Food Network Star 2013 – Episode 1: Are You Ready for Prime Time?

Van Gogh: "The Potato Eaters" 1885

Van Gogh: “The Potato Eaters” 1885

Hello I am Zin and no I am not ready for prime time but that is why I am not a contestant!

I already did bios and my first impressions in the preview post so we will jump right in!

There is the usual gushing and the contestants say hello and then the Three Wise Mentors (no teams this time!) give them platitudes! Right off the bat they have to make a 30 second pitch tape with their culinary point of view! This seems like it should be something they would have prepared in advance but so many have no idea what to say I do not understand that! It is like going to a job interview without a resume! They also have to make a potato dish for the five judges! Then they find out about the focus group and the Dial of Doom!


Stacey takes vintage food and makes it modern! That is what Emily did last season yes? A lot of people did not like that Emily was out as early as she was so maybe they think they can swap in someone else with the same POV and no one will notice! She stumbles on her first pitch tape take and Alton comes over and tells her, “When the camera comes on there is nothing in the room but you and that” and that seems to help her a lot! I wonder if this is a little beginner-nerves staging though because I think she is a front-runner! For her dish she makes fried potato balls with chives and shredded potato skin on the outside all flash fried and she calls them Wild Man Potato Skin because the potato skins remind her of her son and his hair which sounds silly but that is a perfect FNS Family Story About The Relationship With Food! Bobby and Alton like the dish a lot! Tusch thinks she is very natural but a little low key so she needs to ratchet it up. That makes me sad. But that is a classic FNS critique! But she is one of the Top Three!

Chad is the Barbecue Jew from Philadelphia! That is his tag line! It is hilarious but I do not think he can get away with saying that on a show! Everyone likes him! Nikki likes him Russell likes him and the focus group breaks into applause for him and only for him! The collective tongue of America is hanging out! He makes a potato latke with an egg and barbecue sauce and a little bit of shredded pork. Tusch just hears the focus group go wild and who cares about the food! Alton is a little confused about the egg but Giada likes the barbecue sauce.

Nikki does her own online cooking segments so she has no problem with the camera! Giada and Bobby love her Semi-vegetarian concept! She cuts herself twice making her potato cauliflower and parsnip soup but that is what plastic gloves are for! Susie loves her food but worries that she is a little bit cutesy and it hurts her credibility. Her name is Nikki Dinki how can she be anything but cutesy? Bobby loves the soup it is inventive and has great flavor. She is in the Top Three!


Damaris gets lost in her pitch tape first take about modern Southern food so Bobby says, “Tell me about yourself” and she starts talking about dancing. Bobby is confused! Then he decides she is wacky so she should do wacky and she uses “I can cook my ass off” as a tag line with all these shoulder poses to one side then the other! Her dish is roasted potato salad with bourbon mustard vinaigrette and it is a Southern party in your mouth! Tusch decides it is the oddest 30 seconds he has seen! He likes her in person but on tape she is off-putting so she needs to do something about that. Alton and Giada love her potato salad! She is Safe!

Chris gets confused about his culinary POV and starts talking about helping kids grow and reaching hearts and passion and Kim Passion but nobody knows what he is talking about! That usually means someone does not have a culinary POV and is making something up! It turns out he went on medical missions with his parents when he was a kid and was trying to work that in but nobody knows what that means in terms of his food including him so he needs to come up with a Brand – aha the first appearance of the B word – that they can develop! This is not a chef competition it is a Brand competition and his needs work! His pierogi needs work too because Bobby thinks it is bland. Then again Bobby thinks anything north of chipotles are bland! But Chris is safe and I predict he will get some intense work on developing his Brand! But – thanks to wunderbar12 on the TWoP forums I have discovered something else interesting about Chris: Remember Charles Ramsey who saved the kidnapped girls in Cleveland? Chris is his boss! He has made a Charles Ramsey t-shirt with proceeds going to the families of the victims so they can get any support they need! He started out with a Ramsey Burger on the menu but Charles did not like that much so he stopped it! I think Charles Ramsey is a pretty cool guy! Chris goofed with the burger but he made up for it too! And now boy does he have a culinary point of view! Except I suppose the show was filmed before all the excitement.

Viet is uncomfortable in front of the camera and that makes me sad because I hoped he would pull it off and overcome the disadvantage of being a F&W Best New Chef, a James Beard finalist, and the one who beat Bobby Flay in ICA! But no Tusch calls him a gentle soul which is a wonderful thing in Real Life but a terrible thing on TV! I want to cry! Stay Gold Ponyboy! He makes a potato croquette with soup inside. Say that again: he makes a potato croquette with soup inside! If anyone made that I would laugh at them but it looks beautiful and Susie says it is “ridiculously good.” He is doomed! But for now he is Safe!

Andres gets a little confused trying to move his POV from his 150 pound weight loss to teaching guys how to cook! I do not think they will let him get away with that! Bobby wants him to be inspirational but he does not quite get there. Tusch thinks he is a little closed down and is not a star yet. Bobby thinks his Spanish omelette with chorizo needs seasoning because it is bland. How can anything with chorizo be bland?

Lovely talks about glam but Bobby tells her to be more specific so she talks about eating diamonds and flowers. She makes sweet and purple potato hash with the glam right on top: candied bacon and arugula salad and edible flowers! Is she going to put flowers on everything? I think she is very comfortable on camera but this flower thing is troubling! Tusch does not get the glam message and she needs to be authentic without poses and empty words. Bobby likes her dish so she can cook but I am not sure potato hash can be called glam just because you throw flowers on it!

Rodney the Pie Guy impresses Bobby with his Very Own Style! Giada wants to taste his pies! That is a double entendre with plausible deniability built in! He makes a potato pie with crab and gruyere filling and it does not come out exactly the way he wanted but Alton loves it! Tusch loves his presentation! He believes he is the Pie Guy and he does not even know what that means but he is intrigued! See you do not have to make sense on FN you just have to have a unique culinary POV! Jeff Mauro made everything into a sandwich and now Rodney will make everything into a pie!

The really really bad ones:

Danushka does not do so well in her promo! I thought she would be comic relief but I did not know she would be so bad at the whole camera thing! Giada says she seems angry and Danushka is surprised because people always say that! Well Danushka maybe that means something! She complains about everyone! She thinks Lovely is a stupid name! She does not like being in the kitchen next to someone (Russell? I am not sure) who is a Mad Scientist! She does not like Damaris talking too much! She does a second take and asks Giada if she smiled? She can not tell! Giada says, “You tried.” Yes she is the one everyone will love to hate and they will keep her around until the ridicule gets uncomfortable! If she was not such a mean person I would feel sorry for her! For her dish she is making “a dish I call a potato puff” because it is a potato puff and she makes a horseradish sauce because that is Eastern European and that is what she is but she is worried the potato puff is raw! Bobbie does not say it is raw but he does think it is dense! Susie says her pitch tape is bizarre and she comes off aloof and she needs to find her version of warmth! Good luck with that! She is one of the Bottom Three!

Daniela does a terrible first take and Giada tries to calm her down but it does not go very well! She does not seem to know what to say! Something about beach to kitchen because she is Peruvian but lives in Hawaii! I am surprised because her bio video was fine! She makes a traditional Peruvian potato dish papas a la huancaina with purple Peruvian potatoes. Tusch is disappointed with her tape but Alton and Bobby like her dish. Still she is in the Bottom Three.

Russell plays Che Guevarra with a Mohawk! He is the Dissident Chef the Culinary Anarchist the Underground Guy the Food Revolution! Alton is scared! Giada is lost! He does a second take and names the seven culinary sins: Fat, salt, offal, liquor… I forget the rest but that makes sense! “My food will kill you!” That is pretty revolutionary! I watched his bio and said in my Preview that he tries to look scary but he is not and sure enough Tusch says he does not seem like a revolutionary he seems like a librarian! Now it just so happens that being a librarian can be pretty revolutionary these days when you have to decide if you are going to give the government the records of the books people check out [Addendum: see what I mean? In Burma a librarian can get sent to jail! Ye Htet Oo is a true Revolutionary Librarian! Tusch needs to get out more or at least subscribe to The Millions feed!](and Tusch should read The Borrower by Rebecca Makkai which is all about a librarian who tries to be a revolutionary and fails) but I understand what he means! Why is Russell trying to sell himself as scary? They did an underground supper club challenge in Season 6 E7 so what is the big deal? Is he trying to be like Justin the Culinary Rebel? Susie tells him not to be a downer which is very helpful. He makes a potato trio with a pickled potato among other things and Giada likes the idea of a tasting but not the execution. He is in the Bottom Three!

The Shrine of the Glowing Vagina (™ Minxeats) is back for the round of judging! It does not look like the same table from last year but they could not have bought a new glowing vagina table could they? How many glowing vagina tables can there be in the world?

They do not pick a winner just name Chad Stacey and Nikki as the top three! Wait what happened to Rodney? They loved his presentation and his food why did he not get into the top?

Danushka, Russell, and Daniela face the judges as the Losers. Now let me see:

Danushka has no warmth and and made a dense potato puff;
Russell had a manner inconsistent with his stated POV and his dish was not good;
Daniela had a terrible tape but a good dish that was authentic to her interesting POV.

Guess who goes home? Right! The one who can cook! This is the Food Network after all! Bye Daniela! I am surprised because I thought she was very energetic in her bio tape but it did not transfer.

2 responses to “Food Network Star 2013 – Episode 1: Are You Ready for Prime Time?

  1. Russell’s food revolution appears to consist of adding bacon and booze to everything he cooks. Wasn’t that the way people cooked before the revolution? How underground is making a better version of those 1200 calorie bacon, cheese, bacon, burgers they used to have at Burger King?

    I saw Danuschka once before on Chopped where she got cut in the appetizer round. She’s comically bad, which I think means she stays a few rounds, like the women on the Bachelor who have no connection to the guy, yet who mysteriously stay for several episodes. I suspect her food will be just good enough or someone else will do something really horrifying.

    Do they film next top chef in advance and edit before showing any of the episodes?

    I would like to go through life with one of those audience meters.

    • Hello Marko! I am so happy to see you! I am sorry I am tardy in replying I have not been paying attention!

      I am not sure what “underground” really means except that he can not afford a real restaurant. He seems to think it is some kind of avant garde thing but I do not think so!

      Danushka is very entertaining! Everyone is talking about her and that is why she is there.

      They do film in advance (not Top Chef please!!!! Very different show!) and it used to be the winner would start the new show right away but now after Justin who knows what they will do. I am not sure they really care about a winner and a show any more I think this is an end unto itself which is kind of silly but that is the kind of place FN is!

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