Jun 25, 2007

Next Food Network Star: Michael Gets Nixed at Fort Dix

So now we’re down to five chefs - Adrien, Rory, Amy, Paul, and Jag. Michael has been cut, which was actually no surprise. At this pace the show will be finished in a month.

This week we've learned that several of our contestants have embellished the truth or stretched it or failed to reveal the full picture in order to put themselves in the best light possible. Rory was in a CMT reality series in 2005. Paul tried out for Top Chef and failed. And Adrien still has a job. At first I felt sorry for him for losing his job as a delivery man in order to find his moment in the sun, only to discover that he hosts a weekly food show, Home For Dinner at J-TV in Michigan. My pardon if he got fired from both jobs.

JAG has stretched the truth quite a bit. He did not complete New York Restaurant School; he probably did not serve in Afghanistan as a corporal or was even deployed there. Food Network has amended his biography, and JAG has changed the information on My Space. How stupid can you get? Isn’t JAG young enough to understand the power of the web in uncovering information?

Does this news shatter my world? No. In the big scheme of things, who cares? However, JAG’s stretching of the truth may boomerang, since the fans will be voting for their favorite chef after the final contest. But the news about the others? Meh!

Still, a few of them are coming across as Fame Whores, in particular JAG and Rory, who can taste fame so bad she trembles thinking about it.

Having said this, here’s this week’s recap!

The chefs cooked for the soldiers at Fort Dix, New Jersey this week. The short challenge was in particularly interesting. The six remaining chefs had exactly 20 minutes to reinvent MRE's (Meals Ready to Eat). This meant that they had to think quick on their feet. The judges were Giada deLaurentiis and two army officers, who judged the chefs on the meal and their presentation.
Surprisingly, JAG, who felt in his element, did not win the challenge. Paul won with his chicken meal and honey Dijon glaze, and his charming presentation. His win was crucial, in that he got to choose the teams for the second challenge and the foods they would cook.

Paul was smart in his strategy: He paired Michael and Adrien because he felt there were too many male chefs, paired himself with JAG, who was familiar with Mess Hall kitchens, and gave the female team a relatively easy dish, lasagna. His rationale for giving the chicken pot pie to the Adrien/Michael team was simple: Chicken Pot Pie has many elements, and will take a longer time to prepare. So Paul predicted they would experience a time crunch. He was right. With only 10 minutes to go, Adrien could not defrost the frozen fruit in time, as was noted by the judges.

The Paul/JAG team was initially a delight to watch and I thought, "They should do a cooking show together." But then JAG's Achilles heel began to rear it's ugly bare spot again. JAG lost his cool when the ovens didn't work. In a blink of an eye he changed from a happy, confident chef into an angry, cursing guy. Not cool if you want to stand in front of millions and exude happiness, like guest judge Paula Deen, who frankly gets on my nerves.

The judging was fair, as the judges took the diner's critique cards into account. I'll say this for NFNS, even if you disagree with the premise of this show, the judging remains consistent.

Paul and JAG won because their food and presentation were the best. Rory and Amy were saved because of their presentation. Adrien was saved, but he has a lot of ground to make up.

And Michael never really shone. He couldn't describe his food aesthetic, so if there is no hook, where is the television personality? And so he was cut. Michael was a gentleman and a delight to watch, though, and we'll miss him.

As an aside, have you noticed, that as with all these cooking shows, only the young chefs remain? Michael's cooking performance was ok; in fact the judges loved his thin crispy potato topping, but his on-air personality did not shine. And that bit about being a Vietnam Vet? Boy, did that sink like a stone with the soldiers. Where Adrien's cooking skills are suspect, the camera just loves him. So the judges were right to keep him.

Here are the results of last week's poll, by the way.

The poll is still open. And you can just ignore Michael, who never received any votes to begin with. Of the remaining chefs, who do you prefer? Your vote will be cast on top of last week's votes, and you can vote once a day. The poll will remain open until there are only four chefs left.

Who Is Your Favorite Remaining Next Food Network Star Chef?
Free polls from Pollhost.com


ArtfulSub said...


Superlative re-cap of a great episode by Virginia's greatest lady since Penny Chenery. Loved that you mentioned Michael's bizarre Vietnam aside. Not a good idea to tell combat veterans who "tough life was" in the suburbs during the Vietnam War.

Also, very keen observation on his lack of a specific idea for his own show.

I voted for Rory again, because I'm a shallow perv but Paul really shined. Shone?

I think maybe fitness and a lack of family responsibilty plays a role in younger contestants doing well.

Only critique I can offer is this:

Sergeant Majors aren't officers. But hell, how would you be expected to know that?

Again, great post!


Ms. Place said...

Goodness, you had me blush. And that's been a long time!

Calady said...

OMG. Had no idea you were blogging this one too. Enjoyed it last night. Thanks for the post.

Anonymous said...

With his embellishments of life achievements, JAG has assured himself a win. FN has put up with Rachael Ray's exaggerations and outright lies since 2001, note to mention Scumdra Lee's phantom attendance at Le Cordon Bleu which turned out to be a two week class she didn't even finish.

'Grats dude. It's yours to lose.

-potty mouth princess (who can't sign in for some reason)

Anonymous said...

Rory has grown on me, though it took me awhile, because I watched her on CMT's Popularity Contest. But, I've found myself kind of rooting for her. And Jag too, but now that may be ruined for me, because of his exagerations...We will see.

I can't believe so many people in the poll like Amy... she bugs me, not quite sure why.

Exaggerations or fame whores, I guess it doesn't matter if they can cook and host a show on the Food Network, which is why I think Rory will end up winning.

P.S. What was up with all of the crying? Gag.

Ms. Place said...

Yea, bec, the crying had me thinking that these contestants crave fame so much they just can't hold it in. I'll go out on a limb and say that Rory will be one of the finalists. JAG is the most talented cook of the three men, and Adrien will not survive. Amy might be the best chef of the bunch, but she has the least "on air" presence.

Should be an interesting final few weeks.