July 20, 2008 09:12 PM by Lisa Stauber
Last week on The Next Food Network Star, the contestants had a throw down and Kelsey went home. This week, the chefs are still in Vegas, and former Next Food Network Star champion Guy Fieri is on hand to judge.
The Mini Challenge
Guy’s written a 30 second promo for each contestant, and they have to perform on camera. Aaron’s a little nervous, but Lisa’s not sure she can memorize the script.
Lisa films the first spot, and she has to get wired up to retrieve a bottle of wine. There is a giant tower of wine, and she has to raise and lower herself on cables. She barely stumbles through her lines, and Guy calls it quits.
Aaron’s on the gambling floor, walking and talking at the same time. Bobby’s helping him out, but he needs a little practice. “It’s awkward, man, for real,” he says.
Adam’s taking the stage with a couple of Vegas showgirls. He’s dolled up in a tux, and has choreographed steps. He fumbles some lines, and he’s disappointed that his takes weren’t perfect.
The Main Challenge
The contestants arrive at the beautiful Wynn Resort. They have to create their own Las Vegas buffet, and the Wynn’s chefs and entertainers are going to be rating them. The three also have to entertain the entertainers, and they’ve got 6 hours and $1000 each to do it.
Lisa orders 12 pounds of fish, and Adam hustles some wood for smoking off the butcher. Aaron picks out a center cut steak and some pasta. Lisa stops to double check her cart, and loses a package of fish when it tumbles out. She doesn’t notice and keeps shopping.
The chefs arrive at the Tryst nightclub at the resort, and they get to pick an eliminated contestant to be their sous chef. Lisa chooses Kelsey, Adam goes with Shane, and Aaron and Jen will be working together.
Adam’s cooking up smoked pork chops, smoked chicken wings, smoked mushroom pizza, and some banana cream pie.
Aaron’s using a lot of white flour, with sirloin bruschetta, orzo salad, chicken pasta, chicken tortellini, and crab cakes. He ends his menu with chocolate fondue.
Lisa’s going upscale, with monkfish piccata, pork roast, twice baked potatoes, asparagus, and tomato salad. Her dessert is a classic poached pear.
Adam makes a smoker out of woks and aluminum foil. Lisa discovers she’s missing half of her fish, and now she has to figure out how to serve 50 people with 7 pounds of filets. Aaron plans to break up his trio of his pasta dishes by presenting them differently
Lisa’s pork roast is blackened, and she goes to work scraping the charred bits off. Aaron thinks her food looks great, though, and he’s determined to put on a great performance to make up for his boring tray.
A crowd of celebrity impersonators walks in, along with the judges. Lisa bursts into song, performing a ditty she wrote for the occasion. She’s got a great voice!
“I’ve never been in a room like this before,” Aaron says, but he starts cracking jokes and makes the audience laugh. He forgets the punchline, though, and struggles to entertain them.
Adam has to follow that up, and he goes with a standard loud Vegas style intro. He goes into a description of his smokers, and labels his buffet Adam’s Smoke-tacular. “It would be crushing to go home now,” he says.
Lisa calls hers buffet a tasting menu, since she’s short on fish and doesn’t want anyone to spend too much time eating her overcooked pork. Guy notices her inconsistency, though.
The most intimidating group of diners are ten men in white – the Wynn’s professional chefs.
“I think Aaron’s food needed more creativity,” one of the Wynn chefs says. “I think Adam’s is the best,” another says. “Adam did the best job,” another Wynn chef agrees.
Aaron’s food was inconsistent. The crab cakes were delicious. “The salad was strange,” Susie says. Lisa’s running out of food, but is happy with the way the buffet turned out.
“This was a very difficult challenge,” Susie says. “Aaron, you had winner’s energy,” Bob Tuschman says about his promo spot, but they didn’t like his bomb of a performance at the buffet. Bob also didn’t like how boring the Aaron’s menu was. “I’ve had better food from you in the past,” Bobby says.
“Lisa, you had the hardest promo to do,” Bob says. “You have quite a voice,” Susie says. “You took a huge, huge risk, and it paid off.” They liked the food, mostly. “I loved the crown pork roast,” Bobby says.
The judges thought he did well in the promo spot. “I thought you brought your best,” Susie says. They didn’t like the boring intro at the buffet, but his pork chop won the favorite overall dish.
The judges can’t decide, and they are going to something they’ve never done before. They’re bringing all three of them back to New York to compete in the final challenge, winner takes all.
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Photos courtesy Food Network.