Sunday, April 23, 2006

The Next Food Network Star: Which Guy Won?

On April 5, I predicted:
I'll be surprised if Guy doesn't win this thing. He's arrogant, loud, and obnoxious, but he's the only one out of the 8 contestants that seems remotely camera-ready. He's Emeril with a bad bleach job. This entire competition just seems like a formality before they give Guy his own show.
On April 12, I said:
I still think this entire show is a run-up to Guy's evenutal coronation.
On April 19, I wrote:
I think Guy will end up having his own nationally televised cooking show either way.
It's not like I was alone in feeling like Guy was way ahead of the pack. Anyone who watched more than 10 minutes of any episode would see that Guy was the clear front runner. Even the Food Network gave Guy prime placement in its print ads:

For those who haven't seen the finale yet, I think you can see what I'm getting at. Meet The Next Food Network Star.

Wednesday, April 19, 2006

The Next Food Network Star: Final Two

Here we are, down to the final two on The Next Food Network Star. It's been a long, tedious and somewhat unmemorable journey. It's come down to Guy and Reggie:

Nate was the first person eliminated on Sunday night. After all this time, he still couldn't manage the clock at all and didn't exhibit any kind of unique personality traits. He was just an arrogant, bald shell of a guy. He had lots of knowledge about cooking - that much is certain - but his schtick just didn't translate to a 30 minute cooking show. I bet he could write a heck of a cookbook, though.

Carissa was the next to go after fumbling her appearance on CBS' The Early Show.

Paula Deen made an appearance and looked shockingly bad. I look into that woman's eyes and just want to cry because there seems to be some kind of terrifying desperation there. I wonder if she's battling agoraphobia again. She seemed like she may have been heavily medicated as well. In fact, she kind of had that weird drugged-up Paula Abdul thing going on.

Reggie and Guy each taped a show pilot. Reggie was better than I had expected, although his use of the word "sassy" must stop. Now. His Balsalmic Glazed Chicken looked simple and good.

His dessert was straight out of Sandra Lee's playbook. For shame.

Guy seemed a little more nervous than I would have thought. The Tequlia Turkey Fettucine looked good plated, but after seeing the ingredients he used it looked like it would be on the bland side.

The Breath Mint Pie could go either way. Either it would be sinfully delicious or way too sweet and overpowering. I believe this basically a variation of Grasshopper Pie.

After all this, I still don't know who I'm going to vote for - if I vote at all. I think Guy will end up having his own nationally televised cooking show either way, but I think this is probably Reggie's only shot. Then again, I don't know if I'd watch either of their shows. I've seen Dan and Steve twice in the year they've been on, and their obvious nervousness was too painful to watch.

Perhaps I'll sit this one out and see if Food Network can create a compelling Next Food Network Star in 2007. But I won't be holding my breath.

PS: I finally figured out who Guy looks like. Corey Feldman, circa 2003.

Tuesday, April 18, 2006

Food Network Tidbits

First off, last week I became a married woman. Mr. Armchair Cook and I semi-eloped near our home in Hawaii and spent the weekend on a mini-honeymoon on a neighbor island. We just got back and I haven't even watched the Next Food Network Star episode from the weekend! Thank goodness for TiVo, the web, and my dedicated readers who keep me updated on all things Food Network!

The web is abuzz with the news that Guy and Reggie are the last two standing on The Next Food Network Star! I'll do a full writeup tomorrow, but who are you voting for? Leave me a comment and let's see who the frontrunner is!

Last month I reported that Sandra Lee would be cohosting a prime time cooking competition with Alan Thicke. After seeing a few Sandy-less commercials, I went to the official Celebrity Cooking Showdown website, and she is nowhere to be seen. Even this article dated yesterday still lists Sandra as co-host. I wonder what the scoop is?

Going back even further, in January I posted my $0.02 regarding the seemingly endless speculation about Michael Chiarello's sexuality. Yesterday, someone claiming to be M. Chiarello himself commented on that post. Could it be him? I found a comment on another blog from 2004 from someone with a similar writing style also claiming to be M. Chiarello. We may never know for sure, but I still love his show and still think he's too sexy for words.

Wednesday, April 12, 2006

The Next Food Network Star: Final Four

Well, that was quite the shocker, wasn't it? Last week I predicted that Nathan would be sent home, but instead it was Andy who got the boot. Andy was wooden in front of the camera and had no discernable personality, but at least he wasn't a jerk. We'll miss you, Andrew Schumacher!

But we won't miss that 'stache.

Nate is still an overtweezed jerk.

Last week I suspected that Reggie's incompetence was part of a redemptive story arc, but now I think that it's Carissa's turn to make the transition from hopelessly flawed to shoo-in for the final two. I think we'll say goodbye to Reggie next.

Carissa's cupcake demo was a mess and her show pitch didn't blow me away, yet the judges insisted that Carissa found her niche. I'm predicting a Guy/Carissa final two.

Speaking of Guy, he blew everyone out of the water in the cupcake demo. I would watch a show with him finding fun and funky ways to present food. His show pitch was alright, but his concept was no more scattered than the other 3. I still think this entire show is a run-up to Guy's evenutal coronation.

I thought all of their show pitches were boring and safe (did I just channel American Idol?), and all of their presentations seemed half-baked, like they'd never considered it before. Plus, they're basically doing what all the other hosts do. I can't believe Bob Tuschman gave Reggie a hard time: "Why would we want to have 2 Southern cooking shows? We already have Paula Deen." How many Italian shows does the Food Network have? Four? Shame on the contestants for being bland and predictable, and shame on the judges and Food Network for moving the network in such a boring direction*.

Alton Brown was awesome, and I loved the practical advice he gave to each of the contestants. That man has some serious wisdom. I would totally purchase an "Alton Brown's Guide to Life".

Next week Paula Deen is a guest, and in the previews she looked really rough. Uh oh, I hope she's not overextending herself a la Rachael Ray.

*Awhile back I came up with some ideas for new Food Network shows. I know, I know, dream on. But still, I haven't given up hope. (Also, I saw Padma Lakshmi on some Travel Channel show the other day. She was showing Jeremy Piven around India.)

Wednesday, April 05, 2006

The Next Food Network Star: Digging Deep

I finally got a chance to catch up on the second season of The Next Food Network Star. After watching all 4 hours last night, I can firmly say that I want everyone to lose.

Seriously, Food Network, this is the best you can do? Out of 10,000 applications, these are the 8 you chose? I haven't been this appalled by my choices (or lack thereof) since the last election. It's the boring team (Jess, Beth, Andy) versus the pompous team (Nathan, Carissa, Guy).

Still, I watch this stuff so you don't have to, so I will soldier on. A quick recap:

The first to go was Jess. Girlfriend seemed so nervous at times that I was hoping for a mercy elimination. I think she was too.

Next up was Beth. I kept forgetting she was in the competition. Boring, bland.

The third contestant to get the boot was Sofrito, er, Evette. I'm all for Food Network getting more ethnic cooking shows, but the omnipresent jar of Goya Sofrito was pretty weak. I did feel sorry for her as she was picked on by Nathan ("f***ing Sofrito!") and Clarissa ("How's that tiramisu coming along?"). I don't think Evette's heart was really in it.

Nathan is still in there, but barely. I predict he'll be going home next. He's one arrogant dude, and I did have a good laugh when he took us back to his modeling days, complete with a wistful reference to his "beautiful flowing blond hair".

Reggie seems like a nice guy. I think the NFNS editors are playing up his supposed incompetence, probably to manufacture a "look how far Reggie has come!" storyline in the remaining episodes. Yes, I am a disciple of Bunim/Murray shows and America's Next Top Model. I think he'll stick around for awhile.

I think Andy is the best cook of them all, and I love the way I can actually learn something from him. I also liked the way he helped Reggie with the lemongrass in the team challenge, but without showboating or condescending to Reggie. That said, Andy needs a date with a razor asap. His fuzzy moustache screams "statuatory rapist stoner" to me.

I'll be surprised if Guy doesn't win this thing. He's arrogant, loud, and obnoxious, but he's the only one out of the 8 contestants that seems remotely camera-ready. He's Emeril with a bad bleach job. This entire competition just seems like a formality before they give Guy his own show.

Last and least, Carissa. I can't explain my instant, visceral hatred for this woman. Even if she didn't have 15 bikini shots each episode, I still couldn't stand her. She strikes me as having a huge sense of entitlement, and she whines like a spoiled brat when things don't go her way. Carissa is one of those women who has never had any girlfriends and can't figure out why, while the entire time she's scheming to steal all the men. She's like the poor man's Sandra Lee.

Another thing: I'm sure they didn't teach her to have those hooker nails at Le Cordon Bleu. I was waiting for Giada to call Carissa out on the nails, but instead Giada told her to get rid of the jewelry.

Bobby Flay has been deliciously snarky; he's definitely in his element.

I still think the other judges, Susie and Bob, are jerks, but I can live with that because I too feel like a jerk while watching this show. One thing I notice is that the judges keep admonishing the contestants for behavior that is prevalent all over the Food Network, such as overusing cutesy catch phrases.

Speaking of Rachael Ray, her guest appearance was typical Ray-Ray upper-fueled blather. No surprises there.

Sandra Lee's appearance was remarkable if only for the fact that they consider her to be some kind of authority on cooking.

I am becoming a full-on Giada fan, partially due to my realization that she has the best catalog of recipes of any Food Network host, and partially because of her Chefography episode. One of my pet peeves is celebrities who bemoan their success and insist that they did not want to become famous, because most of the time I believe it to be a transparent ploy to sound like they are down to earth. In Giada's case, however, I totally believe that she did not want to be in the spotlight and is instead driven by her love of food and tradition. Plus, I would give my first born to have skin like this:

In the promo clip for next week's episode, guest judge Alton Brown looks to be showing the contestants some tough love ("If you can't do this in under 10 seconds, you should leave right now.") From the short clip they showed, I get a strong "I'm only doing this because it's in my contract" vibe from Alton. Alton's opinions mean the most to me, so I'm curious to see how he assesses the contestants.

Dave Lieberman is also on next week's show, and the week after features Paula Deen.

Here are some gratuitous shots of Rachael Ray looking haggard:

Sandra Lee Gone Wild

In this clip from Semi-Homemade Cooking, Sandra Lee describes some drunken shenanigans.

Sandra, you ain't got to lie! This really happened last year, didn't it?!