I don’t know about you, but everything that happened on this week’s episode of Food Network Star – the ups and downs, the smiles the frowns – all just fell out my head the minute I heard the words, TEN THOUSAND DOLLAR DISCOVER GIFT CARD. Boy, do I need a TEN THOUSAND DOLLAR DISCOVER GIFT CARD. Do you know what I use for end tables in my bedroom? TV TRAYS! And not even nice ones. The crappy indestructible kind you keep hidden in the garage in case some day you accidentally have kids and need something you can call an “art table.” And don’t even get me started on my lampshade.
Well, one of the lucky suckers left in this competition was going to walk away with a ten thousand dollar Discover gift card just for coming out on top in this week’s First Challenge – Each competitor was assigned an “unappealing” dish, tasked with re-designing it into something that wowed both the eye and the palette, and then sending it down the runway with a model who didn’t look ethnically ambiguous enough to make the cut over at the Project Runway. One team would be declared the winner, and the other two would have members go up against each other in the Final Challenge, with the loser sent packing.
I won’t bother to go over yet again why the “teams and mentors” concept of this season’s Food Network Star has my knickers in a knot. I’ve got enough problems trying to make room for a remote control, a glass of water and an issue of Vanity Fair on a wooden tv tray every night. But I will say that last week I was glad to see the team vs. team format dropped in favor of an “every man for himself” style of battle, even if it did send home Josh, by far the most physically appealing of all the men (Step up to the plate, Yvon. It’s your time to shine), and I was sorry to see everyone back to competing in teams this week. I still don’t see what the advantage is, unless somehow it’s providing more opportunities for producers to show Giada De Laurentiis in mid-bite and Judge Susie Fogelson looking like she’s had one to many Gin Rickeys in her dressing room.
I’m just kidding her, by the way. I adore Susie Fogelson. I think she is my favorite judge on any reality competition show. She always seems like she’s one oyster fork away from standing up and screaming, “Fuck this shit! I’m going back to nursing school.” I would gladly spend half my ten thousand dollar Discover card on the woman.
But you want to know how the remaining contestants did and who got eliminated, don’t you? Well, I aim to please, except when it comes to bedroom furniture, so follow me….
ERIK – As usual, Erik managed to squeak out a delicious plate of food in the face of extreme drama and endless mishaps, only to piss it all away with a lackluster presentation in front of the judges. Picture C3PO trying to deliver crucial information to Han and Leia just as he’s about to run out of battery life, subtract the snooty “British butler” accent, and you’ve got lackluster Erik, the king of prolonged second syllables: “Crun-cheeeeeeeee… gol-dennnnnnnnnn… flavorrrrrrrrr.”
MICHELE made pan-roasted sea bass and delivered it with the half-hearted sheepishness of the neighborhood bully reluctantly forced by his mother to admit he takes tap lessons. “So, we’re just gonna go to Portland, Maine, take a little trip. You feel me?” Her vocal patterns were like a cross between Marky Mark and that really big-haired woman Mike Myers played on “Coffee Talk.”
NIKKI is kind of like the Kellie Martin of this show. She’s all bubbly persona and precise annunciation. But in the end, if David Krumholtz attacked her in the E.R., you’d hope Noah Wyle wouldn’t wait too long before moving on with his life. Her French cut pork chop was, in her own words, “perfectly tailored,” and “grilled to succulent perfection.” If she’d added “So nya nyah! Neener neener!” I would not have blinked.
MALCOLM received next to no time this week, so it’s safe to assume he’s going to survive this challenge. I liked his Duck Loaf though. And I’m not even gonna follow that up with a sex joke.
JUSTIN turned beef stroganoff into a seared meat and mushroom checkerboard that looked like something you might lick before a midnight screening of Pink Floyd’s The Wall.
The judges were predictably ga-ga, endlessly celebrating his intelligence and originality. The only thing I think when I see him is that the guy’s had too many cherry flavored Jolly Ranchers.
Every time EMILY says “retro,” a serial killer is accidentally freed from incarceration. The only thing I liked about Emily’s ham-steak-pinebapple-pickled-maraschino-cherry-salad monstrosity was when Judge Bob Tuschman said, “It think this looks like a hat Aretha Franklin would wear!”
MARTIE used metal rings to cook her mini tuna casseroles, but they didn’t cool adequately in time to hold shape on their own, so Martie had to send them out with the rings still on. In regards to this predicament, Martie uttered the motto I have been using to get through every catastrophe that has befallen me since the age of seven: “I am not gonna bring it up, and I hope nobody else does either.” If someone ever died at Martie’s cocktail party, she’d just step right over that corpse and keep pushing her “homey” shrimp dip.
JUDSON said one of his mantras in life was, “great cuisine plus exquisite fashion equals love.” That’s right up there with my mantra, “Unemployment plus excessive crying equals better Christmas presents!” As for his take on seafood Alfredo, here are the results: “What IS THIS?, “Too many crunchy things in one bowl,” and something every good chef longs to hear: “It has height!”
Last week, the judges told YVAN he needed to up his energy levels. He took that to mean, “This week yell like someone’s holding a blow torch to your testicles.”
IPPY has yet to meet a sentence he doesn’t want to end with, “…transport you to my homeland of Huw-why-eee.”
Oh, LINKIE… don’t you know that whenever someone on a reality show says, “the goal of my presentation is to REMEMBER EVERYTHING I HAVE REHEARSED!!! I’ve gone over this 500 TIMES!!! I REALLY WANT TO NAIL THIS!!!” its going to end up just like this: “In doh gorged I’m giving you a giffy wrap, huga huga… chicken pot pie!”
Of the members of Team Giada, the only one who nailed both presentation and food was MARTITA who scored across the board with her arroz con pollo with peppers and chorizo. “I think this is a beautiful little jewel box of a dish.” “She did a great job. I thought this was delicious.”
When all was said and done, TEAM ALTON won the Fashion Food Challenge, and the winner of the $10,000 Discover Card was Justin, who will no doubt blow the entire wad on Strawberry Jolly Ranchers and Bubble Gum flavored Lip Smackers.
Up for elimination this week were laid-back Ippy and C3PO Erik who both headed to the Producer Challenge. Each received the same dish and had to present a one-minute celebration of the meal’s flavor. No cooking involved.
It wasn’t hard to see where this one was headed. Ippy may be a little too “Molokai mellow,” but he drops adjectives faster than a faulty slot machine drops coinage. Even more importantly, unlike Erik, Ippy’s able to reach the end of a sentence without needing someone to come over and jump start his frontal lobe (though he still seems unable to reach one without tossing in Huw-why-eee).
There’s something to be said for a guy who quits his job and leaves behind his wife and children to appear on a reality show. It starts with the words “Your honor,” and ends with “won’t contest the child support.” Someone get Erik a TEN THOUSAND DOLLAR DISCOVER GIFT CARD on his way out.