Food Network Star 7 EP 7 Recap

Dinner Party for Wolfgang Puck

It’s time for midterms, when the finalists must cook their signature dish and include everything they have learned so far. Afterward, there is no rest for the wicked, or the angelic, because Wolfgang Puck drops by the finalists’ house for an impromptu dinner party and one lucky person will get an impromptu cooking lesson.

Last week we saw:

vic and jyllSweet, sweet Orchid went home.  It was sad to see her go but alas someone had to leave.  The general consensus among those watching the show was that the wrong person went home.  Penny had another week where her personality was revolting but her food was aces.

Conversely Mary Beth had another week where her food was sub-par but her personality saved her.  Chris was Chris.  He remains an enigma to me.  Clearly this cat can cook.  He is the Executive Chef at Café Napoli in New York City.  You don’t make it to being an executive chef in NYC if can’t cook right?  I guess it just isn’t showing up in the challenges.

This week:

Another double elimination.  In yet another cross promotional effort Sabrina Soto from Design Star on HGTV gave the team design tips.

1st challenge – Do their signature dish with Bobby giving each one component to work on for the camera challenge.

2nd challenge – The remaining contestants have to put on a dinner party for the judges plus Wolfgang Puck.  The winner of the 1st challenge assigned courses to each contestant.

After seven episodes here are my thoughts on each remaining contestant:

Alicia Sanchez – Eliminated week 3.

Chris Nirschel – At least going by the judges’ comments Chris had another terrible week last week.  I’m not sure how much longer he can stick around. 1st challenge – Bobby warned him that he was putting too much into his presentation.  Chris was confident that he could bring off a 2 minute demo of gnocchi.  Bobby was right.  2nd challenge – he was assigned dessert – not his strong point.  His presentation was off-putting and the dessert was not great.

Howie Drummond – Eliminated week 1.

Jeff Mauro – Jeff is a terrific personality and his food is getting better.  He’s much in the mold of Adam Gertler although a better overall cook than Adam.  1st challenge – no energy but food was good. 2nd challenge – he got the 1st course.  He’s doing a ribeye salad.  Food and presentation was great.

Juba Kali – Eliminated week 2.

Justin Balmes – Eliminated week 4.

Justin Davis – Eliminated week 5.

Jyll Everman – Back on track last week.  She’s still adorable and her food was good plus no blow up with Penny. 1st challenge – She tried to surprise Bobby per his instructions but it didn’t go over well.  2nd challenge – she got the 5th course.  Jyll chose risotto.  Wolfgang was not happy with it and actually took her to the kitchen to show her how to make risotto.  Not good but, hey, if you’re going to get schooled at least you got schooled by the best.  Jyll handled what must have been a very humiliating situation beautifully.

Katy Clark – Eliminated week 2.

Mary Beth Albright – At this point it’s safe to say that Mary Beth’s personality is her strong point and her food is her Achilles heel.  1st challenge – No energy, no connection to her dish.  @nd challenge – she got the 3rd course.  Spicy butternut squash soup.  Her food was not good – too spicy.

Orchid Paulmeier –  Eliminated week 6.

Penny Davidi – What can you say?  The woman can cook.  She’s been adamant on Twitter that the editing has misrepresented her.  OK.  1st challenge – No energy – good food. 2nd challenge – she got the fourth course.  Baby shrimp and figs went over well and presentation was good.

Susie Jimenez – She’s made herself a contender.  Another good week.  1st challenge – Good energy but she never described what she was doing for her dish.  Cheese course – she chose chile rellenos.  Her food and presentation were lights out.

Vic “Vegas” Moea – This contest is Vic’s to lose.  1st challenge – Good energy but too much information.  2nd challenge – he got the 2nd course.  Mozzarella coroza.  His food and presentation were just OK.

Whitney Chen – Whitney did not have the best week last week.  Her felafel didn’t work because she could not find dried chick peas.  How does Food Network find the only market in LA that doesn’t have dried chick peas?  1st challenge – Warm and friendly, food was great.  She won the challenge.  2nd challenge – she chose the 6th course.  Asian roasted chicken.  Another home run.

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, Chris Nirschel and Jeff Mauro.

Top Tweets:

[blackbirdpie url=”!/FizzOpera/statuses/91371666843770880″]

[blackbirdpie url=”!/MWaggamon/status/92767485371232256″]

[blackbirdpie url=”!/stetted/status/92769357398147073″]

[blackbirdpie url=”!/Nance228/status/92773020053159936″]

[blackbirdpie url=”!/TvFoodAndDrink/status/92773368406872064″]

[blackbirdpie url=”!/snappie1867/status/92774819199852545″]


“In it to Win it” Quotes – 0.

Number of people crying – 2 – Jyll but not until Wolfgang left, Susie talking about her past.

Number of WTF moments – 1 – Puck teaching Jyll to make risotto.

Who should win based on what we’ve seen so far: Susie, Whitney or Vic

Who will win based on what we’ve seen in the past: Vic or Susie

Winner(s) first week: 1st challenge: Whitney. 2nd challenge: Susie.

I met Puck earlier this year.  I was in LA on business and I thought there was no better way to celebrate Auburn’s BCS Championship than lunch at Spago in Beverly Hills.  I got a chance to visit with Chef and a few days later he sent me this:


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

[ad] Empty ad slot (#1)!

Chris and Penny.

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
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2011 Judge: Dauphin Island Wing Cook-off
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