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: