Sunday, June 22, 2008

The Next Food Network Star: 6/22/08

Tonight's show starts with Tyler Florence's entrance into the studio, and the contestants have to do a technique video in 60 seconds on a cooking skill. The best one will be on the homepage. Cool. They will have basically no prep time for their technique, because their items are hidden and revealed right before their time starts. Can they think on their feet?

Adam has to break down an artichoke. He was funny, and managed to get some tips across, but Tyler thought he was a bit sloppy and not expert-looking. I agree. But he is good on camera.

Aaron is next, and has to demonstrate cutting up a pineapple. He spend a long time showing how to save the top for a garnish. Ummmmm. He should have kept that for the end, if he had time. He had a hard time speaking and cutting simultaneously. That's a problem.

Kelsey has to french a rack of lamb. She attempted to keep her energy down, because of her previous problems being too crazy. She didn't get done the whole thing, but she was a little more subdued, and Tyler liked her.

Shane's task is to open a coconut, and he completely failed. He made one hole and no juice came out. Ooops.

Nipa is baffled about how to clean a squid, and she told Tyler that she had no idea, and he said "fake it." She did, and was completely horrible. She was laughing on camera, when she said that she was going to clean a squid, and Tyler said he likes her hook of being a Mid-Western Indian girl, but she didn't take charge and she didn't have authority over the challenge. I agree whole-heartedly.

Lisa made a comment about how she needs to make friends with the camera, and calls it a "cold machine." See? They already have something in common, making friends shouldn't be that tough! She has to truss a chicken for her challenge. She threw in her "beautifully basic" catch phrase. Tyler told her she was not engaging with the camera. I agree.

Jennifer has to shuck oysters. She said "I'm going to attempt to show you" how to shuck and oyster. She tried, but spend most of the time saying that she is sensitive to oysters and they make her sick. Oops. Tyler told her to stop apologizing. Jennifer had a little melt down, but got through it. Tyler talked her down some, and let her know that she had a great personality, and he wanted to like her.

The winner of the first challenge is Kelsey, and I think she deserved it. Tone it down a little, and I liked her a lot more.

The next challenge brings them a lot of fish, and Chef Michael Simon, from The Next Iron Chef (yes, I watched that one, too). The executive chef from Red Lobster came in, and announced that the winner will get their dish featured on the Red Lobster Fresh Fish menu. He said that they like to keep it simple, so the dish needs to showcase culinary expertise, and freshness, and be broadly appealing. Each person needed to pick one fish and make a dish. They need to do one dish for the Red Lobster menu, and then there was an "Iron Chef Challenge" where they had to use fluff, caramel, coffee beans, grape jelly, white chocolate, fruity cheerios, or cola with their fish. With the same fish.

Because she won the first challenge, Kelsey gets to choose first, and she picked white chocolate and tilapia. Hmmmm. I guess white chocolate could work somehow. It's a pretty mild flavor, so you might be able to do something with it.

Adam chose caramel, because he used to steal them as a child, and halibut.

Aaron chose the cola (which would have been one of my top choices) and cod.

Jennifer took the mahi mahi, and fruit cereal.

Lisa took Artic Char and the coffee beans, which would also have been one of my choices.

Shane took fluff and sole.

Nipa got trout and jelly, and she is flipping out about using fish, which she has never touched before. Ok, that's not good. The others also questioned her demeanor. I really want to like Nipa, but she's making it really hard to root for her.

Shane started by making a garlic parsley puree with the fluff.

Lisa decided to do tar tar, which I do NOT think is good for a wide audience base.

Kelsey's actually sounded really good. She was doing a white chocolate macadamia tilapia.

Nipa's fillet skills were ridiculous. Really bad.

Jennifer is using the fruit cereal to crust the fish.

Aaron had a problem with his grill not heating up enough, and he was really upset.

After their prep, they are all shuttled off to the sea port, where they have to feed 30 people. 30 coast guard men and women. Lisa is nervous about serving tartar for them. Maybe she should have thought of that when part of the challenge was "broadly appealing."

Each person has 35 minutes to finish up their dishes. Kelsey is up first, and she is worried about being endearing and not annoying. Her dishes sounded really yummy, and she was appealing. The judges liked it, and liked her personality.

Adam was chopping with two knives and it was insane. He then decided to trip on purpose to make an entrance, and his joke fell flat. He was really pathetic at his presentation. He didn't know what to do with himself when no one was laughing at him. The fish tasted too fishy to the judges, and it is called "miscooked, not well thought out," and also "a train wreck."

Jennifer is really nervous, because she tasted her fruity cereal fish and she thought it was too sweet. She then did the SAME THING again, and basically apologized for her dish before anyone tasted it. She realized what she had done as she left, but it was really unfortunate. No one commented on the taste of her dishes.

Coming up next is Nipa, and she is so completely out of her element, but she made a tandoori trout and a trout with grape jelly, cilantro, and mint, with raita. She then did a bollywood dance, which was just weird. She came across as trying too hard. Her fish, though a little overcooked, was basically tasty, which is good.

Lisa fell flat on her butt with a quart of sauce all over her head. That is why you don't wear $300 shirts and Pucci shoes in the kitchen. It's not lack of style, necessarily, but basic common sense. The arctic char tartar sounded dreadful, but she brought in her personal experience, because her brother is in Iraq, so it was important for her to serve the guard members. She was also kind of funny when she mentioned that she was "so enthusiastic" about her dish that she decided to wear the sauce, and if anybody wanted more sauce, she had extra. She did, however, miss the mark, according to the Red Lobster judge, with the tartar. Thought so.

Shane did a good presentation, and the judges appreciated his technique and his flavor.

Aaron was worried about his cod, and it was dry. He was unhappy with it, but worked with it as best he could. His presentation was really nice, but it was not good tasting. The judges wanted more personal story, which they have been missing from him.

It's evaluation time, and a few of the contestants are naturally nervous. Jennifer looked ready to apologize for apologizing, but then she would apologize for apologizing for apologizing. It can only go downhill from there. I hope that she has a better spin on it from that.

Lisa's camera friendliness was questioned, and her total lack of understanding of the challenge was also questioned. Presentationwise, though, Lisa should spill a quart of sauce on her head every day, because they loved seeing her look human.

Shane didn't do so hot in the technique challenge, but at least he was convincing. His dishes in the fishes challenge didn't sound so good, but they tasted great, so that was a good thing.

Adam's buffoonery in the technique challenge was good. In the second challenge, not so good. They called his crepe amazingly bad, and his fish really dry, and his presentation really shocking. Unless his show is going to be "Cooking with Kramer," the cute little entrances have got to stop.

Nipa was uncomfortable with the squid, and uncomfortable with fish. The judges said that she seemed disrespectful, and Chef Simon was offended by how she filleted the fish and threw most of it out. Her flavors were good, though.

Kelsey did much better today, and toned down the cheerleader. Her fish dishes were very impressive.

Aaron's problem with the pineapple top was questioned, and his cod looked pretty but was really disappointing. They want him to share more.

Jennifer's beer battered mahi-mahi was good, but her fruity cereal fish was really too sweet. Her apologizing is really a problem. She needs to look in the mirror every morning and say "I'm good enough, I'm smart enough, and gosh darn it, people like me." Maybe that would help.

The winner of the fish challenge is Kelsey. I think it is a good win for her. Interestingly, her white chocolate dish is the one that was chosen! I wish there was a Red Lobster in my area so I could try it!

Along with Kelsey, Lisa and Shane are safe.

Jennifer says that she has been insecure since she was a child, and she wants to improve. She'll get the chance and she is safe.

Aaron is also safe, even though it was a rough week for him. He said that his son ran away before he started the competition, and he wants to be able to express himself. That's so sad. I hope his son comes home.

It's down to Nipa and Adam. Nipa is gone this week, and I can only hope that some other Indian Cooking show comes up on the Food Network, because I really want to see it. Just not with Nipa. She even said taht she wasn't sure she ever really wanted to win it. Neither am I.

After the show ended, there was a little promo for Kelsey's Red Lobster dish, and I am less sure about her on tv when I saw that. She is cute, but I am not sure I would watch a whole show with her.

She's no Guy Fieri, that's for sure.

So I still don't know who I am rooting for. If Jennifer would stop apologizing, I would love her. Aaron has some great skills, but I need to see it. Shane could be a contender. Lisa is so .... Lisa, and I don't like her on my tv. Adam could be good if he tones it down some. Can't wait to see what next week brings.

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