Welcome to the first recap of this season of Food Network Star
! We've got 15 FNS
hopefuls. If you're unfamiliar with them, check out my breakdown of each contestant
This season promises lots of celebrities, plenty of appearances by Food Network royalty like Alton Brown and Ina Garten and more yelling, screaming and meltdowns than ever before. Is this the season that our Food Network Star
contestants stop playing nice and bring out the claws?
The two-hour premiere opens with our contestants meeting up at Grauman's Chinese Theater in Hollywood.
One by one, they appear and start sizing each other up. Penny immediately
describes herself as voluptous and starts hating on Alicia for being
And here's Katy, who has the nerve to call some of the other contestants
annoying. And then she makes fun of Juba's name. Way to go, Katy. Susie trips on her way up to the theater. But she rolls with it. Here comes Jeff, one of my early favorites. Guess what? His proposed
show is about sandwiches! Totally called it. I'm psyched for Jeff now. And here comes
Out comes Bobby Flay and Giada De Laurentiis. Bobby lays it out for the
contestants: this is the shot of a lifetime -- don't blow it. Giada says everyone needs to look within themselves to find
their inner star. And Bobby has a challenge for them already! Yes! Here
we go. This season of FNS
has officially kicked off.
Breakfast of Champions
The contestants have to cook the most important meal of the day:
breakfast! Chris is making a frittata. Alicia is making a crepe. Penny
(who, in case you've forgotten, is Middle Eastern and sexy) keeps hating on
Alicia. Alicia is
running around talking to herself and repeatedly saying "OHMIGOD
OHMIGOD." Vic is making a lobster slider, which doesn't really
scream breakfast to me.
Penny reminds us again that she is, indeed, Middle Eastern. She's making
some French toast with an Iranian flair. Jeff is making an
awesome-looking steak and egg breakfast sandwich with chipotle. So far,
his food looks the tastiest. Susie is making a crepe too! Look out
Vic realizes with ten minutes to go that he's overdone it and can't
finish everything. His plate goes out without the lobster, and he
announces, "Looks like I'm the first one going home." We can only hope,
Vic. Alicia is still losing her mind. Chris didn't cook his chicken all
the way through. Mary Beth has taken on the role of the person who yells
out how much time is left. I guess somebody has to do it?
Now the contestants have to present their meals in front of the camera.
Here to oversee the challenge are FNS
mainstays Susie Fogelson and Bob
Tuschman. Vic is up to present his food first, and has a minute to do
so. Bobby and Giada both like Vic and want to know more about him. Sucks he couldn't get the lobster on the plate.
Alicia is up now. I really can't stand her voice. All of the judges
agree that her voice is horrific and ask her to work on her accent.
Orchid kills the presentation, and the judges like her and her food.
Whitney, Jyll and Jeff kill it too. Mary Beth is cold and nervous. Howie
comes out and says "basic" about 47 times and then calls himself a
novice. He might be trying a little too
hard to be the underdog.
Chris biffs it and is really hard on himself. He's the first contestant
to get misty-eyed! Susie presents her dish, and the judges want
her to cook Mexican food because she's, well, Mexican. And it's confusing if she doesn't cook food befitting her ethnicity, I guess? Really, judges?
Katy comes out and talks way
too much. The judges like the food, but are
a little put-off by her personality.
Just as I suspsected, Juba is super nervous in front of the camera, but the judges love his food.
Orchid wins the first challenge!
Giada says she's "warm,
charismatic, and the camera loves her." Juba gets the best dish of the
day (yay!), and Mary Beth comes in dead last.
This first episode is rocketing past! With 15 contestants up for the
prize, there's no time to waste. We didn't get to see everyone's dishes
and presentations, but there's so much dead weight at this point, it's
The Farmer's Market
The next morning, the contestants head to the local farmer's market. And who's
waiting for them? Alton Brown, my favorite person on the network. Alton
is always really scary and up-front on FNS
, so I love when he drops in. The
contestants are all grouped up in threes and must produce promos for
their proposed Food Network shows. They're only given four takes!
The first group up is Mary Beth, Whitney and Justin B. Mary Beth does
decently, despite dropping her pen in take one. She keeps talking about
her personality, but I have yet to see it. Justin keeps messing up, so
Whitney tries to offer him some advice, which pisses off Justin and
Alton. "Don't direct him!" he growls. Justin messes up all four takes,
fumbling over his words and generally being rigid and uninteresting.
Then Whitney just nails it in one take like a boss. I'm liking Whitney more
and more, you guys.
Next group up is Katy, Chris and Susie. Katy seriously will not shut up.
I'm starting to feel bad for Chris. Katy is splayed out on a counter
and knocks her props over with her leg. Susie starts out with a guitar,
and Alton tells her to lose it. Chris starts rapping and says "what's
up" like six times. Alton seems frustrated with all of them, and I'm right there with him.
The third group is Jyll, Howie and Vic. Howie is already messing up in
front of the camera. Howie, what the hell, man? You were supposed to be
super comfortable in front of the camera! And then Vic forgets Jyll's
name. They're down to one take, just like that. Jyll requests a
prompter and doesn't look at the camera once.
Group four is Orchid, Juba and Jeff. Jeff and Orchid are both concerned
that Juba is going to flub his take (and so am I). Jeff ruins the first
take by mispronouncing Orchid's name, and then Juba just completely
blows it. But on the fourth take, they all nail it. Good job, Juba. Keep
Penny, Justin D. and Alicia are in group five. Penny continues her
crusade against Alicia, which is starting to irk me. Now she's just
being mean. On her first take, Alicia just starts mumbling and tells
Alton that she's self-conscious about her accent. Aw, now I feel bad about making fun of her voice (kinda).
Alton gives her an awesome Alton pep talk and she's good to go. Penny
obviously has a short fuse, because she is annoyed by everything,
somehow not realizing that she is a horrible, horrible person who needs a
serious reality check.
At the end of the day, the teams are kept together, and they must cook a
meal in two hours for members of the press. They have to shop together,
which is bad news for Justin D., who is stuck with bickering Penny and
Alicia. "It's gonna turn into a wrestling match, and not even a sexy one
I'd wanna watch," Justin D. says. I know I said Justin D. seemed kinda
boring, but he's been cracking me up this episode. I hope he sticks
around for a bit.
Chris tries to sneak a six-pack of beer into the cart, and he gets denied by Katy and Susie.
Penny will just not shut up about Alicia, and I'm just gonna say it: I'm on Team Alicia now. Penny is driving me nuts. In 45 minutes, Penny has managed to get me on Alicia's side.
All the other teams seem to be getting along pretty well. Orchid and Jeff seem happy to have Juba now that they're
doing a meal together, because, damn, the boy can cook. I'm just gonna
go ahead and say that Team Orchid-Jeff-Juba will probably take this
challenge. Which is fine by me, because I'm digging all three of them.
Alicia is poaching some pears and puts Penny in charge of making sure
the liquid doesn't boil. This cannot end well. Yep, sure enough, three
minutes later, the pears are boiling. Alicia starts screaming across the
kitchen at Penny, who persists that they looked fine when she checked.
Meet the Press
The contestants and their meals are brought before a table full of
entertainment press (including Mario Lopez), as well as Alton, Bobby,
Susie, Bob and Giada. Penny, Alicia and Justin D. present first, and
Penny keeps talking about how sexy she and her food are. God, it's scary
how quickly my hate for Penny materialized. Everyone seems to like
their food, but most agree that Penny needs to tone it down, Alicia
needs to toughen up and Justin D. needs to step it up.
Next up are Mary Beth, Whitney and Justin B. Everyone's faces light up
when Whitney starts talking during the promo. Bob Tuschman admits he has
a crush on Whitney. Back off, Bob. I saw her first. Everyone likes the
food the group presented, but is iffy on the personalities of Justin B.
and Mary Beth. Pretty much everybody loves Whitney.
Vic, Jyll and Howie are the next group up. Jyll is tired of babysitting
Howie, who keeps needing things done for him. I'm beginning to think
that Howie just isn't up for this. Vic and Jyll collide in the kitchen,
and Vic loses his food again! That can't be good.
This group is in trouble. They're missing food on the plate, and their
promos just suck. Nobody is happy with the dishes. Bob says Vic's show
should be called Empty Plate
. Good one, Bob. Mario says he's a bit put
off by Vic's image. Me too, Mario.
My team is up! Orchid, Juba and Jeff are in the house. But oh crap, Juba is talking too
much. Juba, my friend! Let Jeff do the talking! The judges all think
Juba's food is awesome, but he needs to work on his presentation. Jeff's
food is just alright, but his personality rocks. And everyone loves
Chris, Susie and Katy are up. Chris and Susie start arguing about the
spiciness of her chipotle purree. The promos don't really go over well,
especially Chris' segment, which the judges think seemed really forced.
I agree. The judges love Susie's spicy puree. Ha! In your face, Chris.
At this point, it's pretty obvious that Jyll, Howie or Vic is going
home. The judges evaluate Jeff, Orchid and Juba first. They tell Jeff he
isn't the king of sandwiches yet -- just a prince. They praise Juba's
food, but raise concerns about his performance. They have absolutely no
criticisms for Orchid.
Team Orchid-Juba-Jeff win the challenge!
Who called it? I'm happy with this. So far, this season is heading in the right direction.
Chris, Katy and Susie are up for evaluation. Bobby gets on Chris about
trying to buy the beer at the store, and Bob tells him he needs to focus
his personality. Bob tells Katy the same thing, because she seems to be
all over the place. Everyone liked Susie's food and her promo.
Mary Beth, Justin B. and Whitney are next. Bob tells Mary Beth she isn't
interesting and she gets teary-eyed. Susie tells Justin B. that she needs a
crowbar to get into his personality. Everyone loved Whitney's
food, and they all think she's beautiful and personable.
Final two: Whitney and Orchid? I know it's early. Just saying.
The bottom two teams are Vic, Howie and Jill and Penny, Justin D. and
Alicia. Everyone agrees that Penny needs to give the whole sexy gimmick a
rest. They tell Justin D. he's been playing it too safe, and he needs
to step it up. They congratulate Alicia on her food and advise her to
Jyll tells the judges about having to help Howie, and Howie pretty much
denies it. Vic is surprisingly reasonable about the whole thing. Maybe I
misjudged the guy. He seems pretty real. Jyll calls Howie out for
eating up two takes during the promo challenge, and Howie seems completely unaware that he essentially cost his team the challenge.
Alicia, Justin D. and Penny are all safe.
It's down to Jyll, Howie and Vic.
Jyll is safe. Vic is safe.
Howie has been eliminated!
The guy I called an early underdog in my post last week is gone! To be
fair though, Howie did not do a good job presenting himself. He was weak
in front of the camera and
in the kitchen, and was kind of a jerk to Jyll about her helping him out so much.
This season of FNS
is off to a crazy start. We've got rivalries and
arguments aplenty, and it looks like next week is going to be even
wilder. Did I hear that right? Are two people going home next week?
What does everyone think of this season so far? Which contestants are catching your eye?(Image courtesy of Food Network)