Sunday, June 30, 2013

Next Food Network Star - Viet Goes Home

For a young culinary artist who once bested Bobby Flay on the Iron Chef, Viet Pham has been so underwhelming on the Food Network's Next Food Network Star competition that the judges were finally left with no choice but to end his run at the title.  Underground chef Russell lived to cook another day, but only because the judges felt his "throw to commercial" saved him.  That concession to Russell seems pretty weak, especially because there is little doubt that Viet could cook Russell right out of the kitchen.  Though, clearly neither of these two men was ever going to win the competition to host his own show on the Food Network.

The winner this week was Stacy who absolutely nailed her live presentation from the grill with a couple of butchers.  Strangely, Food Network head of programming Bob Tuchman actually admonished her for being "too perfect."  He actually asked her to reveal "some imperfection" in the kitchen.  What the heck, Bob?  That's the worst bit of commentary I've ever heard from Bob, and it was completely unnecessary.  As a viewer I might be looking for some humanity and something to connect with or relate to, but I am certainly not looking for a Food Network Star to reveal imperfection.  The comments on Stacy should simply have been, "Excellent job this week. You're safe."

The fascination with keeping Demaris Phillips around continues to baffle me - and actually bother me quite a bit.  Demaris is not cute, not sweet, not engaging, certainly not sexy, and, by no means an exceptional chef.  She is a southern woman - period.  And if the Food Network wants another southern female chef, they should just hire someone.  Demaris is not it.  What did she even "cook" this week?  She made some sort of cocktail that she couldn't even identify and explain - and which she apparently had help with.  Keeping Demaris around is a huge mistake - and an insult to a skilled chef like Viet.

The rest of the field is interesting ... and not. Nikki clearly has a point of view, and it was impressive to see her pull off the fried chicken.  Clearly, she is a bit ameteur-ish, and there certainly isn't a Bobby Flay authority with Nikki.  But she can cook, and she is sweet and engaging on camera.  Chad is still Chad - competent and mildly entertaining.  Chris can cook, but probably won't bring it all home.  And, Rodney continues to be ... strange.  He's clearly not a skilled chef, and he has a very limited point of view.  None of his offerings have been impressive, and his presentations are, at best, too much Rodney.  

Nice week for Stacy - probably the Next Food Network Star.  Keep it up, Nikki and Chad.  And, Demaris, please go away.

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