Emeril Lagasse

Food Network Star Exit Interview: Jyll Everman

The roller coaster that is the integrity of Food Network Star appears to have bottomed out again.  This season has been filled with unsavory characters, questionable judgements and startling revelations.  The resemblance this season is having to season four is shocking.  Watching this season makes me feel dirty.

Jyll Everman Food Network StarAt least one contestant has alleged that the show was scripted.  Coincidentally we’ve discovered that another was actually an actress.  And last night we saw a classic example of editing betraying reality.  To watch last night’s episode as it aired one might believe that Jyll actually was the one who should have been sent home.

However, if you watch the actual performances of each contestant from the Rachael Ray Show web site you’ll see something completely different.  First off, Jyll had an extraordinary performance.  Not only did she win the cupcake challenge (curious how that didn’t make the final edit) but her performance on Rachael Ray was fantastic.  She had one half second stammer when answering a question that Network editing turned into a 3 to 4 second brain freeze by splicing together several camera angels of the same micro-expression.  Jyll’s over all performance was the best of the episode yet she was sent home.

The other thing you’ll see watching the full performances is that Vic wasn’t quite as bad as the judges let on and Susie’s demo went much worse than the editing would lead you to believe.  Susie’s performance was obviously the weakest and, sweet though she may be, she should have been the one sent home.  Remember that should Susie prove to be this season’s winner.

As for Jyll, she showed what an amazing person she is handling the situations with Penny and Wolfgang Puck with grace and professionalism.  For all of Susie Fogelson’s complaints about Jyll seeming fake, I just never saw it.  Perhaps it is borne from the natural cynicism of a New Yorker – no one is really that happy so she must be faking it.

If you trip over to Jyll’s Facebook page you can read her account of things.  It will give you an idea of how it looked from the other side of the lens.  “Like,” you ask?

You might be surprised to learn that Jyll was in the top group for six out of eight camera challenges, three of which she won. You wouldn’t know that because most of it was edited out.  Here’s another nugget – the dish that got Jyll picked to be on the show was arancini or fried balls of risotto.  The POV Jyll mentioned on Rachael Ray that Susie and Bob said “came out of nowhere” was in truth their suggestion.

Oh, remember Alicia saying that the dessert challenge was nothing like it appeared on the final edit?  Jyll also reveals that the footage was thoroughly misrepresented as well.  Jyll’s other bombshell is about those contestant journals – the contestants were never told their journals would be published for the world to read.

You were involved in three of the most memorable scenes this season in exchanges with Howie, Penny and Wolfgang Puck.  How were you able to handle each with such dignity and grace?

It’s all about perspective.  I’m one of those people that really believes that if something is challenging you and pushing you to be someone who you aren’t you step back and you need to learn from it.  You can grow from it and move on especially with “WolfGate” – which is what we call it in our house.  You just have to try and find the positive if you can.

If someone you cared about was considering going on Food Network Star what would you tell them?

I would tell them that they have no idea what they’re in for.  When you go into it all you’re thinking of is the competition aspect of it.  You’re not thinking about what’s it going to be like if I can’t call home or I don’t get to sleep.  Get up early, go to bed late.  It’s a grueling schedule and then on top of it have to compete in front of cameras, judges and millions of people, there’s no way to prepare for that.  I would tell them you need to go in strong and believing in what you do and knowing that it’s going to be the most challenging thing you’ll ever do.

How much has interest in your company, Jyllicious Bites, changed since Food Network Star premiered?

Just recently my business has started to boom.  I had a little lady at church the other day tell that everyone assumed I was still filming so now that it’s getting toward the end, even today I’ve already gotten three phone calls for catering.

I didn’t go on this show to be famous and I didn’t go on this show to be rich.  I went on this show because my husband and I work so hard everyday in an attempt to make our mortgage payment.  The economy has really hit us so I went on this show to try and make a better life for us.  And now if I’m getting catering coming in then I’ve won.  It’s exactly what I came to do and if I got a show out of it that would have been amazing.  But the fact that my business is about to pick up I feel like I’ve already won.

 

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Be sure to stop by each Monday for my exclusive mourning after exit interviews with each exiled foodie (HERE). This year I have also added the WTVC (WannabeTVchef) Food Network Star Polls – six categories for contestants who best embody the spirit of former Food Network Star competitors. Be sure to check them out HERE. Click HERE to get all the news, gossip and snark on Food Network Star season 7.

Food Network Star 7 EP 8 Recap

Ina Garten & Rachael Ray

It’s a dessert challenge, and baking no less, when the remaining finalists are asked to make cupcakes. Next up is another live cooking demo, but this one is on national TV for the Rachael Ray Show.

Last week we saw:

Susie Jimenez Food Network StarThe Pen-sanity has ended!  Last time out we witnessed the long awaited exodus of Penny and Chris.  For fans of reality TV this was not a welcome development but for fans of the Food Network it was weeks overdue.  I have watched both Chris’ and Penny’s audition reels and I really don’t see what Food Network saw.  I guess those live casting calls are the difference.

Alicia Sanchez had theorized that both were actors hired to spice things up.  During her exit interview Penny was thrilled to announce that she had indeed been offered a roll in a movie and a quick search of Explore Talent’s database has her listed not as a chef but as an actress.  Her cooking was so good, however, that you can understand why the Network would want her.  At the same time it raises suspicions about whether her particular brand of crazy was genuine or a character she was performing.

Other than a rumor that Chris auditioned but failed to make it onto MTV’s the Real World, he appears to have only been a chef.  In the exit interview that he quite literally mailed in, Chris did warn that he had a confidential project in the works proclaiming that we would see him soon.   I understand there are a few openings in the Jersey Shore cast so . . .

With these two gone Food Network Star can now begin in earnest.  In my opinion, the top two remaining at this point are Whitney and Vic but I have a feeling that for the judges it is Vic and Susie.  Jyll has proven herself quite the warrior handling an impromptu cooking lesson from Wolfgang Puck with grace.  For me the two weakest left are Mary Beth and Jeff but not because they aren’t good just not quite as good as the others.  Speaking of Jeff – it’s his birthday so stop by his Facebook page and wish him well.

This week:

I’m glad to see Ina could find time in her busy schedule for a guest spot on Star; of course this is serious business and not anything frivolous like say, a little boy with leukemia.  I think when Whitney and Rachael Ray stand next to each other it prompts some folks to check and see if their punch is spiked.

1st. challenge – Make cupcakes.  This is a nod to another Food Network reality show, Cupcake Wars which is quite possibility the worst food show in history.  I’m going to go ahead and say that I really don’t care what the food is like in this challenge; for me it’s all about the camera.  I mean, they’re cupcakes for goodness sakes – they’re the training wheels of baking.  The fanaticism of cupcakes these days is wacky; it’s akin to foregoing a Mont Blanc pen in lieu of a #2 pencil.

2nd. challenge – The annual Rachael Ray Show extravaganza.  This is one of the best challenges in the series because this is the job in a nutshell.  Where most of the challenges on Star have absolutely nothing to do with being a TV chef this one actually has meaning.  Each contestant got 30 seconds to define their POV and then 3 minutes to demo a recipe in that style.  They also had to take a question from the audience.

NOTE: If you do not watch the actual performances from the RR Show (links are below) then you will have no idea what each performance was like.  Food Network’s editing on this episode was incredibly misleading.

After eight 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 – Jeff is usually a great personality but of those remaining he may have the weakest cooking chops.  He’s just so damned likable.  1st challenge – His cup cake was weird with salami and fruit icing. 2nd challenge – An absolute home run.  Jeff was on his game.  He walked the line between energy and chaos masterfully.  He was witty, he was charming and he was knowledgeable.  Just a terrific performance.  WATCH IT.

Juba Kali – Eliminated week 2.

Justin Balmes – Eliminated week 4.

Justin Davis – Eliminated week 5.

Jyll Everman – She’s easily the best on-camera person in this show but her cooking doesn’t quite hold up to the professional chefs still in the mix.  She’s a better cook than either Jeff or Mary Beth. 1st challenge – her attention to detail lead to a great cupcake.  2nd challenge – Gonzo energy on her pitch.  The crowd was into it.  The demo was utterly amazing.  It was exactly what you want from a celebrity chef demo.  A+.  WATCH IT.

Katy Clark – Eliminated week 2.

Mary Beth Albright – I get the feeling the axe will be falling soon for the DC lawyer.  It’s possible that with Penny and Chris gone she will also become the focal point for those who love to hate – hello, lawyer.  1st challenge – wanted an elegant cupcake. 2nd challenge – Not bad.  She crossed the line from energetic into frantic a few times but pulled it back together.  Her saying “thank you” whenever Rachel gave her the time remaining was very distracting.  Her Shepard’s Pie looked interesting but I’m not sure how it would taste, too much carrot.  WATCH IT.

Orchid Paulmeier –  Eliminated week 6.

Penny Davidi – Eliminated week 7.

Susie Jimenez – She had another good outing last week.  1st challenge – she did a weird duck comfit cupcake.  It was terrible but the judges liked it. 2nd challenge – Her introduction was kind of clunky.  Her nerves really showed.  She made up a word – elegancy.  Her motto was Mexican Everyday.  Sorry, Susie, but Rick Bayless owns that, literally.  Her demo was also jumbled and at times uncomfortable.  She didn’t take the question from the audience.  The food looked really good but Bobby didn’t like it at all.  Overall she had the weakest performance.  WATCH IT.

Vic “Vegas” Moea – This contest is Vic’s to lose or is it?  1st challenge – did a Vegas cupcake.  2nd challenge – Pitch was pretty good.  Energetic but borderline clumsy.  His food demo started off well – combining lasagna and chimichanga to make a la-changa.  Energy started to fade a little bit but he held it together.  The finish was pretty good.  He missed the question from the crowd.  WATCH IT.

Whitney Chen – A great week last week.  She’s back in the hunt.  1st challenge – she did her version of one of Ina’s cupcakes.  2nd challenge – A fantastic job.  She was engaging and charming.  Her energy was perfect.  It was a near flawless execution.  Her food sounded great.  Whitney nailed it.  WATCH IT.

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 Jeff Mauro.

Top Tweets:

[blackbirdpie url=”http://twitter.com/#!/RobByrd117/status/95191964038856704″]

[blackbirdpie url=”http://twitter.com/#!/roadtohell/status/95301625597526016″]

[blackbirdpie url=”http://twitter.com/#!/jacklumanog/statuses/95303372315443200″]

[blackbirdpie url=”http://twitter.com/#!/DvRystr/status/95305012934213632″]

[blackbirdpie url=”http://twitter.com/#!/chefjustind/status/95304106100539393″]

[blackbirdpie url=”http://twitter.com/#!/lucaszfitz/status/95307774216503296″]

Stats:

“In it to Win it” type quotes – 0.

Number of people crying – 2 – Whitney and Jyll.

Number of WTF moments – 3 – LaChonga?!?!?!.  #2 Who got to stay.  #3 and the biggest WTF this season is who got sent home.

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

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

Winner(s) first week: 1st challenge: Jyll. 2nd challenge: Jeff.

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

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Jyll.

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

Food Network Star Exit Interview: Chris Nirschel

The future of both Penny Davidi and Chris Nirschel may be a bit uncertain at the moment but one thing is for sure; they will not soon be forgotten.  For reasons Chris Nirschelboth good and bad each left their permanent marks on Food Network Star.  Hopefully they will be able to parlay their notoriety into full and rich lives.

I tried to watch Chris’ official Food Network exit interview but the sound goes wonky just when he begins to speak and never recovers.  What is audible on the clip is Bobby Flay summing up Chris’ cooking on Star, “I think you need more experience cooking on the line so you can learn a lot more.”  And who can forget Flay’s response to Chris’ arguing the point, “You want to bring up the lobster dish with the cream cheese again?  I don’t think so.”

No doubt those words were hard to take after all Chris is the executive chef at Café Napoli in New York City and to be told that you need to go back to being a line cook must have hurt.  Especially when it comes from one of the most accomplished chefs in the city, a guy who had already amassed a restaurant empire by the time he was Nirschel’s age.  But Bobby has a point.

Café Napoli has a pedestrian 2.4 star rating (on a 1 to 5 scale) from 70+ reviews at Yelp.  It is located in Little Italy where it is oft described by the locals as a “tourist trap.”  A quick glance at the rating breakdown shows that it has received more one star ratings (the lowest) than any other with the overwhelming number of reviewers rating it three stars or less.

Chris did not make himself available for the conference call because of a scheduling conflict so I was not able to probe the rumor that he had also tried out for MTV’s The Real World.  However he was able to briefly answer a few e-mail questions by way of an intermediary.

Looking back what is your favorite memory from the show?

I have a brother and best friend for life in Vic and there were so many great memories on competing on the series with him.

What experience on the show has had the most profound effect on you? 

I was humbled and sometimes defeated but I am convinced what doesn’t break you makes you strong so Food Network Star has made me who I am and who I will become.

What’s your next project?

Confidential, but you will see me soon!

 

Be sure to read Penny Davidi’s exit interview HERE.

 

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Be sure to stop by each Monday for my exclusive mourning after exit interviews with each exiled foodie (HERE). This year I have also added the WTVC (WannabeTVchef) Food Network Star Polls – six categories for contestants who best embody the spirit of former Food Network Star competitors. Be sure to check them out HERE. Click HERE to get all the news, gossip and snark on Food Network Star season 7.

Food Network Star Exit Interview: Penny Davidi

The future of both Penny Davidi and Chris Nirschel may be a bit uncertain at the moment but one thing is for sure; they will not soon be forgotten.  For reasons Penny Davidi Food Network Starboth good and bad each left their permanent marks on Food Network Star.  Hopefully they will be able to parlay their notoriety into full and rich lives.

Chris was not able to make the conference call today but should be answering questions via e-mail later this week.  Penny on the other hand was there.  She is undoubtedly aware of how she appeared on the show be it from her own actions, the manipulations of editing or a combination of the two so you have to give her credit for doing this interview.

This weekend there was an Internet rumor that broke quoting a leaked source saying Penny had won.  Many were ready to believe what proved to be a hoax after previous Food Network shenanigans.  Most notably season four where the network itself actually did leak the outcome revealing that a contestant that was only still in the competition because the judges changed the rules to save him from elimination had in fact won the contest.  Although the winning show remains but a footnote on the network’s line-up the stunt proved to be a ratings boon.

Penny interpenetrated the rumor as validation that viewers wanted her to win saying, “that there is an indication of what people want, what the network needs and what the people want to see.”  She went on to allege that the network has ignored Middle Eastern cuisine saying that she could have brought, “a whole new viewership, a whole new set of spices, tastes and flavors that the network has never seen.”  It is likely that Cat Cora, Mario Batali, Rocco DiSpirito, Michael Symon and the rest of the network talents who’s cuisines are firmly centered in the flavors of the Mediterranean would disagree with her.

Penny never seemed to comprehend that the goal of the show was to find the person that people would most like to watch.  Though her head games and schemes may have helped eliminate some people thus leaving less competition the reality is that it made her appear very, very unlikable.  However, one constant for Penny throughout the show was her food.  Week in and week out she produced when it came to making great food.  Anyone who cooks like that can always make use of her talents.

After speaking with Penny it is obvious that she firmly believes she was the victim of the FNS drama not the perpetrator of it saying that if she had it to do over again she wouldn’t let, “other contestants get to me.  I would really keep my eye on the prize and not let them try to throw me off my game.  I would just try to stay more focused on the competition and less on the drama.”  However she did not address her comments from the first episode about disliking Alicia Sanchez the first time she saw her or her proclamation from that same sound bite about trying to get Alicia eliminated as quickly as possible.   About those who remain in the mix she said, “there’s some amazing talent that’s still in the competition, obviously one that I don’t really care for but the rest of them are super awesome.”

At the same time she realizes that in reality TV there always has to be a villain, “Right off the bat the producers thought that I have a strong personality, a strong character and a background that would be intimidating to some of the other finalists and I’m kind of flattered that they thought I could take the heat.”  She also clarified that, “I can’t blame it all on the editing or the network all I can say is that it was a competition.

“You know what?  There are so many viewers out there that not only love me but love to hate me and they’re the ones who kept tuning in week after week after week after week.  And I know that where ever I go those same eyes will be following me where ever I go.  As much as they hate me they just love to hate me.  As long as it’s there for the ratings I’m happy to bring it.”

Looking back what is your favorite memory from the show?

My favorite memory on the show was winning the dessert challenge after being set up by the girls’ team, uhm, to fail and knowing that I really don’t have a dessert background but being able to take the knowledge of what I have and make something so decadent to be called something that could be served at a five star restaurant, something the judges couldn’t get enough of and actually win that challenge after being set up to lose was the highlight for me.

What experience on the show has had the most profound effect on you?

It doesn’t matter what race or religion you are America is ready for you to cross those lines, to cross those boundaries, to push the envelope.  For me I felt like I was the ambassador for Middle Eastern food and to be able to bring that world to this and to be able to show people that the Middle Eastern world isn’t what it looks like and it has these warm flavor and I know the personality came off bad but I also know that people understand that this was a competition, and this was a TV show, a reality TV show and despite everything else I made for good television and I was entertaining but the flavors of the Middle East and the warmth of the Middle East and you know for me to be able to bring that was probably the most profound thing.

Your food throughout was consistantly outstanding, is there a cookbook in your future?

Oh, absolutely, cookbooks, a product line of you know, I love to cook with savory marmalades,  and I make all my own savory marmalades so product lines, spices, a restaurant, a whole new restaurant concept in the works and actually I was offered a great part in a film that I’ve accepted and that starts filming in August and I’m really excited about that.

 

Alright folks.  There you have it.  There’s a comment section at the bottom.  Let’s hear what you’ve got to say.  Be sure to read Chris Nirschel’s exit interview HERE.

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Be sure to stop by each Monday for my exclusive mourning after exit interviews with each exiled foodie (HERE). This year I have also added the WTVC (WannabeTVchef) Food Network Star Polls – six categories for contestants who best embody the spirit of former Food Network Star competitors. Be sure to check them out HERE. Click HERE to get all the news, gossip and snark on Food Network Star season 7.

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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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