The Next Food Network Star 2011: Episode 1

Hello, I am Zin! I will be your guide for The Next Food Network Star if I can last the course. This first episode was very painful. There are some really nasty people on this show! I do not understand nastiness, or lying, or tripping people up, it was painful for me to watch, why do they not just cook and do their camera appearances and let the best one win, why do some of them have to drag others down so they can get by? Do they not realize in the end the Food Network is not going to put the back end of a horse on TV? I am not going to do recaps like the Top Chef ones, that would be too long, this is a two hour show! But today I will give a brief overview of what the competition involved, introduce all the contestants and let you know what they did on the show. I have looked at The Next Food Network Star website for bios (I have not viewed videos since they are hard to play on my computer), as well as a very funny site, Food Network Humor, which I will quote because it is quite hilarious, if mean! Some day I have to think about why it is ok to be mean to reality show contestants on blogs, but not in the competition.

Susie Fogelson and Bob Tushman are there, of course, as well as Bobby Flay and Giada DiLaurentis. Because there is a contestant named Susie, I am afraid we will have to refer to Susie by another name. I pick Foge. You can invent your own pronunciation. Bob and Bobby are ok to tell apart. And Giada, well, we all know about her. Bob still claims her as his discovery. I think that is sad.

I will not do the blow-by-blow we have done for Top Chef because it is a long show! It is two hours long! So I will describe the challenges and then discuss each contestant (fifteen!) in turn, how they did, and maybe what I think of them.

The first challenge, the “camera challenge” as they call it, required them to make breakfast that is “who you are on a plate.” Then they do a 45 second promo to camera explaining the dish.

The second challenge is more complicated. In groups of three they go with Alton Brown (my hero, although he is kind of nasty here) to tape promos, so the idea is they will work together so they pass along to the next person in one block. The thing is they can only do four takes so if the first person screws up three times, the other people only get one take! And of course that is exactly what they want, because Alton calls cut some times when he did not really have to, because a fish is not held high enough or there are too many props – he gives the first people much more time to work out their kinks which seems unfair. Then in those groups of three they have to make a four-course tasting menu, each person has one course and there is an additional group course, and they serve it to media people. I did not quite catch who the media people are – InStyle and Entertainment Weekly, and Mario Lopez who seems to be famous.

Chris Nirschel, the first contestant we meet, says he went to the French Culinary Institute, alma mater to Bobby Flay, and has god given talent. His TNFNS bio says he is at 28 a culinary bad boy and does not use recipes. The FNH site quotes his video: “People like to be around me. People work harder when they’re around me because they want to impress me.” That makes me laugh. He does not look or act like someone I would care about impressing. FNH: “But sorry, pal. The ‘douche with overinflated ego’ position has already been filled tenfold on the Food Network.” (I told you it was a funny site) I do not think he lived up to that introduction, he was not mean. In the breakfast challenge, he tried to make a frittata with seared chicken, he says he cooks chicken every day, no problem. But there is a problem, of course! His chicken is pink! So he serves a frittata with a roasted tomato. He is upset. He gives a weird presentation about how he loves frittatas, start every meal with a frittata, it is versatile, he likes to be versatile. The feedback is, he was so upset about his chicken, he blew the presentation, so he needs to get over himself and be more of an adult. In the second challenge, he works with Katy and Susie, and he does a very strange “Whas-up-whas-up-whas-up” lead in that does not fit, and calls his show Pressure Cooker and talks like a pressure cooker, it is not very inviting. On his first take he says something about throwing the ball, and throws a ball at Alton. Alton tells him, “You lose automatically for hitting me with a football” which is funny. And appropriate! When they go shopping for ingredients for dinner, he wants to buy a sixpack of beer (for drinking, not cooking) and is angry that Suzie and Katy will not let him, that Katy wants to buy more expensive chocolate for her dish instead. He was going to share it with the boys, so I think his thing about people working harder around him might be true – they work harder to make up for him drinking beer and cooking drunk! In the group cook he makes steak with chimichurri sauce and is worried because Susie has made a red pepper chipotle sauce, Chris thinks it is too spicy and does not want to serve it but she insists, and it turns out it is the best part of the dish, so I think he must have a very bland palate. His cooking is meh. His camera skills are meh. But he is safe. He could be like Tom who was pretty meh for a while last year. Or he could just be too young to get serious.

Jyll Everman says she is a performer first and a chef second, uh oh. That sounds right for The Food Network! On her TNFNS bio: 31 years old and makes comfort food, teaches monthly classes. Seems she is a caterer as well. FNHumor: “All you need to know about this woman is that she spells her name JYLL. And she owns a catering company called JYLLICIOUS COOKING… she seems to have all the lame qualities the Food Network wants in their tv-ready hosts: an annoying laugh, cheesy stories about her family’s accent, and a cutsey cooking concept that will be able to sell a lot of useless shit to idiotic consumers.” I love Food Network Humor. I have bookmarked their site to go there daily. And it is true, I did not catch what her breakfast dish was, but they said she had a great way of talking! But Jyll has an interesting role on this episode as Victim. For the triple promo, Howie declares she will go last, and since she is a team player, she agrees. I think Howie knows exactly what he is doing because he is a radio guy who blows three of the four takes. So Jill only gets one take. She tries to explain this later but he is oblivious. For her take she wants the teleprompter; Alton keeps telling her no, it is not a good idea because she will not be looking at the camera, but she insists so he gives it to her and she indeed does not look at the camera. For the second challenge, she does not finish her dish because she is acting as Howie’s assistant, which is foolish of her, and then she knocks into Vic and his calamari goes all over the floor. She had a really really bad day, but mostly because she is being a helpful woman and she was zeroed in on by a sly predator (Howie, who I will discuss at length later). She is safe, but just barely, her team loses and she is third from last. She has learned a lesson, her dish will come first from now on. I agree with FNH that she is everything FN wants (cute name, merchandising experience), minus the excitement.

Penny Davidi shows up in very high heeled leopard platform sandals. She says, “I know how to market myself.” Immediately I think she has been marketing herself on a street corner somewhere for a long time. TNFNS Bio: 39, from LA,. mother of two teenagers. FNH: “A private chef and shopping instructor (whatever the hell that is) , with an unhealthy love of wifebeater tank tops… She also loves exposing her cleavage whilst leaning over pots of sauteing garlic.” Penny takes an immediate dislike – hatred, even – to Alicia, apparently because Alicia is “this skinny waif and I’m a voluptuous Middle Eastern woman.” I am not sure what a Middle Eastern woman is. I found elsewhere on the Internet that she is “Iranian-American of Jewish ancestry.” That sounds pretty complicated so I will give her some leeway. But she is so mean! She jumps all over Alicia from the beginning for no reason that is clear, other than Alicia’s thinness and waifness. It is quite possible Alicia said something to bring it on (she does seem a little annoying, but everyone here does), but we do not see it. When they are planning the promos, Penny shoots down everything Alicia says with a buzzer sound, which is awful. In every interview cutaway, she bashes Alicia. When Alicia suggests poached pears as a group dish, Penny sneers about it being old people food and then lets the pears boil though she has been told to keep them low. It is like Captain Ahab and Moby Dick! For her breakfast dish she makes French toast challah with dried fruit marmalade, grilled steak, and a honey yogurt drizzle, which sounds terrific and the judges like it a lot, so why does she need to attack? Can she really believe The Food Network will make her a star when she has been so incredibly mean? Her promo is “Stilettos in the kitchen, bring Sexy back, making dishes more sexy.” She tries to turn away from the camera and look back over her shoulder in what she thinks is a sexy pose but it looks like she has somewhere to go, it is not sexy, and Alton tells her to cut it out. While they are discussing her sexiness, there is a chocolate covered banana sign in the shot, and it is a hilarious visual, I do not believe it was accidental. To the judges she explains fennel is a very sexy vegetable, just the shape of it. I have never thought of fennel as sexy, but when I mentioned this to my friend Marko Fong, he said, “I think there’s a famous picture of Marilyn Monroe in a set of fennel pajamas.” [Digression: Marko is a terrific writer I know from the Zoetrope online writing workshop; one of his stories, "My Father's Paradox" is on my Online Fiction Etc. To Read And Love page! I could put more of his stories there ("Tears for the River God" or "The Amnesia Academy" for example) but there is a rule that an author can only appear once on that page! He also writes very funny things on Zoetrope about gruel. And now fennel! End digression] “So we have sensuality, sexuality, intimacy, romance.” Does she need to get laid or what? One of the media guys tells her to lose the sexy thing. YAY! And she backtracks and suddenly she is cooking in stilettos with her children and it is all very wholesome. It is amazing how fast she did that turn around. She left streaks on the floor! Foge thinks she is “an empowered woman.” I do not know how bad taste became empowered. I think she is mean, and I do not think she needs to be mean or to pop her boobs out of her tight knit top because she made a good dish! Maybe she will be a redemption story! I do not think so, in the coming attractions someone says, “Penny is coming for you.” She is my second least favorite right now. I do not like her at all. I am sorry.

Alicia Sanchez introduces herself by saying she was a model and then she went to culinary school. Maybe that is why Penny hates her? TNFNS bio: 33, from NY, culinary school, owns a bakery, teaches class for young adults. FNH: “She also has one of the most annoying voices in the history of voices.” I do not really hear it, but everyone comments on it, the Valley Girl accent, though she is from Missouri. She makes fried crepe with guanchile filling for breakfast. She is running around saying “Never leave a crepe never leave a crepe” though she has obviously left her crepe but it is ok. Then she goes, “Can somebody help me?” which sounds pathetic. They criticize her accent severely. I just hear giggly nervous girl. For the triple promo, she is first, and her first take she speaks so softly we can not hear her! Alton cuts and tells her to project and she starts to cry and tell him about her accent (“I have to talk low and slow” like she is barbecuing her words) and Missouri and Valley Girl and apparently she takes 20 minutes to do all this. Ok, I agree, she is annoying, but Penny hated her before she knew anything other than she was skinny. Her promo is “Summer has never been hotter” and “Guilty pleasures.” She only wastes that one take. At judging, Alton loves the balsamic glazed rib she made and says “If she cooks like this she can cry all she wants” and it is nice to know that someone still thinks of cooking as the most important thing (Bobby does too, I have to give him that, he has been the culinary standard bearer for several years now). Bob says the process is difficult but she has to find her confidence. Her group is second to last but she is safe. She could go either way, with her cooking skills if she can stop crying and speak up she might work. But I do not think so, I think she will be out pretty soon.

Whitney Chen tells us she quit her job as an engineer and went to culinary school. TNFNS bio: 28, from NY. FNH: “…she seems nice and non-offensive. I’m already predicting she’ll be around until at least the final 3.” I am not so sure. Nice does not really cut it. She reminds me so much of someone but I can not remember who! Low hairline, very pretty, distinctive looking. For breakfast she makes eggs benedict with hollandaise. I did not catch comments on her tape or dish. While taping the promo, she tells Justin, her teammate, to smile, and Alton tells her not to direct him; she recoils. Because Justin screws up three times, Whitney only gets one take, and it is pretty good, something about fresh fun four star meal. For the tasting menu she makes a carrot salad and says she used a lot of techniques; I think they cut her off there and edited out her explanation of what techniques she used because you would not want to actually convey information on the Food Network, especially if it is more complicated than sauteing onions. The judges love the look and taste of her carrot salad. Foge says she looked good on camera and organizes her thoughts well. I think she is too boring for them. But I agree with FNH, she will be around a while.

Justin Davis calls himself a Food blogger. Hey! Am I a food blogger? No! I do not know if food blogging is his job or if he just does it. He loves all food. He names some ethnic cuisines. TNFNS bio: 31, from Minneapolis, a stay-at-home-dad who does rustic cooking, with no recipes. FNH: “Blogger, father, boring. Monotone voice. Dull. Will have nothing to talk about after his 3 stories have been told. And he “hates other peoples food” because he “loves his food” so much.” Maybe that is why he said he loves all food, to counteract that? I think the stay-at-home-dad thing is Food Network gold. But then he does his promo about date night! I smell a change of POV coming! I did not get what he did for breakfast or what he cooked with Alicia and Penny, they stole the show! In the promo, he is behind the butcher counter with a tomato and Alton asks why; he does not know. The judges later ask why, he still does not know. I do not think Justin D is long for this. Unless he pulls out the stay-at-home-dad card.

Juba Kali is here because a lot of people told him he would be good on tv. TNFNS bio: 29, From New Orleans. He is a research chef at a spice company, which sounds like an interesting job, and a new father, which is probably more interesting to TFN than to me. FNH says he looks like a young Barack Obama. Which means he is black and thin with a long face, I guess, because he does not look like Barack Obama to me. But I have trouble recognizing people, I can not tell half the contestants apart, like Jyll and Alicia or most of the guys. For breakfast Juba makes ribs and eggs with maque chou, which he pronounces “mach chow” instead of “mach chew.” I am not sure if this was part of his stumbling speech or if it is just the way he assumes it is pronounced (in which case, he is wrong!). His camera squib is incoherent. But his food is great. For the promo, he does the final leg of the triple, and he is again incoherent, talking about simple complex. I do not know if he has a problem with language or if he has a problem with stage fright. He seems to speak ok when talking to people one on one, but still he can not explain his concept, which seems to be what FNH calls “the black Alton Brown,” with lots of science. In the end he does something about senses and heart and science and cuisine made simply. Or simple. I do not think he knows which he wants, he just wants to stop talking, and I do too! So much for the Barack Obama comparisons. When they are shopping he buys lecithin and agar so I am thinking molecular gastronomy but his dish seems a pretty standard shrimp roll. At judging he jumps in and tries to explain the group dish, which was que lime pie (they could not find key limes so made it with regular limes and used que as spanish “what” and because of the mexican flavors in the pie, which is pretty clever, but he could not explain it at all). At the final lineup his team wins, and he gets a special mention for best dish though his on camera performance is awful. It is not just on camera, he could not explain to the chefs. It still could be nerves. But I am afraid he just is not a language person. At least not a speaker (I can not speak at all but I can write). I am very sad because he is such a good cook and I like the science angle but I do not see him pulling it off. I think it goes deeper than nerves.

Katy Clark tells us right off the bat she has lots of POVs and is not sure which to go with. Uh oh. This is not good. This is not good at all. This is send-her-home-right-away territory. Pick one, Katy, and if they do not like it, pick another, but pick one. Fast. TNFNS bio: 34, from CA, runs food and fitness company, mother of three. FNH: “… it’s clear she’s going to be one of the most annoying chefs to appear on NFNS in years. She’s a soccer mom and a “life coach” (insert eye roll here), and she’s one of those hyperactive obnoxious energetic people who jumps around talking 900 million miles per hour because she can’t sit still. Also, she goes by “FIT CHEF KATY”. Um, I think she is going to be a big hit based on this. Except there is still that multiple POVs thing…she is just blessed with so much to say, I guess. For breakfast she makes steak, eggs, and toast with Hollandaise for French flair. Bobby asks if France is her POV, she says no, it is every day food but all dressed up, she is a life coach and that is her passion, and children, and she has other POVs… and Tush says she has too many POVs. No kidding. I think they liked her food. They did not hate it at least. For the triple promo, when they get props, she of course gets all kinds of things: shoes, pepper grinder, weights, a whole basket of stuff. Then she knocks something off the counter by jumping over it. Something milky. And she sits like she just had hemorrhoid surgery, on one cheek. She twirls a pan and says there are two sides to every recipe. Alton tells her to get rid of some props. “This food star stuff is not easy,” she says. For the tasting menu she makes all-grown-up smores which are very good. The judges think Katy seemed force, Giada wants to see if she gets comfy with who she is and what she wants to do. I think she is very comfy with the many whos she is and the many things she wants to do. Bob thinks she has attractive energy but she is all over the place and needs to focus. I am not sure she will be able to do this, it is very hard if you are a scatterbrain to do one thing because you do many things to distract yourself from something. She does not need to distract herself from her food, her cooking is good.

Orchid Paulmeier TNFNS bio: 38, from South Carolina, mother of three, barbecue specialist. My first thought is, another Southern-Asian fusion woman? What is this, Debbie the Liar Part II? I wonder if she will get caught lying. At first I was thinking she was Hawaiian, partly because of her name and partly because she looks only part Asian, but it turns out she is Filipina. FNH: A BBQ restaurant owner from South Carolina. All I can say about her is that “real chefs” will cringe at how she holds her knife.” I have never understood the whole knife-holding mantra. I put my finger on top of the blade too, how else can you push down on it? But it seems people who are taught correctly do not do this. For breakfast she makes something with masa, a tortilla and sriracha. She wins this challenge. Giada says she is warm and charismatic and the camera loves her. I don’t really get it, but she’s fine. They love her food. She does fine in the triple promo, and makes pork skewers over rice vinegar slaw which is great. She wins the second challenge, too. I think she is the Chosen One. If she doesn’t turn into a Lying Liar who Lies, she has a great shot. But of course they loved Aria at the beginning of last season, until they changed her POV and had her not knowing what she was supposed to be doing. I do not think that will happen with Orchid, she has a POV. I do not see the amazing and wonderful camera presence and warmth they keep yammering about.

Justin Balmes (the Justin with earrings) tells us he is a fishmonger, butcher, and cook. His biggest challenge? “I’m a perfectionist and I won’t be perfect right away.” Aww. TNFNS bio: 32, from GA. Cyclist. Restaurant experience to exec. FNH: This guy is a high school dropout who currently earns a living working in the fish department at Whole Foods. In his interview video, he said: “some would say I’m funny and easy on the eyes. Just saying.” I lost his breakfast. I have no idea what he made or said. Sorry! Too many Justins! For the triple promo, he chooses to pick up a fish, and talk about getting to know this porgy. Alton cuts, tells him to hold it higher so it will be in the shot. I do not know if this is a real fish or a plastic one. He gets indignant when Whitney tells him to smile: “Whitney is trying to pull Alpha on this challenge.” He is right (Alton tells her to stop) but it seems unnecessarily snide. He messes up all four times, his last take has a long freeze in it. For the meal he makes a Zinfandel braised lamb shank (everyone thinks my name is short for Zinfandel but it is not, it has nothing to do with Zinfandel!) which is very good so they are happy he can cook. He says he could do better with his promo. They want to know who Justin is. I do not. I think it is impressive he can butcher and fillet and cook if he really can do those things.

Susie Jimenez introduces herself as owner of a catering business and private chef in Aspen. TNFNS bio: 31, from Aspen, her Mexican parents were fruit pickers. FNH: “According to her audition tape, she earns a living “working for a guy, cooking for him, chauffeuring for him, and housekeeping.” Sounds… lucrative.” I do not know where her catering business fits in with all this. For breakfast she makes egg crepes stuffed with chicken with mushroom sauce, and talks on tape about how it is a good plate-your-own brunch dish, do not forget the mimosas! Then she interviews, “Just because I’m Mexican everyone thinks I’m going to cook Mexican food but I can do many things.” This sounds like a fine attitude, unless you have seen TNFNS before. Giada gets very upset. She asks what her background is. I thought she meant cooking background, but Susie says she is Mexican. “How does this dish represent you?” asks Giada, because if you are Mexican you must cook Mexican food and only Mexican food. Susie, bless her, she says she likes making other things. BobTush says no, go Mexican, and Foge says she is running from what makes her herself or some such thing. Here is where I get pissed off. To me it is pretty prejudiced to declare that a FN star who is Mexican must cook Mexican food. But Susie wants her show, so she says her comfort zone is masa and tortillas and she will cook Mexican. Oh, Susie! What have they done to you? For the triple promo, she grabs a guitar, maybe the most Mexican thing she can find. She does not know how to hold a guitar, as she shows by first pointing it one way and then another for a better camera angle. She strums random awful sounds which makes Alton wince, and starts shouting “What are you doing tonight, it is easy to incorporate Latin flavors!” Alton stops her, tells her to ditch the guitar, and, she interviews, a light bulb goes off. Another one, apparently, besides the one that she had to cook Mexican food. She is a bit more contained on her next takes. For the dinner, she makes ceviche (of course). She gets a lot of praise for her triple promo – she is very attractive being herself. Giada is happy with the ceviche and says she can be strong when she draws upon what she grew up with. She was the most natural and relaxed of the group. I do not think so. I do not think she is attractive at all, I think she is a toad who would cook puppies if they told her to. But that is probably harsh. There is a word I am thinking of but I can not find it! Not a toad – someone who will do anything to get their show. Oh. A whore. Yes, that is the word. I can not call a perfectly nice lady a whore, though. Toad will have to do. Even that is not fair. I just wish she had stood up for herself and said, “I do Aspen brunch and I love it and you can go to your racist hell.” But she is doing what they want and that will do well for her.

Jeff Mauro is a comedian, and plans a show about sandwiches. He makes hundreds of sandwiches a day as a corporate chef. Sandwiches? You can do a cooking show about sandwiches? It sounds weird at first, but I am thinking now it might be cool. There are hot sandwiches that are more like meals than lunches. And breakfast sandwiches. And the famous New England sandwich – turkey, stuffing, cranberry sauce – which is Thanksgiving dinner on bread! TNFNS bio: 32, from LA. FNH: “A chef for a mortgage company. The good news is he seems to know a lot about food. The bad news is that his video was as interesting as watching paint dry.” Mortgage companies have corporate chefs? For breakfast he makes a steak and egg sandwich with chipotle dressing. I do not know what the reaction was to his dish or his video. When he does the triple promo with Orchid, he mispronounces her name the first time. In the store he can not find brioche so he gets chiapatta bread, knowing it is dry and might not work. And it does not, they let him have it, his sandwich with marmalade is good except for the bread and a Sandwich King can not make mistakes with bread, he is only a Sandwich Prince! How clever. But his team won so how bad could it have been?

Mary Beth Albright tells us she is a lawyer turned food critic. Just like Jeffrey Steingarten! She says if Ina Garten and Alton Brown had a love child it would be her. I do not want to think about Ina Garten and Alton Brown making a love child. Or any child. TNFNS bio: 38, from DC. FNH: “She’s from DC, where she is a ‘food writer’ and ‘food critic’ – which means she’s probably going to be really annoying to watch and listen to (come on, aren’t all food critics annoying to watch and listen to?!).” She is very intelligent and reasonable looking, which is not really what TFN likes, I do not think. For breakfast she makes chicken hash and carrots and calls it “food so good you gotta sit down.” I do not know what that means but I think it is a slogan. When they are talking to the whole crew after the breakfast challenge, she is singled out: there is hope but she needs to step it up. I do not know why they tell her that, maybe it is a good sign, she was close to being really good? She is upset at being called mediocre because of a quote by John Steinbeck she used in her high school yearbook: “Only mediocrity escapes criticism.” That is a good quote for writing, too! When they film the triple promo, she does four takes perfectly! I am impressed! But the judges are not, Bob says she is “confident, clear, and concise, which is different from being interesting.” Oh. Yes, that sounds like TFN. Bring on Guy Fieri! They say they are seeing a food writer, not a food STAR! People do not want to see a star with information and a rational, intelligent manner, they want to see a freak show with cool stories about children! This is why I hate TFN. Except for Alton Brown and if he keeps doing this cranky old man routine on TNFNS I am not going to like him much more. Her creamy caramelized onion soup with hand-torn croutons got mixed reviews, but Giada liked it.

Vic Moea, who likes to be called Vic Vegas, enters; his Italian.mother taught him how to roll a meatball before he rode a bicycle. TNFNS bio: 35, lives in Vegas, grew up in Brooklyn, has restaurant experience. FNH: “One word: DOUCHEBAGGGGGG. Or is that two words? He apparently has a restaurant in Vegas, and his mission in life is to “beat everybody.” Yeah, let us know how that works out for you, bro.” (note: comments on the blog say the tape actually says “feed everybody” which is a totally different thing. I have not heard the tape but I am not sure “beat everybody” in this context is that bad a thing, it is the same thing as win. But “feed everybody” is much nicer). For breakfast he wants to do glitz and glam: country fried lobster slider. He wants to make a great first impression by setting the bar high. But he loses his lobster! How can you lose lobster tails? He serves what looks like a piece of bun with some gravy. His intro video says he made garlic country gravy and next week he will make lasagna stuffed meatballs, better known as ballsagna. Oh, no, another Ball man! We just got rid of Saucy Balls! What is it with Italian men and Balls? He goes into something about how great it would have been but Bobby points out the lobster did not show up and he will be penalized for that. But after he leaves Bobby says he likes him, and Giada finds him warm. He has tattoos all over his arms, a shaved head, and he is warm? Giada needs to get out more. Then again she is Italian.

Howie Drummond I have left for last because he is The Devil. At least I think so. Evil personified. He says he is a radio personality, they pay him for this already, but cooking is not his greatest strength, and I wonder what he is doing there. I know they are big on personality but they do expect people to cook! TNFNS bio: 40, from CO, has done restaurant work (he has?), won a radio show. FNH: “He’s a morning radio DJ from Colorado, so he’s used to running his mouth and telling corny jokes. He seems like a nice enough guy.” No, he is not! He is the Devil! But I said that already. I found out on the internet that he cooked at Bennington’s which is not haute cuisine but is cooking, and he has a public access cable cooking show, so what is this that cooking is not his strength? Is he trying to reduce expectations? For breakfast he makes basic French toast which is a basic dish and basically wants to get into the kitchen. He says Basic seven or eight times in his 45 seconds. He calls himself “a bit of a novice” so Bobby says, why would people watch him? I agree! In the triple promo he messes up two takes (he is going to throw a bash) and then delivers the third one, and I think he did it on purpose to screw up his teammates but maybe not. I would not think about it if he did not continue on in the cooking part being devious and sneaky. He keeps asking Jyll for stuff – salt and pepper, oil his pans (and she does it, boy is she stupid), how is my reduction, where is the ice and she has to find it for him, she washes out a bowl for him, he keeps nagging at her until she stops what she is doing and takes care of him. He makes lemon gnocchi and it is pretty terrible. Giada says it is not gnocchi. One of the media guys says it is like lemon glue. When they only plate his dish and the group dish, he gets very indignant that Jyll thinks she did a lot of work for him because it was only 15 seconds. It was constant harassment! She should have told him she was busy so it is her fault too, but he denies it! To her face! She tries to talk to him privately and he still denies it! He is evil! So he goes home for his gluey gnocchi – I think his was the only dish that was really bad – and I am glad. The Devil does not belong on television – oh, what am I saying, that is where the Devil lives nowadays!

That is the first episode. Orchid seems to be out in front early. Mary Beth appeals to me. Penny is mean but she is also sad somehow, with all the sex stuff, I do not see her as empowered but as desperate and cheap, like a low-budged Giada. But who knows, it is much to early to say anything about anyone.

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5 responses to “The Next Food Network Star 2011: Episode 1

    • That is the beauty of TNFNS – they are casting STARS, who can market merchandise (cookbooks, knives, aprons) not cooks. AFter all, no one actually tastes their food! I discovered last week that there is a recipe on the Food Network recipe board for toasted hamburger buns. No, not making bread dough – toasting store-bought rolls. “Put in oven, take out.” That is their audience!

      I would love it if you could see this sometimes, it would be so much fun! And thank you again for the Marilyn Monroe in Flannel Pajamas line!

  1. i really disliked the mean-spirited ‘adversity’ presented in the last challenge. and i really, really, really dislike the judges susie and bob. they suck.

    • Hello, CA Woman! I am Zin! Thank you for your comment!

      If you mean the “adversity” challenge in the current season (this post is from last year, but do not worry, after a while they all run together) I have to confess… I like the “trick” challenge! I do think some of them were much harder than others – I think Ippy watching his audience walk out was so much worse than Nikki having trouble with her blender! And as I said in the post about the Episode 9 from 2012, as actual Food Network people they would get some training in how to deal with these things! At least I hope so!

      Susie and Bob do not bother me as people, but I do not like that they have ushered in a Food Network where food comes last! And sometimes they seem to be watching a very different show than I am watching!

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