Food Network Star 7 EP 10 Recap

Iron Chef

The Iron Chef showdown returns to the competition, along with the pressure it brings to bear on the finalists. Alton Brown will provide criticism from his usual commentator’s spot, and Michael Symon will join the judging panel.

Last week we saw:

Whitney Chen of Food Network Star. . . the elimination of the only remaining contestant I was confident can be credible hosting a cooking show, Whitney.  That’s the second week in a row that the person with the best performance was booted.  Don’t worry Jyll and Whitney, it worked out alright for Kelsey Nixon.

At this point it’s two pretty good cooks with descent personalities against two average cooks – one with an iffy personality and the other who is nothing but personality.  I believe this to be the weakest final four in the show’s history.

Personality is important but I don’t care how friendly you are on camera if you cannot cook no one will watch the show.  To me Mary Beth’s POV is a little to much like Sunny Anderson’s.  Susie and Vic can cook pretty good but of the two Vic is the only one who brings anything new.  There are at any time a half dozen shows on with Susie’s exact POV.  Of the four Jeff has the freshest POV – I love the king of sandwiches I just wish I had more confidence in his cooking.

I saw a bit on the Wall Street Journal where they summized that Food Network had chosen Jeff Mauro as the winner early on and then had to make it happen.  This was a good line from them, “After this week, it’s starting to feel less like a competition and more like a showcase for Mauro to test some of his ideas before he hosts his own Food Network program.”  I don’t know if that is the case but I do know this, they’ve done it before.

One thing is for sure, they had to get rid of the real cooking talent before this week’s Iron Chef challenge because there is no way Mary Beth, Jeff or even Susie would have stood a chance against Whitney, Juba or Justin B. in Kitchen Stadium.  It’s the one place remaining on Food Network where you actually have to be a serious cook.  I hate that we are being robbed of a chance of watching a truly exceptional cook in this challenge.  Vic, I think is the only one left who has the chops for Iron Chef although I wouldn’t put it past Susie to make me eat my words.

With all viable contestants removed from the contest all that’s left in season 7 is trying to figure out which of the remaining four will be the next Aaron McCargo Jr.  That means their name will one day be inserted into this conversation:

PERSON1 Whatever happened to _____ who won Food Network Star?
PERSON2 Their show’s still on the air.
PERSON1  I’ve never seen it.
PERSON2 No one has.

Let’s get this over with.

This week:

Battle Iron Chef – need I say more?

After 10 episodes here are my thoughts on each remaining contestant:

Alicia Sanchez – Eliminated week 3.

Chris Nirschel – Eliminated week 7.

Howie Drummond – Eliminated week 1.

Jeff Mauro – It’s a good thing he’s likable.  Jeff, by virtue of last week’s wins(?) got to chose his opponent.  He chose Susie.  In a fair fight, he’s a goner but he also got to choose Whitney as his sous chef.  Jeff’s commentary was pretty good – more personality than substances but still good.  Theme ingredient was lobster.  Jeff made three sandwiches.  I know he’s the king of sandwiches but three sandwiches for Iron Chef.  I’ve got to take off majorly for that and the judges concurred.  They also banged him for not making his own mayo.

Juba Kali – Eliminated week 2.

Justin Balmes – Eliminated week 4.

Justin Davis – Eliminated week 5.

Jyll Everman – Eliminated week 8.

Katy Clark – Eliminated week 2.

Mary Beth Albright – I’m convinced this is her last week.  She doesn’t inspire confidence with her cooking and her personality is starting to let her down.  How lucky was Mary Beth to have gotten Penny as one of her sous chefs?  I wonder if there was any other name in the hat.  Theme ingredient was lamb, her opponent was Vic.  This is a battle between arguably the weakest cook left against arguably the best cook left.  Penny sabotaging Mary Beth didn’t help.  Honestly Food Network – that was just a little too obvious.  It looks more and more like Mary Beth’s ouster was just in the script cards.  In judging Vic’s food her critiques were not in harmony with the judges at least according to what we saw.  The overwhelming judgement from each judge on her food was, “not bad.”  Her commentary was like her whole season – up and down.

Orchid Paulmeier –  Eliminated week 6.

Penny Davidi – Eliminated week 7.

Susie Jimenez – She’s cute and her food is pretty good but her POV is not very original.  Susie got a bad break in having Chris as her sous chef but it could have been worse; it could have been Penny.  Her commentary was not very good.  Theme ingredient was lobster.  As it turns out, Chris was more interested in showing off for the cameras than helping Susie.  That’s curious – Chris and Penny both hindering their chefs.  Her judging was not great but her food was amazing.  I can’t see her losing to three sandwiches not matter how good they were.

Vic “Vegas” Moea – The best of what remains.  Vic drew the weakest cook of the four for his opponent, Mary Beth.  Jyll was his sous chef in battle lamb.  His menu was inventive.  The judges seemed to like it at all.  When judging Vic sounded like he’d been there before.  His commentary was similar to Jeff’s in that he used humor to bail out of sticky situation.  Vic was the clear winner but he should win – he had all the break and he took advantage of them.  Vic was, in my opinion, clearly the best tonight – the past two weeks that got you booted.

Whitney Chen – Eliminated week 9.

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 there you’ll get to chat with people who know this season has been a waste of time.

Top Tweets:

[blackbirdpie url=”!/hstone4/status/100373891658166272″]

[blackbirdpie url=”!/lynfrancisco/status/100373213883805696″]

[blackbirdpie url=”!/roadtohell/status/100374788706533379″]

[blackbirdpie url=”!/MDMRN/status/100376128635670529″]


“In it to Win it” type quotes – 0.

Number of people crying – 1.

Number of WTF moments – Mary Beth getting Penny as her sous chef.  Really?!?!? I’m supposed to believe that wasn’t rigged?

Who should have won: Whitney

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

Winner(s) first week: Lobster challenge: Susie. Lamb challenge: Vic.

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

[ad] Empty ad slot (#1)!

Mary Beth

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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
2010 Gourmand World Cookbook Award Nominee
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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