Next Food Network Star 6 EP 5 – Review

It’s between two weeks since we last checked in with our friends in the Next Food Network Star.  You may want to check back to my previous review to refresh your memory as to what happened last time.  To make up for lost time food Network is treating us to an extra 30 minutes of NFNS.  If memory serves me, the debut episode this year was a 2 hour special that stretched the normal 60 minutes out long enough to double the ad revenue but really did not give anymore content than a standard 60 minute episode.  I expect much the same with this 90 minute episode.

This week Herb Mesa and Brianna Jenkins threw an EXCLUSIVE Viewing Party, Cooking Demonstration, Food Tasting and Silent Auction at ONE, one of Atlanta’s hottest restaurants!  The event is to raise money for the BOYS & GIRLS CLUBS Of Metro Atlanta.

Location: ONE. midtown kitchen
Address: 559 Dutch Valley Rd, Atlanta, GA 30324
Time: 7:00-10pm, show time is 9-10pm

Aarti Sequeira on WannabeTVchef.comFirst Challenge: Giada sat down with each contestant and gave them some advice on how to present themselves as each developed a signature item for retail.  If this challenge sounds familiar they did it in season 4 only with the added pressure of trying to sell their product to Martha Stewart.  In that regards season 6 got off easy.

Star Challenge:  Paula Deen is in town.  In year’s past Paula’s appearance has usually translated into some of the most negative judging on any reality TV contest.  She is brutal and often times for no reason.  Issues with Deen’s crude, occasionally perverse personalty and repeated legal troubles have led to a decreased presence on the network of late.  Anyway, in Deen’s Star Challenge the contestants are broken up into two-man teams to run a lunch truck, a staple of the L.A. dining scene.

My thoughts:

Dzintra Dzenis – went home week 3.
Doreen Fang – went home week 2.
Alexis Hernandez – went home week 1.
Brianna Jenkins – Maybe one of the luckiest people in the world.  She’s lucky she can cook because her on camera work isn’t great.  She’s lucky she is pretty because her personality is off-putting.  She’s lucky Paul is on the show otherwise she’d be the most hated person in reality TV.  The way she goes after Serena – the only other extremely attractive female contestant – is obnoxious.  Brianna is proof positive that the worst enemy of a woman in a professional setting is another woman.  It was fun watching her bomb during the 1st challenge.  Brianna deliberately sabotaged Serena on the 2nd challenge by forcing a menu on her with no Italian items on it.  The general consensus among those Tweeting NFNS this week is that Brianna needs to go.
Aria Kagan – Hit or miss Aria – the human roller coaster ride.  1st challenge the coaster went down.  She teamed with the best cook in the competition in the 2nd challenge, Brad.  Unfortunately, there food wasn’t that good.
Herb Mesa – I really think Herb is the best package for a TV star despite his issues in the last episode.  That “meltdown” seemed more scripted than genuine and has once again put the stench of “fake” on NFNS.  Herb’s 1st challenge was much better than last week it was clearly the best no matter what the judges came up with.  On the second challenge Herb teamed with Paul and they seemed to be having fun.  Herb’s personality and food were back in the mix.
Serena Palumbo – Serena is just too limited in what she can do – she’s hot and she cooks Italian food exclusively.  Unfortunately for her, Giada is hotter and there are half a dozen TV chefs that do Italian better.  It’s time she made an appearance on the “gotta go” list.  1st challenge didn’t go well.  2nd challenge she had to deal with Brianna sabotaging her at every turn.  Despite having trouble finding a bottle of sriracha she shined.
Tom Pizzica – Still hanging on.  Could he be the next Aaron McCargo Jr.?  The guy who never really did that well at anything but managed to hang on week after week.  1st challenge had good energy but the food was terrible and still won the challenge with Aarti.  WTF?  He teamed with Aarti on the 2nd challenge and they seemed to work well together.  Tom is becoming a serious contender.
Aarti Sequeira – She’s got the chops, she’s got the look, she’s got the hook (Tushcman’s obsession with Indian food) and now she has moved past Herb.  At this point it is all about how she closes.  Botched the 1st challenge but still tied with Tom, Double WTF?  Please, Food Network, not another fixed season.  2nd challenge was with Tom – good food and good vibe.
Darrell “DAS” Smith – went home week 4.
Brad Sorenson – Last week Brad finally hit on both the food and the presentation.  His food especially was outstanding.  Can he maintain?  1st challenge was OK.  2nd challenge saw Brad working with home cook Aria.  The food was only ok.
Paul Young – Easily the most unlikable contestant in the history of this series.  That’s saying something considering the snake-like Debbie Lee from last season and season 4’s Kevin Roberts who insinuated that only trailer trash ever eat macaroni and cheese from a box.  1st challenge was OK.  On the 2nd challenge Paul benefited from being teamed with Herb especially since his own recipes tanked.  Paul didn’t help his case by acting like a smart ass to Bobby Flay.

All of the teams seemed to really do well, even Serena & Brianna.  Oddly Brad and Aria had the least impressive food.  Based on the comments from the judges Tom and Aarti had the best food but they gave the win to Serena & Brianna who did actually do well together.


“In it to Win it” Quotes – 0.

Number of people crying – 3.

Number of WTF moments – 3.

Who should win based on what we’ve seen so far: Aarti

Who will win based on what we’ve seen in the past: Aarti

Winner(s) 1st Challenge: Aarti & Tom. 2nd challenge: Brianna & Serena.

Updated “gotta go” list: Brianna, Paul and Serena.

The finalist who will be going home is . . .

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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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2010 Judge: Bayou La Batre Gumbo Cook-off
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