Food Network Star Season 8 EP4 Recap

Fashion Week Food Makeover

Team AltonThe finalists attend New York’s Fashion Week and find out makeovers are part of a star’s perks. What they aren’t prepared for is what, not who, the stars being made over are. Each finalist must overhaul his or her assigned boring dish, making it sparkle enough to impress Fashion Week attendees a crowd not easily wowed.

Last time out, the finalists faced Chopped baskets filled with wacky ingredients like grape soda and black lava salt. What awaits under silver domes in this week’s Fashion Week challenge?

Last week:  Despite Team Alton having the best overall performance there was no stay of execution for the bottom performer on his team.  Martie squared off in a three-way loser-leave-town match with Nikki from Team Bobby and as usual Josh from Team Giada.  No “Chris Nirschl” Rule; no more Josh.

Josh LyonsDespite coming in last for Team Bobby, Nikki was very strong in the Producer Challenge.  So good in fact that Bob and Susie gave her a pass on final judgement.  Tuschman even said, “You just went from forgettable to a contender in 60 seconds.”

In previous seasons I have spoken of what I called “ratings fodder.”  Ratings Fodder refers to reality contestants who are so bad that you don’t miss them being booted in the first few weeks.  They are usually the first three or four contestants eliminated.  This year the people filling the typical Ratings Fodder slots have actually been pretty good.  That speaks to the strength of this year’s field.  Another testament to the quality of this year’s cast is the lack of back biting and the sense of esprit de corps that seemed lacking in previous seasons.


Eric Lee – Three great weeks in a row.  He’s not only established himself as the best pure cook in the cast but also one of the top contenders.  He has wrestled the star of  Team Bobby away from Michele.  Eric’s original plan for his dish didn’t pan out.  Watching him rescue it was pretty darned entertaining.  Kudos to Michelle for helping him out by donating ingredients.  His presentation was a little shaky.  His food, as usual, was amazing.

Kara Sigle – Eliminated week 2.

Malcolm Mitchell – Malcolm’s roller coaster ride went down hill again last week.  No confidence, no energy.  This week was a Homerun!  It was a great presentation.  His food was just as good.  Up hill again.  This Malcolm is incredibly watchable.

Michele Ragussis – No longer the strongest member of the team, last week she seemed to suggest Giada was getting into her head.  Susie pointed out she’s in her own head.  With Nikki’s performance in the Producer’s Challenge, Michelle went from first to third on her team in one week.  Michele’s presentation was a little lost.  Her food worked though.

Nikki Martin – After a mediocre performance in the Star Challenge she came roaring mack in the Producer’s Challenge.  She was really quite good.  Can she continue the momentum?  Tonight her presentation was well crafted.  Beautiful food and the plate presentation was good.  Bobby said it may have been the best dish of the night.


Josh Lyons – eliminated week 3.

Linkie Marais – Her second really good performance in a row.  She’s climbing.  Then this week, her presentation flies out of the box great but then she derails.  The pot pie rocked.  This week broke her momentum a little.

Martita Jara – She was back to her week one performance which was a little dead.  She was lucky Josh was on her team last week.  Her presentation was warm and inviting.  Revamping  chicken and rice as arroz con pollo (which is Spanish for chicken and rice) I thought was a little weak but her version of arroz con pollo was extremely innovative.

Phillip “Ippy” Aiona – Ippy took a small step back last week.  He’s someone to watch but he’s running out of time to make a big push.  His presentation was going well but the forced tie-in with his POV fell off.  His food was graceful.

Yvan Lemoine – A little change last week as Yvan’s food was actually better than his presentation, not that either was bad.  This is the second week in a row that Yvan’s presentation has fallen off.  Also for the second week in a row his food improved.


Cristie Schoen – eliminated week 1.

Emily Ellyn – She’s back on her game.  Her food was good and her personality was stellar.  Her presentation was fantastic.  One of the best of the season.  Her food was the perfect recipe for the challenge.

Judson Allen –  Judson had a good bounce back after the previous week’s rough patch.  Presentation was little flat.  His dish was a bit ostentatious, clever as hell, but ostentatious.  Judson’s cooking style typically has so much elegance and  antebellum charm that this seemed out of character and the judges didn’t care for it.  It was so out of the box that you might have thought Justin came up with it and I venture to say that had Justin done the exact same dish the judges would have loved it.  However his presentation, as usual, was stunning.

Justin Warner – The Boy Genius had another good week.  Justin just may be the current front runner right now.  A striking looking dish.  The judges loved his food.  His quirkiness continues to wow.  His presentation was very cool.

Martie Duncan – Not a good week for my fellow Alabamaian.  Her food was too simple and not well executed.  Her presentation meandered a bit.  Took a risk on her plate presentation – she left them in the aluminum ramekin.  She avoided mentioning it.  I think she could have spun it to her advantage but she ended up not having to; the judges loved it.

Tonight featured my first snarky Tweet of the season.

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Team Alton gets the win.

My leaders thus far: Emily and Justin.

Dark horse: Ippy, Linkie, Yven and Judson.

Most unforgettable performance: tie – Emily and Justin.

Most forgettable performance: tie – Michele and Yven.

Producer’s Challenge: Eric & Ippy.

Be sure to check out all of the Star Season 8 contestant exit interviews HERE.


The next Food Network Star will not be. . .

9999 Review: Sandwich King with Jeff Mauro


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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
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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