Hello, I am Zin! I learned a new word this week!
I learned it not from Food Network Star but from Maria Hinojosa of NPR on the Sunday edition of Up with Chris Hayes! It is a Spanish word, “simulacion” which of course means “simulation,” not a new word at all. But apparently, it has a second shaded meaning in Spanish that it does not have in English: “to be told something is going on when it is not what is going on.” I did find her using the word in that general way in one article, but I am not sure if this is a specialized meaning or if it is common usage! But it applies to Food Network Star! In fact, it applies to most competitive Reality tv! They tell us Anya and her badly sewn home ec clothing with no sleeves or zippers is high fashion! They tell us Dani on The Glee Project is a wonderful singer! And they tell us the stuffed dates Justin made are clever and cutting-edge! Maybe it goes beyond that: did you see Smash? While that AI girl did well in the beginning, there was no way she should have had that role over the blonde who could sing circles around her (and looked more like Marilyn to boot) but they kept telling us she had this magical quality!
To use the words of Judge Judy (whom I otherwise do not care for): They pee on our legs and tell us it is raining! Maybe this is the whole theory of reality tv! Not to mention politics, but I will not mention that!
So what happened in this episode? Reality shift! But it hit everyone! Michele, who has shown all signs of being a fine chef, decided it was ok to not worry about shells in crab! And Malcolm decided he did not need a POV! Madness!
They are in South Beach for the wine and food festival! They must cook a beach party for Paula Deen and her husband (who seems like such a nice normal guy, they keep dragging him into these things and he tries to cooperate) and one of her ubiquitous sons. They must make an adult dish and a dish for children under 10, and do a 30 second beach party tip to camera! The winner gets a $20,000 gift card!
Justin plans cold corn soup and Alton tells him to bring some heat; he says he always uses chipotle for smokiness. I give him credit for pronouncing “chipotle” correctly. For the kids he will use less chipotle. He interviews he is “tired of this ego-driven thing that says ‘you can not eat my food!'” in a bad French accent. I am not sure what he is talking about! I think he means ego-driven chefs! Then he says it is vegan, wheat free, nut free – there is nothing at all in it maybe – so everyone can enjoy it! He is peeing on my leg! He just happens to have this recipe and he is retrofitting the spiel! It is not a unique dish or rebellious! And the whole vegan-nut-free thing is just nonsense! It is the ultimate ego-driven food! Paula comes by during prep and calls him Elvis. He interviews, “It’s Paula Deen. I’m all over it” in an ironic flat deadpan, since “all over it” can mean “bored with it” or “on top of it.”
Justin presents; he wants to prove he is not stone cold, he has a lot of love to give. He is peeing on my leg again! But he explains the ego thing: he is annoyed by menus that say “no substitutions” so he makes something that everyone can eat… and Paula chokes! The Susie chokes! And Bobby Flay chokes. They are all choking on his ego-less hypoallergenic soup! It is hilarious!
It seems the chili oil was a little strong! Now I will bet anything at some point he said, “Hey, you are cooks and chefs and sophisticated people who go to all kinds of food events, you do not know to take it easy around chili oil? What kind of fools are you?” It is like the TC:JD judge who tried to eat, what was it, a banana peel? Any idiot knows chili oil when they see it! They are peeing on my leg! And all he says was he feels annoyed at himself for not telling them it has spice! I will bet anything that was his edited, scripted, coached reaction for public consumption, since he is getting the winner edit! If he was getting the loser edit, they would have shown his “WTF” reaction!
His tip is using asparagus as a skewer and something about not having to clean up. I did not know skewers were such laborious clean-up items! I think someone is peeing on my leg again! Asparagus is fine but you try making shish kebabs with asparagus spears!
Paula loves him. They talk about him being outside the box, and Alton says he does not even know the box is there! That is a good line! Bob never knows what he will come up with and he is on the edge of his seat! Come on, if you have never had chilled corn soup with chili oil at any of the events you have attended, you have not been paying attention! Now Bob is peeing on my leg! They want him to come across as nerdy, but to me he seems “cooler than you.” Still, I think he would probably come up with the most entertaining show. At least it would be different! Since I do not watch these things for the food anyway, I like entertainment value!
Martie tells Alton her tip is an entertaining survival kit and he warns her not to make the kit too big because she only has 30 seconds for her tip! She makes endive with salmon and goat cheese and cream cheese! When Paula comes by for the walk-through, Martie gets verklempt! She say “I am Martie and I know parties” which is not very good, then explains her dish as the perfect party appetizer with goat cheese and Paula says she is not a fan of goat cheese! Uh oh! But Martie recovers and emphasizes the cream cheese! Paula thinks Martie might win for gift of gab! Paula Deen is peeing on my leg! Just because she never shuts up does not mean she is right!
She tapes her tip, and guess what! She runs out of time! Alton says, “I knew time would screw you.” That is mean, Alton! Except it is true! He warned her, too!
Martie serves; her dish for kids has more cream cheese and less goat cheese! Her tip is about an outdoor party survival kit for guests, maybe with bug repellent, or suntan lotion, or the one she shows, sliced cucumbers on ice with little towels in them, so you take a towel and squeeze it out and rub it on your face to cool off! That is not a bad idea except I am not sure I want cucumber juice all over my face when I am outdoors with bees and flies and mosquitos, but I would try it! The thing is, this is the kind of idea Food Network could make hay with, selling all kinds of overpriced Martie Partie Survival Kits for Outdoor, Kids, Cocktail, Christmas, whatever parties! Martie could have a whole line of Survival Kits at $19.99 a pop! No wonder Susie loves her! It is a marketing dream!
She does, however, run out of time, and as Paula says, a southern girl can not do anything in 30 seconds! It is like me writing a post in 100 words! So I can actually sympathize with her! Paula “gets” her. I do not think they say much about the food, but it is salmon salad in an endive boat, what is there to say?
Nikki makes a lamb skewer with panzanella salad, and makes it burger style for kids. She does not want to cook for kids! They hated her smoothie before! One kid says he does not like ranch dressing, so she says “You like ranch? Let me see if I can find some ranch” and he says “I do not like ranch” which is what he said in the first place but she misheard! It is kind of funny in a sick way, poor Nikki! “Give me a break” she says and again I sympathize. I am not very good with kids either.
Her tip is to find a vase, fill it halfway with sand, and put a candle in it! That is a tip? That is a pretty weak tip! But she makes sure she pronounces “grill next door” more clearly than she did last week when they could not tell if she was saying “grill” or “girl” with a Chicago accent! So that is improvement!
Bob says she is the most natural she has been. Deen Son loves her and says her tip was clever! Oh, do not pee on my leg, Deen Son! Paula worries that a show about grilling will get boring, grilling grilling all the time, it is hard to get excited about grilling, while Bobby Flay who did Boy Meets Grill for how many years? sits at the table. They do not show his face! I would pay to see that or hear his unedited comments!
Malcolm talks over jerk chicken with Bobby. His tip will be the marinade; Bobby thinks he needs something specific to outdoor entertaining and his POV. In a taped interview, Malcolm says, “My culinary genius has no limitations, why limit myself by picking one point of view? I don’t need a point of view.” Malcolm, have you lost your mind? I think this interview was taped after the elimination and he was defending his off-the-cuff decision to proclaim he does not need a POV. It is maybe the stupidest thing anyone has ever said on Food Network Star and that is quite a distinction! It is much, much worse than “I do not need to know how to cook!” They will teach you how to cook, but you must MUST bring your own culinary point of view or you do not get a Food Network show!
He serves the Caribbean jerk chicken; the meal for kids has less habanero and is plated as a smiley face. His tip is to add pineapple to the sauce to make it sweet and temper the heat, “from Malcolm with soul.” So see, he still has his “Soulful” point of view! What is he talking about? Susie asks how this fits his pov, and he tries to incorporate Caribbean soul. Which is fine, I think! But he goes overboard and says he does not want to be pigeonholed! Uh oh! Susie has a conniption fit! She does not want to say “pigeonhole” because it is negative, they simply want to know where he fits! Aha, so now Susie is peeing on my leg! All this pee running down my leg is really icky! Fact is, Susie, you can acknowledge it sounds negative, because it IS negative, and to call it something else does not make it less negative, it just makes it sound less negative! Do you see the difference, Susie? I know you are all about marketing which is about how things look and sound, not how they are, but sometimes someone will call you on the bullshit, and Malcolm has just done that. He will be eliminated, of course. If we thought so the first time he said “I do not need a point of view” we know it now. You do not tell Susie the structure of her entire network is nonsense and live. Then Susie says “When you are doing it right you will be saying the same thing over and over again.” That is Doing It Right! I can not believe she said that!
In any event, Paula is not crazy about his dish, but I think she would have panned it even if it was the best thing she ever tasted because she sees which way the wind is blowing.
Hey, there is Michelle Bernstein! I have been ignoring the guests, I guess I should be paying attention!
Michele (no, not Bernstein, the contestant):
Bobby suggests she do stone crabs and take the meat out of the shells; I am a little torn here. It seems to me like he has forced her into something she can not do in time! This seems like sabotage, but that seems a little paranoid even to me! In her taped interviews she is clear that it is a lot of work, and she is stressed, and she does not have time to work through the crab meat and knows there are shells but at that point what do you do because it is all she has!
Her tip is to lighten up barbecue with a fruit salad and squeeze citrus over it to keep it from browning! Is there anyone who cooks at all who does not know that citrus lessens browning? It seems like an afterthought of a tip! But she goes all “squeeze it in there and get crazy with your food!” Then she finishes early and has five seconds of dead air! Bobby says, “You can not leave five seconds on TV!” Why not, Martita left six times that and she is still there!
Michele serves and gives her spiel – the kids have sliders – but after one bite Deen Boy stops and says “the only way you can really screw this up is to break a tooth on all the shells you left in here” which seems unnecessarily snide! Then again, serving dangerous food is maybe even worse than refusing to have a POV (we will see). Alton says, “You are done.” I kind of agree. This is not bad food, not even inedible food, but dangerous food! They run around telling people not to eat it! Wow, that is tough! I like Michele, she is one of my favorite people, but she is not doing very well in the Food Network world! Which I think says more about Food Network than it does about her!
Giada says “Now we get to my team” and Alton says “It is a good thing we have already eaten” which seems completely uncalled for! No one has complained about the food Ippy or Martita have made! Bad Alton!
Giada preps Ippy by telling him to have energy, because if he can not get energy going here in Florida in the sun on the beach like he is in Hawaii, he can not get it anywhere! For his adult dish, Ippy makes misoyake sea bass and for the kids he makes a breaded fish lump. Fish ball? Fish cake? Something. The plating is nice, it has a smile on it in some kind of sauce!
His tip is about roasting veggies in foil, making “a purse for the gods” which is the kind of phraseology (I just saw The Music Man yesterday) the Food Network loves! Paula thinks it is delicious – it is like having a peach on a summer day – and loved the tip. Bob says he finally made friends with the camera! Giada says he came back to life! Ippy says “If I do not shine here I can not shine anywhere” which gives him an A for parroting what Giada said! And so much for being true to himself and keeping his laid-back Hawaiian demeanor! he is definitely Food Network material! This makes me sad, because I like Ippy, but I understand, he is doing what he has to do. That makes me sad, too, because he still is not going to get a show.
They have a clip of Michelle Bernstein saying “this was the best dish” and they put it here and maybe it really is about Ippy, I hope so!
Yvan grills a lot so he is making his famous coconut chicken lollypops. He says Family Style every three sentences. He builds a sand castle. His tip is to use food, like orange or watermelon rinds, as serving platters. Paula thinks he is adorable. Susie says he has made simpler food in the past – since when? But she is happy.
She gives lavish praise to Paula Deen. And she loves the store they go to. Martita understands the Food Network! She makes a Mexican surf and turf, skirt steak and shrimp and black bean salad. For the kids she cuts the shrimp smaller because she grew up eating what the adults ate so the hell with a separate dinner! I actually agree with that, but I suspect it is more about time and effort than philosophy.
She brings her cleavage and presents the Flavors of Mexico! Her tip is to do things in advance. Again that is a pretty lame tip. But the Food Network plays to the least common denominator. Susie felt like she was reciting ingredients in the tip – no, Susie, she was explaining what could be made in advance! Is Martita on the way out? Giada tells the table it is a younger and healthier Mexican food, and Alton says it would be nice to hear that from Martita! That is a good point, but why is Alton busting Giada so much?
Post-game locker room:
Bobby: more about POV with Malcolm; Michele is not growing, and though she started out strong, others have caught up or passed her; Nikki continues to improve and her tip was perfect! I see, Bobby is casting his lot with Nikki.
Alton: Both Martie and Justin did well, but Martie still has to work on timing, and Justin should have warned them about the soup, told them to stir it, because a table of food people are so stupid they will take a big spoonful of chili oil by itself. If you tell people you are serving soup with chipotle and chili oil, that should be warning enough!
Giada: Ippy came back to life and did his best camera work; Martita has to figure out what makes her stand apart from other Mexican food. Wait – are there so many Food Network Mexican cooking shows? The pigeonhole is turning into a flytrap!
Justin, Ippy, and Nikki were the top three. How interesting they just happened to be one from each team even though they are competing individually! Both Nikki and Justin had trouble with their food (though I think the complaint about Justin was idiotic) so Ippy wins! I am glad for him! He seems very sweet!
Malcolm and Michele are in the bottom. Malcolm needs more consistency in his Point of View. Michele served dangerous food, but she has been one of the most consistent people, they are just looking for more from her! Not more crab shells, more personality on camera!
Make a Beach Party Cocktail in ten minutes and do a 60-second live presentation on why only you could have invented it!
Michele does something about Manatuck Mystery, something about Nantucket Island, made out of orange juice (because nothing says Nantucket like orange juice) and cranberry and booze and beaches and fishing and sailing, and Bob says this is finally not a stereotype of New England (except for the orange juice it is!) and they have not heard this yet. Heard what? I think Bob is peeing on my leg!
Malcolm makes an apple cobbler cocktail, browned apples with brown sugar and vodka and orange juice, it sounds pretty awful and I have a sweet tooth! “I put the soul into soul food.” So now we are back to soul food and his mamma used to make apple cobbler blah blah. Bob thinks it is elevated, Susie likes that he cooked something, but they never say it tastes good. Then Malcolm says, “Unfortunately it took this time for you guys to understand where this soul comes from.” Malcolm is peeing on their legs! I think I got that right, I will double-check it, but it sounds like he is blaming them. That is not a good thing! You do not blame your prospective boss for not understanding you!
Bob and Susie debate: does New England have enough air in it for a point of view? We have a lot of air up here, and it is much better air than in New York! Conceptually, New England covers a lot of territory foodwise: apples, blueberries, dairy, potatoes, pears, tiny farms, plus all the seafood. And three hundred years of history! Plymouth Plantation would keep someone busy for a couple of seasons! They are confused by Malcolm. Susie does not think he is about soul food. Bob admits he is one of the best chefs.
Malcolm is out. He sounds positive about it, says all the right things.
I am undecided; I think Michele was kind of pushed into her mistake, and I think Malcolm interviewed differently from how it went. They are both excellent cooks, and I think they are both very capable of doing interesting shows, but the Food Network wants people to sell merchandise, and cooking shows are only a means to an end! Somehow they are going to get their grubby paws on the Party Survival Kit, and I only hope Martie gets credit and a cut from it!
Next week, someone can not be flapped! They are still in South Beach doing live food demos and the game is rigged: they will have to deal with unexpected obstacles! I love these things! It is mean but it is fun! And I will bet some one will pee on my leg!
While I like the mentor format, I miss the camera skills challenges they had in the first season, where they had people practice reading from teleprompters and swapping out and talking while cooking, they are not doing that now, they are just looking for camera presence and personal charisma.
Considering Bobby started with cooks, Giada with personality, and Alton with teachers, it would be interesting to see how each mentor adds the other skills. But we only see the lamest advice!
It is interesting that Alton and Giada have shows that are filmed, not live to tape like the shows the newbies have to do! I think Bobby had to work live in the early days – and IIRC he was not very good at it! That is probably why he says, if they can cook, I can teach them to cook on TV. But I do not see him teaching them that! Maybe he does off camera, but on camera he just keeps telling them the same things! I would like to see more specifics, like Alton giving Martie ways to get her timing better!