Next Food Network Star 7 Finalists Announced
“Star Is Back and Bigger Than Ever! 15 hopefuls are vying to join the ranks of Guy, Melissa and Aarti as the next Food Network Star. Who has what it takes?” That’s what the Food Network site has to say about season seven of their most popular show.
I am starting to ease off of my criticism of this show. The last two seasons the winners have actually deserved the wins and both shows are still going strong. The network has also done a good job of finding niches for runner-ups like Adam Gertler, Kelsey Nixon, Tom Pizzica and Herb Mesa. So this year I actually look forward to figuring out which contestants are contenders, pretenders and the ever so forgettable ratings fodder.
For those that don’t know what I mean about “ratings fodder” those are contestants who don’t have a tax cut’s chance in Washington of ever winning the contest. They are there to make the first few cuts painless. Last season the cast was made up of more ratings fodder than actual contenders while at the same time having the strongest top 5 in the show’s history. A nice juxtaposition.
Noticeably missing from the cast is a certain middle aged, chubby guy with thinning hair. Looking over this year’s cast photo (^up yonder^) there seems to be a noticeable trend in the this year’s contestants – young and purty! One cast member is 40 while the rest are younger including four or five in their 20’s. At least I know that it wasn’t my audition that did me in but rather the fact that I don’t look like Ryan Reynolds. I can live with that; I can cook the green tights off of Ryan Reynolds.
Something else noticeably missing from the cast are Southerners (for the third year in a row). There is no way I can believe that you do a search for the 15 best cooking personalities in the nation and you can only find three Southerners that cut the mustard. That doesn’t add up. The stars that made Food Network all came via the South, Legasse (New Orleans), Florence (South Carolina), Clan Deen and Alton (Georgia) and none of them ever blew off a dying child because they were “too busy” for an entire year like a certain elitist New Englander.
In the past few years NFNS has steered away from Southerners including a few seasons where they didn’t even offer any auditions in the South. There is a definite anti-South vibe in the casting department for this show. Let’s be completely honest here, the best cooks and personalities in the country are in the South. Period; end of discussion.
Now feel free to meet to the new cast (click on their names to view their full profile on Food Network’s site):
Alichia Sanchez (33, New York), Chris Nirschel (28, Hoboken), Howie Drummond (40, Highlands Ranch, CO), Jeff Mauro (32, Elmwood Park, IL), Juba Kali (28, New Orleans), Justin Balmes (32, Marietta, GA), Justin Davis (31, Minneapolis), Jyll Everman (31, Glendora, CA), Katy Clark (34, Long Beach, CA), Mary Beth Albright (38, Washington, D.C), Orchid Paulmeier (38, Bluffton, SC), Penny Davidi (39, LA), Susie Jimenez (31, Aspen, CO), Vic “Vegas” Moea (35, Las Vegas) and Whitney Chen (28, New York).
So there are three contestants each from the New York City area and from LA and you know what I say about contestants from The Big Apple and Tinsel Town – they’re actors. True they may also be chefs or caters or whatnot but generally they tend to be professional entertainers first and cooks second. Not that this is a bad thing; Mario Batali and Alton Brown both have theater backgrounds but this show is supposed to be about taking someone from outside the entertainment industry and making them a star. Of course by that criteria I would be ineligible too. So forget I said anything.
Based on the clips on their bios my favorite to win it all right now is Jyll Everman but that is based solely on her audition reel, oh and the fact that she is gorgeous. Who knows if she can cook? If the past two years are any indication, Food Network is shying away from the shenanigans and preordained winners like in seasons 3 and 4. Big Daddy’s “win” in season 4 continues to be a bone of contention with most of the show’s fans.
Next Food Network Star (NFNS) 7 premieres June 5 at 9p/8c.