Well, once again I hauled my buns down to the Food Network Star open casting call in Burbank earlier this year, and once again the producers failed to pick up on how primed and poised I am to make my inevitable big splash on the American television scene.
Yes, even with my tightest t-shirt, my Alton Brown-inspired “smarty-pants” glasses, and pictures of my favorite dishes lovingly positioned and painstakingly photoshopped on pricey 8 x 10 glossy paper, I didn’t even make the first cut. I was, however, told I looked a little like Lou Diamond Phillips. But until reality television comes up with a series entitled The Next Great “La Bamba” Re-make!, I don’t see what good that’s gonna do me.
So, I’ve packed up my phony smile, along with all my totally fabricated stories of “the most amazing moments” in my life (No, I actually haven’t run three European marathons, nor have I sky-dived in a tuxedo intending to propose marriage to my high school sweetheart), and I’ve completely cut out bicep curls, push-ups and squat thrusts until at least 2013.
And I’ve put the Giada Delaurentiis butt tattoo on hold as well.
Screw ’em all.
In the meantime, if I can’t be a Food Network Star competitor, I can certainly be the snarkiest Food Network Star blogger the world has ever seen.
With that said, I proudly present the inaugural edition of Tv Food and Drink’s 2012 Food Network Star, Season Eight re-caps, complete with all the judgment and sarcasm you’ve come to expect, this year newly accompanied by a healthy dose of the sentence, “Are you kidding…. they cast that tool instead of me???”
The big twist this year is that the show has decided to take a page from NBC’s The Voice, dividing the 15 competitors into groups of three, each led by a celebrity mentor – Alton, Giada and Bobby. I don’t really know how I feel about this twist. Bobby, Giada and Alton spent a lot of time in this episode forcibly boasting about how their team was tops, and throwing pretend “shade” on each other. But I really don’t care whether Giada ultimately wins out over Bobby anymore than I do if Christina or Adam wins out over Cee Lo or Blake. They all have swimming pools the size of my childhood home. How many more life victories do we have to watch these people claim?
But we’re stuck this new gimmick. Sorry…. we’re stuck with this new drama-building twist! For this season anyway. But at least it’s something new. The same cannot be said for the fairly standard group of amateur tv chefs crowding the stage this season. They can almost all be defined by singular identifying props… kooky eye wear, bow tie, bleachy, over-gunked Guy Fieri hair, nose ring, tattoos. Can’t we for once get someone with a third arm or a hump?
Of the fifteen hopeful food wizards, here are few that stood out in the premiere episode:
IPPY – laid-back dude from Hawaii. Likes to cook whole pigs on a bed of hot twigs. Weird gangly hair that says “off-beat” chef when it’s pulled back from his face, and “Ron Jeremy” when it isn’t.
ERIC – quit his job as sole bread winner in his family in order to compete on this show. Does that make you want to root for him, or place an anonymous call to Social Services?
LINKIE – Well she didn’t particularly stand out, but her name is “Linkie.” For Food Network Star, that’s enough. Hell, with a perky little name like that, if this were Cupcake Wars, she’d be given the win in the first sixty seconds. Linkie says things like “food is my art” and “the plate is my canvas.” She should just stick to saying, “My name is Linkie!” It makes me smile and think of a magical pony ready to grant me three wishes if I spin around on one foot and believe that there’s good in the hearts of everyone.
CRISTIE – Healthy home-cooking advocate who had surgery to replace her eyes with those of a Chucky doll from the horror film, Child’s Play.
MARTIE – Martie said that she calls herself “Martie with the Party!” She notably failed to mention whether anyone else calls her that. I’m guessing when she asked her friends to call her “Martie with the Party,” it went about as well as when I had my my mid-life crisis and asked people to stop calling me “Gary Green” and start calling me “Rico, the Man with the Plan!”
JUDSON – Representing the “hip nerd” congregation in its ongoing quest to never, ever win a single reality show – EVER!
EMILY – I don’t know what it’s like where you live, but in Hollywood, chicks so obsessed with the 1950s fashion they spend three hours every morning dressing up like a swell telephone operator just to go down to the lobby and get the Bed, Bath and Beyond coupon out of their mailbox are a dime a dozen. They also regularly say things like “Keen,” “Hot diggity dog,” and “I like Ike!” and seem confused if you’re put off by it.
JUSTIN – This is the “kid” of the group, who will certainly be singled out regularly as “adorable,” and “precocious” as long as he’s around. And no doubt, we will see endless shots of Judge Susie Fogelson laughing wildly at his youthful spunk while planning to get him to sit on her lap so she can tell him all about Mary Kay Letourneau.
We’ve also got two of those Type-A personalities with “bold” hair who are destined to overuse phrases like “Go big or go home,” and rub everyone the wrong way be the end of Episode #2. One is named NIKKI and one is named MARTITA. No need to learn which is which. Food Network Star isn’t big enough for the both of them.
JOSH – He’s the unpredictable, edgy musician. We know this because any chance he gets he jumps up and down while banging away on a non-existant guitar and screams, “Rock and Roll!”
CHALLENGE #1 – Each team must create their own restaurant from the ground up. Each individual competitor must make a single dish and present it to the judging panel.
Chucky-Eyed Christie was the first to lodge an on-camera complaint this season. Despite offering up what she called “all kinds of great ideas,” to her team (Team Alton), she was shot down at every turn, and relegated to being in charge of her team’s soup. “I really did not want to make the soup.” It’s important that you remember that for later, but if you happened to forget, Christie mentioned it at least three times within the first hour.
Rock and Roller Josh decided to make a dumpling dish. “You need a lot of eggs because you want the dumplings to be light,” he communicated to the home audience with an authoritative air. “A LOT OF EGGS,” he repeated. Guess who forgot to buy eggs at Whole Foods? Quick Josh! Jump up and down and yell “Freebird!” Maybe no one will notice.
Nikki took control of her team and declared herself a “natural born leader,” which we all know means three things… 1.) It’s the first time in Nikki’s life she’s ever proclaimed herself to be a “natural born leader.” 2.) She will alienate every other female on the show, including the make-up artist, the interns and the lady who mops the studio floor at night. 3.) She’ll excuse it all by saying that no one can handle that she’s so “direct” and likes to “tell it how it is.” She may also end up being guilty of spouting, “This is me!” or “I came here to win, not make friends!” before the judges finally decide to cut off her head.
Remember Eric? The guy who quit his job and left his wife and child with two weeks worth of salary before they’ll be forced into the street to beg for grubs and berries? Well, he wanted to make his lasagna and ricotta from scratch. Bobby advised against it, reminding Eric he’ll have plenty of time to impress, and not to overdo it out of the gate. So Eric decides to make lasagna and ricotta from scratch. The problem is he can’t get the milk hot enough, even after an hour of trying. Maybe the wife and little one will be better off without him.
Rock and Roller Josh, who was an early front-runner with his hyperactive somersaults and bad-ass hand gestures fell to the back of the pack when he presented his dish to the judges. Employing a creepy story about how his recently widowed mother used his “no-dumpling” dumpling soup to cheer herself up now that she’s alone, he managed to depress the entire table.
Little Linkie made a key lime pie. They judges had one word: “cafeteria.” Still, you know secretly they were all thinking about the totally fun Food Network show titles they could come up with that could play off the word, “Linkie!”
Nikki was asked what was special about her. She said the following: “I’m fun! I’m up for anything!” Isn’t that what every female on The Bachelor says before passing out on the terra cotta steps?
This is all you wanted from a contestant, Food Network Star? When I was asked in my interview to be on the show what was special about me, I answered that I could drink eight martinis and still drive home steering with only my thighs! That’s the last time I try to be such a show off.
Michele made a “sexy” bowl of mussels. Her words, not mine. When asked what made them sexy, she said that when she eats them she wants to have sex. Upon hearing that, the mussels apologized and crawled off back to the kitchen.
Eric spent so much time trying to get the damn milk to boil for his ricotta from scratch, he forgot to think about a way to cleverly present himself in an interesting manner to the judges. Their faces were so glazed over as they listened to him it was as if he was trying to explain the story lines from the first season of Smash.
Healthy food nut and doll-eyes Cristie continued to complain about how unhappy she was that she had to make the soup. But I don’t think that was enough of a reason to actually take it out on the soup, do you?
Look at the poor soup. It was probably so excited to be brought out of the kitchen and present itself to the judges and get some tv time, only to be crushed to hear them discuss its consistency with the same embarrassed whispers they might if the elephant did something naughty on stage at Circus Vargas. I don’t know, it looks like refried beans to me, but what do I know. I didn’t get on the show, and Cristie did. But she didn’t help herself when she angrily went off on how Americans don’t eat right and get enough exercise. I think this woman wants to execute any man, woman or child who gets caught drinking a Slurpee or indulging in a York Peppermint Patty. She became so enraged at the head of the table, Judge Susie Fogelson instinctively gripped her steak knife and Bob Tuschman tried to hide himself behind a bowl of lobster bisque.
After all was said and done, Bobby’s Team won the first challenge of the season, which meant that one person from Giada’s team would be up for elimination along with one from Alton’s team. Based on what the show had presented to us, in terms of both screen time and mishaps, it wasn’t tough to see who’d be on the block this week. It was Rock and Roller vs. The Chucky Doll.
Josh and Cristie were each given one last chance to save themselves with Challenge #2. Each was asked to prepare their favorite dish for a Mother’s Day brunch and present it with the story behind its inspiration.
Josh prepared a fritata, and since his widowed mother story worked so well before, he decided to tell us more about her trying, hardscrabble life… she grew up in an orphange! She raised her own chickens! She was forced to make her own cheese! I don’t know about you, but I would much rather watch a show with Josh’s mother instead of anyone currently on Food Network Star. Maybe she could team up with Eric’s abandoned wife and child and live handcuffed together in the Big Brother house and compete for immunity soup (There should also put in someone with a hump!).
Meanwhile, Cristie made something she called an “opposite” omelette and played the “brother was in Iraq” card, which in no way trumps the image of an orphaned chicken-raising widowed old lady eating “no-dumpling” dumpling soup.
And in the end it was really no surprise. Who would you eliminate if you were the judges… the spastic but well-built, nicely-groomed musician, or the chick who looks like she wants to gut you and all your loved ones like a family of sick salmon? For Christie, it was all too little, too late.
I can’t say I didn’t see this elimination coming. Poor Christie was edited into the most unlikable contestant on the show. Not that she did a whole lot to help herself.
But I do feel a little badly for her. I may not have the eyes of a “Good Guy” doll possessed by the spirit of voodoo practitioner and serial killer. And I may not make soup that looks like a circus elephant plop. But Christie and I do have one thing in common. Neither one of us will be this season’s Food Network Star.