Sunday, June 8, 2008

The Next Food Network Star: 6/8/08

The second episode of the season starts with a very unpleasant 3 AM wake up call for the chefs with a spoon banging on a metal bowl. Chef Robert Irvine (Dinner Impossible) is a guest judge this week. Lisa looks really really weird without makeup and half woken up.

The teams for the challenge are:

Blue - Lisa, Shane, Nipa
Green - Jeffrey, Kelsey, Kevin
Gray - Aaron, Adam, Jennifer. (they call themselves the underdog team, because Adam didn't go to culinary school, Jennifer didn't finish culinary school, and Aaron "knows what he knows." Whatever that means.)

They have to gather items in specialty food shops for things they need to cook. At each shop, they'll be asked a food question and if they get it right, they can get their ingredient and be on their way. If they get it wrong, a member of their team can win them the item by doing some sort of food prep.

The winners of the challenge will be featured in USA Weekend.

The green team is the first one out of the house, followed by the green team. The blue team is slow - Nipa took a long time to get ready.

The first Location is Amy's Bread.

The Question for the green team is: To make white flour, what two parts of whole wheat grain are removed?

(I could probably come up with an answer, but I don't know it off the top of my head)

The Green team answers hull and husk, which is close to what I would have guessed, and we were both spectacularly wrong, since the answer is bran and germ. You know, the good stuff for you. That stuff.

To win the ingredient, Kevin has to make some baguettes.

The Grey team's question is: What does it mean when Baking Powder is double acting?
(I actually know this one, because I am a science geek in my non-tv watching life)

The grey team gets it correct, and they are on their way. They get to pick an ingredient and they pick brioche.

While Kevin is still making bread, Team Blue arrives. Their question is: What ingredient helps give pumpernickel bread its dark color?

(I also know this one, since I love pumpernickel) Team Blue got it right (it's molasses) and they are off to the races, picking a baguette.

The next location is a Dairy Shop. Team Grey's first question is: How many lbs of whole milk does it take to make 1 lb of whole milk cheese?

(I have no idea at all) Jennifer did a great job - she got 10 lbs right. They pick ricotta cheese.

Kevin finally finishes his bread, and they get Semolina Raisin bread.

Team Blue's Dairy Question is: What is the name of the cheese making method where curds are piled on top of each other, cut up, pressed together, and then cut up again?

(I have no idea) - Team Blue earns their cheese, and Shane proudly says he learned the answer was "Cheddar" on Food Network. Classic. They pick Danish Blue.

Team Grey is onto the meat market, and their question is: What is the main dietary requirement for pigs to be qualified as Spanish hams quali virigo? - or something of that nature, I know I have butchered the name entirely.

(I am clueless) Adam happened to work in a Spanish restaurant, and they know the answer is acorns. Cool. They pick the NY Strip

Team Green finally gets into the Dairy shop and are asked: What seeds produces the vegetable dye used to create orange cheddar cheese?

(Color me clueless yet again) They get annato correct and grab mozzerella.

Team Blue gets their meat market question, and they have to name four different cuts of meat on a tray.

They get it wrong. Well, Lisa got the answer wrong. Shane has to butcher chickens, and was super quick, and they choose lamb. Nipa is excited about lamb to make some good Indian food, but Lisa brings up the important fact that they also have blue cheese and a baguette to work with so far. Hmmm.

Team Green has to name the four prime cuts of beef. Kelsey got it wrong, and Jeffrey had to do the chicken cut up. They get duck.

Next, they are heading to NJ, and end up at a train station. They are cooking on a train. Grey team is first, then blue team, then green team.

They have to prepare a brunch for over 30 people on a train using three items they collected, along with some other pantry items. They then have to present themselves and their dishes for everyone.

Grey team goes first. They decide that Jennifer will make some sort of savory french toast , Aaron is going to make the steak, and Adam is going to make eggs with herbed ricotta and creme fraiche. Adam wants to make poached eggs with runny yolks. Aaron thinks that's foolish because of the crowd, and Adam doesn't seem to care, and starts poaching, then after some more discussions with Aaron, does sunny side up eggs. Aaron also doesn't like the way that Jennifer is making the French Toast, in big giant rounds. We'll see how it all turns out. Adam has two giant pans of sunny side up eggs that he then has to do surgery on the get the eggs apart. Aaron says that their plates do not look appealing. "I'm getting sea sick, and we are on a train." Adam wants to do a skit with a train robbery thing. Aaron does NOT want to do it. When they come out to present their brunch, Aaron does hang back, but it didn't seem so train-robbery to me. He did have some great personality, though.

As far as taste goes, Susie Fogelson (one of the judges) ended up with some raw egg and had to spit it out into her napkin. Ewwww. Guess Adam got his wish for runny yolk. And white. Double ewwwww. They like the steak a lot. The french toast is called bland. Hmm. Aaron would be the winner in that one.

The Green Team is up next. Nipa is making a lamb kebab with a spice mix. Sounds good. Shane is doing a fig and blue cheese salad. Lisa is doing a crostini french toast with honey creme fraiche. When plating, she missed two plates of creme fraiche and whips up more in two minutes. By hand. I have a little more respect for her now.

Time for presentation! Shane had a lot of trouble speaking. They each just state their culinary points of view. Blessedly, Lisa leaves out her baffling community outreach thing. Shane's salad is called overdressed, and Nipa had some trouble presenting herself as funny. Her lamb is a little too spicy. Lisa surprisingly did the best in this one, and the judges said it was amazing how simple she seemed to come across.

Team Blue is up! Kelsey is making a duck salad with champagne vinegarette and apricots and raspberries. Jeffrey is making a bread pudding with raspberry coulis. Kevin is making honey glazed figs with mozarella crostini. Kevin wants to get some action. We get it. He thinks crostini is sexy. Not so sure about that. Kevin only brought enough olive oil for himself, and Kelsey doesn't have enough for a really great vinegarette. There are issues with plating, again Kevin's problem. He missed two plates and they have to take some apart and rebuild on the newly found plates.

Their presentation is stilted at first, but they pick it up. They call their plate Love (Kevin), Soul (Jeffrey), and Happiness (Kelsey). Kevin had the weakest presentation. The bread pudding is called tough. They like the salad, though the duck is overcooked. Bobby Flay said that he wants to talk to Kevin about his point of view, because "it doesn't mean anything." Other than Kevin needs some nookie and wants his food to get it for him. I agree. Some of the other diners are missing things like sauce for their french toast, and Kevin's fig is way too sweet for some others.

It's judgement time.

Grey team gets a talking to first. Adam's raw eggs are an issue. Aaron's steak wins big time. Jennifer is told that she needs to "find her authority."

Green team claims that they got the last pickings of everything. The committee doesn't understand why figs, honey, and crostini are romantic. Jeffrey is told to bring passion to his game.

Blue team was told that their plate didn't work well together. Nipa didn't want to do fusion food, and Lisa said that they decided to have three separate dishes. Lisa's french toast is given praise, Nipa was told to give more story, and more even spices. Bobby asks Nipa if she is enthusiastic about being The Next Food Network Star, and she says she is not sure. She says that she feels really different. The judges say that they want to see what she brings to the kitchen, so she should step it up and bring it. She then says that she "can't do this anymore" walks out. Didn't see that coming!

Nipa has a moment when she decides if she can handle the criticism. She decided finally to go back and apologize for her temper, and says that she really wants to bring Indian Food to The Food Network, and that she wants to bring her story to the network. The judges wonder if she can handle the pressure.

The winner of the challenge are Lisa and Aaron. I think it is the right choice for winners, and I find myself liking Lisa a whole lot more after this week. Still not sure I would want to see her in a show, but ...

Kelsey, Jennifer, and Adam are safe next, followed by Jeffrey and Shane. Nipa and Kevin are the bottom two, and Nipa gets a chance to redeem herself. I hope that she does. She is told she is "on warning."

I hope that Kevin manages to find himself some love.

I really want Nipa to step it up, because I do want to see Indian food on the Food Network!

Next week, they have to make a packaged food item, and Martha Stewart is going to make an appearance.

Who are you all rooting for? Will Nipa get off her high horse? Will Lisa return to her vulcan ways?

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