Food Network Star 2013 (Season 9), Episode 4: Big Screen Bites

Would it not be so cool if this were the movie they showed at the theater?

Would it not be so cool if this were the movie they showed at the theater?

Hello I am Zin! Today the contestants go to the movies! Except they do not see a movie they make a movie. No they make a movie trailer! I do not know what this has to do with cooking but everyone seems happy. It is the most honest episode yet because it is clear that food has nothing to do with who wins! It is not who makes the best food but who makes people want to try their food! This is sort of like with the burger thing except there they at least pretended that the food mattered. Now they have decided that is not necessary. Never forget this when you watch a Food Network cooking show! It is not about how the food tastes it is about how well the cook convinces you it tastes! This seems appropriate for a movie challenge because the movies convince you that people do indeed look like movie stars and everything has a happy ending with beautiful violins. Unreality TV!

The contestants get into teams of three and make a one-minute movie trailer in an assigned genre to promote their food. Each person makes one dish: one will do an appetizer, one makes the entre and one must make a dessert. Then the audience picks which food they want to eat based on that! The winning team is the one that convinces the most people to pick their food! See, no tasting necessary to win! Then the judges (still only Alton, Bobby, and Giada, it seems Susie and Tusch got lost somewhere) will figure out who goes home based on some divine inspiration.

They shoot the trailer before they make their food which does not really make sense to me but that is more of the separation of reality and appearance! It does serve a purpose though because it locks them in to a particular dish. The whole service segment is very suspenseful with one team getting all the orders at first then another team catching up and finally the third team getting slammed! You can ignore that part since it is deliberately designed for viewers who still believe in the Reality of Reality TV.

Western – Nikki, Russell, Stacey:

Russell tries to explain the spaghetti western to Nikki: “It’s…modern…a little obtuse, a little off-center…. like that Fellini nature.” Later someone fills him in and he explains it is a group of Westerns shot in Italy with Clint Eastwood which is much closer. Flavorwire has a more thematic definition. pssst… In S6 Serena did a Spaghetti Western recipe too! Nikki is insecure because she does not have a restaurant but she is also upset that Russell can not get his lines right during filming.

The trailer has Nikki and Russell in costume as gunfighters dueling it out: “What did you bring to this food fight cowboy?” Russell brings his two guns. Stacey is some kind of moderator trying to decide. She has a hobby horse. I guess that is her costume. She seems more sexy than western to me but maybe she is the saloon girl. After service when they realize they had a lot of orders Russell says “I am smelling spankage, full blown spankage.” I love to learn new words!

Nikki makes the appetizer of shootout chili with just enough meat to give it meaty notes. Bobby loves the trailer and likes Nikki the best! Even Russell says she is a slick performer! Alton is impressed because it finally shows him the full body and depth she can get out of veggies. Yes that happens when you put meat in them! Alton tells her “The you in that trailer is the you I want to see from now on: confident and controlled.”

Russell makes his Spaghetti Western with whiskey and bison and bacon so he is happy he gets in his culinary sins. I think Russell has been studying with William Shatner because he… can only talk… in… a few…. syllables… at a time. Alton thinks Russell looks great and sold it but the food was not that good! Giada is disappointed the pasta has no flavor. I am again confused by how anything with whiskey and bacon can have no flavor!

Stacey makes campfire smores with chocolate coffee ganache, popcorn, marshmallow and rolls them in graham for a “dressed up classic.” Stacey, if you get a show, you know you will be making turkey burgers and baked chicken and pasta every day right? Bobby says Stacey looks uncomfortable like she was trying to remember her lines. Giada loves the idea of using popcorn because of the theater.

Romance – Viet, Damaris, Chad:

Damaris is not happy to do romance because she has been ordered to stop being so sexy! Chad tries to get them to do something light and funny but they said no because no one else ever heard of the Romantic Comedy. They come up with something like The Dating Game. Damaris holds very still (“No shimmy”) like she is frozen in place but she is the shrimp and grits girl all cozy and cuddling by the fire: “When you bite into my shrimp I burst with spice.” Ok… Chad tries to woo her to pick his chicken wings by saying “sexy, spicy, sticky” and “hard on the outside and juicy on the inside.” I think they are confusing the Romance movie with porn! Viet is just there. Using the word “macerated” does not count as romance.

Chad makes Korean chicken wings and worries about keeping the sweet down because they do not like him always making sweet sauces so he is keeping it spicy not sweet. Bobby starts to talk “about your performance” but starts to laugh. He did not expect to see him in that vein! Yes we all know exactly which vein. Food and sleaze do not go together and Chad went triple-x. But he appreciates that he went for it. Giada is speechless. Alton calls it “Fifty Shades of Hot Sauce.” They like his chicken wings though and Alton notices it is not sweet.

Damaris thinks shrimp and grits remind her of being in love. That makes me sad. She gets her grits creamy and smooth and well-seasoned. Seasoned perfectly! Heavenly! She is very happy with her dish! Inexplicably, Alton tells her she was not sleazy with the biting into her shrimp but romantic in a fun way that was loveable. That is data. He gets the grits though and he agrees about them being about love. He wants his own triple-x moment so he says “I need some private time.” But they need seasoning. Badly. Either they are just dumping on her so she has a rising arc or she has a palate that is out-of-sync.

Viet makes berries macerated in rum and honey topped with sparkling yogurt cream spiked with champagne with CO2 to make it sparkling and fizzy. It is something you would not expect from whipped cream. But is that not how whipped cream is made? Alton does not see him growing on camera. Alton says the food is not unpleasant it is just not what he expected. Bobby does not taste the rum and does not think it is very creative. I have to agree with that! He had an hour and he poured some berries in a bowl and szussszzed up yogurt and champagne?

Musical – Rodney, Chris, Lovely:

Right off the bat Lovely is not happy because she does not like Chris! He is loud and talks a lot! He knows she does not like him but that is ok he will just kill her with kindness! Lovely also realizes they have not liked any of her food. Chris figures there is no way to put a musical on the plate so they will do a song and dance and sparkle! Later he bullshits it with “musicals have lots of different things and lots of notes so we have lots of flavors.” It basically means “We had no idea what to do but we have Rodney who is a professional musician so we should do really well!” But they do not! They make up a song and sing about their food. The big surprise is Rodney who shows the world he is not much of a musician! He can barely play guitar and can definitely not sing! I like some pretty offbeat voices (like LP who has a very odd voice with extreme vibrato but somehow is still completely captivating) but this is just awful.

Chris makes lobster macaroni and cheese. “The first thing I do is cook my pasta.” Good choice. He puts in chorizo and tomatoes and parmesan and goat cheese. That sounds like an awful lot competing with the lobster. Giada does not think it works. It is too much stuff.

Rodney makes a steak mushroom onion and Gruyère pie. Again with all the stuff! Call it steak and cheese pie and then give the ingredient list! Do you know nothing about this? It does not matter what he called it because no one could understand him anyway. Bobby does not like the pie at all, even the crust is not good! Rodney keeps saying “pies and music are my life” which makes me sad because Alton points out he has not yet made a good pie and now he has not made good music now either!

Lovely makes a donut out of packaged pizza dough with cardamom orange caramel and orange zest and edible flowers to glam it up! Bobby can not bite into it! Giada struggles for the right word, looks up to heaven, literally spends about six seconds to come up with “dense.” It is too bad Wolfgang Puck is not there or he would throw it across the room! What is really hilarious is that Giada has a recipe for Italian donuts made with pizza dough! They are a little different in shape though. For that matter Pillsbury has a pizza dough-nut in little balls so it is not like it is an idea from another planet! But why use that when people on Chopped make donuts all the time in 30 minutes while figuring out how to put horseradish and hotdogs in their dessert at the same time! Maybe she was trying to do an homage to Giada but it backfired. Chris tried to get her to make a beignet because it would be a New Orleans thing and at least have something to do with music (like his lobster mac did… oh wait…) but I think Lovely would rather lose than take a suggestion from him.

The Reviews are In!

The Western team wins because they got the most orders! It also sounds like their food was best but I will bet there is some producer manipulation going on to make it look like they were best in both categories. So Nikki, Russell and Stacey are safe! And because they did not have the worst day Chad, Damaris and Chris are also safe!

Rodney, Lovely and Viet are up for the elimination!

The judges talk. Alton says Rodney has made only one good thing to eat in four episodes but he is the Pie Guy who can not make pie and the musician who can not play! Bobby wants him to balance food and entertainment better. Alton still sees the potential to get better. He is Safe! That is what a great package will do for you on Food Network.

Viet confounds Alton. Sometimes he likes his food but when he misses he misses big and he does not think he is improving. Giada thinks he is searching for himself. Viet tells the panel he is under a lot of pressure because of the Iron Chef thing and Alton tells him if he is not succeeding it is his style of cooking not that they have raised the bar too high! Now wait just a minute! Viet owns a restaurant and has been a James Beard semifinalist twice and is a Food & Wine Magazine Best New Chef, he is exactly where Bobby Flay was in the early 90s! I think he has found himself, it is just that he got lost and wandered into Food Network by mistake! Where Rodney got a win for a fruit salad just the week before! I do not know if they are keeping him around to give him a Rising Arc or if they are keeping him around to humiliate for beating Bobby Flay but Viet is Safe!

That leaves Lovely, who is Out! I can not argue with that. Even the Pie Guy who Can Not Make Pies at least made a good fruit salad once.

Next week they will do live TV.

And now for the fun part: Steal That Aftershow!

Star Salvation:

This web series is the equivalent of Last Chance Kitchen from Top Chef which was the equivalent of something from Survivor I think (I do not watch Survivor). Food Network may be last to jump on a bandwagon but at least they get there. Robert Irvine gives eliminated contestants tasks to do and in the end one person will be allowed back in but we do not know when. Not today at least. I had forgotten all about this!

Today Lovely, Danushka, Andre and Daniela (remember her? I did not!) compete in a Basic Skills Test! They have fifteen minutes to:

  • Crack a dozen eggs
  • Break down one chicken
  • Clean six shrimp
  • Julienne two carrots
  • Make garlic paste from one head of garlic
  • That seems like a lot to me! I suppose it depends on how cleanly you do things. That is where the unreality part of Reality TV comes in! While they are working Robert comes by and annoys them and asks them about their Culinary Point Of View.

    Danushka thinks the tasks are a lot of stuff too but she does not seem to be working very fast. She tells Robert why she should be salvated: “There is no one like me on Food Network, is that not enough?” She finishes all her tasks! I guess she really did go to culinary school! Robert does not understand her point of view (“I am a model!”) and her carrots are not julienne, they are batonnet. I am no fan of Danushka and she knew the julienne was not fine enough but I think Robert is just showing off! She is safe anyway.

    Andre is trying hard to embrace weight loss as his POV! But he did not go to culinary school and he can not finish the tasks! He did not get to the garlic paste. But it is good enough and Robert likes his point of view so he is safe.

    Lovely talks about giving people skills they can master so they can celebrate every day through their food. That is the first time I have understood Party on a Plate! Robert understands her. She is Safe.

    Daniela does not like skills. I do not understand! She went to culinary school she must have been trained in something! She wants to be on television teaching people to cook does that not mean skills? She tells Robert her point of view is all about sexy. He hollers out sexy does not work if you can not put food on the plate. “Of course I know,” says Daniela. I did not even realize he was talking to her at first so I was surprised she answered! I think he was shaming her! That is not nice! But the truth is she does not make much sense! Robert did not understand her point of view (it seems to be “I am sexy”) and her julienne is not cut through. Sexy does not make sense as a culinary point of view and her knife skills need work so she is Out! She says: “This turned out to be a Salvation Elimination!”

    The remaining three now have 30 minutes to make a dish with those ingredients: chicken, shrimp, eggs, carrots, garlic. The eggs are the weird part.

    Lovely makes panko crusted chicken with couscous and carrots and garlic with grilled shrimp as a garnish. Where is the egg? I suppose it is part of the breading layers? That seems like cheating to me because you would not know there was an egg in it! He also says there is no garlic taste. But her dish is the best because this is Food Network and they do whatever they want!

    Danushka makes shrimp stuffed chicken with an Asian stir fry of vegetables and a scallion pancake! At least I know where the egg is. Robert likes the carrots with ginger and the chicken is moist but the shrimp is raw! “Juicy,” says Danushka trying to spin it but no dice. “Raw is not juicy,” says Robert. Well, it is, but raw is also raw. Still she is safe.

    Andre makes an omelet! At last someone really uses the egg! He makes a Body Building Meal to energize and prime for weight loss! But it is not good! Oh no! The shrimp and the omelet are rubbery and there is too much red bell pepper. ‘

    Andre is Out! He is disappointed he did not get to champion his point of view but he is very sweet on his way out. “I must not be ready for this yet,” he says, which may just be the most intelligent thing anyone has ever said on getting eliminated from any show ever.

    Danushka and Lovely will face the next eliminee next time! I think it is suspicious how suddenly Danushka has turned into an actual cook.

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    4 responses to “Food Network Star 2013 (Season 9), Episode 4: Big Screen Bites

    1. fwiw, Damaris’s biggest problem isn’t her attempt to be sexy, it’s Paula Dean. I think if they do a Southern Cooking show, the next host or co-host is going to be black.

      I’d love to see a next top chef episode where they vette the contestants.

      • They did that last year! Sort of. I missed it but they had people come in and each team leader picked the team they wanted and sent a few people home. I still think it is all decided before the first episode anyway. Top Chef has been showing a narrowing-of-the-field for two seasons now too.

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