Food Network Star Season 8 EP7 Recap

Meet the Press-Ure

Nine hopefuls remain, and they’re tested on how well they can handle themselves under pressure. First, they film their own promotional videos with no help from their producers. Then, a panel of journalists grills each of them, asking tough questions about their techniques, their personal backgrounds and the show they want to bring to the Food Network.

Just when they are thinking that Bob Tuschman and Susie Fogelson are their toughest critics, the remaining finalists meet a new team of evaluators this week: the press. This group of media professionals can potentially make or break a Star’s public image, so it is especially important for the contestants to wow them with their unique culinary points of view, engaging personas and stellar stage presences.

Well, we’re at the halfway point now.  Here are a few observations:

  • Judson and Linkie should still be in this contest.
  • There has been no real questionable behavior from the contestants; the judges are a different story.
  • The new format (despite one major flaw) is compelling and more importantly it is actually molding TV stars.
  • This is easily the best cast ever.  Whether or not there is another Guy Fieri is yet to be determined but there are no duds in this cast.

Linkie MaraisLast week:  Linkie went home.  It’s too bad.  She was the strongest non-Team Alton contestant in the competition.  It just goes to show you that one bad week can sink you.  By the way, The Huffington Post did a terrific article recently about Judson Allen.  You can check it out HERE.

Rather than recapping last week on each remaining contestant I’ll give a summary, a halftime report if you will.  After that I’ll talk about tonight’s performances.

Oh, and team play is now over.  From here on out it’s dog-eat-dog.


Eric Lee – Eliminated week 4.

Kara Sigle – Eliminated week 2.

Malcolm Mitchell – I could easily copy and paste Malcolm’s summary on all of the contestants on Team Bobby and Team Giada.  He has had moments that were truly inspired but for the most part Malcolm has just been fair.  But when he is on he’s outstanding.  His presentation was too frantic.  He was talking too fast.  A pretty fair job.  The judges liked the food.

Michele Ragussis – The judges seem to love Michele.  They keep talking about her brilliant personality and her star quality and to be quite honest, I haven’t seen it.  At her best Michelle has been pretty good.  But here’s the deal with that; it’s called editing.  Often the things the judges see that make them like a certain candidate don’t always make it to air.  Keep in mind a week of taping goes into one episode.  Her presentation was nice but not extraordinary.  The panel really liked her food.

Nikki Martin – I love her modified POV the Grill Next Door.  Of course I loved her old one too.  To me Nikki is the best on Team Bobby.  Though some of her Star Challenges haven’t been spectacular her Producer Challenges have been fantastic.  After last week’s show I Tweeted her that she should just do Producer Challenges.  Her presentation was fine but for whatever reason Susie didn’t like it.  It reminds me of Lisa Garza who did everything Bob and Susie asked and they continually punished he for it.  It felt like a set up.  The judges didn’t care for her food.  She remains the best member of Team Bobby.


Josh Lyons – eliminated week 3.

Linkie Marais – eliminated week 6.

Martita Jara – Finally the Martita that Giada has been talking about showed up but it took five weeks.  Like Michele we’ve heard a lot about how great Martita’s personality has been but until last week we didn’t see much of it.  Again that could easily be editing.  Her presentation started off a little stiff but she quickly softened up.  Quickly is the operative word as she finished 30 seconds too soon.  It killed what she had going.  One of the worst performances of this season but the food was good.

Phillip “Ippy” Aiona – After weeks of the judges telling Ippy to be less of himself and more like everyone else they have finally found a common ground.  They seem happy with Ippy being a bigger version of himself.  I think that’s a good direction for both.  His presentation was a little choppy and again they were on him for his energy again.  His food was very good.

Yvan Lemoine – Yvan has probably shown more promise than anyone on either his team or Team Bobby.  However, his consistency still needs work.  He has easily the most charming on-screen persona of any of the contestants.  His food, however, has been less than impressive a few times.  Not bad mind you, just not impressive.  His presentation was very nice but Bob picked it a part.  Yvan struggled with the Q&A until he started talking about his childhood.  Home run.  They didn’t mention his food.


Cristie Schoen – eliminated week 1.

Emily Ellyn – Most seasons Emily would have already run away with the contest.  This cast is just that good.  Heck, just Team Alton by itself has had more contenders on it that some entire casts.  I love Em’s personality and her approach – she’s taking an old approach and making it new by embracing it’s oldness, which is of course quite new.  Her presentation was a little off and a little stiff.  They loved her food.

Judson Allen – Eliminated in week 5.

Justin Warner – He’s a freaking enigma!  I don’t know if Food Network viewers are ready for what Justin brings to the table but I do know that he is entertaining as hell.  I love watching Justin because I never know what’s coming next.  I’m not a fan of predictability.  Fan-frickin-tastic!  His presentation killed and his food was bonkers.  He killed it.

Martie Duncan – Susie made the comment early on that Martie reminded her of Paula Deen.  That’s not nice.  Martie is herself, the only thing she has in common with Paula is a slightly similar accent.  Martie can ramble at times and I’m not sure if her food is something viewers want to fix but she is entertaining.  Her presentation was typical Martie – charming and folksy.  Bob Tushman called it brilliant.  Her food was well received.


I think that any of the remaining contestants are capable of hosting a pretty good show.  But, to be perfectly honest, if anyone other than Emily or Justin wins this competition it will be a crime.  Even on their bad days they’re as good as the others when they have their A game.  In fact I’d love to see a scenario like in season five when it was so close between Melissa and Jeffrey that both got a show.

Episode winners: Justin & Martie, Ippy & Yvan, Malcolm & Michele

My leaders thus far: Justin.

Dark horse: Ippy and Yven.

Most unforgettable performance:  Justin

Most forgettable performance: Martita

Producer’s Challenge: Nikki, Martita and Emily.

Be sure to check out all of the Star Season 8 contestant exit interviews HERE.


The next Food Network Star will not be. . .

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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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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
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