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‘Outrageous Food’ now a New Food Network Series

Last spring the Food Network premiered a special called “Outrageous Food” hosted by Next Food Network Star 4 winner Aaron McCargo Jr.  Well, it looks as though the special’s popularity may have spawned a new series of the same name.  But not the same host.

According to AllYourTV.com NFNS 6 runner up Tom Pizzica will be the face of Outrageous Food the series.  That is a bit of an upgrade.  Tom’s personality and significantly more polished on-screen talent makes him better suited for such a show than McCargo.  Also, the show’s format may not be exactly what we saw when McCargo hosted his special.  Only time will tell.

Hagan Blount and Tom PizzicaNoted NYC food blogger and recent 7 Questions interviewee Hagan Blount was part of the off-camera crew at a recently taped episode in Brooklyn.  Hagan has provided a little amuse bouche of the episode on his blog The Wandering Foodie.  It includes pictures like the one here that shows Hagan and Pizzica on location at the Park Slope Chip Shop.

I discussed NFNS and Outrageous food with new host Tom Pizzica in this exclusive interview HERE.

Past NFNS Finale Foul-ups

This Sunday night is the final of season six of the Next Food Network Star.  The finalist are Aarti, Herb and Tom but I’m guessing you already knew that.  The fact that the show has only produced one legitimate star in it’s first five tries has not stopped viewers from tuning in each week to follow the ups and downs of the contestants vying for the chance to be the second.  NFNS remains the number one rated show on the Food Network.

That is strange because of the history of, let’s say, questionable endings to some of the past seasons.  The first two seasons went OK, not much controversy but in season three the fireworks started.  Set the way back machine:

Season one was historical in a couple of ways.  It was the first such contest of it’s kind.  Second, the winners were a gay couple which, too, made it ground breaking.  Dan Smith and Steve McDonagh are bright and talented caterers from Chicago.  Their winning show, Party Line with the Hearty Boys, was not very entertaining but that wasn’t as important as the standards set by that first season.

Season two yielded the only Next Food Network Star winner to ever actually become a Food Network star, Guy Fieri.  And a star he has become.  Those TGIFriday’s commercials speak to the California culinarians mass appeal.  He has hosted Guy’s Big Bite, Guy Off the Hook, Ultimate Recipe Showdown and another show you may have heard of, Diner’s Drive-ins and Dives.

JAGSeason three is where things started getting – what’s the word? -oh, yeah, suspicious.  JAG would have won, should have won, but for the last minute revelation that he had exaggerated his resumé.  This resulted in an 11th hour return of recently booted Amy Finley who, given a second chance, ended up winning the contest (just like in a Hollywood script).

Why is this suspicious?  Having been through the NFNS process I know how thorough their background checks are.  Honestly, it’s easier to slip something past the FBI than it is The Food Network.  With that in mind the idea that FN hadn’t bothered to check the accuracy of resumés just doesn’t wash.  I do know this, the inncident was huge for the ratings.

Season four the shinannigans were even more outlandish.  A stand-up comedian who was so unfunny it was actually painful, a boorish elitest who described anyone who has ever eaten boxed macaroni and cheese as “white trash” and a chef who was scared of fish and stayed weeks too long because she was pretty and satisfied a missing demographic at TFN, Indian cuisine.

Next Food Network StarThere were two contestants who blew away the competition every single week.  Shane Lyons and Kelsey Nixon were both perfect packages, however the judges (Bob Tuschman in particular) kept harping on their youth.  It didn’t matter how well they performed, they were too young to take seriously.  That of course begs the question, why let them into the contest at all?  Nixon, by the way, won TFN’s fan poll on their own web site in a land slide and is to this day one of the most popular talents in the Food Network stables.

After eliminating the two best contestants, in successive weeks no less, we were left with the trio of Liza Garza, Aaron McCargo Jr. and Adam Gertler.  Garza arrived as a foppish diva with serious cooking chops who, more than anyone else on the show, listened to the judges and turned herself into exactly what they said they were looking for.  Gertler was good on camera but had limited culinary skills.  McCargo was a passable cook but was terrible on camera; still is.

In an episode designed to whittle it down to two contestants McCargo, who had been a model of mediocrity, bombed.  He bombed hard.  In fact, it was without a doubt the single worst performance in the history of the show.  Adam was okay and Garza blew the doors off the studio.  Easy choice right?  Boot the guy who bombed, right?  Nope, the judges decided to change the rules and bring all three back for the finale.  Aaron should have been gone but given a second chance brought home victory (just like in a Hollywood script).

Speaking of Lisa Garza she recently announced that she has signed a contract for her own cooking show.

Then there was the slip on the web site.  Apparently, some web geek accidentally revealed the outcome of the show days before the final episode was to premiere.  The web fiasco turned into a boon as fans who had tuned out because of the questionable antics (the elimination of Kelsey Nixon, especially) tuned back in to see if the web screw-up was a publicity stunt.

Season five was a little more tame with the exception of contestant Debbie Lee.  Considered by many to be the most vile and despicable person in the history of reality cooking shows, Lee cheated, back-stabbed and sabotaged herself all the way to the next-to-last episode. At least that’s how it appeared after a few days in the editing room anyway.  Melissa D’Arabian won and as her reward was given a TV show called $10 Dinners.  Which oddly enough was not the show concept that won her the NFNS title.  Coincidentally there was a national casting call back in 2008 for a cooking show called $10 Dinners that was surprisingly similar to the show D’Arabian now hosts.

So that brings us to season six and who knows what stunts, if any, Food Network has up it’s metaphorical sleeve.

Hell’s Kitchen Elimination: Week 4

For week 4 the contestants eliminated was Maria and Scott. Here is their bios from Fox’s Hell’s Kitchen web site:

Maria Torrisi on WannabeTVchef.comContestant  Maria Torrisi

* Age : 24
* Hometown : Scranton, PA
* Occupation : Kitchen Supervisor

Q&A with Maria

What was your first job in a kitchen?

I worked at the McDonald’s in South Scranton as a cook.

What was your best restaurant job?

When I was a short order cook at the Sun Coast Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas.

What is the first dish you ever mastered?

Chicken Cutlets, my Mom’s recipe.

What is your signature dish?

Grilled Filet Mignon with Bleu Cheese Beurre Blanc sauce.

Any stories of triumph from the kitchen?

At 21 years old, I ran the kitchen at the Marriott in Las Vegas for 3 weeks while the Head Chef was out due to illness.

Who was your first cooking inspiration?

My 6th grade Home Economics teacher.

Contestant  Scott Hawley

* Age : 32
* Hometown : Modesto, CA
* Occupation : Executive Chef, New York, NY

Q&A with Scott –

What was your first job in a kitchen?

My father owned a pizzeria on Bainbridge Island, just outside of Seattle. I worked there starting at the age of 15 and all through high school. Also during this time, I worked at a small cafe as a dishwasher learning the art of pot scrubbing.

What was the first dish you ever mastered?

I’d say it was scrambled eggs, but my mother insists it is chocolate chip cookies. I’m not sure, but either one is a good choice. I have spent the better part of 30 years perfecting both.

What is your signature dish?

I’d have to say my signature dish is a whole quail stuffed with homemade duck and apple sausage, served with parsnip puree, pomegranate and pomegranate molasses.

Do you have a story of triumph from the kitchen or workplace?

A triumph that comes to mind was doing a tasting menu for Morimoto while I was chef of OBAR restaurant in Los Angeles. I fed him and his whole entourage a seven- or eight-course tasting menu. It was a smashing success and possibly one of the best meals I have ever cooked.

Who was your first cooking inspiration?

I’d have to say that would be mother’s father, my grandpa. Or as I remember him, Papa! Between teaching to drive his car in parking lots at the age of 10, he was teaching me the finer points of manning the grill. He taught me a lot about life and cooking. A wonderful influence in my life.

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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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