Food Network Star – Week 7

The finalists are in Vegas baby! Talk about having some tough competition, do you realize how many chefs have restaurants in Sin City?

First of all Luca is back! He made it through Star Salvation which I’ve not mentioned prior to this. As each contestant was eliminated they had a chance to work themselves back in to the main competition. They started out with fan favorites from the last two seasons, Chad and Marti. Luca beat them all out. I was hoping he would be able to get back to the main competition. He really does know food, he knows how to describe it, he has great charisma and warmth and is so easy to relate to. It doesn’t hurt that he’s not bad to look at either, I’ll admit. His only problem was the camera, but it looks like he overcame that hurdle. More on that a bit later. The other finalists were quite surprised to learn that it wasn’t actually the final six but the final seven.

The first little task the finalists had to complete was to describe some dishes from the buffet to Giada in 90 seconds and make her want to eat them. There were three dishes and they had to get her hungry for the dish before moving on to the next one. Most of them weren’t very good, there was a lot of ummms and ahhhs, quite a bit of generic descriptions or in the case of Nicole, big words like viscosity and unctuous. Only Emma managed to get through all three dishes and she did it by peppering her descriptions with familial anecdotes which has pretty much been her standard.  Lenny got through one and Luca two, but that’s it. The rest of the crew didn’t even make it through their first dish.

The main competition this week was to prepare a dish for a poolside party of 100 guests. They also had to get up there and explain their dish to the guests and from their presentation get them to come to their station. Each guest was given three tokens and could only pick out their favorite three dishes to try out. Not only that, they were given the “dreaded box of doom”. The guests would use this to show their interest in the finalists presentations.

Chris – I’ve never made any bones about not liking Chris and wanting to see him gone. He honestly doesn’t entertain or amuse me and he hasn’t shown me that he could cook. Last night was no different. He tries so hard to be an entertainer he forgets there is another part of the deal, you gotta be able to produce a decent dish. If you’re going to say your dish is the best, well it had better be the best. He picked up some beef tenderloin and proceeded to overcook it. Cauliflower puree? Sorry, I love cauliflower but we are talking about Vegas, poolside and you are going to serve cauliflower? Yuck! Guess that’s why he ended up as one of the final three.

Sarah – I’ve also never made any bones about not really liking Sarah either. At first it was her pageant girl attitude, then she couldn’t make up her mind about her POV, then her criticism of Bobby Flay being a Yankee and not knowing anything about Texas cooking, and last night it was her freaking whining! She had a plan to make some sort of beef dish with beef tenderloins, but Chris beat her to the meat and took all of it. So she goes running off to try and get half of it from him and is surprised when he won’t share. So then the rest of the night was the constant complaints about how Chris wouldn’t share the beef and how she could have done better if she’d used the beef instead of Chris. She used pork instead and went with her same plan. It apparently wasn’t a very successful dish according to the judges. I wish she just would have shut up about the beef. Get over it! Move on! Then there was her presentation, she went back to her pageantry days with a tiara and a wand and kept saying she was from Texas and was going to provide some good Texas food, but she didn’t really explain anything about it. She still hasn’t quite narrowed down that danged Texas POV yet nor produced a decent dish. She also ended up in the bottom three.

Emma – I’ve been pretty ambivalent towards Emma. Her soft-spokenness hasn’t really grated on me. I like Ina and enjoy watching her show so I would imagine if Emma had something interesting to show I’d watch her. But I really haven’t found anything she’s made interesting, nothing she says really would draw me in to watch her. She tries to incorporate too much into one dish. Her travels to a Thailand beach and then something from another visit and we have this odd concoction of mango and squid (?), actually I honestly don’t remember what seafood it was, it was flat, slimy and raw looking. The whole dish did not look appetizing at all. Truthfully, I’m getting a bit tired of the constant stories, it seems very contrived and not natural at this point. Hearing it once is charming but over and over again, it’s getting old.

Nicole – Nicole is another one that I’ve been somewhat ambivalent about. She at least has had more consistent dishes than Emma. But I’m not sure how much I’d want to watch a Coastal Cuisine show. I’m still not sure what that’s all about. After last night though I think I want to put her towards the bottom of the pile. She made scallops wrapped in Serrano ham. The problem was she used prosciutto because there was no Serrano available. Ok, fine, but she lied about it. She straight up said she doubted anyone would know the difference anyway. There was such an arrogance about her assuming everyone was an idiot so it was ok to lie to them. Granted I wouldn’t know the difference, but if I went looking for Serrano and couldn’t find it because it didn’t look exactly like the ham she used I’d probably be upset and not trust her very much.

Luca – I was so happy to see Luca back. I’ve enjoyed watching him on Star Salvation. I was rather annoyed with the other finalists saying how surprised they were that he was back and acting like he left because he couldn’t speak about food. I’m not sure, maybe my memory is going or something, but I thought he left because the judges didn’t think he would be able to talk to the camera. Not that he couldn’t talk about food, he couldn’t talk about it in front of the camera. I always thought he was pretty good with describing the food and giving clear instructions. Lenny asking if he studied the Rosetta Stone was kind of annoying. Luca had issues performing before the camera, not talking about food. I thought he did well and of course the women around the pool couldn’t keep their eyes off of him. Fortunately his seafood salad lived up to the description. Yeh Luca!

Lenny – Lenny was definitely the big winner. He had the most chips by far and his box of doom ratings were higher than anyone else’s as well. He’s always been pretty consistent with his dishes. He’s had a few flops, but not very many. Last night his food apparently lived up to his big personality. Everyone loved him. He’s an entertainer and that’s what he did. BUT…I love Lenny but I don’t think the belly flop was necessary. Come on, dude, maintain a little bit of respect for yourself. And what was up with him combing his beard? I think they must have shown three different clips of him grooming his beard. Now I don’t know whether this is a new affectation or if he’s always done it and those clips have always ended up on the editing floor. Maybe the producers needed something negative about him? But it sure makes you rethink your first thoughts of the humble cowboy cook. I can’t help but wonder how much do the producers have to do with his entertaining the crowd, do they make suggestions to liven up the show? Have to keep those ratings up and if people are watching because Lenny’s a clown then let’s keep it up. (Ok, I know that this is not live, nothing we say is going to make a difference. All of this happened months ago. But, how long before the show is aired to they actually finalize the clips? Do they read our comments and then make sure the next show feeds into what we are saying? More Lenny? Ok we have all of this great footage let’s add that. Just a thought)

Loreal – I guess the best I can say is she did ok. She is relying on her quirky personality a little too much. I don’t even remember what she made last night because she just didn’t impress. It was something with beef. But she didn’t talk about it at all, she spent more time talking about herself and her quirkiness than talking up her food. I thought that was what the whole exercise was for, present your food in such a mouth watering way to make sure the guests hit your workstation and give you a chip. She wondered why she didn’t get that many chips after that performance? No one knew what she was serving.

In the end Chris was the one to go. I am so glad to see him finally gone. I really think he should have left a while back but the finalists haven’t had all that much opportunity to cook so he’d been getting by on personality alone. Well his luck ran out this week. Next week maybe it’ll be Sarah. If she did make it, I wouldn’t watch her.