June 01, 2008 10:49 PM by Lisa Stauber
The Next Food Network Star is hiding in this pack of ten chefs, and we’re waiting to find out who’s going to get their own show. The Food Network is serious about their reality show, and there are no weekly winners – only the people that didn’t lose. The judges are Bobby Flay, a Food Network cornerstone; Bob Tuschman, Senior VP of Programming, and Susie Fogelson, VP of Marketing for the Food Network.
Kelsey arrives bright and early, followed by Kevin who’s not sure what to make of her. The next contestants trickle in, and munch on snacks. Child star Shane Lyons reveals that he once weighed 250 lbs. I thought all TV stars were skinny! “I lost weight creating food as an outlet instead of a drug,” Shane explains. Way to go, Shane! I’m already rooting for you. At 19, he’s also the youngest competitor.
The First Challenge
Bobby Flay finally arrives, and the show gets going. He introduces Alton Brown, who will be taking them through their very first challenge – to say their culinary point of view on camera. There’s a prop table in the corner, a mark on the floor, and the contestants can only rely on themselves to sell their culinary view and set themselves apart.
Jennifer goes first, and chooses a rubber chicken as a prop. “Keep it simple, I don’t have all day!” she says. Alton gives her some good advice about her performance, but he’s so serious I wonder if he likes her premise. Jeffrey is up next, with a handful of bacon. “My food is all about my classical French training combined with soul food,” he promises. “There’s gonna be a lot of pig!” Okay, Jeffrey, we’ve been warned!
Aaron’s nervous. “It’s a challenge for me to be in front of the camera,” he says. Oh no, Aaron, you’re already in over your head! Nipa is the opposite, finishing in one take. Shane is smooth and practiced. You can tell he’s done TV before. Adam actually tries to drink his milk prop, and discovers it’s not milk, but whipping cream. Jennifers take goes well, but Corey has problems. She completely freezes up, then stammers out something about hype. Corey’s a stand up comedian, who’s been on Last Comic Standing. She should be used to a tough crowd!
Kelsey promises classic food with a twist, and is bright and bubbly. Kevin’s got a great tag line, but Alton just didn’t get Lisa. She started talking about deconstructing food, and community outreach, and finally old AB had to cut her off. “Make yourself more accessible,” he tells her.
The Cooking Challenge
The contestants are divided into teams of two, and their challenge is to cook three dishes in 30 minutes. Each chef should make a dish that best represents his or her culinary viewpoint, and then the team will present a dish together. They will be feeding some of Food Network’s biggest stars, including Iron Chef Morimoto, Giada DeLaurentis, and the Neelys.
Adam and Lisa are teamed up, and they’re a mismatch from the start. She decides on poached salmon, instead. He’s going for French Kiss Onion Soup, because he’s all about bringing romance back in the kitchen. Sorry, but onions aren’t good date food! The other teams settle on their menu fairly quickly, but Adam and Jennifer choose meatloaf for their shared dish. Can they get it done in time?
At the store, Lisa is running in her stylish high heels and Adam can’t keep up. Meanwhile, Nipa can’t find the turmeric for her signature dish. Finally, everyone’s ready to start cooking. Shane’s a natural in the kitchen. “A good cook is a clean cook,” he says, as he immediately trashes any scraps. He’s wise beyond his years!
Some of the teams run into timing problems, though. Shane’s “Beauty Plate” showcased slightly raw pork tenderloin. Fortunately, he got the portions that were actually served cooked. Kelsey didn’t have time to plate all of her salad, Aaron’s Salmon Sandwiches were missing a few pieces of bread, and the meatloaf had to be finished on the grill.
Nipa serves up curried potatoes, but the judges agree that it is bland. Lisa goes starts talking too much again, and leaves a table full of baffled judges in her wake. The onion soup is a hit, but Aaron and Lisa’s salad was overdressed.
Chef Morimoto intimidates Adam. “His eyes pierce the back of my soul,” he says. “Dear God, help me!” He was right to be worried. The judges decide that the meatloaf has too many ingredients – it even included ham chunks. Bobby Flay liked the cook, though. “I felt like I wanted to hang out with him,” he says of Adam.
Kelsey and Aaron didn’t plate everything up, but Kelsey is quick to cover their mistake with some good old fashioned spin. Everyone loves the food, though, especially Aaron’s bold salmon. Giada thinks Kelsey oversold herself a little, something Judge Susie Fogelson also noticed.
Corey and Jeffrey’s team ran into trouble. Despite being a funny girl, Corey just looks worried and miserable the whole time. She made honey glazed salmon, which the table found too sweet. Jeffrey’s deviled eggs were too salty to eat, and their team dish was forgettable.
Lisa’s confident, but all of the guys are nervous. Nipa’s sure she has it in the bag. “I’m not going home,” she says.
Kelsey and Aaron’s dish was a favorite, and in fact the recipes are the feature dish of the week on the Food Network site, which is the closest thing to winning a challenge on this show. Senior VP Bob Tuschman has a warning for Kelsey, though. “Your energy can be a little much sometimes,” he tells her. Bobby calls Adam and Jennifer’s offering “a little unfortunate.” Ouch! That can’t be good! Bob has more harsh words for Kevin. “Your point of view is a little generic.” Hisidea is Romance in the Kitchen, and yeah, it’s been done. Nipa is the queen of cool. “I never get nervous,” she tells the stunned judges. Bob wonders why Shane is so serious. “I’d like to see a 19 year old!” he says. Everyone wonders why Corey looks so down, depressed, and anxious. Maybe she needs to cook some comfort food.
Shane tears up, and gets so emotionally involved that Judge Susie feels she has to apologize. Bobby Flay simply nods wisely at Shane’s outburst.
Six contestants will move forward, and can head upstairs to the Carriage House to compete another day. Aaron, Kelsey, Jeffrey, Kevin, Jennifer, and Adam are all safe.
The judges have some criticism for the remaining four. Corey is too unhappy, Nipa is overconfident, Shane is too self-conscious, and Lisa is too rigid and overpowering. The judges declare Nipa and Shane safe for the night. “I knew I wasn’t going home. I’m still the spice queen,” Nipa announces. There’s more of that confidence!
Corey and Lisa are left, and the judges tell Lisa that she is moving forward. Corey is sent packing. Hopefully going home will cheer her up!
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PhotosCredit: The Food Network.