Saturday, June 15, 2013

Next Food Network Star - Burger Bash

Last week's second episode of the Food Network's Next Food Network Star was a great episode that coincides well with the beginning of summer and the start of true grilling season.  And there was a bit of a surprise for some in the judging and "grilling" of the on-the-edge contestants, most of whom have no chance of winning the actual competition.  The show said goodbye to Andres Guillama, a formerly overweight Cuban restaurant worker who never really won over the judges.  However, Andres not only had a great story - having lost 150 pounds - but he was not terrible in front of the camera.

And, in that vein he seemed to be a virtual repeat of former Food Star Finalist Herb, whom the judges seemed so desperate to make a star for his weight loss, when Herb never was comfortable sharing that story.  The judges - almost pathetically - kept Herb around despite some miserable performances because his potential for a feel-good story and a new demographic was so tempting.  Thus, I really expected Andres to stick around for at least a few weeks while they coaxed a point of view out of him.  Alas, it wasn't meant to be.  Thus, Andres' elimination was a shock to me, but it was primarily because Danushka Lysek continues to perform so atrociously in front of the camera.  This woman is truly nauseating in terms of her air of self importance and illusions of glamour.  And that slow pessimistic drawl gives new meaning to the idea of the "heroin chic" angle that infected the modeling industry years ago.  Apparently, Danushka can cook a bit - but I can't imagine it was in any way superior to the cooking of Andres.

As far as the rest of the contestants go, there are clear frontrunners in contestants like Chad and Stacy.   They can both very clearly cook, and they have a nice stage persona that simply relaxes and appeals to the viewer.  I was a little surprised to learn that Stacy was once featured on Robert Irvine's Restaurant Impossible - for that is never a flattering experience.  It seems like most people on Irvine's show are disasters who never really knew what they were doing running a kitchen.  However, Stacy seems to know her way around a cutting board, and she talks food well.  Damaris, by the way, is only slightly less unpleasant than Danushka, and I really don't think we need anyone who aspires to be "the next Paula Dean."  I hope she doesn't mean she's aiming for diabetic gluttony and excess.  Chris Hodgson - whom I really liked when he was on Tyler Florence's Great Food Truck Race - is another strong personality, but he needs to get it under control.

And, of course, the Pie Guy, Rodney, is entertaining, but I am expecting to outlive the novelty pretty soon.  Looking forward to tomorrow night's elimination of Danushka.

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