Sunday, July 13, 2008

The Next Food Network Star

It's down to the Final Four. Will this be the week that Squinty Lisa breaks down for good? They are in Vegas, and they are going to be meeting Paula Deen. Let's get right to it.

Everyone has something to work on for this week. Adam needs to cook food that isn't raw and he needs to no act like a complete clown. Lisa needs to step back from the Vulcan-know-it-all attitude, and also stay away from the complete lack of control she had last week with Rachael Ray. Kelsey needs to look like she knows what she is talking about, and not let on that she may have learned it in the past 2 months. Aaron needs to learn to talk and cook at the same time. Who will learn their lesson?

As soon as they get to Vegas, and Caesar's palace, they are met by a man dressed like Caesar welcoming them and letting them know that they have a very plush suite. That poor man is either a very embarrassed actor, or a stripper who thinks he has gone up in the world.

The final four are invited to Bobby Flay's restaurant, and they get to share a meal with Bobby and none other than Paula Deen. Lisa feels kinship to Paula because they are both Southern women. Nice thought, except Paula is personable and fun. Lisa started crying (out of happiness) when Paula was telling her story.

Their challenge is a Throwdown! There will be 2 one on one throwdowns, where each person will do their own signature dish and then their version of someone else's signature dish. Each one-on-one will be 75 minutes. Lisa is feeling the heat, because most of her overcomplicated and ostentatious dishes take longer than that to make. (I'm sorry, I'm picking on her extra tonight, I just can't help it. I want her off my tv)

In addition to cooking, they will be doing little interviews with Dayna Devon, a host of Extra. That's a good challenge.

The first throwdown is Lisa vs. Adam. Lisa's signature is casoulet, and Adam's is Macaroni and Cheese. Adam was nervous about doing a cassoulet in such a short amount of time, and Lisa used the word "extrapolation" in describing what she plans to do with Mac & cheese.

Lisa very systematically set out all of her ingredients before she got started, and called Adam "Kid Chaos" as he seemed to flail about trying to maintain focus.

Paula noticed that Lisa works pretty intensely and wondered how she could bring that to a show. Lisa claimed to have two sides - one which is "Game Face" and one which is Cry-baby southern sweetheart. I don't know about that.

Adam decided to kick up his mac and cheese with lobster, and Lisa thinks that's a bad idea. When Dayna Devon interviews Adam, he was all over the place trying to cook and actually walked away in the middle of a question. Not so hot. Lisa did a better job with the interview, and that surprised me. She is cooking with pearls on. I am forced to hate her.

The judges adored Adam's lobster mac & cheese, and now I wish I had some. Paula even said that she was going to use his panko breading. Cool. Lisa's Mac & Cheese was called muddy. Paula said "I do not like it at all. At all. In fact I hate it." Knife into the heart of the Southern Crybaby.

Paula then called Lisa's cassoulet "truly delicious," and Bob called it masterful, and Bobby said it was possibly the best cassoulet he had ever had. Wow. Impressive. Adam's cassoulet was muddled. Bob called it "Johny's first cassoulet." Not good. It looks like a tie, with the contestants both winning their own signature dishes.

The second throwdown is Kelsey's chicken parmesan and Aaron's stuffed pork loin. Kelsey spent some time talking to herself about strategy. Aaron has decided to add some sides to his. Kelsey is using pork tenderloin instead of loin. She's changing the recipe up a lot. Aaron practices talking and cooking at the same time, though perhaps he shouldn't have, because he reveals that he has no idea what chipotle is (it's smoked jalapeno, and yes, I did know that before Adam answered - did you?), but he did a good job in the rest of the interview. Kelsey made a big boo boo (and she knew it) when she again talked about how she learned how to make buerre blanc in culinary school. The dreaded C word.

Lisa threw Aaron a look when he was grabbing something to make a side dish before he even started the chicken parm, and it actually made him back up and go work on it. Kelsey overcooked her pork, and admitted it in the interview with Dayna Devon. Not sure if that was the best idea.

The judges look like they wish they had some sunglasses in the hot Vegas sun. Kelsey's sauce for the chicken parm got good marks, but her chicken was a little dry. Paula said it was petite in size and thought it would be a nice appetizer. Aaron's last minute chicken parm was called soul satisfying and hearty. He won that one.

Aaron's pork loin looked gorgeous, and was called delicious, and Paula exclaimed that the sweet and heat worked. Bobby said that Kelsey's plates looked a little less hearty than she normally does, and Paula wanted more pork. I'd say that Aaron won both of the throwdowns.

The final four are justifiably nervous about judging. They hug it out before heading in.

The judges called Adam's mac and cheese the best thing he has made thus far. The judges were disappointed in Lisa's bland mac and cheese. Almost vice versa with the cassoulet. Lisa was told that she was too frantic in the kitchen, and seemed unwelcoming. Of course, Adam's horrible performance with Dayna Devon was also brought up. They wanted more passion from Adam.

Aaron's pork loin was given very high marks. The judges were disappointed by Kelsey's direction. Her chicken parm was called deconstructed to the point that the chicken and the sauce were not friends. Aaron's almost forgotten chicken was cooked perfectly, but he was criticized for not knowing what chipotle was. Kelsey was given good points for talking to Dayna Devon well, but Bob was upset by her repeated mention of culinary school.

Each contestant was given a chance to talk about their own performance.

Lisa knows that she has to meld her style to something appealing. Adam knows that he has to work on his organization. Kelsey wants to cook the way she likes to eat. Aaron said something about being a C average person and wanting to go above that. He wasn't very clear.

The judges called Lisa frenetic and robotic and I wonder if they have been reading my blog. They think that Aaron is struggling on doing things for the camera, and that Kelsey is good on camera but is so inexperienced it's hard to count on. Adam is given points for his likeability, but they are not sure that he has the food passion to be a good food network star.

Aaron is the first one safe, followed by Lisa. I knew this was not going to be her week. Adam rounds out the top 3, and I am pleased. Kelsey really fell flat this week.

I would love to see either Adam or Aaron on a show. Lisa would have to have a personality transplant in order for me to watch her show on purpose.

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