The Contestants are greeted by Michael Simon by the pool, and they are informed that they are going to be demoing their food LIVE on a local morning show. We are told that each demo will be rigged for disaster. I love it. It reminds me of a challenge in the first season with the awkward interviews.
Debbie is up first. She is up to make catfish, and they replaced her fish with chicken, and gotten rid of some utensils she would need. She ran with the lack of utensils, and rolled with the chicken instead of fish. She didn't even miss a beat. She did a really excellent job.
How will Melissa do? They have set the host to mess with her the whole time. She did a pretty good job when he kept calling her the wrong name, but had a bit of trouble when he added about a half cup of hot sauce to her tapenade. She got a little frantic and it wasn't great. Oops.
Jeffrey's next. He is going to be faced with technical difficulties. They kept telling him that he had microphone issues. He was holding a microphone in the same hand as a knife and it was a bit scary at times with the knife waving. He did decently with it, but could have been better.
Jamika was nervous going into it, and she has to deal with wrong time cues and a way too extreme close up camera. She did not look like she was having fun even before the technical difficulties began. There were some awkward moments.
The judges loved that Jeffrey rolled with the problems, but reminded him to engage with other people. Jamika was obviously perterbed and was chided for not having fun. Melissa was told to breathe, slow down, and not get frantic. Debbie was so good with the sabotage, Michael said that they wouldn't have known that she had problems from watching her. She is the winner of the mini challenge.
The main challenge is battling for a spot on the Red Lobster menu. They have 45 minutes to do a fish dish paired with a crustaceon or a shell fish. They can only use a wood fired grill. Debbie's advantage for winning the challenge is first choice in seafood.
There is a twist. They started the challenge - grabbed all their ingredients - and were stopped.
Jeffrey got his chilis taken away and got some Asian ingredients thrown at him, to keep him cooking without borders.
Jamika got her pineapple taken from her, and got celeriac instead. Oops.
Melissa was given a whole bowl of habeneros and got all her citrus taken away. She wasn't happy with that.
Debbie got all of her Asian ingredients taken away and was given Mediterranean ingredients - olives, anchovies, and capers.
So, they got to cooking and had to roll with their new ingredients. When it came time to present, Debbie forgot to use her capers, but because she used honey to even out some of the saltiness of her ingredients, they didn't feel like she embraced the Meditteranean feel.
Melissa's use of habeneros was wonderful. They were nervous she was going to overdo it, but she calmed down, and rolled with the punches perfectly.
Jeffrey's dish was lauded for being well put together.
Jamika was given good notes for the use of celeriac, but her shrimp was not well incorporated into the dish. They didn't appreciate her crabby attitude when she was working her way through the challenge. She was totally pissy about it and let it show. Not good.
Time for Evaluation.
They asked Jeffrey what his niche would be on the Food Network. They worried that though he talks about Cooking Without Borders, he always seems to gravitate towards the same thing. Bob worried that his Zen Calm = Boring.
Jamika's shrimp was not well-seasoned, and Bobby really wanted it to be spiced. Michael didn't like how she got mad and didn't seem to be having fun. She needs to work though things with a smile on her face instead of, as Michael said, putting her head down and plowing through.
Melissa's use of habeneros was wonderful. She learned from her mistake in the Live Demo, and calmed down. Melissa told them that she would love to do a show geared towards the working mom, and I want to see that show.
Debbie was slapped for forgetting capers. She was also slapped for lying in the first place and saying that she had the capers in the dressing. It's been a problem for her, to tell the truth.
The winner of the Red Lobster Challenge is Jeffrey. I was hoping for Melissa. Oh well.
Each of the ladies was given a change to talk about why they deserve to be Food Network Stars. Debbie talked about melding cultures. Jamika talked about how memorable and likeable and marketable she is. I don't see it. Melissa was very sure that she has the best long term viability of any contestant there, and I agree.
In the end, Jamika is gone. I think it was the right decision.
Who do you want to win?