10 Thoughts On The Next Food Network Star [Episode 1]

And 10 contestants — how perfect.

1) Debbie: Watch out contestants — the Food Network doesn’t have any Asian hosts. If the first week was actually based on food decisions rather than show possibility, she probably would have been kicked off. The first week’s challenge was to cater Food Network’s 16th anniversary party. Her decision to include store-bought angel food cakes drizzled with… stuff… was unconscionable. I used to work in a supermarket bakery and made those terrible angel food cakes and they taste something like stale, lemon-flavored bread. As the team captain and the person who did the shopping, she probably should have been on the hook for this. Also, I was kind of unimpressed with a crab-cake as her buffet dish but, lest we forget, deep-fried generally leads to being safe. She also made a great, self-deprecating introduction and held the room. And, as previously mentioned, Food Network doesn’t currently have any Asian hosts.

2) Eddie: From the moment this season’s commercials started airing, I told anyone who would listen that I wanted “the douchey-looking guy with the spiky hair” to be the first one off. Every moment he was on screen from the instant he walked in the house until the final cut supported my initial feeling. His horribly clicheed self-introduction: “Recipies are the foundation. Your hands create the symphony.” What does that even mean? If you’re going to come up with a stupid metaphor, at least let it make sense. His cutesy name for his dish — BLAST Bowl — just screamed California too-cool-for-the-room. And then he decides to drop a terrible concoction with avocado, bacon, and lettuce in to a little tomato bowl? Nothing made me happier then to see the realization on the judge’s faces that no one is going to watch this corporatespeak guy on a television show. His possible star-power is very low. He was in the bottom two this week and he’ll hopefully be gone soon.

3) Brett: A very stereotypical Italian guy who ended up in the bottom three. He really didn’t make any impression either way other than to be stereotypical, condescending to women Italian dude. I don’t expect him to last very long. Maybe he can have a guest spot on TLC’s embarrassingly bad Cake Boss.

4) Jamika: The only African-American contestant in this season’s group. Jamika was another who didn’t get much screen time but put together a pretty sweet looking shrimp dish. Alton Brown was split on the dish calling the shrimp “the Gatekeeper of Badness” keeping people away from the tasty salad underneath. However, she also had a great self-introduction and I find the idea of a Caribbean-style cooking show intriguing. I was happy to see Food Network describe her as “sassy” though.

5) Jeffrey: An early favorite, he holds the camera well and has an engaging personality. He kind of got screwed by Captain Debbie who didn’t buy any of the ingredients he needed for his buffet dish, but he apparently worked it out and still impressed the judges. I can see this guy hosting a TV show. He also looks like Dr. Phlox from Star Trek, so I’m pulling for him.

6) Katie: A nutritionist specializing in healthy meals and runs a company called Healthy Bites. There is one universal rule about Food Network — shows about healthy cooking don’t last. People don’t want to watch shows on how to put together a delicious greens salad. They want to see how to cook ridiculous things like bacon-wrapped, batter-dipped, fried cheeseburgers. No healthy cooking show has ever lasted on this network. That’s for Lifetime. By and large, Food Network is 3-parts escapism and 2-parts education. People worry about healthiness all the time — I don’t think they want to worry about it here, too.

7) Melissa: The housewife and mother of four. Another person who suffered for screen time the first week but another early favorite. She seems like someone who can fill that Rachel Ray role of showing moms how to cook big for a family. Her contribution to her team was a homerun apple tart. She was in the top three this week and it seems like next week’s episode revolves around her. I expect her in it until the end.

8) Michael: The sassy gay man from the Bronx! I enjoy that Food Network even sassed up his bio page. My top three faves: 1) The New York Restaurant School graduate infuses his bold personality into everything he does and admits that his “inner diva” sometimes comes out in the kitchen. 2) Global with a love for Asian and Latin cusines – making food fabulous!. 3) I do it all, honey! His contribution to the buffet was a five-spice beef tenderloin with mushrooms that looked pretty delicious. Unfortunately, he might be a little too over-the-top for Food Network’s demo. I’d like to say that the general public would focus on the quality of his food over his personality, but I doubt it. He’ll probably be around a while, though.

9) Teddy: A pretty generic looking dude in the vein of Tyler Florence and Michael Chiarello. I can’t remember anything he said about himself or anything he did other than putting out a potato au gratin that was, according to everyone, almost raw. He did defeat Bobby Flay in a Mussels Throwdown, so he’s got that going for him. On the other hand, I did find his specialty — gourmet bar food — to be an awesome idea and hope we get an inside look at this before he gets knocked off.

10) Jen: The notoriety of being the first eliminated from a reality show. Something tells me that they knew she’d be going out first. She put together an extremely boring green-bean salad with almost no twist on it. Morimoto put it perfectly (paraphrased) “She gave us store bought green beans with olive oil?” Had she made it through, I would have mentioned her insane self-introduction where she told us she was a “modern housewife” with no explanation on how that differs from a normal housewife and asked exactly what one does when one is a 30-year-old housewife with no children. Her show profile reads like a Facebook profile. Example, her interests are “Hanging out with family and friends. I like doing anything outside in the great Florida weather – minus hurricane season. I like to go out on the boat, wakeboard, wine nights with the girls, shopping. I don’t think her argument that Food Network is missing someone for the 20s – 30s demo to identify with is something they care that much about.

Early picks: Debbie, Jeffrey, Melissa.
Out next week: Brett

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