Food Network Star – Season 7 Finale Review
by Jenna Giarletta on August 20, 2011

After a season full of his consistently good food and presentations, Jeff was unceremoniously awarded the prize of his own show on Food Network. Though Vic and Susie could’ve easily taken the title as well, they just couldn’t compete with Jeff’s on-camera persona – Vic went home after the first challenge, and Susie walked away with second place.

There was a reunion before the final episode, but to be honest, none of the contestants this year were so interesting that I cared about what any of them had to say. It did seem to heavily feature Jeff more than the other contestants, so it makes me wonder if it was filmed/planned for after the finale, but something was changed. I probably won’t tune in to watch any of the contestants except maybe Penny or Mary Beth if they do get some kind of show.

As for the episode, the camera challenge was for the contestants to make ‘the best dish of their lives.’ Also known as, producers only wanted two contestants to shoot pilots for whatever reason, and so needed an excuse to get rid of one contestant. Just as well, since we all know Vic would’ve bombed the pilot anyway. The spoiler turned out to be right, and he was sent home after the challenge, much to my relief. Bye-bye Vic, won’t be watching your inevitable Cooking Channel show.

Then Jeff and Susie shot their pilots with Guy Fieri. Um, since when is Guy so Food Network A-list that he gets to be the season finale guest star? *sigh* The network is changing, I guess. Rachael’s busy with about a billion other projects to work on, and Alton’s slowly but surely fading from the spotlight. Other than my annoyance, this challenge was pretty uneventful. Neither contestant appeared to really struggle. And of course, Guy pretty much said both could be the next star.

For a surprise, all the previous contestants were brought back to be the ‘focus group’ for each pilot. Right away, I knew Penny would be more positive about Jeff’s than Susie’s, since she seemed to actually like him and never got along with the girls. Sure enough that’s what happened, though her criticism wasn’t really harsh at all. Of course these contestants are going to be biased. It would’ve been better to see real Food Network fans give their first impressions of Susie and Jeff. Maybe something new would’ve been brought up since we and the contestants have been hearing the same criticisms throughout the competition.

By the way, how completely lame was that reveal?! No picture, no confetti, nothing. How anticlimactic.

Anyway, both pilots were decent, though my main problem with Susie’s was that she never said a word about what ‘sopas’ actually were (though she did explain the type of flour). That’s a big issue to me. Since I’m not a particular fan of Mexican food, I have no idea what any dishes are beyond general knowledge. Her show shouldn’t have been about telling family stories. She should’ve focused on explaining Mexican tradition, both culinary and otherwise. If I felt like I was learning something, I’d be more inclined to check out her pilot, maybe even continue watching after. But if I had to Google Spanish words throughout the episode, personally I wouldn’t bother giving her a second chance. That’s probably what cost her the win. Appreciating her dishes would’ve required a certain amount of knowledge about Mexican food and culture. And she’ wasn’t eloquent enough to teach casual viewers all they’d need to know, and prepare a meal at the same time.

Everyone knows sandwiches though, and that definitely gave Jeff an edge. Many FNS fans are most likely thinking, ‘A show about sandwiches, Food Network? Really?’ But Jeff and his show will appeal to beginner cooks. The thought of trying to prepare a tasty Mexican dish makes me quake with fear, but a sandwich? I can do that. Maybe it won’t be interesting for established cooks who improvise upscale sandwiches all the time, but I say it will be a hit for people like me who just want a fresh, new way to throw together a quick lunch.

So that’s it for this season! Overall, not too thrilling, and appropriately concluded with a lackluster finale. Sure, it was fun, and there were definitely some highlights. But here’s hoping I actually wish next year’s episodes are longer than an hour and a half!

 



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