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Food Network Star: The Competiton Begins

June 05, 2011 09:29 PM by Megan Thompson

Tonight on Food Network Star, 15 chefs meet in LA and begin the competition of a lifetime – to win a show on the Food Network. Keep reading to find out which chefs stood out from the pack and which contestant was sent home first.

The 15 hopeful chefs are quickly introduced to each other as they all gather at the Chinese Theatre in Hollywood.   The chefs have various skill levels and backgrounds – from food blogger to radio personality to personal chef.

Bobby Flay and Giada de Laurentiis welcome the contestants at the doors of the Chinese Theatre and announce the first challenge.   The first challenge is a breakfast one that shows the judges “who they are on a plate.”  The 45 minute cooking challenge begins – which involves a lot of sautéing, chopping, but mostly running around in the kitchen.    It’s now time for each contestant to present their dish to the judges in the “camera presentation.”

While some contestants stand out and make a connection with the camera, others are obviously nervous and stumble through the presentation.  The winner of the challenge is announced and it is Orchid Paulmeir, a BBQ specialist from South Carolina.  Juba Kali receives praise for his food, while Mary Beth Albright is told she was mediocre in both food and presentation.

The next morning the contestants are greeted by Food Network star Alton Brown at the farmer’s market.  Alton divides the chefs into teams to create promo videos, which they must complete with only four takes.

Team 1: Whitney Chen, Mary Beth Albright, Justin Balmes

Whitney tries to take charge of the shoot, which only flusters Justin.  Justin keeps stumbling on his words and uses three out of the four takes.  The team barely finishes the promo on the final take.

Team 2: Susie Jimenez, Katy Clark, Chris Nirschel

Chris feels outnumbered by the girls on his team.  When it comes to shooting the promo, the girls have too many props and quickly use two of the four cuts.  Chris finally gets his chance and fumbles, but they complete the task within four takes.

Team 3: Vic Moea, Howie Drummond, Jyll Everman

Howie starts off the promo and within seconds he blows through two cuts.  The camera scrolls to Vic and he does well until he tries to introduce his partner and forgets her name.  The fourth and final take Jyll is so nervous she just reads lines and feels disappointed in her performance.

Team 4: Orchid Paulmeir, Jeff Mauro, Juba Kali

Jeff kicks the promo off for the team, but mispronounces Orchid’s name.  Orchid does a seamless performance and passes it onto Juba.  Juba quickly stumbles on his words and finds it hard to explain his “simple yet complex” food theme.   Juba uses the majority of the takes, but the team completes the promo.

Team 5: Penny Davidi, Justin Davis, Alicia Sanchez

Alicia starts the promo and is quickly stopped because Alton can’t hear her.  When Alton asks her to speak louder, Alicia begins crying.  Alicia explains to Alton that in the first challenge the judges questioned her “Missouri accent.”   Alicia recovers and uses two of the team’s four takes. Justin and Penny use the two remaining takes to complete the promo.

Alton then informs the contestant this is just part one of the challenge.   The teams now have to cook for and speak with the judges and members of the press.  It’s off to the store for a 45 minute shopping spree with a $200 budget, then to the kitchen for a two hour prep session.

Contestants arrive at STK restaurant where they must cook and impress the judges.  Along with the judges, representatives from Entertainment Weekly, InStyle magazine and Extra will also be judging the teams.

Penny, Justin D, and Alicia present first.  Penny wants to “bring sexy back” to the kitchen and describes her stew dish as sexy.   As Penny talks, her teammates roll their eyes.  Justin prepared the halibut and Alicia prepared the ribs.  The team’s dish was poached pears.  The judges view the team’s promo and are not pleased with the final result.  Alton tells the fellow judges of Alicia’s meltdown and they are not happy with her personality but love the food she cooks.

It’s now time for Whitney, Mary Beth, and Justin to present their food and promo.  Mary Beth made a caramelized onion soup, Whitney made a carrot salad and Justin made a lamb shank.  The group dish is a chocolate dessert.  The group’s promo is then showed to the judges, who notice Justin doesn’t feel confident in front of the camera.  The judges all feel that Whitney has the most star power out of this group.

Vic, Howie and Jyll are up next.  Due to a collision in the kitchen that spilled food on the floor – the team doesn’t have a complete meal to serve the judges.  The judges immediately notice the lack of food and dismiss the arguing among the team members.  The promo is rolled and the judges notice that Jill had a rough time in her presentation.   Overall, the judges were not impressed with this team’s food or promo.

Next up to the judges table are Orchid, Jeff and Juba. Jeff made chicken, Orchid made barbeque skewers and Juba cooked shrimp.  Key lime pie was the group’s collaborative dish.  The group’s promo is shown and the judges love Juba’s shrimp but are not impressed with his promo.  Again, the standout is Orchid with both her food and personality.

Susie, Katy and Chris are last to present.  Chris made a squash soup, Susie made a seafood dish and Katy did a twist on s’mores.   The judges view the promo and feel that Chris and Katy are too forced.  The judges feel this group did better on the food than the promo.

It’s now time for evaluation and the first elimination.  The winning team of Juba, Orchid and Jeff is announced.  All the judges agree that Orchid is the stand-out performer and have no criticism for her.  Vic, Howie and Jyll fail to meet the judge’s expectations and are up for elimination.   The judges discuss their decision and decide that Howie, the radio personality, is the person that should be sent home first.

Tune in next week to see the remaining chefs compete and find out who gets eliminated next.

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Photo Credit: Food Network

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

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