Sunday, July 22, 2012

Justin Wins the Next Food Network Star - 2012

As was obvious from almost the first episode of the Next Food Network Star this season, 28-year-old culinary rock star and "Rebel with a Culinary Cause" Justin Warner established himself as the Next Food Network Star.  I've argued from almost the first week that Justin was the only one who consistently proved he had Food Network Star abilities.  Justin Warner is an exciting and innovative chef who has already had an exceptional career, running his own very popular and eclectic restaurant - Do or Dine - in New York's Bed-Stuy neighborhood.  And, now, he's on the Food Network with a new show to be produced by his mentor Alton Brown.  How appropriate.  If there were ever a future Food Network Star who could take over for the brilliant and quirky Alton Brown, it's Justin Warner.

One comment I really enjoyed in this finale episode of the Next Food Network Star came from Bobby Flay who said, "I'd rather have someone green in front of the camera than green in front of the stove.  We are the Food Network, and I think sometimes we forget that."  Truer words could not have been spoken.  This show - and this network - has to be about culinary masters who can - in the words of Alton Brown - teach us something.  They need an engaging point of view that makes viewers not only want to watch, but also believe that they can in some small way do what the celebrity chefs can do.  Bobby Flay nailed it with this comment - and his team was the only one filled with excellent chefs who could regularly bring it to the table.  Of course, one of the biggest disappointments this season was executive chef Eric who went home far to early because he was - in Bobby's words - the best chef in the competition.  Sadly, Bob Tuschman conceded that he wanted to keep Eric but was swayed by Susie Fogel who, for some reason, seemed to support Giada in her belief that Ippy was a star.  He wasn't.

And speaking of not being a star - and not even being a skilled chef - the second best part of tonight's show was the early elimination of Marti.  However, the connection between Justin and Marti was quite touching.  It was almost a mother-son relationship, and it was very sweet.  Throughout the competition, Justin spoke quite emotionally of his father who has passed away.  However, there was no mention of a mother or siblings or really any family or community.  So, the team of Marti and Justin was sweet.  He pulled her through many parts of the competition - and I'm glad they made that clear again.  Clearly, Marti is not a chef, and certainly not a Food Network Star.  However, she apparently played an important role in the competition as a teammate for Justin.  And that was nice to see.  In the end, he seemed quite overwhelmed with the victory and attention.  Once the shock wears off, though, he should be great.

Ultimately, it was a no-brainer that Justin Warner was the Next Food Network Star.  However, the executives at the Food Network are crazy if they don't give Michelle Ragussis her own show.  Michelle's idea for "My New England" is a great idea for the Food Network.  Michelle can not only bring it in the kitchen, but is also entertaining on camera in a Guy-Emeril sort of way.  It would be quite entertaining for Michelle to visit and open up for us all the nuances of New England.  It's a great travel-food-culture sort of show, and the ideas are limitless.  Of course, the Food Network may screw this up, as they seem obsessed with the competition format now - Robert Irvine saving impossible restaurants, Bobby Flay helping restaurants open, Anne Burrell hosting competition for exec chefs.  It's all a bit much.  Robert Irvine's show is amazing and informative - the other two, not so much.  And, of course, they still have Guy and Diners, Drive-in, and Dives on constantly - when they aren't showing "Chopped."  So, let's open it up to some feature-style shows.  Michelle's My New England is a great start.  And they should seriously think about giving Jeff the Sandwich King more airtime, exploring sandwiches the way Guy does diners.

So, congrats to Justin Warner.  It looks like the viewers actually got it right.  Justin led voting in almost every week, so it only makes sense for him to succeed and be named The Next Food Network Star.


Anonymous said...

LOL... and a teacher spoils it in the title for people who don't get new episodes at the same time.

Bruce DP Brown said...

I like your post about the show,and feel that you truly captured the essence of the episode. I am happy for Justin, he deserved it, and received some of my votes. However, I also feel that Yvan would also make a wonderful and welcoming host.

Thanks for posting!

mmazenko said...

Anon, once it happens, it's news. If you don't want to know some results or news, it's pretty obvious that you don't surf the net at that point. The New York Post had the news within minutes of the airing - I posted a couple hours after the show was over. And it was all over Food Network news right after the show. If you inadvertently came across my blog before you saw the show, I apologize - and thanks for visiting. But that's the nature of the internet. And I wanted Justin's name in my title post.