The Next Food Network Star is one of my favorite new shows – I love how entertaining it is, and I’m really impressed with the challenges they give the contestants, even more so than Top Chef. Being on the Food Network, to me, is much more challenging than being an executive chef – not only do you have to cook good food, you have to be able to explain it to a camera effectively, quickly, and with personality.
This week the final four flew to Vegas to participate in a “throwdown,” Bobby Flay style. Lisa and Adam competed first, making Adam’s macaroni and cheese and Lisa’s cassoulet in 75 minutes. They each clearly owned their signature dishes, and failed to improve on the dish of their competitors. Paula Deen went so far as to say about Lisa’s mac and cheese, “I don’t like it. I don’t like it at all.” Next was Aaron vs. Kelsey. I really like Kelsey’s likeable personality and her performance in front of the camera, but I’m really not sure how much different she would be than any other star the Food Network already has. Aaron, on the other hand, is an excellent chef and brings a variety to the table (pun intended) that is refreshing and interesting – if only he was more personable on camera! He and Kelsey made Kelsey’s chicken parmesan and Aaron’s stuffed pork. Although Aaron nearly forgot to make Kelsey’s dish (remembering with only 20 minutes left), he clearly beat her on both counts.
When the four contestants went into the elimination round, it was fairly clear who the bottom two would be (Adam and Kelsey). When the eliminated contestant was announced as Kelsey, part of me was surprised. The judges constantly berate Adam for his lack of culinary prowess, but he always manages to sneak by because of his sense of humor and personality. It’s going to be interesting next week with the final three contestants (Lisa, Aaron, and Adam) compete against each other to move one step closer to having their own show on the Food Network. I’ve been pulling for Aaron for quite some time, but I would also be willing to tune into Adam’s show – I think if he has more time to think about his “culinary point of view” (classic NFNS catchphrase), he could be quite popular. I really struggle with liking Lisa – her dishes look incredible and she always wins for the great tastes she creates – but her “Stepford Wife” persona rubs me the wrong way. Something really has to change before I’d be interested in watching her show. She reminds me of Ina Garten (Barefoot Contessa) in terms of the types of food she cooks, but at least Ina is more down-to-earth and comfortable on camera.