Monday, June 17, 2013

Next Food Network Star - Danuska's "Chopped" - Episode 3

Ding, Dong, Danushka's gone ....

The judges of the Next Food Network Star finally came to their senses and sent home the most unappealing candidate of the season - Danushka Lysek.  Of course, it's only the third week, but she could have easily been sent home in the first or second.  Thankfully, she was "chopped" after both Alton Brown and Iron Chef Alex Guarnashelli both recoiled at Danushka's dry, pissy attitude and mediocre cooking skills.  In fact, from her performance in the first three episodes, I am surprised that she ever made the finalists cut.  Is the competition that weak - or was the Food Network just intrigued by the "mock" glamour of someone who claims to have been a model?  Well, no matter.  She's been "Chopped."

The Chopped-format for the third episode is always entertaining, as it is one of the Food Network's most entertaining and most challenging of the reality shows.  The versatility of food knowledge and skills, as well as the ability to engage the judges, is on full display with Chopped, and it's a telling format for judging Food Network Stars.  Chad again performed well, and there is little doubt about his cooking skills or ability to be calm in front of an audience.  However, he appears to be a bit too milquetoast for the star quality required to carry a show.  

On the other side, Chris Hodgson continues to impress, but this time he reigned in the over-the-top performance and revealed a soft, vulnerable side that only endeared him more to the judges and fellow finalists.  Chris' "confession" about his past life as an addict was accented by his story of how food and cooking "saved" him.  There was a great metaphor working there about giving to people through cooking, and Chris exemplified that through his story, as well as the assistance he gave Stacy, who was struggling.  A lot of heart in that kid, and he has risen in my estimation.

Stacy struggled for the first time this week, but her star status is not really in doubt.  I was a little surprised by her choice of the pot pie - an epic fail - and I was also put off by her describing the basket ingredients as "looking like the back seat of her car."  Not an impressive image for a chef.  Russell continues to go up and down - and he is like so many (Vick from years ago) who need to develop a persona in front of the camera to match their culinary genius and off camera charm.  Rodney - the Pie Guy - is doing well, and I loved his enthusiasm as a judge.  Pie style may only take him so far, but I love pie, so I'd like to see more.

Finally, I have to say that Bobby really messed up with the judge's challenge.  The "victory" and exemption that he awarded to Demaris Phillips was a joke - the woman put a condiment on fried cabbage.  And she won?  There was no culinary skill in that act, and it certainly didn't deserve to win.  It may have tasted good, but, really, what's the point here?  This seemed to reveal Bobby's continued and inexplicable affection for the Paula Deens of the world.  Of course, the biggest mistake was that Viet got screwed in this competition.  He took his food - the pickled plums - and actually "made" something out of it - a vinaigrette - and accented his food with it.  A truly delicious looking and sounding creation resulted.  And Bobby dinged him for not making the element the star.  What about what Demaris did?  That was a bogus move Bobby, and it was so flawed, I sensed some jealous payback from the Iron Chef match.

I don't really think Bobby is that petty.  But Demaris is not close to the chef or Food Network Star that Viet can be.

Great week for culinary competition.

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