Hello I am Zin! It is time for the Salvated Star to return!
Did you forget all about that? Because I did! I do not spend lot of time between weeks wondering about this show, but still, I am surprised I did not remember when I remembered it was on tonight. Lovely returns! That is not much of a surprise is it. Russell is worried because she is going to bring a whole new set of skills they may not know about. I think he forgot she was on the show a few weeks ago!
For the first challenge this week, Giada wants Italian food. Of course she does! And they had better pronounce everything right! Yes I know her pronunciation of “spaghetti” makes a lot of people crazy but I am not Italian and she is so I must defer! They will all cook a dish and then present it in a way that makes the judges want to eat it. Did they not do this last week? As it turns out, no they did not! After the cooking when everyone has their little stories in mind (except Stacey who is trying to seem less rehearsed) they present in pairs and switch dishes so everyone is tasting and presenting an unfamiliar dish! Everyone knows something is up when they send everyone but the first two people backstage!
In this case the judges do not taste the food so it does not matter whether it is good or not, what is being judged is their ability to describe. I suppose someone could say a dish tastes terrible but that would probably not make the judges want to eat it so they will at least talk about how it should taste!
Stacey has been rehearsing being spontaneous and now she gets to Be Spontaneous Live! She does not know if she can handle Spontaneous Spontaneity! Rodney tells her his dish is called “Late Night in Little Italy” and he gives a mini-presentation just telling her the name but tells her nothing about the ingredients. I do not think he is being cagey I just think he does not understand he is supposed to tell her what the dish actually is which is clams, shrimp and oysters in tomato sauce over pasta. That is a pretty cool dish for Rodney! If it tastes anything like it sounds it might be a pretty good meal! But Stacey seems to actually know something about food! She talks about garlic and basil and recognizes pecorino romano (which I think is pretty impressive) and starts to go into how it is like eating pasta with her kids but time is up! The time went fast!
Lovely presents the linguini with meat sauce that Damaris made. “When you think about tomatoes you think about acidity…” and she gets the Bolognese from “meat sauce.” It is a good start and she does well except she does a lot of “nice” and wonderful” and ends with “Join me now in this mouthwatering journey” which is exactly the kind of canned speech they love but also the kind of canned speech they sent her home for. This is a tough gig!
Rodney has had a lot of trouble adding to his vocabulary but he has been studying like crazy to go beyond “suckah” and “awesome” and it is going to be awesome, suckah! has to present the saltimbocca with brown butter pasta Stacey made and it seems he has no idea what saltimbocca is or brown butter for that matter. He says it is sweet, with a nice sweetness and nice sweet sugary ham. Either Stacey made a dessert saltimbocca, or Rodney does not know any other descriptive words. The food authority thing is not going well for Rodney. Maybe that is why they paired them because they figured Stacey would make something complicated. Now that is Pie Style!
Damaris had a great story about her dish but now she has to talk about mascarpone fettucine alfredo with lemon shrimp that Lovely made and she does not have a story about that! See that is what FN does they get them all tied up trying to think of stories instead of cooking or even talking! All she has to do is use the same story because nobody will know the difference but I guess she is not used to lying! If she gets a FN show she will learn! She stalls for time by asking the judges if she has anything in her teeth. She tells a very long story about the first time she got her heart broken and she laid on the couch and cried and after a week her brother came by with some pasta and it was warm and creamy and felt like a hug TIME! Wait: what is the food? I think the judges feel sorry for Damaris but I doubt they really want this food: Eat this pasta, it tastes really good after you have been crying for a week! She gives herself a 4 out of 10. I agree with that but I also think if she had said “shrimp” she would have won because that is how Food Network goes!
Russell has been discovering that even though he talks about food all the time it is different to talk about food on TV and to think about food from a Food Network perspective. Yes on FN it is more important to have stories than knowledge! He has decided to choose between Revolution and Sin and decides to keep Sinning. He gets to present the dish Nikki made. She tells him it is “Fire Island Burst Tomato Pasta” and that it is made with rosemary and pretty much everyone wants to taste it right then but she is not the one presenting! So Russell takes over and makes it sinful. He had to work hard at that because there was nothing sinful about it. Of course not she is Meat on the Side! That is why they paired them! He talks about being the Food Network Culinary Sin Bastard (no, no, it was Master, I think) and talks about basil and goat cheese and creaminess and bright lemon and garlic TIME! He did not do too badly, he got some good words in. Some bad words too. Except no he did not that was just what I heard.
Nikki present the veal sugo Russell made. She talks about ground veal and meaty but salty and sweet carrots with texture and how meat broth coats pasta TIME! She does pretty well but not great, she is reporting on what she tastes.
The judges think Nikki was the only one who made them hungry! I am a bit bewildered by that but I guess they wanted Nikki to win. Alton likes the sense of discovery she conveyed like they were eating it along with her and everyone else read a parts list which is only sexy if you are rebuilding a carburetor. Alton I do not know how to break it to you but there is nothing sexy about reading a parts list while rebuilding a carburetor. In fact that would be a good challenge for ANTM! See who can make it sexy! I do not think Nikki did more than read a parts list but I do not think she did any worse than anyone else either. The point is Nikki wins.
They break into two teams of three to write, direct, and produce a field story about a selected location. Rodney is happy because talking to people about food is what he does! Rodney you told us you play guitar and sing and make amazing pie jars too! I am not sure we can believe you any more! They will be evaluated by the judges and by some Hollywood reporters. Or people from the Hollywood Reporter, I am not sure. Because Nikki won she gets to pick her team and she goes with the girls she knows. Also all the people who are likely to win this competition. Rodney, Russell, and Lovely are a train wreck waiting to happen! “We have to win,” says Stacey, and Nikki realizes, oh, yes, if we lose one of us will go home! Now she regrets pulling all the strong players! “We… have…to… win,” repeats Stacey. She knows the game all right.
Nikki, Damaris and Stacey go to a famous Donut Shop and talk to owner Jim about his signature Fresh Strawberry Donut. That is not just a fresh donut with strawberry flavoring you understand, or a strawberry jelly donut or even a donut with little pieces of strawberry mixed in but a donut stuffed with fresh strawberries! I wanted one just looking at it! Stacey does the kitchen segment with the owner and I am surprised that she is the big problem! When they rehearse and she explains what she wants him to do and she is so rushed he says “I will just keep my mouth shut” which is not how you want to make the guest for a food story feel! She wanted to let magic happen but he does not talk fast enough for her!
The intro with the three of them is very good! Damaris does the set up segment real well and they got some good food porn shots too. She is just a little over the top but she has learned to be fun without the boob shimmy. Stacey is downright embarrassing! She asks a question then talks over the guy before he is finished answering! She does the glazing which is a good idea for a segment like this and then she steals a strawberry which is great but the damage is done! She does not care about the guy or his information! No magic here. Then Nikki finishes by asking a little girl what her favorite donut is which is a great way to end. It was a very good segment except for Stacey and some of the decisions were good but she needs to not talk over the people she is interviewing. I remember Chris Hayes (who talks very very fast) saying he had a guest on who was talking very very slowly and he was worried that it was not good TV but it turned out to be wonderful because he forgot about time marks and just listened to what the guy was saying. Stacey needs to learn that! All of Food Network needs to learn that! It is not about how many words you can cram into the shortest possible time it is about giving a guest the time they need to tell the story!
The reporters liked Damaris and Nikki a lot – Damaris had charisma and Nikki was a terrific leader and had food authority – but Stacey was not listening, she treated the guy like a prop, and she did not follow up on the potato flour. You know something: if she had asked about the potato flour they would have said, “All you talked about was potato flour! What about the frying? What about the proofing? What about the glazing? Those are visual, potato flour is too conceptual!” Because they are doing to Stacey what they did to Aartie: it is her time to crumble and then she can have a rising arc! Or maybe she is more like Aria who they loved at first but got bored with.
Bobby says everyone is hungry for donuts so they are the winning team no matter how bad Stacey was and everyone is safe! Stacey cries because if they had not won she would have gone home and she works hard to be there. There was no way this team was going to lose.
Russell, Lovely and Rodney to go a pizzeria where the guy makes the pizzas from scratch. And really, really scratch! Like the yeast is 500 years old! I have heard of 99 Year Old Sourdough Starter (though it seems that may be a myth) but this sounds a little fishy! Or yeasty! But still it is something you would ask about like where did he get it and what does it take to keep it going. Here is the basic problem: no matter how delicious the pizza crust is or how interesting the story about the yeast may be, there is just no way to make a vat of 500-year-old yeast as visually appealing as a fresh strawberry donut! Russell wants to be natural and bring in sin. Rodney is going to hang out with Vito and bust his balls and hope he busts his balls back! Oh yes that should be fun to watch.
Russell does the opening and he does pretty well except he tries to make the yeast sinful which is a little silly. Rodney makes pizza pie with Vito and zips through the yeast starter to an ex-wife joke because everyone loves an ex-wife joke! Especially the ex-wives who watch Food Network! They go into the yeast and it is a family secret the guy could tell him but then he would have to kill him. That is classic Food Network spiel! Then Lovely interviews two patrons. One is named Dr. Kute and she asks him what his real name is and he say it is really Dr. Kute. He should have asked her what her real name is (Connie, is it weird I remember that?). She asks the two guys if they like their pizza and they say yes and that is it. See that is the problem with Lovely she is all style and no substance! Ask open-ended questions! Act interested even if you are not! What would you like to know from the patrons of a pizza shop you are thinking about going to? But no, she just asks “Do you like the pizza” they say “Yes” and that is the end. But do you know what? I watched this again: the other team got a really cute and perky little girl and Lovely had to talk to two bored old guys in a run-down pizza shop so I think the fix was in from the start.
The reporters like the presence Russell has on camera. They could not understand Rodney which made the judges laugh since they have been saying that all along! They could not tell if his shtick was real or fake but he was believable. I could be wrong but I believe that if you can not tell if someone is being real or fake, he is by definition not believable…. yes? But this is Food Network. They did not find Lovely engaging because she was too crafted and polished. No, no no! It is not because she is too polished! It is because she was posing and she should have been reporting! Or at least pretending to be interested. But all she was interested in was looking good on camera and smiling and saying her lines. Nobody wants pizza.
The judges tell Russell he does not have to sin all the time. Bobby continues the inexplicable Rodney-love-fest: Rodney is most memorable but he is very disappointed he just skimmed by the yeast. The reporters used the word “shtick” and what they do not realize is that the shtick is him. I am not sure it is good to be a shtick. They want him to add culinary authority to shtick. I hope it does not sound like I am being mean but I do not think Rodney is “smart” enough to do what they want him to do! I do not mean IQ smart I mean verbally smart and food smart. I think he has been talking in patter because he genuinely does have anything to say and has no thought connected to his mouth. He is however Guy Fieri 2.0 and that may be enough! With Lovely we pick up exactly where we left off: too polished and mechanical but that is Lovely. “It takes years to get the kind of polish you have but on Food Network it does not work.” They want Pie Style! Giada wants her to put her arms around the guys and be a family. Dear Giada, when was the last time you put your arms around a stranger who calls himself Dr. Kute?
In the end Lovely is out.
She is still proud of herself for winning the Star Salvation. “I sent six people home! I Built That!” She needs to go work for Mitt Romney! If any of those six people had stood a chance of winning I would smack her! No, Viet never stood a chance, he is just there to be punished for beating Bobby Flay in ICA. Russell has been in the bottom five times but now he has found his voice! Sure you have Russell. But fact is the three women that remain are the only ones truly in the running though they seem determined to give Rodney and his shtick some kind of role in Food Network programming. Rodney: “Maybe I do not have Food Authority but I make connections with people and that is Pie Style.” Make it stop!
Nikki burns down the kitchen! Then they do a Restaurant Impossible mission with The Most Repulsive Man on Food Network, Robert Irvine. I am sorry I do not know why he bothers me so much but I feel dirty and slimy watching him!