Food Network Star Recap: June 24, 2012

“Ay, Dios mio!”

Poor, poor Martita.

I was really beginning to think our little Mexican pop rock was this season’s Food Network Star dark horse… that one the producers intentionally play down for the first half of the season because they’re just so head-and-shoulders above the rest in both kitchen proficiency and on-camera style, if they let her emerge too early, we viewers wouldn’t bother tuning in for the rest of the season.

But maybe by not giving us too much Martitia, the producers of Food Network Star are merely trying to spare us from having to wince too much at our television sets and cause permanent burning sensations in our facial nerves. After her frighteningly botched EPK presentation last night, it’s hard to imagine Martita coming back and winning this thing.

In case you missed it, each of the remaining competitors was given 90 seconds to present a “one bite” meal to the press and explain why they should take an interest in them as a television personality. While the other eight remaining FNS chefs were worried about how to squeeze their towering, mythical personalities into a puny old minute and a half, Martita decided to take a different path, and a leave some – let’s call it “cushion room” – at the end.

Martitia (sheepishly): “I just left a little bit of airtime… so…”
Michele: “How much time did you have left?”
Martita: “Almost thirty seconds.”

It’s like when you’re at a swap meet and you see the bravely smiling woman standing behind a table of furry little pom-pom goblins with googly eyes and sticky feet for your dashboard, and absolutely no one’s interested.   You feel so uncomfortable you decide to go over and feign interest just to keep her company for a few minutes, until you notice the “hot dog in a pretzel bun” cart just to her left and conclude, “It’s not my fault!  She’s the one trying to sell the world pom-pom goblins!”


I can’t bare to think anymore about poor Martita and her embarrassing display in front of the judges… especially when there are so many other embarrassing displays that I need to get to.  Let’s re-direct for a moment to Emily, the girl who dresses like a 1950s telephone operator and uses the words “retro” and “rad” more often that I use the words “unemployed” and “writer.”

What exactly it is about 1950s that Emily finds so damn appealing has been, up to this point in the show, an absolute mystery.  I certainly can’t figure out why anyone would want to celebrate this decade: babies sucked on lead pacifiers, minorities were bound by segregation, women couldn’t wear pants, kids were taught to scurry under their desks in the event of nuclear attack, and what escapist entertainment was waiting for us down at the movie house?  That’s right.  I’d like two tickets for Francis the Talking Mule, please!

And even if Emily’s narrow-minded approach to her own food persona was at best kitschy, (and at worst, plain pointless), it didn’t help that she stuttered nervously through her presentation as she wallowed in total fear of revealing anything genuine about herself. Instead, Our Miss Emily continued to hide behind petticoats and bobby socks in the hopes that the judges would accidentally confuse her will a three-dimentionsal human being instead of the “Debbie Darling” Paper Doll Dress Up Set she actually wishes to be.

Yes, it was a tough week for the ladies on Food Network Star, but pity no one more that Nikki.  Have you ever seen a plate-spinning routine, where a person runs from one end of a line of poles to the other, desperately trying to keep dishes, bowls and other flat objects spinning in an attempt to distract people from the fact that none of the dishes actually have anything in them?  Nikki’s doing that with personalitites.

In an attempt to dismantle the robotic and superior disposition that Nikki likes to label “confidence!” but that the judges continue to label as “Margaret Thatcher with less warmth,” Nikki decked herself out in indigo this week, sprinkled some rose petals around her grilled scallops, and almost… almost…. managed to give off something other than the bogus smile of a communications undergrad who just fell off her shoes while trying to execute a pageant turn during the semi-finals.
As is often the case when one tries to whitewash their entire personality overnight, the results were something less than worthy of back slaps.  Instead of praising her efforts, the judges assaulted poor Nikki for erasing all traces of any personality whatsoever.  Do you think that Nikki has ever asked a boyfriend to help her decide which of three potential Halloween costumes she should wear, and then models each of them for him, and the boyfriend responds unenthusiastically to all three of them, and then Nikki slowly comes to the realization that the boyfriend’s apathy and boredom isn’t actually directed at the Halloween costumes?

Yeah, I don’t think she has either.

It wasn’t much of a surprise then, that Martita, Emily and Nikki were the ones who wound up in the Bottom Three this week.  But I will admit I was surprised that when the final “Save Yourself Hamburger Challenge” was said and done, it was Emily who was sent packing instead of Martita.  Emily may not have a lot of interesting things to say about her cooking beyond, “It’s keen to make while listening to the transistor radio!” or, “A great and tasty way to celebrate the new polio vaccine!” but at least she managed the actual construction and vocal delivery of the English language. Amazingly, Martita lives to see another week of competition!  I’d have bet a box of pom pom goblins against her, but it just goes to show that salvation can come at the most unexpected times, especially when you’re competing on Food Network Star.

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