Sunday, June 1, 2014

Food Network's "Next" Food Network Star Returns

After the dismal 2013 season of the Food Network's Next Food Network Star which awarded the title to "Paula Dean Wannabe" Demaris Philips, the star-making show that gave us people like Guy Fieri and Jeff "The Sandwich King" Morrow returned tonight with twelve new Food Network hopefuls.  Our celebrity chef hosts Bobby Flay, Alton Brown, and Giada DeLaurentis return to guide the aspiring stars through weeks of trials where they will prove not only their culinary chops but also their star power and the ability to engage an audience in front of a camera. Having that coveted "point of view" which can be marketed is the key. Of course, the primary focus of this opening show is "Can They Cook?" Certainly, time in front of the camera can be awkward and take some practice. But if someone can't cook, that person can't be a star on the Food Network.

In the opening episode, the contestants were given a shot to offer their point of view in a minute or less - and that went well for some and not for others. You would think they would expect this, but it apparently caught some off guard. That said, it's not worth talking about how bad some where. Because the next task was to prepare their own "perfect bite" and then sell it in a red-carpet affair with celebrity host, E's Ross Matthews. This format is an imperative, with some really shining or redeeming themselves, and others struggling to connect. It was a perfect window into the potential of this year.

My personal bias is against the "Cowboy Chef" because while it was clear that he can cook, I am not a fan of the over-the-top, loud and crass personality that reminds me of last year's debacle of a finalist, Rodney "The Pie Guy." I really hope the "farm-to-table" girl Emma gets a chance to re-deem herself, because her message is real, and the hosts were too critical of the all-natural message. It is not too tired or cliche, and we need more press about it. Chris Kyler has a lot of potential, and I am impressed with the food of both Kenny and Chris. But it was definitely time for Donna to go home, and Sarah is not long for the competition.

Can't wait to see how it all turns out. My early predictions are for Loreal and Nicole. Luca and Rubin will be good challengers as well.

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