Food Network Star 7 EP5 Recap

Diner’s, Drive-Ins and 4th of July

The finalists join Guy Fieri in an episode of Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives. Then they must throw a 4th of July Food Festival that celebrates all-American foods. But that’s not all. The festival will include the finalists’ first live cooking demo.

Justin Davis Next Food Network StarLast week we saw:

Justin B. went home despite Penny and Susie having much worse food.  Justin had plenty to say about that when we spoke last week.  Penny’s break with reality continues to grow.  I fear she may go postal if not booted soon.

1st Challenge – under the direction of season 2 winner Guy Fieri, the cast break up the duties of hosting an episode of Diners, Drive-ins and Dives.  With the law suit that has halted the filming of Trible D one has to wonder if Food Network doesn’t actually air this episode.

2nd Challenge – Cater an all-American classic Fourth of July picnic with their own twist on it.  Sponsored by MGD 64 which is not nearly as strange a challenge as making something savory with cereal.  Each also had to do a 3 minute live demo for the picnic guests.

After five episodes here are my thoughts on each contestant:

Alicia Sanchez – Eliminated week 3.

Chris Nirschel – Did much better last week but  I cannot see him surviving another week.  1st challenge was not very good.  2nd challenge it is apparent that math is not his strong suit.  His demo failed.  This may be Chris’ swan song.  The only thing that may save him is his food; it was pretty good.  But I don’t see how.  Every week he doesn’t get eliminated it feeds Alicia’s allegation that he was an actor hired for the show.

Howie Drummond – Eliminated week 1.

Jeff Mauro – He remains a great camera presence but there are still questions about his ability to cook.  1st challenge did not go well for him.  2nd challenge – demo was. . . interesting.  Judges liked it.  The food was pretty good.  Jeff is very likeable.  The jusges thought he had a top three performance, I do not agree.

Juba Kali – Eliminated week 2.

Justin Balmes – Eliminated week 4.

Justin Davis – Not a great week last week.  1st challenge – his potential showed but he needed a little prodding from Guy to pull it off.  2nd challenge – dressed like a – I don’t know what he was dressed as.  He was weird.   His food took forever to plate.  His food wasn’t good and his personality was all over the place.  He could be gone.

Jyll Everman – She is closing in on Orchid and Whitney.  1st challenge – started it off a little stiff but Guy was able to loosen her up.  2nd challenge – Jyll put Penny in her place but it was all for naught as Jyll speaks English but Penny only hears in psycho.  Her demo had good energy but had week spots as well.  Her conversation with the judges didn’t go any better than her Midwestern tacos did.  She took a step back.

Katy Clark – Eliminated week 2.

Mary Beth Albright – A great week last week.  1st challenge was a little week but not terrible.  2nd challenge – her demo was not bad and she got a few laughs.  The Chicken Lady, LOL!  Unfortunately her food didn’t go well.

Orchid Paulmeier –  She is still solid.  1st challenge was not great but not terrible. 2nd challenge – though she got brisket which is in her wheel house but it takes twice as long to cook as they have to prepare things.  Her demo was steeped in her lack of confidence but she pulled it off a bit.  Her food was not up to her expectations and the judges agreed.  Right now she is more Aria than Aarti.

Penny Davidi – She’s a nut job – that sums it up.  1st challenge was horrible.  2nd challenge – Fireworks between Jyll and Penny as Penny heard reason and truth and deflected it with a healthy dose of crazy.  For her demo she wore an outfit that looked like Uncle Sam threw up on her and that was the best it got.  Her demo hurt.  Her food went extremely well even though (in my opinion anyway) her lamb kabob and tabouli salad hardly reflected her assigned dish of sausage with peppers and pasta salad.

Susie Jimenez – Like Mary Beth she is a roller coaster and last week was pretty bad.  1st challenge was OK.  2nd challenge – She did a Mexican twist on July 4th – her energy was good.  Her food was very good.  She had a top 3 finish.

Vic “Vegas” Moea – Two good weeks in a row.  1st challenge was OK.  2nd challenge – Vic in drag for his demo.  Home run, nuf sed!  His food was good.  His entire 2nd challenge was great.  His lobster was the crowd favorite.  He had a top 3 finish.

Whitney Chen – Her abilities are the best package in the show but she’s losing energy and it’s effecting her confidence.  1st challenge she did great.  2nd challenge – she decided to reinvent baked beans as baked beans pie.  She demo’d her gourmet hot dog.  She cracked Guy up at Bobby’s expense.  A great demo.  Her food was amazing.  She put together the best performance of the week.  Not sure why she was not a top three finish.  It borders on suspicious.

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=”!/JeffMauro/status/87693260092477441″]

[blackbirdpie url=”!/politikfix/status/87693652939386880″]

[blackbirdpie url=”!/bweeks79/status/87695631342256128″]

[blackbirdpie url=”!/ScottInOKC/status/87696377039171585″]

[blackbirdpie url=”!/rabbijosh/status/87697313354612736″]


“In it to Win it” type quotes – 1.

Number of people crying – 4, Orchid (twice – but only a little each time and Penny for sympathy plus Jyll.

Number of WTF moments – 2 – Penny’s break with reality and Chris not being in the bottom three.

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

Who will win based on what we’ve seen in the past: Whitney, Jyll, Vic or Orchid

Winner(s) first week: 1st challenge: They didn’t name one. 2nd challenge: Susie.

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

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Justin Davis.

Check out my mourning-after exit interview with each banished foodie HERE.  This week’s exit interview won’t happen until Tuesday because of the July 4th holiday.

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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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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 Denay's Top 10 Best Food Blogs
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2008 Tava: Discovery Contest Runner-up
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