Sunday, June 8, 2014

Next Food Network Star 2014, Luca Loses Out

OK, as I noted last week, the primary and non-negotiable component of being a "Food Network Star" is that you have to be able to cook. And Luca Dell Casa could do that. But Kenny Lao proved twice tonight that his skills in the kitchen are suspect. Yet, Luca was eliminated because he "never looked at the camera." That's a bit of a shame because Kenny really should have lost out and gone home in Episode Two. If a man does not know how to cook a roux, and creates such a mistake that the next contestant had to fix it - as Areyan had to do - then he certainly can't make another mistake like not heating his pan until he has five minutes left to cook a fish, and still be allowed to continue. Period.

A quick note on the mistake that Areyan had to fix: yes, Lenny should have helped her when he knew how to fix the mistake. The poll on screen that had 60% of respondents saying "no" is sad - it's not that kind of "Survivor" mentality, and Lenny didn't lose out by helping her. Certainly, when both Bobby and Alton praised her, Areyan could have done the polite thing and acknowledged the help she received. But that doesn't mean Lenny was cheated or should avoid helping a chef in need. That's simply kitchen etiquette.

And what was with that obsessive focus on Sarah Penrod in the first half of the show? For some reason - probably because she is blond and attractive and "pageanty" as Alton called her, or maybe because she exudes "drama" like Demaris did last season - the camera was fixed on Sarah. In fact, for the unfamiliar viewer, it seemed as if Sarah was actually the narrator of the show. Of course, I guess she has her fans back in Dallas. But while Sarah improved from last week, it wasn't by much. The presentation of "turkey burger meat loaf" with a side of potatoes as a "date night meal" was about as bland and disappointing as any presentation I've seen on NFNS.

As far as the others: I am not as annoyed by Cowboy Lenny as I was last week, and he doesn't seem as crass as Rodney "Pie-in-the-Face" Henry was last season. But I don't think the Food Network needs another personality like Lenny. They already have enough over-the-top man personalities on the show, especially those that cook and promote unhealthy foods. That said, his crab cake and Waldorf salad looked quite divine, and he should stick around … but tone it down, Kenny.  Nicole Gaffney continues to impress with her quality skills and easy going nature. I'd sit around her kitchen, listening to her talk food all night. The same goes for the farm-to-table voice of Emma Frisch - she is so easy to listen to, and even Iron Chef Alex Guarnaschelli said she was just "so easy to listen to and follow." I disagree with the criticism that she was too soft and lulled people to sleep. TV chef Sarah Moulten has made a career  with that easy going, almost toneless, instruction - and Sarah has a much whinier voice.

So, Luca was not meant to be a FNS - apparently "looks aren't everything on the Food Network." And Kenny is pretty obviously going out next. Stay tuned.

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