Saturday, June 30, 2007

Food Network Star Episode 5

Well, what did you think of the last episode? There is no doubt that the stress is really high. Emotions are really running amuck! Now that almost everyone has had their cry; it's time to focus. Presentations were great for the Fort Dix competition. Paul and Jag, you two rocked! Amy and Rory, you were close behind. Michael and Adrien, you were a lot farther behind.

Michael, you have quite a good knowledge of cooking. But that is not enough in this competition. 'Chocolate Passion' and 'MRI' really messed you up. I liked your idea of using potato slices for the crust of your pot pie. You have proven to be creative in your cooking, but you have had a hard time with your showmanship. Sorry to see you go.

Andrien, I really like you; but you are not showing very much.

Amy, you and Rory made a good team. I'm glad that you showed a more human side. You have had a lot to overcome; first, the French cooking, second, trying to do everything perfectly and third, trying very hard not to show emotion. You are coming up to speed, I hope that's it's not too late.

Rory, in the very beginning, I didn't think that you had what it takes, but you are proving me wrong. You have shown that sometimes you are a clutz, guess what, so is everyone else at one time or another. You just get to do it on TV. You can be creative. The grilled cantaloupe was a good example of taking something not normally associated with the grill and saying 'Hey, why not?' I like you more on each episode.

Jag, you are really creative. Who would have thought to fry a meatloaf? And they really liked it. You did not cry to the judges and tell them that the oven didn't work. You dealt with it. Good job! Your presentation with Paul was awesome!

Paul, your pushups were great! I'm impressed. You have calmed down a lot and that is a good thing. You have a very good chance to take this.

That's it for episode 5. Let me know what you think!

Thursday, June 21, 2007

Next Food Network Star- Soldier Grub Sneak Peek

Looking forward to Sunday night. Here are a few clips to get you ready.

Monday, June 18, 2007

Goodbye Tommy!

Goodbye, Tommy!

You will certainly be missed. You have a giant personality! In a way, I think you would rather be home. You have a very lucky family.

Goodbye Columbe.

I think everyone who has read my blog knows that I will not miss you. You come across as a butterfly that flits here and there. My son, Rob, described you as “Snow White”. I don’t know why but I’m not buying into that. I think that is a fa├žade. Your idea of buying finished products for the Nets contest was a silly idea.

This is my selection for the final four, if they don’t screw up.

Michael – I think that you have a very serious chance in this contest. Talk to the camera. Be yourself, you have the credentials, now show us the real you. Remember what the judges said about Nikki. They gave you a warning!

Jag – Your personality really came through in the chocolate segment. I liked both your entries. You have a good chance!

Andrien – I have liked you from day one. Your entry for the Nets game really looked good and I don’t even like mushrooms. You have a good TV personality and your food stepped up to the plate this time.

Rory – You are surprising! In the beginning, I did not think that you would go far. You could prove me wrong. You are a quick learner and you are taking everything that the judges say to heart.

Probably going home soon…

Amy – I really like you. But I don’t think you have the TV presence that they are looking for. You are beginning to lose the French ‘thing’, which doesn’t seem to appeal that much to the audience. I see that you gave some of your Xanax to Paul, and it’s helping. Maybe you should cut back on your dosage. You are too controlled and your personality is not coming through.

Paul – That Xanax really helped you out, didn’t it! You are very lovable. You did a nice presentation on chocolate. I liked the fact that when your burgers cooled to 110 degrees. You did not go crazy, you just carried on. Good Job! But a few too many mistakes in the past.

Who will be the Next Food Network Star?
Sent in your comments, I’d really like to get more discussion on the show.

Friday, June 15, 2007

What's up with JAG?

According to the Food Network Addict, JAG isn't all that he has made himself out to be. Since the show was taped serveral months ago, this will not influence the judges. JAG could be one of the two finalists. Then it would be up to the viewers to decide if this information makes a difference. To read the whole story go to Let me know what you think!

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

And the Big Winner is Cantaloupe!

Sorry for the delay in my posting. Had a bit of an emergency, but everything is fine now.

Who will be the “Next Food Network Star”? We found out that all the contestants have cooking skills, some better than others. Personality plays a huge part in this competition.

Paul, you really need some Xanax. You are way too stressed! I think that this will be your downfall. We don’t tune in to Food Network to see someone bouncing off the walls.

JAG, I like you more each episode. You are more than capable of winning this competition. You are a little too intense when you cook. You concentrate on your cooking and not the audience. You have a great smile!

Rory, the grilled cantaloupe was genius. That is what put you over the top. You really caught on to what they are looking for.

Amy, you seem to know your way around a kitchen. But you need to loan Paul some of your Xanax. You are a little too controlled. Loosen up!

Tommy, you have a great personality! But I think that you are out of your league.

Michael Salmon, like the fish. Your chicken dish looked delicious. You had great grill marks. It was ready to take a bite out of. You just needed some cantaloupe. Your hint about putting spices on the fire set you apart from the crowd, and the judges will remember that.

Andrien, you seem more relaxed in front of the camera than most of the other contestants. Your three years on “Home for Dinner” paid off. You need some WOW in your dishes.

Colombe, I just don’t get it.

Nikki, you showed more emotion in your exit interview than anytime during the show. I think maybe you are a perfectionist. Unfortunately, it’s hard to watch a perfectionist. You have to show a human side, too. You definitely had an attitude problem in the wedding reception episode.

My opinion… I think that Michael, Andrien and Jag are in for the long haul. But as anyone who knows me will attest, I’ve been wrong before.

Have a great day and have fun cooking!

Monday, June 4, 2007

And then there were 9

So, what did you think of last night's premiere of Next Food Network Star?

I was really disappointed to see Patrick voted off so early. I had no problem with Vivien being voted off. This is a competition that you cannot ease your way into. You have to be on point from the very first minute. I think Patrick tried to find his comfort zone by gradually warming up to the camera. There is no comfort zone in this competition! He also wasn't confident enough to bring something new to the show. Vivien had the personality, but I don't think she had enough skills to back it up. Her Chinese Chicken Salad looked great. Her salad for the wedding lacked a lot. She didn't show any cooking skills, but she can assemble a dish.

The wedding cake... You have got to be kidding!!!

Apparently, most of the contestants did not realize that it was supposed to be a wedding cake.

Clue #1 - There were three tiers.
Clue #2 - There were wedding toppers.

Amy definitely won that competition. I liked Paul's cake also. I didn't know that the cut fruit would suck the moisture out of the cake and ruin the fondant. Apparently, Paul didn't know that either. A lot of this competition is about thinking on your feet and having a general knowledge about everything. After all, you are supposed to be the best.

The Potluck Dinner...
A lot of nice entries. But somehow I got the feeling that most of the contestants thought this was a practice round.

Again, I agree with the judges. Columbe's dish was creative with a good presentation.

The Wedding Reception...
Both teams really missed the boat on this one. A very valid point that the judges brought up was the amount of money spent. This was not the time to be frugal. Running out of food and not manning their stations was unforgivable. Twenty years from now, the guests may not remember a lot of details, but they will remember that they ran out of food. This was very poor planning. Columbe has to take the blame for this one. She was the team leader and the shopper. Even if the other team members did not give her the exact quantities for their recipes, common sense would have told her that she needed enough to feed 100 guests. I think that if she had not won the potluck dinner competition, she would have been gone.

Tommy, the chicken stock...bad move.

Amy chose the caterers for her team. Smart move, Amy! But again, nothing spectacular.

Saving grace of the whole event...Paul making a dish for their dog. Awesome idea!

Here is a link to the Food Network Star Site

Sunday, June 3, 2007

Food Network Star contestants - part II

7. Josh Garcia is a chef and an ex-Marine from North Carolina. He grew up in the Bronx and learned to cook by feeding his brothers and sisters while his Mom worked. JAG (his nickname) wants to show the world that there is more to Latin cuisine than beans and rice. He is different from anyone that I’ve seen on Food Network with the exception of Guy Fieri.
My opinion – 2 ½ stars

8. Tommy Grella lives just outside Boston with his wife and two children. He is a financial planner and has no formal cooking training. He just loves to cook. His motto is “Grella Size It”. Tommy does everything over the top. He also likes a good cigar. He just seems lovable.
My opinion – 2 ½ stars

9. Rory Schepisi is from Texas. She is in the process of opening her own restaurant. She attended culinary school and considers cooking to be an art. She just follows her heart.
My opinion – 2 stars

10. Nikki Shaw is from Oakland, California. She lives there with her husband (former NBA player Brian Shaw) and their three children. She believes in major flavor in her food and adds a pinch of brown sugar to everything. She has a passion for food and parties.
My opinion – 2 stars

11. Andrien Sharp lives in Jackson, Michigan with his wife and three children. He used to work for a domestic uniform company, but had to quit to appear on Food Network. They may regret that decision. Andrien has also hosted a television show “Home for Dinner” for 3 years. The show is a 30 minute program that features a local person shopping for ingredients at Krogers, then preparing and cooking the recipes. He likes to incorporate music and food together. His specialty is comfort food with a Southwest flavor.
My opinion – 3 stars

The show premiers tonight at 9:00. Now that you have had a look at the contestants, let me know what you think of them. Recently, I read this comment on a food blog and I just love it.

“Everyone is entitled to my opinion.”

Saturday, June 2, 2007

Next Food Network Star

How do you become a contestant for “the Next Food Network Star”? This season, you would have sent your 3 minute video into the Food Network along with 7000 other applicants. Your video would show you preparing a recipe, while telling the judges why you should be the Next Food Network Star. How do you think you would measure up? (Me – I have trouble walking and chewing gum at the same time.)

Here they are - The Top 11

1. Patrick Roff is a senior Sous Chef in a fine restaurant. He is highly trained and disciplined. Not all of the contestants are professional cooks. This should give him an edge. He says that his secret weapon is using local seasonal ingredients in his recipes. He wants to educate his viewers about simple elegant food and to have fun in the kitchen. I really like his idea of having fun in the kitchen. If you can’t have fun, why bother. Patrick is married and has a new son, Nathan.
Based on my opinion of his video – 3 stars.

2. Michael Salmon not only oversees a restaurant but also a large food market in New York City. He graduated from the Culinary Institute of America in 1982. He wants to show that you don not have to be intimidated in the kitchen. He admits his weakness is thinking that he knows it all. This should add some drama to the show. Michael is the father of two daughters. He says that food is about love and passion.
My opinion – 2 ½ stars.

3. Colombe Jacobson is a yoga and fitness instructor who lives in New York City. Her formal training is with the Natural Gourmet Food and Health Institute in NYC. She thinks that the Food Network needs a show that focuses on organic, healthy cooking with tips about a healthy lifestyle. (Personally, I like Ellie Kreiger. She always has healthy recipes.) Somehow, I picture Colombe sitting in a lotus position while she cooks. Colombe has worked as a personal cook and caterer.
My opinion – 2 stars

4. Paul McCullough is a caterer from Los Angeles with no professional training. He wants a show about how to throw a “simply fabulous Party”. He has a lot of personality.
My opinion – 2 stars

5. Vivien Cunha is a former model from Brazil. She is a chef and caterer. Vivien once lived in India, which adds an Indian influence to her Latin recipes. She hopes to bring her culture and love of food to the Food Network. She wants to inspire people.
My opinion – 2 stars

6. Amy Finley is from San Diego. She is a French trained cook and a stay-at- home Mom. Most of her recipes look complicated but she assures us that they are not hard to make. Amy says that cooking makes her feel alive and makes a connection with the people that she cooks for.
My opinion – 2 ½ stars

Tomorrow, I'll introduce you to the others. How do you think the contestants stack up?
Leave a comment with your thoughts.

Friday, June 1, 2007

The Next Food Network Star premiers Sunday, June 3rd at 9:00 p.m. This two hour special will introduce the eleven candidates to you. If you Google ‘Food Network Star’, you will find a lot of reviews and comments about the show. There is even a blog for Adrien Sharp. So, I’m going to take a slightly different tact. This isn’t a show about the best cook. John and Jane Doe are not just going to demonstrate their favorite recipe. Just because you have the best culinary skills in the group doesn’t mean that you win. By the way, what do you win? A contract to do a six-episode show on the Food Network, a Mercury Mariner, provided by Ford, your signature recipe featured on the cover of Bon Appetit magazine, fame and fortune. Culinary skills, good recipes, and food knowledge just aren’t enough. We have to be entertained.

According to Bob Tuschman, Senior Vice-President, Programming and Production, “We’re looking for a combination of culinary chops, star power, and the ability to handle the pressures of intense television production, and that’s difficult to find in any one person. This season, the finalists are exceptionally talented. Frankly, we put them through the ringer to find out who really deserved to join our pantheon of stars.”

The Starting 11

Vivien Cunha - Hermosa Beach, CA
Amy Finley - San Diego, CA
Josh Garcia - Havelock, NC
Tommy Grella - Methuen, MA
Colombe Jacobsen - New York, NY
Paul McCullough - Los Angeles, CA
Patrick Rolfe - Lake Forest Park, WA
Michael Salmon - Brooklyn, NY
Rory Schepisi - Vega, TX
Adrien Sharp - Jackson, MI
Nikki Shaw - Manhattan Beach, CA

For the third season, the Food Network decided to change things up just a bit. The contestants will leave the studios on at least three occasions. Some of the challenges include creating a new stadium food for an NBA team. Darryl Dawkins will be featured on most of the episodes. (The Food Network created a content partnership with the NBA in 2006.)

Another episode will be preparing food in an Army barracks.

The candidates will also be tested on their mental strength and on-air potential.

Bobby Flay, Rachael Ray, Giada De Laurentiis, Alton Brown, Cat Cora, Duff Goldman, Robert Irvine and Guy Fieri will help judge the competitors.
Starting Sunday, July 15th, viewers will make their selection via text messaging. The winner will be announced on Sunday, July 22nd.