Food Network Star Season 8 EP9 Recap

Deen Family Beach Party

Emily EllynThe finalists head to Miami for the Food Network South Beach Wine and Food Festival where Paula Deen (Paula’s Best Dishes) hosts a summer beach party for VIP guests. They must provide the food for the beachside occasion and in addition to creating a dish for the party, they also create a kids version to appease the youngsters in attendance. The finalists shop at Target for fun and stylish items to help bring their family beach party to life. The final eight also perform a 30-second “entertaining tip” on-camera which will be watched by the judging table, and whoever wins the challenge receives a $20,000 Target gift card.

Last week was an ugly week for the show.  There have been two contestants who have been head and shoulders above the rest, Emily and Justin.  After being badgered and psyched out by the judges Emily was booted after a mediocre performance.  This is odd considering that Martita had an unusually bad performance.  But hey, the judges have been targeting Team Alton all season eliminating people without reason and literally changing the rules to make sure they got to eliminate Alton’s crew.

Lisa Garza Wine TowerAlso in the cross-hairs of Bob and Susie’s mind games is Nikki from Team Bobby.  Each week they ask her to do something and she responds by doing it exactly right.  Susie was particularly upset that Nikki had once again overcome their obstacles.  But it seemed that her latest escape actually impressed Bob and Susie.

What Bob and Susie are doing to Nikki reminds me of the hell they put Lisa Garza through in the infamous fourth season.  If you remember they tried for weeks to break Lisa’s spirit and each time she responded by excelling.  Ultimately they tried to kill her.  That’s not hyperbole – they tied a rope around her waist, dangled her three stories above the ground and repeatedly slammed her into a glass wall.  True story.

Season four remains the most obvious example of a winner being predetermined resulting in repeated manipulations of the rules in order to ensure that outcome.  This season is starting to feel the same way.

To be perfectly honest, this contest is over.  Justin is clearly the best contestant this year and that also reminds me of season four.  Kelsey Nixon blew the doors off of everyone that season but was robbed of the win she earned.  The result?  She has two hit series in production and the rest of the cast are currently residing in the “where are they now” files.  I wonder if this season ends with someone winning solely to cause controversy or to satisfy some demographic need leaving Justin the odd man out.

But I keep reminding myself that the judges see hours of performance and I only get to see minutes.


Eric Lee – Eliminated week 4.

Kara Sigle – Eliminated week 2.

Malcolm Mitchell – Last week he was just fine but not great.  The whole “I don’t need a POV” thing is getting old.  I wonder if the judges feel the same.  His menu seemed perfect for Miami.  He’s charming and his food was okay.

Michele Ragussis – Last week her showing was fine.  This week she was a little shaky.  Her tip was iffy and her menu was perhaps too adventurous.  Lots of people had crab shells in their food.  In fact, her dish was so inundated with crab shells it was pulled from service for safety hazards.  It wasn’t her best effort.  Will it cost her?

Nikki Martin – She remains the strongest member of Team Bobby and she gets stronger every week.  This week she seems primed for a run.  Her food looked interesting.  Nikki has struggled before with kids meals but this went a little better until one of the brats asked for ranch dressing.  Paula said she thought grilled food would get boring do it all the time.  But butter in everything, that’s not boring?


Josh Lyons – eliminated week 3.

Linkie Marais – eliminated week 6.

Martita Jara – Last week she had one of the worst performances of this season but the judges kept her over Emily.  She needs to take advantage of this opportunity to justify the judges’ decision.  Her energy was okay.  Her other teammates were so strong that it may have tempered how she came across.

Phillip “Ippy” Aiona – Last week his presentation was a little choppy and again they were on him for his energy again.  His food was very good.  This week, Ippy seems at home in Miami.  His energy was outstanding.  His plate was gorgeous.  A great performance.

Yvan Lemoine – Last week’s presentation was very nice but Bob picked it a part.  Yvan struggled with the Q&A until he started talking about his childhood; that may have been a game changer for him.  I love his menu this week.  Presentation was great, food was great.  A home run.


Cristie Schoen – Eliminated week 1.

Emily Ellyn – – Eliminated in week 7.

Judson Allen – Eliminated in week 5.

Justin Warner – Last week his presentation soared and his food was bonkers.  He killed it.  His menu was brilliant but maybe a little hot.  His presentation was great.  By the way, Justin’s lips are natural, y’all.  That seems to be the number one thing that people are asking at his site.  Click the thumbnail to see the stats from his site.

Martie Duncan – Last week Martie was charming and folksy and her food was well received.  Martie meets Paula – will that destroy the space/time continuum.  Martie was stressed meeting her idol but Paula loved everything she did.


Episode winner: Ippy

My leader thus far: Justin.

Dark horse: Ippy and Yven.

Most unforgettable performance:  Justin

Most forgettable performance: Michele

Producer’s Challenge: Malcolm and Michele.

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


The next Food Network Star will not be. . .

[ad] Empty ad slot (#1)!


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>

Follow Stuart via “the Online”
Sip & Chew with Mike and Stu

Add to Google


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.

Stu’s Latest Kindle Single is Just $2.99
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
Subscribe to this blog

Enter your email address:

Delivered by FeedBurner

ISO 9000 Culinary Arts Certification