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The Next Food Network Star: Wood Fire Grill Challenge

July 20, 2009 12:23 AM by Cindy Adams


Only four Next Food Network Star contestants remain, as they face a live on-camera challenge and a heated showdown at the grill!

The Next Food Network Star contestants headed to the patio at Eden Roc Hotel and were met by Chef Michael Symon of Iron Chef America. He told them they were doing a demo live on a Miami morning show so they needed to bring their “A” game.


They had no idea, butThe Next Food Network Star contestantswere about to get punked! They went to a live show with host Dave Aiezer. Each demo was rigged for disaster. Not niceâ⬔but I loved it!

They each had 4 minutes to demo their signature dish and Debbie was the first victim. She was making crispy catfish with an etimame succotash. They switched it up and her catfish was replaced with chicken. They also took away utensils and gave her things she didn’t need! Oh my! Poor Debbie, there was no fork, so she used herfingers, and they took her spoon, so she stirred with a knife. But, she didn’t miss a beat! She was awesome to say the least!


Melissa was next and the host really messed with her. He called her by the wrong name and started gagging at her dish, which was tapenades caviar with potatoes.Then, he poured a bunch of hot sauce in her dish. What a mess. Melissa started to lose control and became frenetic. Awkward.


They gave Jeffrey technical difficulties. His dish was gorgonzola cheese, arugula, and caramelized pear grilled cheese. Yum. Jeffrey’s was the funniest with the boom hitting him in the face. Then he had tohold a hand microphone while trying to cook.


Jeffrey was so confused it was priceless. At one point he couldn’t figure out how to hold the knife with the microphone, cut the food, talk, and engage the host without killing him.


Jamika was given the wrong time cues and the camera was way too close for comfort. Her dish was herb roasted chicken breast. The camera man was all over her, and she actually hit the camera with her dish. That was side-splitting!


After the live demo, the judges felt Debbie did the best because she was so natural, that a viewer just watching the show wouldn’t have known sabotage was going on. She was brilliant and deservedly won the challenge.

Next the contestants went out to the Eden Roc pool, where Michael Symon was waiting with four massive grills. The group was told they would battle to get their dish on the Red Lobster menu.


Each had 45 minutes to cook a fish dish paired with crustacean or shellfish on a wood fired grill. Debbie got to choose her fish first since she won the demo challenge.

Debbie chose tilapia with ginger and citrus chili sauce, and roasted vegetables with spicy crabmeat. But, another twist was thrown into the mixâ⬔all the contestants had something taken away and something added. So, they took all Debbie’s Asian ingredients and gave her anchovies, olives, and capers. She made a charmoula rubbed tilapia, with fennel, orange, and crab salad with an olive and anchovies vinaigretteâ⬔but she forgot to use the capers. Bad move. But, her fish cooked perfectly.


Melissa was making a citrus marinade with arctic char. But, all her citrus was taken away and she was given a ton of habanero peppers. She used them to marinate the fish and made a sauce for her scallops with the peppers mixed with pineapple and shallots. She did a killer job and the dish had an excellent flavor.


Jamika chose Mahi and pineapple rice. Her pineapple was taken away and instead she was given celery root. She really struggled and even told the judges she was pissed, which was not a smart move. She ended up making a citrus grilled Mahi Mahi, Jamac-a-me-crazy celeriac shrimp and mango rice. The judges did not like her attitude.


Jeffrey chose scallops and shellfish, but they took away his chilies and gave him Asian ingredients. He made fish a la nage (an aromatic poaching liquid) and broth with sesame oil deglazing. The shrimp and scallops were coated in wasabi. The judges loved it because it was both sweet and savory.


At elimination, Jeffrey was told his cooking without borders concept was not cutting it because he always cooks within the same bordersâ⬔Southwest, Mexican style cooking. The judges want to see more food outside those borders.


Topics: Food Network Reality TV Shows, The Next Food Network Star |

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