Food Network Star Recap: July 3, 2011

It’s going to be a bit painful watching the opening titles for the rest of this season’s Food Network Star knowing that one of my personal favorites was sent home way too soon.

Yes, Justin B., the nine foot tall hobbit with the tat sleeves, eyebrows about to go to war with one another, and those creepy Coraline buttons in his ears crapped out on the horrifically forced Cougar Town catering challenge last week and was ordered to pack up his meat saws and drag hooks and skee-daddle-it back to Georgia butcher life.

In terms of food, Justin nearly always received high marks from the judges, but whenever it came to demonstrating a flair for describing his meals or displaying anything close to a vibrant and compelling personality… well, as my Jewish friend Michelle would say, “Oy! HIM we have to watch again??”

Was it really Justin B.’s time to go?  Wouldn’t FNS have been better served by ditching Frat Boy Chris at this point… a man whose every move seems to be more of a surprise to him than anyone else?  Or what about the other Justin… Justin D., who doesn’t have any cool tats or disconcerting ear wear and seems more defined by his wallpaper wardrobe than anything he’s actually cooked, done or said in the last five weeks of competition?

We start this week’s episode with yet another declaration from Middle Eastern Mama (formerly Bitch on Heels) Penny that she is “here to win,” as if it should be news to the viewers at home or any of the other nine finalists that a human being is actually competing on this show with the objective of beating other human beings.

Just once I’d like to see any contestant on any reality competition show openly admit to the camera, “I couldn’t care less about the stupid win. I’m just here because I have an insatiable ego and I wanted to see what I look like on television, further my career, make a few bucks and get laid more.” I could actually get behind a contestant like that (see Bentley on this season’s Bachelorette).

Does Penny really think that her pushy, intrusive nature comes off as “delightfully competitive” and “oh-so-viewer-friendly”?  What kind of massive personality car-wash would the executives at The Food Network have to put this woman through if she actually won and got her own show?

No, Penny’s days are numbered, I think we can all agree.  With each snotty remark and superior dismissal she passes along to camera, she’s getting further and further away from the “win” she proclaims to care so darn much about.

This week’s first challenge took place at Mel’s Drive-In on Highland Avenue in Hollywood, just eight tenths of a mile from where I live!  How I would have kicked myself for missing this tape day if Super Hobbit was still on board!  But since he’s not, as my Jewish friend Michelle says, “This I could take or leave.”

Our finalists were tasked with hosting their own segments of Guy Fieri’s Drive-Ins, Diners and Dives from show open, to staff interviews, to wrap-up and show close, with that cuddly bleach bombshell Guy providing tutelage the entire time.

Up first was Frat Boy Chris who you had to feel a little sorry for. Try as he might, Chris just could not figure out the concept of “blocking” – the positioning and movement of people on camera in relation to said camera with which they are supposed to be interacting.  You know… television.

“Here I am with the chef from Mel’s Drive-in!” Chris proudly announced… looking directly at the chef from Mel’s Drive-In the entire time.  The poor chef looked plenty confused, and seemed about ready to help Chris out with a, “Yep… you got it… here you are… with me… I’m the chef alright!”

But Chris didn’t seem to have the slightest notion that anything was wrong.  When Guy finally pointed out the mistake, Frat Boy could only offer up,  “Man!  The hardest thing about this is knowing where the camera is!”

Hey Chris… look about two inches to your left.

No Chris… your OTHER left.

To be honest, it didn’t really seem like most anyone came off particularly well in this challenge.  Orchid used up all the interview time talking about herself.  Susie fumbled over her words.  Vegas Vic lumbered in front of the camera with the grace of a beached grunion. The only one who really redeemed herself was Don’t-Forget-Me Whitney, who was awkward and charming with her interview subject and slightly more confident with a giant burger placed smack in front of her punim.  If this shot alone doesn’t earn her a pass from the judges to next week, there is no fairness in reality food television.

And couldn’t someone have been nice enough to tell poor Not-Bland Mary Beth about her hair?  Anyone?


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