Food Network Star 7 EP4

Cougar Town and Paula Deen

Melissa D’Arabian returns, but given her stellar performance last year they have moved her up in the series and changed her from dinner to hors d’oeuvres—but still there’s the Kellogg’s cereals. Elsewhere there’s a surprise guest and Paula Deen will no doubt expect everyone to deep fry something when they are asked to cater for the Cougar Town cast and crew.

Whitney Chen Next Food Network StarLast week we saw:

Man, last week was brutal to watch.  Chris’s performance was so painfully bad.  But as “luck” would have it he was on the winning team therefore safe from elimination.  Alicia was instead sent home even though her food didn’t appear to be as bad as Mary Beth’s or Susie’s.  Perhaps it was just her cumulative effort that did her in.

Interestingly, Alicia had suggested that contestant eliminations had more to do with a scripted timetable than performance but that post on her blog has since disappeared.  The allegations could be chalked up to sour grapes or business as usual at Food Network Star; take your pick.  It’s not like we haven’t witnessed a season with a seemingly preordained winner before.

First challenge:  Melissa d’ Arabian shows up to do the stupid cereal challenge.  Each contestant has to do a bite sized hors d’oeuvres with a cracker or breakfast cereal.

Second challenge:   They broke up into small groups to cook menus for different parts of the cast, staff and crew of the show Cougar Town with Paula Deen in there making sure everything gets butter.

After four episodes here are my thoughts on each contestant:

Alicia Sanchez – Eliminated week 3.

Chris Nirschel – Last week he had the second worst single performance in Food Network Star history (next of course to Aaron’s fiasco in Vegas).  I cannot see him surviving another week.  Especially in light of the revelation that he auditioned for the Real World.  Damn, Food Network, you owe us better than a dude who wasn’t good enough for Real World.  1st challenge – Chris pulled out the tired old corn flake crusted chicken.  Yawn.  His performance was good. He actually came in second in the challenge. #judgesfail 2nd challenge – apple cider, rosemary braised lamb.  Chris bailed Orchid out when she froze.  He can talk but his food didn’t go over.

Howie Drummond – Eliminated week 1.

Jeff Mauro – He kind of disappeared last week.  That’s the wrong time to slide backward.  1st challenge – started with the goal of making an Iron Chef laugh but instead he kind of made him nauseous.  No word on the food.  2nd challenge – Thai basil chicken but not wanting to grind his own chicken ops for tofu.  #tofufail He did a good job of selling his edible plastic but it was still edible plastic.  Presentation was great.  He made it doable, even Paula Deen did it.

Juba Kali – Eliminated week 2.

Justin Balmes – His food is amazing but his screen presence remains an issue.  1st challenge – again not a good presentation but better than usual and his food was good.  2nd challenge – Seared tuna with couscous came off under seasoned.  Presentation was good for him but not nearly good enough.  Cooking is all that has kept in the game, he may be done.

Justin Davis – After little face time the first two episodes he got a good deal in the second half last week.  He needs to make the best of it.  1st challenge – new POC – the flavor factory.  His presentation was going great until he said his food tasted like “human” and ended short it fell off the cliff.  Melissa said he was “lovely.”  2nd challenge – couldn’t find any of his ingredients for his dish.  Ended up doing poached salmon instead of salmon.  Good presentation but food was bland.

Jyll Everman – She is closing in on Orchid and Whitney.  1st challenge – Rice Crispies with crab worked and presentation was great.  Watch out Whitney.  Jyll for the win.  2nd challenge – Mixed green salad with cranberries and pumpkin seed.  Presentation was very good.  Her food wasn’t as well received.

Katy Clark – Eliminated week 2.

Mary Beth Albright – 1st week she was meh. 2nd she was good.  Last week she almost went home.  A human roller coaster.  1st challenge – no footage.  2nd challenge – teamed with Penny. LOL  Sweet and sour, buttermilk meatloaf.  Cast liked it.  Her presentation was pretty good and they liked her meatloaf a lot.  This was another up week for Mary Beth.  She was very likable and her food rocked.

Orchid Paulmeier –  She was fine last week but she is starting to remind viewers more of Aria and less of Aarti.  She needs to stay on her game or Jyll will pass her.  1st challenge – no footage.  2nd challenge – dirty rice and collard greens.  She was star struck and froze up.  Her food was amazing.

Penny Davidi – Here’s the juxtaposition with Penny – when she isn’t being a back biting snake she is pretty good.  Since she usually is being a back biting snake that probably means we are stuck with her until the first week of the August sweeps period.  Reports are that Penny is not pleased with the way the editing portrays her.  1st challenge – not a very good presentation and the judges cared for neither her food nor her. 2nd challenge – pair with Mary Beth.  Penny was spazing out during the shopping.  Mac and cheese which didn’t seem to go over well.  Presentation was great but not bad.  Penny’s mac and cheese was scorched.  There’s no fixing that.

Susie Jimenez – Like Mary Beth she is a roller coaster.  Good one week and bad the next.  1st challenge – her first presentation was a train wreck but her food was great.  2nd challenge – quinoa and chicken stuffed pepper with mole and cojita cheese.  When she asked Justin to get ten bags of quinoa he heard her say “two.”  Good presentation.  Judges liked her and her food.

Vic “Vegas” Moea – He had his first really good showing last week putting out the best dessert and having a good presentation.  Still a long way to go.  Vic just celebrated his birthday so be sure to stop by his Facebook page and give him a shout out.  1st challenge -scallop encrusted with pecan Sandy – they didn’t remark about the food but on camera was good.  2nd challenge – had to do vegetarian foods.  Had another great presentation.  They liked his food.  He’s coming on strong.

Whitney Chen – I feel that she’ll have to really screw up badly to not win this right now.  She has consistently been in the top 2 in each challenge.  Of course Kelsey Nixon dominated season 4 and still got sent packing so nothing is certain.  1st challenge – had to make something using a pop tart.  She made it work and her on camera was fair.  2nd challenge – Mediterranean platter of vegetables.  Her presentation was warm and friendly.  Paula Deen didn’t like her dish.  They liked her presentation.  She’s taken a step back this week.

Be sure to check out the WTVC Food Network Star Polls – six categories for contestants who best embody the spirit of former Food Network Star competitors HERE.  Don’t forget to follow the live Tweeting with Serena, Bobby, Giada, myself and who ever else stops by.  Last week we had drive-by Tweets from Whitney Chen, Orchid Paulmeier and Justin Davis.

Top Tweets:

[blackbirdpie url=”!/apowerfulbeat/status/85152525715644416″]

[blackbirdpie url=”!/JessIzAwsum/status/85158073928400897″]

[blackbirdpie url=”!/MBeach75/status/85158890727149568″]

[blackbirdpie url=”!/apowerfulbeat/status/85166784587632640″]

[blackbirdpie url=”!/kdzwierzynski/status/85168166380118017″]


“In it to Win it” Quotes – 1.

Number of people crying – 1 – Whitney.

Number of WTF moments – 1. When Jeff decided to use tofu.

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

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

Winner(s) first week: 1st challenge: Jyll. 2nd challenge: Jeff, Orchid, Mary Beth, Vic and Susie.

The finalist(s) who will be going home is . . .

[ad] Empty ad slot (#1)!

Justin Balmes.

Check out my mourning-after exit interview with each banished foodie HERE.

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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
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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
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2011 Judge: Dauphin Island Gumbo Cook-off
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