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Update on Aarti’s and Jeff’s Shows

Jeff and AartiAfter scanning a few web sites and Facebook statuses I decided to reach out to Food Network itself about the status of the last two Food Network Star winners Aarti Sequeira and Jeff Mauro.  I chatted with Krista one of the network’s PR agents.  Here’s what I asked and her response.

Is Sandwich King still in production and if so when will new episodes air?

Information regarding Sandwich King is not yet available, though you may contact us around the middle of December and we hope to have an update available.

That sounds grim right?  The ratings were extremely good.  I wonder if there are other factors at work.  Jeff hasn’t updated his web site since late August but in that post he said:

Shooting a cooking show is the most mentally taxing performance art I’ve ever attempting.  The juggling of mental and physical requirements left me exhausted at the end of the day.  One flub and you have to do another take.  As the days went on, I did get more comfortable, so hopefully, by next season (if they give one) I’ll be even better.

Til’ then, it’s back to recipe development, sandwich research (eating), and maybe a little vacation with the family.

So will there be a second season?  I have to admit that after speaking with Food Network it sure didn’t look like it.  Jeff’s dormant web site and that last post didn’t help.  So I did a little digging, talked to some other cast members from season seven and they sent me to a post by Jeff on his Facebook page just this past Saturday:

Things are really starting to move along with Sandwich King Season 2. It will be similar, but more of what worked and less of what didn’t. Regardless, it will feature amazing sandwiches and fantastic locations. I’ll keep you posted when we start shooting in December. Look for it airing sometime in January. I think I smell an Emmy..local Emmy.

Is Aarti Party still in production and if so when will new episodes air?

New episodes are not scheduled for Aarti Party as those just finished airing in September. Her show is airing on our sister network, The Cooking Channel, though an episode will air on our network on November 26th and December 3rd at 8:00am ET/PT.

Aarti remains busy and has maintained her web site as she has done for years.  It’s where she got her start.  Though Krista’s answer seemed a little vague I think the picture we get is that new episodes of Aarti Party are all but done.  Old episodes will rerun on Cooking Channel.  Aarti did announce the other day that she has a super secret new show that just started production; more on that project HERE but be forewarned, it isn’t much more.

Guy Fieri Food Network StarBut now we are back to an issue that has plagued Food Network Star since it’s inception – it’s inability to produce sustainable hit shows. With this revelation that means that, at the moment anyway, only three of the seven winning shows are still in production – Sandwich King, Guy’s Big Bite and Ten Dollar Dinners.

In terms of the volume of shows Big Daddy’s House had the longest run of any show except Big Bite; it was recently canceled.  I cannot understand what goes on at Chelsea Market sometimes.  Big Daddy’s House had poor ratings because, quite frankly, it was not a great show yet it got 60+ episodes while Aarti Party had solid ratings but only got 30.  I think I have a better shot at figuring out the complexities of the female mind than I do the complexities of food television but admittedly the prospects don’t look good for either.

There you have it.  Now talk amongst yourselves.  That’s what the comments section is for.

Big Daddy’s House Canceled?

Perhaps a better title for this post is “Food Network Nixes Big Daddy; Nixon Gets a Third Series” or even “Bob Tuschman Owes Me an Apology.”

Kelsey NixonThree years ago America watched as a young culinary graduate named Kelsey Nixon wiped the floor with the other contestants of Food Network Star 4.  America also watched as Aaron McCargo Jr. mumbled his way through an unremarkable performance on the same series.  The most common adjective for Nixon’s performance that season was “perfect” while for McCargo it was “uncomfortable.”

But in the cesspool that is “reality” TV Nixon was booted and McCargo won.  Season four of Star was so obviously rigged that you could smell it from the moon.  From day one Kelsey had established herself as the best contestant in the cast and every week she left the competition behind like Lance Armstrong through the Pyrenees.  As for Aaron, had he not won the only thing anyone would remember about him is that he seemed like a nice guy.

Rumors abounded on the Online about why the season’s outcome was rigged, some absurd, some were probably more accurate than anyone wants to admit.  And though there were numerous theories the prevailing opinion was that Kelsey should have won.  She ran away with the fan poll on the Food Network’s own site.  That was embarrassing.

To make amends Kelsey was given a web series alongside cheflebrity Spike Mendelsohn of Next Iron Chef 4.  The podcast is the purple participation ribbon of reality TV, a consolation prize.  The problem was that people actually watched Kelsey & Spike Cook.  The same cannot be said for McCargo’s series Big Daddy’s House.

When the Cooking Channel went online in May of 2010 Food Network finally had a venue for their Star finalists who deserved their own show.  Kelsey’s Essentials soon premiered and quickly established itself as one of the best new stand-and-stir shows in years.  A year later and Kelsey has been tabbed to host yet another Cooking Channel series, The Perfect 3 which has just rapped it’s first 13 episode run.

Although McCargo’s highly controversial win sparked a huge viewer turnout Tom Pizzicafor the premiere episode of Big Daddy’s House only people named McCargo saw the 60 episodes that followed.  Aaron was additionally given the opportunity to host a food/travel pilot called Outrageous Food.  The show tested well with audiences but the host did not as it went into production last year but not with McCargo.  Rather with a Star season 6 runner-up at the helm.  Tom Pizzica made the show a hit and only a pissing contest between Food Network and Page Productions over another show has delayed a third season.

There has been a new rumor floating recently that Big Daddy’s House has mercifully been canceled.  Intrigued, I reached out to see if the rumor had any teeth.  Aaron McCargo Jr. Big Daddy's House CanceledWell yesterday I received formal confirmation that Follow Productions who films Big Daddy’s House (as well as Down Home with the Neely’s and Paula’s Best Dishes) plans no future episodes of McCargo’s show.  The word came directly from the Food Network itself. I asked if there would be a new season of Big Daddy’s House.  The simple one sentence response on my question was, “No, the show is no longer in production.”

So to review the fallout from Star season four: Kevin Roberts (booted in week two) has a show on TLC/Planet Green that is up for a Taste Award, Adam Gertler has had two prime-time Food Network shows, Kelsey Nixon has three series and Aaron McCargo Jr. has been added to the ever-skyrocketing unemployment numbers.

Luckily Aaron was able to squeeze a book deal out of his 15 minutes so that should help as our economy continues to spiral towards third world status.  Additionally, we can expect to see Aaron guesting on ABC’s The Chew as it is produced by Follow Productions.  Aaron is also a regular guest on the Nate Berkus Show so I wouldn’t worry about him; plus he’s a great guy.  And though McCargo’s fan base is very small they are also very devout so I would not be surprised to find him with a new show one day on another network.

A quick review of FNS winners:

  1. Party Time with the Hearty Boys got six episodes then was canceled.  Was brought back for 13 episodes and then canceled again.
  2. Guy’s Big Bite is still in production after 120 plus episodes.
  3. The Gourmet Next Door got six episodes then was canceled.  Reportedly Food Network offered host Amy Finley 13 more episodes but she declined and moved to another country.
  4. Big Daddy’s House despite atrocious ratings was given 61 episodes before being canceled after five seasons.
  5. Ten Dollar Dinners has to date produced 32 episodes over three seasons.  Currently filming season four.  New episodes continue to air on Sundays while older episodes join the M-F daytime line-up beginning Sept. 26th.  The move to the daily line-up is a strong sign that Food Network plans to make many, many more episodes of Ten Dollar Dinners.
  6. Aarti’s Party produced 28 episodes over three seasons.  The ratings were quite good but Food Network has moved it to the Cooking Channel in re-runs only.  Aarti has a new show in the works.
  7. The Sandwich King premiered to great reviews and a second season is already in the works.

Just for the record, during season four I repeatedly said Nixon had star written all over her and that McCargo, though a very nice person, was not star material.  That makes it Stuart Reb Donald 1, Bob Tuschman 0.  I await my apology, Bob.  You’ve got my number.

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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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