First of all: For all those who are desperately searching to find out if Justin, Yvan, and/or Michele are gay – I do not know! By the way, why is no one interested in who Martie prefers to sleep with? Poor Martie! Three hundred and ninety six searches for the other three (in one day) and zero for Martie! I feel bad for her, so I will fill in the gap! Is Martie gay? But I still do not know! Would it not be more interesting to wonder what their favorite books are, or music, dogs or cats, city or country, mountains or seashore? Get a grip, people!
And now I will get a grip, and proceed with business! Hello, I am Zin!
They have to do a 30-second promo in a pink-and-green booth which looks like a prop for Food Truck Barbie! They get 3 takes! Three will go home! They will be judged by Susie and Bob, plus a panel of six Food Network luminaries: Anne Burrell, Aaron Sanchez, Robert Irvine, Sunny Anderson, Melissa D’Arabian, and Jeff Mauro. Luminariousness is not what it used to be! The promos are screened for the panel, and the contestants sit twenty feet behind so they can not hear what they are saying! Which is silly, since they are hearing it now, but this is Lowest Common Denominator TV!
Michele: She loves having her own little clam shack! For her takes, Bobby tells her “you are not having a good time, you look at the camera like it owes you money!” And she gets tangled up in words! But she does one take where she hits 30 seconds exactly which has been a problem for her. It is the same “My New England” thing. They show it to the panel, and she seems a bit aggressive, she is yelling, pointing, standing very firmly! Sunny is scared! I think if I did not know her from the show and from other shows I would be scared too! Melissa finds her inviting and welcoming, which makes you wonder what show she was watching – I like Michele, among these four she is the one I would most want in my kitchen, but that promo was not inviting and welcoming! Robert thinks her show is “bigger than New England” and I do not know what that means! He thinks she has what it takes and she could be the next Food Network Star!
Nikki: She flips her tongs around and does a not very good take, she stumbles in words; Bobby tells her she has a great smile and she should use it! I am guessing everything it very edited so we really have no idea what happened on the first, second, or third takes, but apparently she gets one done! The whole Grill Next Door shtick – “give me a slab of beef or some delicate fruits and I’m good to go.” Anne likes her but thinks she is trying too hard to get them to believe her! Jeff says if Bobby says she can grill, she can! He liked the promo! Susie thinks it intrigues viewers! I am not so sure about that! I wonder if they just made a bunch of random statements and edited them together in random order later! Nikki has a very competitive view: it is her or Michele! Now there is aggression! Though Michele probably feels the same way, she has the grace to not say it, or the editors have the sense to not show it! This is the reality of “reality” tv! When they get a winner, they can fix the edit to show them in any way they want!
Justin: He and Alton really seem to have a bond! It is kind of sweet! Alton says do something where you forget everything and just talk! He talks about the Rebel with a Culinary Cause and hitting “the tightrope between crazy good and crazy great… eats, that is!” That is sweet, Alton has bequeathed him his empire! Aaron says it is obvious he has been mentored by Alton, and he can tell he has interests outside the kitchen, he reads! Wow, someone who reads! Now that is something I would like to know! There is a POV for you – the Literary Gourmet, cooking from scenes in books, or dishes authors like! Too bad I am not a good cook, and I am too shy to be on camera! But someone should do it! Not on Lowest Common Denominator TV, though! Sunny wants to have a beer and hang out, his likeability is off the charts! I do not get that at all! I think the synergy with Alton is appealing, and I think he will make the most interesting show – he is my favorite to win at this point – but I do not find him all that likeable as a person. I still think there is a smug too-cool-for-you brat hiding under there! He has done an admirable job of containing it, however, though some of that probably goes to the editors!
Martie: Alton works with her, tells her to talk to him, she says he is making her nervous and he says, “But this is me!” like he is a big cuddly bear! She says Alton has a way of saying things that puts her at ease! Now wait, earlier he was the Tough Love guy, now he is Mr. Cuddly? Her promo talks about Martie with the Party and it will be like having a caterer, bartender, and decorator working for you! Anne thinks she is fun, and she told the premise of the show very well! Robert wonders, can she back it up? That is a good question! Bob thinks it was memorable, and Susie says she nailed it! I think they were impressed she did not run out of time!
Ippy: Giada tells him to connect with the camera. Duh! He is still trying to amp his energy, and she says he is too intense, he needs to be more relaxed and laid back! That is exactly the opposite of what they have been saying! I feel bad for Ippy! He got the short straw with Giada! His promo is the usual Hawaiian thing! Jeff says he got the message across and he is intrigued by the pov! Sunny says the delivery is a little sing-songy, which is true. Melissa says he needs some tweaks in his presentation (which is a bad sign, since that is what they have supposedly been doing for the past 10 weeks!) but she likes his pov and would love to learn his food! Bob says he has genuine conviction and passion!
Yvan: He keeps mixing up “Family Style” and “Family Table” – I actually think “Family Table” is a better show title! It still is a miscellaneous pov, with no real meaning at all! Giada is clearly the weakest of the mentors with no helpful comments at all! Yvan has pictures of his family on the counter, facing the camera, and he turns a couple around to look at him and calm him down, which seems to work, feeling surrounded by family! The promo is not perfect but it is ok! Anne finds him charming and passionate about family but has no idea what he is going to teach her! You tell them, Anne, that is exactly it! Robert Irvine likes him! Bob gets a sense of sweetness and a love of cooking for people! Susie feels incredible warmth straight from his heart! Or maybe it is just the Florida weather!
It is time to pick who will make pilots and who is done! Alton says he feels like Meryl Streep in Sophie’s Choice which, Alton, that is not an appropriate analogy, just ask the Governor of Maine who made a casual Nazi reference! I am kind of stunned that the editors included the clip, it is in very bad taste!
Michele is in, Nikki is out!
Yvan is in, Ippy is out!
Justin is in, Martie is… in! Aha! Fake-out! There will be FOUR finalists making pilots!
They claim viewer votes alone will determine the winners! I do not believe them! As with AI, I suspect there are many ways of slanting the vote to get the results you want!
It is time to go back to New York to make the pilots!
Yvan is doing a family show! Literally! They bring his family in to be on the show! His brother is a worse actor than he is! It is pretty awful, the kind of mess I associate with typical FN shlock, and I hate it! Yvan is a nice kid but he is going for heartstrings instead of the interesting things he knows – wasn’t there something about him working with Cyril Renaud, Jacques Torres, and Jahangir Mehta, with combining molecular gastronomy and mixology? Interesting stuff? And instead he is going to play family style and make corn (canned cream corn, to be exact) mac and cheese – with CORNSTARCH? Now, I am fine with people making stuff like this! I make stuff like this! I make blue-box mac & cheese! I use all kinds of canned and boxed goods! But that is not what I watch TV for, to watch people make the same boring food that I make! Especially when they have the capacity to do other things! This is sad! He pours the mac & cheese into a pan to bake it and says, “see how stretchy and good that is?” It is disgusting! I do not care how many loving family members you have around, this is garbage! I think Yvan has been sold out!
Martie is, guess what, having a Partie! She goes into a thing about the other contestants have 20 years to figure it out, but right now they can get in line behind her because it is now or never for her, she finally says this is the culmination of 50 years! Wow! She finally gave her age! Thing is – Michele is 42, so she is no spring chicken either! She does the whole fearless entertaining with the caterer etc on speed dial! She tells a warm personal story about a guy who picked her up on a shrimp boat! That means he came by to pick her up for a date and drove a shrimp boat instead of a car, not that they both were on the shrimp boat and he picked her up, which would be a little tawdry for the Food Network (but would be very interesting nonetheless, yes?), and makes a shrimp dish that I do not understand – she broils the shrimp in the oven with spices, then tosses it in a bowl with sliced onion and lemon! How do you eat that with your hands at a party? You pick out the shrimp? That’s a lot of onion, you have to go digging in there for the shrimp? Does it not make the whole room smell like onion? Where is Alton, telling her how ridiculous this is?
Michele goes to a New England style seafood house and has clam chowder, and talks to the chef about it! Bobby says he is glad she is dressed like a lobster, in a red shirt! Her strategy is to be herself! That is a good strategy! Then after she has the chowder she decides she needs to go home and make more clams! That is not really how people work, but I guess it is ok. She makes steamed littlenecks with chorizo and corn! She rips the bread up (like Italians do, she says) and uses it to sop up some of the broth, which is exactly what anyone who loves steamed clams would do (I hate clams, I hate bivalves in general).
Justin goes last: They shoot at his restaurant, Do or Dine in Brooklyn! Alton really works with him on a collaboration thing – breaking the rules set by, who better than another Food Network program! Like Good Eats! So use an old episode – say, Caesar Salad – and show how it Justin can do it his way! This is a great idea! I wonder if Alton really thought of it! Justin is honored! The clip (it is supposed to be a pilot but only about 3 or 4 minutes are shown) is pretty good: Justin watches the old show in a theatre with a big cup of soda, and it kind of reminds me of MST3000! Except there is no robot! Now that would be extra cool, if they could work a robot into it, maybe even Alton! Then Justin says, “That was from a different century” (was it really? Is Good Eats that old?) so he will bring it into his century by making… aspic! Aspic! Aspic? That is the most 50s, most old-school thing there is, no one makes aspic any more! And it is pretty disgusting – beef-flavored jello! There is even a tumblr called “aspic and other delights” – “dedicated to gastronomic atrocities of the past” (heavily featuring Kraft processed cheese)! You can find a pretty good explanation of it at wisegeek.com and I think it was in the movie Julie and Julia – it was the part where she boiled down the calve’s foot and smelled up the kitchen and it still did not set! Because back when aspic was invented, back in the middle ages, the gelatin is supposed to come from bones and hooves, except now it is much easier to use the processed kind! And this I guess is how Justin wants to bring us into his century! Some cognitive dissonance there!
But he makes chicken aspic with all the flavors of Caesar salad (he pronounces “Worcestershire” as it is spelled, I am not sure if that is a mistake or a joke), and grills some romaine, then puts the aspic on the hot lettuce so it melts and creates a dressing! Now that is very different! It is not something I would want to eat, or make, but it is cool to watch! Justin feels like he has a bond with Alton, like he wants him to succeed; that is clearly the case! And putting his promo last pretty much assures that the Network wants Justin to win! I am not sure how aspic is going to play with the Least Common Denominator, though! But it is the only show I actually want to watch!
You can vote at the Food Network website (a Facebook account is required for some mysterious reason that probably makes someone money) or by phone (Martie 1 855 54 STAR 1; Yvan 1 855 54 STAR 2; Michele 1 855 54 STAR 3; Justin 1 855 54 STAR 4) until 5pm Eastern time on Tuesday, July 17!
And then next Sunday they will kill time for 59 minutes with warm family stories before announcing the winner!