Next Food Network Star 6 EP 9 – Review

I want to start off this week by apologizing to a young lady named Victoria.  She was the person who I mis-identified as stalking Herb a few weeks ago.  I have since met Victoria and have learned that her mass Tweeting the show was part of a contest and not the result of an unstable lymbic system.  In her own words she has, “won a hundreds of dollars worth of a gift cards to various delicious restaurants.”  Hey in these hard times who can blame her?  Now the marketing firm might that sponsored the contest will certainly need to rethink its methods in the future as their gimmick ended up alienating a lot the people they were trying to reach.  I guess that’s why they call it “new media.”  We’re all still learning.

Allez Cuisine!

aarti sequeira on WannabeTVchef.comLast week saw the first contestant eliminated that viewers actually liked.  Brad, by far the best pure cook in the show was sent packing despite having a better week than the suddenly unlikable Aria.  Another sign that this show is less about finding an actual star and more about generating three months worth of water cooler chatter.  It’s a shame, too, Brad was the type of host that could actually teach and inspire home cooks, something Food Network has little of these days.

Star Challenge: Alton Brown arrives to conduct the contestants in a double Star Challenge.  Two combatants go head-to-head while the other two provide play-byplay of the ongoing battle.  There sous chefs ar the four most recently dumped contestants.  The judges were Iron Chefs Bobby Flay, Cat Cora, Morimoto and Michael Symon.  There was no sign of last year’s Next Iron Chef winner Jose Garces.  Part of me laments Brad’s dismissal last week because he would have owned this challenge; the rest of me laments it because it means Aria is still around.

My thoughts:

Dzintra Dzenis – went home week 3.
Doreen Fang – went home week 2.
Alexis Hernandez – went home week 1.
Brianna Jenkins – finally went home week 6.

Aria Kagan – Time to go.  Please, FN, don’t send home a better contestant just to keep her around for people to hate like you did last week.  Aria is combative and is not knowledgeable at play-by-play.  He gets stuck with Paul as his sous chef.  Aria has Serena as her sous chef and the theme ingredient against Tom is bacon.  Aria almost fails to plate on time and her presentation is not good.  Her family style service is the opposite of Iron Chef quality.  She seems to forget that bacon was the secret ingredient on each dish.  Her food is a major fail.  Her presentation is fair but it is filled with making excuses for her presentations.  I don’t see how she can possibly hang on another week.

Herb Mesa – Herb had a another pretty good week last week.  In the 1st battle Herb squares off against Aarti in Battle: shrimp.  Herb’s Latin fusion shrimp come together easily and he plates in plenty of time.  Herb’s presentation was great and the food was terrific on the first two courses and so-so on the third.  All of the Iron Chefs were impressed.  Herb’s play-byplay is solid but his throw was terrible.  The Iron chefs loved Herb’s approach.

Serena Palumbo – went home week 7.

Tom Pizzica – Back to the penthouse!  Tom does a good job with the play-by-play.  I was a little surprised that Tom chose Brianna as his sous chef when Brad was available.  Bacon, if ever there was an ingredient better suited for Tom.  Upon hearing that Aria is doing French Toast he decides to do a savory version with bacon, chorizo and clam sauce.  That is so what I would have done.  I think it is brilliant if he can pull it off.  Tom first risk pays off for the most part.  He tries to do a steak with pork belly which usually requires hours of slow cooking but with only an hour and his 2nd dish is too tough to eat.  Then the savory French toast – another fail.  Tuschman called it the worst dish in the history of Next Food Network Star.  Ouch!  The concept was sound, it was his execution was the issue.  Susie said it was greasy.

Aarti Sequeira – Had real confidence issues last week and came seriously close to going home.  In the 1st battle Aarti lucks up by getting Brad as her sous chef to take on Herb in Battle: shrimp.  Aarti shakes things up by going Spanish with one of her dishes.  Jose Andres would be proud.  But alas there is no cucumber for her gazpacho so she substitutes with coconut oil – risky.  She barely gets her dishes done, mainly thanks to Brad.  Aarti’s risky gazpacho works and her second course goes over, too.  Her third dish is Mexican-Indian fusion and Mike Symon says it’s the best thing he’s tasted in three years of judging NFNS.  Aarti struggles at the commentary but handles the cut-aways smoothly.

Darrell “DAS” Smith – went home week 4.

Brad Sorenson – went home week 8.

Paul Young – mercifully went home week 5.

In case you haven’t suffered through enough NFNS drama, Adam Gertler, Sunny Anderson, and (the person who should have won NFNS 4) Kelsey Nixon host a rap up show on the Food Network web site called After Party.  It really isn’t noteworthy other than the fact it is hosted by two former NFNS contestants and a Food Network Star who is less qualified than any contestant in the history of Next Food Network Star.

A small prediction – like Samson, Tom will stay strong as long as he doesn’t cut his hair.


“In it to Win it” Quotes – 0.

Number of people crying – 3 but can I really count Herb anymore?

Number of WTF moments – 2

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 of Battle Shrimp: Aarti Winner Battle Bacon: Tom

Updated “gotta go” list: Aria.

The finalist who will be going home is . . .

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jose andres

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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
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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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