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Food Network Star S9 E6

FNS9banner 555x173 Food Network Star S9 E5

The latest season of Food Network Star is underway and the latest round of wannabe TV chefs have begun their quest. We’ve seen first impressions and heard what the judges think but what the world really wants to know is what I think. Let’s do this.

If you haven’t seen tonight’s episode STOP! Watch it HERE first and then come back.  It’s a frickin recap, yo!

Branding: Food Network Stars need to communicate big ideas quickly, so this week, each finalist will have to come up with a product representing their unique brand and culinary style and then create, package and pitch the product to a tough panel of successful food executives from Target, Kellogg’s and Kraft. The selection committee will decide who did best overall, and who will go home.

Last week Viet went home.  That’s too bad.  He has a great smile and his cooking is top notch but sometimes he just wasn’t good on camera and when that happened it seemed it effected his food.  Still, with a little more coaching Viet could be a real star.  When he spoke with passion he was great.  Chad had an off week last time out.  At least by his standards, he still had a top 3 finish.  But that also goes to show how bad some of the other showings were last week.  It’s also a testament to how few Starsters are left.  After tonight we’ll be halfway done.  I know, right?

Now for my take on each:

AXON Andres Guillama s4x3 lead Food Network Star S9 E5
Eliminated week 2.
AXON Chad Rosenthal s4x3 lead Food Network Star S9 E5
Chad did what he does best for the branding challenge – BBQ.  He did okay.  Alton said he liked Chad’s beans… a little bit and that they were the better of the two.  His presentation was pretty good but the execs were not impressed with the whole package.
AXON Chris Hodgson s4x3 lead Food Network Star S9 E5
Chris is stating to hit his groove a little.  His soup idea was a little safe but his smoked apple and pepper jam sounded intriguing.  His soup was way too hot.  His jam was well liked but they suggested he not call it a jam.  And that’s how smoked apple ketchup was invented.  His presentation was terrible.
AXON Damaris Phillips Horizon s4x3 lead Food Network Star S9 E5
Damaris was worried that she didn’t have what it takes for the branding challenge.  Her whiskey-honey vinaigrette didn’t work but her jam rocked.  Her pitched was forced.  She was not herself and it may have cost her but she pulled it out in the Q&A for a top 3 finish.
AXON Daniela Perez Reyes s4x3 lead Food Network Star S9 E5
Eliminated week 1.
AXON Connie Lovely Jackson Horizon s4x3 lead Food Network Star S9 E5
Eliminated week 4.
AXON Nikki Dinki s4x3 lead Food Network Star S9 E5
Nikki’s eggplant sauce sure had a funky color to it.  The judges hated it.  Her roasted pepper sauce was better but not great.  Her pitch was fine but she didn’t handle the Q&A well.
AXON Danushka Lysek Horizon s4x3 lead Food Network Star S9 E5
Eliminated week 3.
AXON Rodney Henry s4x3 lead Food Network Star S9 E5
Rodney returned to his center by making pies for the branding challenge.  It paid off in both concept and taste.  He hit it out of the park with his all in one pie kits.  I think he was the clear winner.  The presentation was catchy if not informative.  He nose-dived.
AXON Russell Jackson Horizon s4x3 lead Food Network Star S9 E5
Russell’s risk on his branding challenge could be make or break.  Nothing comes easy to this guy but he just keeps battling.  His ice cream was good, his bacon candy better.  His pitch was very good.  A great over all job.  Top 3.
AXON Stacey Poon Kinney s4x3 lead Food Network Star S9 E5
Stacey had both of her dishes go sideways during the branding challenge.  Her gluten-free cookies bombed.  However her cayenne butterscotch sauce was a winner.  Her presentation did go too well but she recover fine.  The execs loved the butterscotch.  The judges told her to stop rehearsing but they loved her.  Who wouldn’t?  Another top 3 finish.
AXON Viet Pham s4x3 lead Food Network Star S9 E5
Eliminated week 5.

The person who will NOT be the next Food Network Star is…
StarBanner Food Network Star S9 E5
Chris

Watch Food Network Star 9 Ep. 6

Food Network Star S9 E4

Food Network Star 9

The latest season of Food Network Star is underway and the latest round of wannabe TV chefs have begun their quest. We’ve seen first impressions and heard what the judges think but what the world really wants to know is what I think. Let’s do this.

If you haven’t seen tonight’s episode STOP! Watch it HERE first and then come back.  Geez!

Trending:  From foods, to products, to restaurants, Food Network Stars are participating in the latest culinary trends. The movie theater experience is being transformed with luxury cinemas popping up all over the country. This week, the finalists will compete at a one of these extravagant cinemas. Paired into teams of three, they will have to create a menu and a movie trailer for a focus group of movie enthusiasts. Whose concept will be a hit at the box office and who will go home?

Last week was the episode many have been waiting for, Danushka went home.  I didn’t have a problem with her.  It was clear from the beginning that the only reasons she made this cast were because they knew people would hate her and because she is sexy as all get out.  Armed with that knowledge it was easy to look past her.  After all she never had a chance of winning; that wasn’t in the script.  She was just ratings fodder.

I’m not sure I cared for tonight’s challenge.  I don’t think it really involved anything that a Food Network Star needs to know.  The trailer was a goofy idea.  Bobby, “Huh,” at seeing the movie posters spoke volumes.  That one huff seemed to say, “What a ridiculous idea.  I’m glad I’m not in the contestants shoes.”

Now for my take on each:

Andres Guillama
Eliminated week 2.
Chad Rosenthal
Chad was hilarious.  The guy always has fun.  Romance was the perfect theme for Chad because he looks like the lead from a romantic comedy.  They ladies love him and the judges loved his chicken wings.
Chris Hodgson
Chris is not much of a singer.  LOL  Good thing he’s a great chef.  Chris’ Lobster Mac & Cheese is kind of a cliche; it seems someone does it every year.  The only upside is if this is the best Lobster Mac & Cheese in the history of the show.  Unfortunately it was inconsistent which is dangerous with a dish that’s been on this show more than Bob Tuschman.  The judges were not impressed with it.
Damaris Phillips
Damaris is adorable.  I don’t know if she is Star material but dadgum she makes this show fun to watch.  I don’t know about the rest of the country but in Alabama, Shrimp and Grits has been done to death.  They had better be amazing because Bobby is a master at them and Alton grew up on them.  They were under-seasoned but otherwise were pretty good.
Daniela Perez-Reyes
Eliminated week 1.
Lovely Jackson
Lovely seemed a little cantankerous tonight.  Stress I’m sure but if I saw so did the judges.  Her doughnut made of processed pizza dough was not inspiring in concept.  It was even worse in execution.  It was more of a dough-rock.  Easily the worst dish of the night.  Lovely seems scared to scratch cook and the world doesn’t need another Sandra Lee.  Bottom 3.
Nikki Dinki
Nikki is great on camera.  She is focused and driven.  She’s full of spunk.  Her inexperience cooking on the line is a huge hurdle.  Her vegetarian chili with a hint of meat is dead center of her POV but will it taste good?  YES.  The crowd loved it.
Danushka Lysek
Eliminated week 3.
Rodney Henry
Rodney could not have gotten a better theme than musical.  He needs to hit a homerun because fate just lobbed him one right down the middle.  His steak and Gruyere pot pie sound great and it’s a recipe his done a million times.  No excuse not to have a great finish.  His diction in the song was not good.  He’s a pro; no excuse.  The same goes for his runny pot pie.  Bottom 3.
Russel Jackson
Russell’s idea of a spaghetti western was brilliant.  Presentation was again an issue but in the end he pulled it off.  His food concept was solid as he nailed the spaghetti western idea by making a bolognese with bison to top his vermicelli.  Unfortunately his execution failed.  Most felt that it was a boring dish.  As they say in Texas Rodney was all hat and no cattle.
Stacey Poon-Kinney
Stacey had a bit of a hiccup last week but she still appears to have the complete package.  S’mores seem a bit pedestrian especially for a contest like this but Stacey elevated them to a gourmet level totally nailing her POV in the process.  Possibly the best bite of the night.
Viet Pham
Viet is the consummate professional.  I think his energy is zen-like and that is cool.  I don’t think the judges realize how cool it is.  His spin on simple berries and cream was very inventive but unexciting but his presentation was pretty good.  Bottom 3.

The person who will NOT be the next Food Network Star is…
Food Network Star: The Wannabe TV Chef Interviews
Lovely

Food Network Star S9 E3

Food Network Star 9

The latest season of Food Network Star has premiered and the latest round of wannabe TV chefs have begun their quest.  We’ve seen first impressions and heard what the judges think but what the world really wants to know is what I think.  Let’s do this.

If you haven’t seen tonight’s episode STOP!  Watch it HERE first and then come back.

Expertise:  Week three already.  So far Chad and Stacey have shown to be the front runners.  Both have been letter perfect so far.  Rodney and Viet aren’t too far behind.  Russell was a dud in week one and a stud in week two, what does week 3 offer?  Danushka has had two straight bottom 3 finishes.  This week I predict she either goes home or has an incredibly strong showing.  Those are the two most common plot twists at this point.  Each Starster must prove they are an expert on food.  Ultimately one will get Chopped.

Now for my take on each:

Andres Guillama
Eliminated week 2.
Chad Rosenthal
A two-time top 3 finisher, Chad is one of the favorites.  His first offering this week was a little off the mark.  His second challenge was classic Chad – inventive food and a warm, charming presentation. A top 4 finish.
Chris Hodgson
Chris’ performance has been disappointing so far.  Chad started off this week with another underachieving dish.  Helping Stacey was cool, that usually means you’re headed home though.  Not this time, on the second round his food was great and his presentation was solid.
Damaris Phillips
Damaris remains an enigma.  She also remains a doll.  Her first offering this week was pretty darned good.  She was one of the two winners of the first challenge.  She was outstanding as a judge in the second round.  She sounded good enough to fill in on ICA or Chopped.  Top 4.
Daniela Perez-Reyes
Eliminated week 1.
Lovely Jackson
So far Lovely has been a middle of the road performer who has shown a lot of promise.  She started off tonight with a mediocre dish.  On the second round her presentation was great and her food was pretty good.
Nikki Dinki
Nikki hit a home run in week one and not so much in week two.  She is very likable and she does have a great POV but as the judges keep pointing out she needs to stop apologizing for it.  Take ownership, be proud. Her second round was outstanding on both food and presentation – a top 4.
Danushka Lysek
Danushka is the one you love to hate.  But her food is pretty good and at times she has a great sense of humor.  Her first effort this week was not a hit.  On the second challenge her food was inventive but as usual her presentation was off-putting.  Another bottom 3.
Rodney Henry
Rodney had a very good first week, so-so in week two.  He started off this week with a terrific dish.  He was one of the two winners of the first challenge.  He was OK as a judge.  He seemed more like buddy trying your food than a critic but then again he was true to himself.  Top 4.
Russel Jackson
Russell bombed the first week.  Not so last week, a top 3 finish.  His first offering this week was nice but not stellar.  His second did not go over well at all and his energy during presentation was lacking.  Another dip on his roller coaster ride.  Bottom 3, again.
Stacey Poon-Kinney
Stacey was really amazing in the first two weeks.  She’s a front runner for sure and her food in the first round reflected what she has done to date.  The second round however she did not pull off her dish and her presentation went long.  The first time she’s looked human, bottom 3 human.
Viet Pham
Viet has been right on the cusp of a top 3 finish but so far it has alluded him.  He started off this week with a great dish but also one that did not quite celebrate the secret ingredient.  His second challenge food was great but his presentation was a little clumsy and he seemed a little nervous.

The person who will NOT be the next Food Network Star is…
Food Network Star: The Wannabe TV Chef Interviews
Danushka

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Stuart in 80 Words or Less

Stuart is a celebrity chef, food activist and award-winning food writer. He penned the cookbooks Third Coast Cuisine: Recipes of the Gulf of Mexico, No Sides Needed: 34 Recipes To Simplify Life and Amigeauxs - Mexican/Creole Fusion Cuisine. He hosts two Internet cooking shows "Everyday Gourmet" and "Little Grill Big Flavor." His recipes have been featured in Current, Lagniappe, Southern Tailgater, The Kitchen Hotline and on the Cooking Channel.

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Stuart’s Honors & Awards

2015 1st Place Luck of the Irish Cook-off
2015 4th Place Downtown Cajun Cook-off
2015 2nd Place Fins' Wings & Chili Cook-off
2014 2015 4th Place LA Gumbo Cook-off
2012 Taste Award nominee for best chef (web)
2012 Finalist in the Safeway Next Chef Contest
2011 Taste Award Nominee for Little Grill Big Flavor
2011, 12 Member: Council of Media Tastemakers
2011 Judge: 29th Chef's of the Coast Cook-off
2011 Judge: Dauphin Island Wing Cook-off
2011 Cooking Channel Perfect 3 Recipe Finalist
2011 Judge: Dauphin Island Gumbo Cook-off
2011 Culinary Hall of Fame Member
2010 Tasty Awards Judge
2010 Judge: Bayou La Batre Gumbo Cook-off
2010 Gourmand World Cookbook Award Nominee
2010 Chef2Chef Top 10 Best Food Blogs
2010 Denay's Top 10 Best Food Blogs
2009 2nd Place Bay Area Food Bank Chef Challenge
2008 Tava: Discovery Contest Runner-up

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