NFNS 6 EP 2 – Review

DASOK, the week one two-hour kick-off is out of the way.  The first finalist has gone home and with few exceptions most agree the judges made the right choice.  There are some clear favorites, some notable dark horses and a handful of love-to-hate candidates.

The first challenge for episode 2 was : for each contestant to do one step of Giada’s 11 step lasagna recipe.

The second challenge was to cater a party at Santa Monica Peir for Duff Goldman and 150 guests that is inspired by carnival food.  There was a Zoltar sighting.

My thoughts:

Dzintra Dzenis – The jury is still out.  Her Chicken and Potato Napoleon with Spicy Tomato Sambal Sauce recipe certainly indicates she knows her stuff.  OK in first challenge but she complained it didn’t let her show what she can do.  Challenge #2:  She complained her challenge was much harder than the others.  Amazing how every challenge Dzintra either has the hardest task or one that doesn’t allow her to show her skills.  Dzintra was not making friends with the crowd with her high strung personality and confused methodology.  In a word – schizo!  Tweeters are calling her Ditz-tra.
Doreen Fang – She narrowly avoided going home week 1.  Still a little weak on the 1st challenge.  Challenge #2:  Tried to do a slow cook dish in a short amount of time.  The pork was tough.  Still cannot nail down her culinary point of view.  Tuschman get’s the best quote of the night concerning Doreen’s Simply Complex POV, “Simply Complex, there’s a show were not going to do.”
Alexis Hernandez – went home week 1.
Brianna Jenkins – Still more flash than substance.  I don’t like divas or back biting and so far that is all she has brought to the table.  Brianna was hard to watch in the first challenge.  Challenge #2:  Her personality is her worst enemy – diva one second and boring the next.  Is there anything in there that isn’t annoying?  Good food.
Aria Kagan – The clear leader after week one.  She didn’t shine during the 1st challenge.  We are starting to see a little back biting from her.  Not cool.  Challenge #2:  Her concept was sound but her execution was lacking.  She left an entire sheet pan of meatballs, not just left them back at the kitchen but IN THE OVEN!
Herb Mesa – So much promise.  Prior to tonight’s episode I watched Herb’s live stream cooking demo done weekly from Sal Grosso Authentic Brazilian Steak House in Atlanta.  He was in his element: hot grill, live music and a crowd of folks wrapped by his every word and flip of the spatula.  Charming and confidant.  He brought the same qualities to the 1st challenge.  Challenge #2:  His healthy salmon lollypops were perfect and they gave him a chance to do something other than Latin flavors and his presentation was smooth.  No way he isn’t the favorite at this point.
Serena Palumbo – I wonder if there is room for another gorgeous little Italian cook.  Too many words.  Slow down.  Challenge #2:  Geezums, little lady, slow down.  I think her food was great and her presentation started out nicely then BANG.  Hyperspeed.
Tom Pizzica – This season’s warm, fuzzy story but Tom is still hit or miss.  Struggled in the 1st challenge.  Challenge #2:  Tom’s presentation was off the hook, his concept was complex but his execution was off.
Aarti Sequeira – Bubbly and sweet.  A magical smile.  Went blank during the 1st challenge.  Challenge #2:  Confidence, Aarti, you’ve got the energy and the knowledge.  I think doing a potato pancake for a funnel cake did not satisfy the challenge.
Darrell “DAS” Smith – He’s got to drop the DJ vibe and just be himself.  There’s a reason why there’s never been a Hip Hop TV Chef, because nobody wants to see a Hip Hop TV Chef.  He is very likable but this is Food Network not VH1.  DAS look at the camera and ease up on the spinach, dude.  1st challenge was not good.  Challenge #2: First good challenge.  Good concept, good energy.
Brad Sorenson – Hands down the best pure cook in the competition.  But the 1st challenge confirms he needs to warm to the camera.  Challenge #2:  Finally had a good presentation, unfortunately his food failed.  I didn’t see that coming but I guess the law of averages . . .
Paul Young – A former improv comedian?  Well “former” makes sense.  1st challenge had good energy but still no laughs.  He is better at ripping others than selling himself.  Challenge #2: His personality was abrasive and it hurt him but not as much as his cop out of caramel corn.


“In it to Win it” Quotes – 0.

Number of people crying – 2.

Number of WTF moments – 1 – when Aarti beat out Herb in the 2nd challenge.

Who should win based on what we’ve seen so far: Herb

Who will win based on what we’ve seen in the past: Aarti

Winner(s) week 2: 1st challenge: Herb.  2nd challenge: Aarti.

Updated “gotta go” list: Doreena, Brianna, Paul, Dzintra, Tom.

The finalist who will be going home is . . .

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Chicken and Potato Napoleon with Spicy Tomato Sambal Sauce

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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
2011 Judge: 29th Chef's of the Coast Cook-off
2011 Judge: Dauphin Island Wing Cook-off
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