did a little Bollywood dance when she saw the potato. I wish I could have seen that.

Peeling madly, Nipa says that her dish is going to be Rasa Vala Batata Nu Shak: Curried potato with gravy. Aaron is making potato wrapped in bacon with a honey scallion glaze. Sounds yummy. Adam is making bacon cheese fries, because he figures it will be cooked. Jennifer is making a grilled mashed potato pizza. Kelsey is making a potato gratin. Shane is making a mushroom, leek, and potato soup. Lisa is making a poached potato with creme fraiche and smoked trout. Jeffrey is making sophisticated home fries.

And there's more to this challenge! Each chef will have to present their dish on camera and in front of the judges in a minute.

Adam is up first, and he went a little too personal. Somehow I don't know that Bobby Flay meant to tell about his last painful breakup through the eyes of the french fries. Anyhow, the judges seemed to like it, and Bobby mentioned the actual doneness as being a positive thing about it.

Kelsey goes next, perky as ever. She had a big smile plastered on her face, and it was ... raw. Not good. She also used a bit of Rachael Ray in there, mentioning that it was done in under 30 minutes. In fact, she sounded a lot like Rachael Ray. Obviously, she should have used more than the 30 minutes to cook it, since it wasn't done. Pieces of raw pancetta with raw potatoes sounds utterly dreadful to me.

Jeffrey is nervous about being too scripted, and he he ended up being almost not scripted enough. He used the word "sophisticated" a whole lot. He is really boring and unappealing. His home fries are bland, too. Not good.

Nipa presented her dish nicely, although she looked pained. The judges liked her dish, and I wish I had some right now.

Aaron is good on camera, though he looked a little nervous. I also want to eat his dish. Bobby Flay said that he wanted to steal the recipe.

Shane did a fantastic job on camera, and he was good. Unfortunately, his soup is pasty. Not good.

Jennifer is super cute, but she looked really uncomfortable on camera. She had a "low carb" grilled pizza with mashed potatoes on it... ummmmm...

Lisa squinted her way through a "blue collar potato dressed to kill," in 15 seconds and then needed to stretch it and was terrible. She blanked afterwards, and they wanted her to stretch it, and she said "I'm sorry, I didn't realize we could do it shorter." She bombed. I cheer a little. I want her off my tv.

The big challenge starts with a big display of Food Network Star Branded packaged food products. The chef have to create a pre-packaged food product, then market it to 50 buyers the next day. That's tough. They have 30 minutes to shop, and 1 hour to prep it.

Adam wants to make his own smoking rub and then smoke some chicken breast.

Nipa is making sweet and spicy peanut sauce, and grabs all the cayenne pepper off the shelf. Way more than she needs. That's a little bitchy. Come on Nipa, I want to like you!

Aaron wants to make an apple cider vinagrette. He wanted cayenne. No cayenne is to found. He tries ground jalapeno instead.

Lisa is making a basil balsamic orange marmalade. In an hour.

Kelsey is making "All in one sauce," which she will show on sloppy joes.

Jennifer is making a 3 cheese cream sauce.

Jeffrey is making a seasoned salt on fried catfish.

Shane is making a cherry cognac steak sauce - chernac.

Because he couldn't find any wood to smoke with at the store, Adam is trying smoking with corn cobs, which is a trick he saw on Good Eats. We'll see if that works.

Aaron was really unhappy with the lack of cayenne in his dressing... we'll see how it turns out. The prep time is done, and the next day, it's time for the presentations for 50 food buyers, and Martha Stewart. They have an additional 30 minutes to prep. Everyone seemed to do well with the prep.

Adam: Adam G's Smoke It Please BBQ rub. He got pretty good feedback.

Aaron: McCargo's Autumn Apple Cider Vinaigrette. The judges really like it.

Nipa: Nep's Sweet & Spicy Peanut Seasoning. The buyers thought that it was a little simple for something to market - only had two ingredients. Nipa claims that the ratio is super important, but I bet a good cook could figure that out....

Kelsey: All-in-One, Sweet, Spice, and Everything Nice. She is really putting on the syrupy sweetness, and it's getting annoying.

Shane: Cherri-gac Steak & Meat Sauce. "Where the G is silent." If you have to explain that, it's a bad name. The materials cost was also kind of high.

Lisa: Basil Balsamic Orange Marmalade. She had the marketing strategy all down pat. "Because I've developed products." She just seems so snooty to me. I still want her off my tv. Even though her marmalade sounds interesting. She squinted through her presentation, and people seemed to like it.

Jeffrey: The Soul of Jeffrey Seasoned Salt. The buyers didn't think it was very marketable, and I don't think that Jeffrey is very marketable. I almost want him off my tv more than Lisa. He just doesn't seem genuine, and also seems snobby.

Jennifer: Jenny Lynn's Three Cheese Cream Sauce. She said that it "just tastes better," than the other cream sauces on the market.

ENTER MARTHA STEWART. Kelsey and Lisa almost tripped over their wide open mouths. Then Kelsey realized she was about to serve a sloppy joe to Martha Stewart.

Shane is first with Martha. She thought it needed salt.

Martha thought that Nipa's seasoning was misleading, because she called it peanut seasoning. No peanuts in the sauce.

Martha didn't seem to be buying Jeffrey's soul food attitude.

Lisa squinted her way through her presentation to Martha. Martha seemed to like it.

Jennifer's presentation to Martha was kind of wordy and crazed and apologetic.

Aaron seemed totally at home with Martha. And she liked his dressing.

Kelsey went through her spiel to Martha about the Sloppy Joe, and Martha was left looking for a fork and looking uncomfortable.

Adam decided, inexplicably, to sing for Martha while she sampled his food. And he even had the harmonica ready. His song was kind of cute, and it was bold, that's for sure. I could actually see the song on a commercial.

It's time for the selection committee to hear what Martha has to say. Shane is a "pleasant guy" with an ok sauce. She liked Lisa, and her knowledge of food. She liked Adam's song and his rub. She found Aaron to be pleasant. Nepa had a non-important sauce, and Jennifer's was non-interesting. She thought that Jeffrey's seasoned salt had almost no seasoning. Kelsey was a bit too much for Martha.

Time for the judges to talk to the chefs.

Shane's soup was thick and porridgey, and that's not a good thing. They thought he was not passionate about his sauce in the big challenge, but he liked that.

Adam said he was ready to "leave the raw food movement behind." He got high marks for his fries, but his rub was called unoriginal.

Jennifer's non-sensical pitch with the pizza was given low marks, and her apologetic manner with the big challenge was bad, but her sauce was yummy.

Lisa was given low marks for blowing the end of the mini-challenge presentation, but was given good reviews of her marmalade, and her attitude with Martha.

Nipa's dish in the mini challenge was good, but her energy was down. Her seasoning was given very low remarks.

Aaron got good reviews on his food, but needed more personal sharing. His vinaigrette was great.

Jeffrey got low remarks for energy, and he came across badly with the buyers. Good idea, badly executed. He just seems aloof.

Kelsey was bummed that her gratin didn't taste good, though the judges really liked her All-in-one sauce. Martha did not, and her pitch was kind of over the top and rehearsed. The judges call her "verging on annoying." I agree.

So who's going home?

It's not going to be Adam. He did great in the potato challenge, and he was the winner of that challenge. It's also not going to be Lisa, who won the big challenge from the Buyers. And Aaron has a fan in Martha, and that makes him safe this week.

Nipa needs to bring more passion and personality. Shane needs to bring more passion too. The lack of visible passion is not enough to doom them this week. They are both safe.

After a tearful admission that she is really passionate and just doesn't want to be annoying, Kelsey is safe.

Jennifer is safe this week, and Jeffrey's aloofness is enough to give him the boot. I am glad. Jennifer has a tearful moment with her daughter's picture. I'm glad to see Jeffrey gone. I just realized that he reminds me a little of Carlton Banks. Not what I want in a cooking show.

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