Monday, July 29, 2013

HGTV Star and Food Network Star! A Recap and Rant...Part Eight

At long last Design Star is over so let's focus on Food ... Network Star!

Okay, so we’re down to the Final Five! Final Five! which is not different from Final Six! Final Six! except there’s one less person; but, hey, it makes for good TV, I guess, so let’s rip ….

MENTOR CHALLENGE
This is all about the pantry, and using what you have in the cupboard to make a meal; of course, this being TV, everyone’s pantry features Special K® cereals and treats. My pantry doesn’t make the cut, unless you count Quaker Oats® and Mom’s Best Cereals Toasted Wheat-fuls®, but hey, let’s see what the cheftestants can do.

Damaris: She’ll be tasked with breakfast, so I first thought, ‘Bowl of cereal.’ Which is why I won’t ever be on the show. But Damaris thought Special K® Multi-grain Cereal crusted French Toast. Cutie Alton Brown tells Damaris that her downfall is that she doesn’t teach as much as talk. Her 1-minute camera presentation was good, but there wasn’t a teaching moment. Still, Alton he liked her French Toast.

Rodney: He’s got breakfast, too, and so he automatically thinks ‘pie.’ I think is you say sushi to Rodney he thinks pie; if you say pet food to Rodney he thinks pie. I get it. He thinks pie; so he’s doing a Special K® Popcorn Chip Pie with ham’n’eggs and cheese sauce. Alton tells Rodney his challenge is to impart a useful tip to the audience. Rodney’s camera challenge goes smoothly, but when Alton says, ‘What about the tip?’ Rodney replies, ‘The crusted catfish I talked about.’ Except, um, he didn’t talk about the catfish at all. Alton thought the breakfast pie was so-so.

Nikki: She’s giving us lunch, A salad with eggplant and Special K® Red Berry Cereal croutons. Alton said she lacks authority in her presentation and needs to fix that. But then, the trouble starts when she leaves her croutons in the oil and they turned in Burntons®. So Nikki scrambled, ending up with a salad with Special K® Red Berries and topped with Special K® Cereal. She ran out of time on camera and, while Alton liked her salad, he did not find her authoritative.

Russell: Given dinner, Russell makes a steak salad with potatoes crusted with Special K® Popcorn Chips. Alton reminds Russell that he always starts strong but peters out at the end. He also ran out of time, and had a habit of looking off-camera, like maybe trying to find the exit, but Alton liked his food.

Stacey: Also fixing dinner from the pantry—something she tells us she does every day so she has this ‘in the bag’—Stacey comes up with Special K® Vanilla Almond Cereal Crusted Chicken. Alton tells her she comes across as guarded and fake on-camera and Stacey tells us she’s a hugger, but her hugs look a little like shoves … Get back! Once again she’s good, giving good information, but comes across, to me, as aloof. Alton, however, liked her presentation and her food, so Stacey survived the I Got This In The Bag elimination.

STAR CHALLENGE
Filling in for Bobby Flay—thank the culinary gods—is Robert Irvine, who, apparently featured Stacey’s diner on one of his ‘Restaurant Impossible’ episodes. Stacey now feels the pressure to win again.

The challenge will be to take some old, old, menu items from Phil Traini’s restaurant in Long beach and reinvent them to save the business from going under. Stacey, as out5 Mentor Challenge winner, gets to pick the dish she wants, and to assign the others to her competitors.

Rodney: Stacey gives him Chicken Cacciatore with Pasta and Rodney thinks, yes, pie. He stuffs pie dough with chicken and tomato sauce and then … give me a minute I threw up in my mouth again … he deep fries it. He does manage to entertain the judges, along with Phil Traini and his two managers, but sadly the dish looked awful, and didn’t taste much better.

Damaris: She apparently hates steak—something we have in common—so naturally Stacey gave her Beef Tournedos with Mushrooms and Mashed Potatoes. She reinvented the dish as Filet Mignon with Roasted Shiitakes and Smashed Potatoes. Her presentation is cute and funny, but lets’ face it, she made steak and potatoes.

Stacey: She gave herself the Crab Stuffed Halibut and Baked Potato, and then turned it into a Crab Cake Halibut Roulade with White Truffle Roasted Potatoes and Green Beans. The judges, and restaurant diners liked it but Phil Traini and his managers said she comes across as fake. Uh oh.

Nikki: As much as Damaris hates steak, and was given steak, Nikki hates Salmon so Stacey gave her Salmon with Onion and Pepper relish and Rice Pilaf. Nikki turned that into a Meat-on-the-Side Pan Roasted Sliver of Salmon atop a Broccoli Cake and surrounded by about two pounds of Rice. And while her food was so-so, when she was asked about her Pilaf, and whether or not it was an actual r=pilaf, she said, ahem, “rice pilaf is rice with stuff in it.’ Yeah, that’s what I expect from my Food Network stars.

Russell: He was the only one happy with what he was given: Chicken Stuffed with Feta and Spinach and Rice Pilaf. And he goes to town, creating a Spinach Wrapped Chicken poached in Onion-Vermouth Broth with Lemon Risotto. His dish, and his presentation, pleased the judges and the diners.

THE VERDICT
Damaris did nothing special, though she was fun to watch. So-so food on a plate.

Rodney was fun, but his food was a Deep Dish failure. He’s memorable and fun and, as Irvine said, nuts, but his food is inconsistent.

Nikki overloaded her plate with rice, and under-loaded her presentation with a lack of knowledge. Rice with stuff in it! I’m still giggling at that. They love her POV [Meat on the Side] but feel she lacks confidence and knowledge.

Stacey was another chef who made a good dish, but now swarms of people, not just the judges, are calling her fake. She’s called articulate and polished, but too guarded.

Russell created the winning dish and offered up a very good presentation, so naturally he gets the win and ….

Nikki, the girl with the strong POV but no real knowledge is sent packing.

MY TAKE
I thought Russell really outshone the other chefs by truly reinventing the dish. I mean, I want him to get a show and make that chicken dish so i can learn how to do it.

Stacey. Even when she says she’s a hugger you can feel her cringe at the idea.

Damaris is sweet and, well, yeah, that’s all.

Rodney. He should have gone home because while Stacey might be able to learn to be real, Rodney’s food is often really bad.

What did YOU think?


3 comments:

the dogs' mother said...

First, Food Network, don't tell us this is a *pantry* challenge - just get on with it - it is a SPONSOR challenge. It is okay you sold out. Top Chef did it ages ago.

Felt sorry for the poor restaurant owner - got all his dishes dissed but lots of publicity so hopefully the traffic will pick up.

Rodney has stayed past his expiration date. Poor Stacy can not please the judges no matter what. I'm in the corner for Russell and Damaris.

Anonymous said...

I love Damaris. She didn't shine this week but luv her warm personality. Hope she wins.

Jannean Albarran said...

I think Damaris is going to be Food Network's younger, less racist (hopefully) replacement for Paula Deen