The Next Food Network Star – Episode 6-10 Finale Review

The relatively boring finale of Next Food Network Star finished with a totally predictable ending. Really, only fans who haven’t actually watched the last half of the season would be surprised that Aarti Sequeira took home the title.

In reflecting on the episode, I wonder if this episode was all just formality, and Aarti was going to win no matter how the contestants did this week. Watching both pilots, Tom’s seemed better. He was more interesting, and he was actually funny, unlike Herb. The audience seemed to like him more too. Sure, Aarti was best when actually filming, but since Tom wasn’t a disaster (again, unlike Herb), he easily could’ve won.

But I’m getting ahead of myself. Starting from the beginning, I noticed that there was more footage than usual of the contestants in the house. Unfortunately, it was a trend for the episodes. Maybe it’s just me, but Aarti, Tom and Herb sitting around talking about how much they want to win really isn’t that interesting. And there was entirely too much of it in this episode. They easily could’ve squeezed an additional twist in, like maybe an actual cooking challenge.

On that note, I really think that food should have counted. And not just because Tom would’ve won that one with his chicken (I mean, even Rachael Ray had to try it!). To me the episode would have just seemed more…complete, if there was also a food element to it. Or maybe I’m just thinking of ways they could have filled the time better.

Aarti, Herb and Tom were shocked when Food Network mega-star and daytime talk show host Rachael Ray walked into the renowned Food Network test kitchen (well, renowned to those of us who watch Throwdown with Bobby Flay). She then announced that she would be directing their pilots. I have to say, she did a pretty good job. Most guest stars have been little more than audience hooks for each episode, and even Giada, as I’ve said before, was useless most of the season. But Rachel gave some sound advice in both her one-on-one meetings and while filming the pilots.

First up for pilot taping was Herb, and as I said before, he was a disaster. First he forgot to cook while he was talking, then he kept messing up his lines. Finally actually had to tape pictures of his kids to the cameras. Oh sure, I guess some could find it endearing that he needed the pictures to do well, but to me it was just sad. Food Network wouldn’t have let you do that for every episode, Herb. If this was a regular challenge, and there was going to be a top two battle for the finale, he definitely would have been sent home.

Aarti and Tom did fairly well on their challenges. Tom struggled at first because he didn’t write a script. Which, while I really like the guy, was stupid on his part. I get that some people are just better with improv, but he should’ve had something prepared. And of course the indian restaurant Redland Bay taught viewers how to make an Indian-style pizza.

In the second half of the episode, each pilot was shown to a focus group. Honestly, I have to wonder how rehearsed the group was. Every line the viewers spoke seemed like it was given to them by producers. The laughter didn’t seem natural either. Those two jokes about maintaining your “girlish figure” and biceps really weren’t laugh-out-loud worthy, yet there was a good amount of laughter. Maybe I’m not as easily amused.

Tom and Aarti did very well, I have to say. Tom’s pilot was my favorite, but Aarti actually surprised me a little bit with how fun and natural she was. Her stories and light humor were more interesting than I thought they would be. Of course, I prefer Tom’s in-your-face humor, but there were some moments of Aarti’s pilot I did sincerely like.

The only aspect of Aarti’s pilot that completely bothers me is the title. Shouldn’t it be Aarti’s Paarti?  Aarti Paarti implies that Aarti is the type of party, while Aarti’s Paarti is just that, Aarti’s party. The latter makes more sense. Yes, I realize this is the grammar geek in me nitpicking, but it irked me so much every time it was said. After seeing it in the pilot episode, I just had to bring it up.

Anyway, my last problem with this episode was that they didn’t narrow it down to the top two. True, that’s not really a big deal. But I would have preferred if we found out who won and lost the pilot challenge. Then maybe the top two could have been decided by their overall performance in the competition. That in mind, it would have made even more sense for Aarti to win.

For my parting words, I’m going to leave you with my final remarks on Herb Mesa, and Tom Pizzica, and Aarti Sequeira.

Herb Mesa: As you can probably tell, I never got why the judges liked him so much. To me, he had no genuine personality in his presentations. And off camera, he was just too emotional. Let’s be real – it was the final episode, and he was still a mess. He just wasn’t ready for his own show, and personally I can’t imagine that Food Network is too eager to find a hosting job for him.

Tom Pizzica: Tom, on the other hand, already has his own show! It’ll be a travel series called “Outrageous Food.” I’m so happy for him and can’t wait to watch the series. Although I am disappointed I won’t get to see what kind of “outrageous food” he would’ve made himself on Big Chef.

Aarti Sequeira: Actually, now that Tom has his own show, I’m okay with Aarti winning. Even though she wasn’t my favorite contestant, I do like her. After seeing her fairly decent pilot, I guess I’ll just have to get over the grammatical error and check out Aarti Paarti.