Monday, July 18, 2016

Food Network Star - Ana Goes Home; Tregaye Somehow Stays

OK, let's be clear about last night's Food Network Star:  Tregaye failed one challenge and put in a mediocre performance on the other - yet somehow she was not eliminated. As the show narrowed to the final three (excepting the inevitable return of someone from Star Salvation), Cuban chef Ana Quincoces was sent home despite putting in her consistently talented cooking and her best camera performance yet. Clearly, the judges have concluded they never liked Ana or her point of view, and they are determined to give the show to the loud-and-over-the-top personality of Tregaye. In reality, the only remaining chef who should ever be considered a Food Network Star is Italian Damiano Carrera. The Food Network needs to remember who watches its programming. Damiano has wide appeal for a Food Network audience - the other two finalists do not.

In watching Tregaye's on-camera moments, I was struck again by how obnoxious she can be, and that was nowhere more evident than in that awkward spot she did with her husband. Sadly, in her post-scene comments she complained her Boo "wasn't saying anything," and that simply revealed how pathetically unaware she is of her excessive on-camera Tregaye-ness. She hogs a camera, never stops talking, loses track of time, isn't really cognizant of what she is saying, and turns off many Food Network viewers. She really is the perfect example of a Millennial social media personality who is popular on Vine and YouTube, but never really appropriate for prime-time. In fact, she has already found her niche market - online, live streaming that twenty-somethings can watch on their phone for a few minutes. And if Bobby and Giada are determined  to name her the winner in the naive hope of expanding the Food Network's trusted audience, then an online format is the only place for her. And, final thought: What was with the parfait for dessert? My ten-year-old makes those for herself. That's not a FNS-quality product. So, basically, Tregaye failed one task and only did one of two dishes for the second task, and she got away with that. Weak.

As far as the others are concerned: Jenard Wells is absolutely forgettable - that is when he's not making me uncomfortable. And the spot he did with his wife didn't help with that image. Certainly, Jernard can cook, though his comments about being "hurt" by the judges not liking "his gumbo" which he has been making for years was a bit pathetic. Jernard, that wasn't "your traditional gumbo," as you clearly noted. So you had to wing it in the time allotted, and it didn't work out that well. Get over it, bud. And the "steak sauce" element to the gumbo? How were the judges not completely turned off by his cooking mistakes? Jernard will simply not be a popular and widely known Food Network Star, and there is no real reason to reward him with that status if the Food Network can't use him to grow its programming. On the other hand, Damiano meets that need and goal. The Food Network execs could send him anywhere, anytime, and he would charm an audience and smoothly accomplish the task.

Which, of course, leaves Ana out of the show - unless she can knock out Monterey and Yaku on Star Salvation. While I can see why the judges sent Ana home with a solid performance that was "too little, too late," I don't think she got a fair shake in this competition. She was the only one who was cooking out of her comfort zone, and she did well. I disagree with the judges who didn't like her Cuban twist on St. Patrick's Day - isn't that the point of all these challenges? Bobby Flay regularly spices up traditional foods on his show Beat Bobby Flay. In fact, that's the disappointing part: judges always know which dish is Bobby's because he puts chilis and heat in everything. But that wins him competitions while Ana gets criticized. So, if you develop a signature POV which puts on spin on the expected, that should make you a FNS. But not in Ana's case. As far as her performances are concerned, Ana gets dinged by the judges for not being a clown. In the classic paradoxical thinking of this show, Bobby Flay warned Jernard against "being a caricature of himself," but then eliminated Ana for not being flashy and showy and, let's be honest, obnoxious enough. Some of Tregaye's and Jernard's "antics" that have the judges like Tai Mowry laughing and clapping are really quite crass - and they are not the general fare of the Food Network. Even Damiano has to act like a bit of a buffoon - which causes him to speak too fast - just so he will appear "lively" enough for the judges. That is the one sad part of Jeff Mauro's story. He became a FNS and got himself on a show like The Kitchen - but he's not himself like he is on his sandwich show. He has to clown it up, just to keep the execs happy. Back in the day, Emeril shouting "Bam!" was good fun on the Food Network. Now, everyone feels like they have to set their hair on fire like Guy Fieri.

Perhaps, someday the Food Network Star will return to classy, stylish, sophisticated shows about cooking and food culture. Until then, good cooks like Ana who could have a sweet show about Cuban cooking with her daughter are told they have to "Goof it up or go home." And true foodies who made the Food Network what it is are left disappointed by "stars" like Tregaye and Lenny.


Dan H said...

Yeah watching Tregaye fail upwards on this show was upsetting. Also watching Jernard clown around with the uncomfortable chef of love routine was painful. My favorite final four would be Damiano, Yaku (warm, direct and smart--of course he was axed early on), Ana (especially with her daughter) and Erin (at least until she lost it over some criticism). I felt the same way when They seemed to be pushing Rodney the pie guy on us---thank goodness the viewers were allowed to vote that season and choose the genuinely charming Damaris.

If only we could have voted this year!!!

Anonymous said...

You just dont like the fact the Blacks come with pizazz and character. Ana is a dry silicon filled wanna be Kardashian. No one wants to work with her. Glad they sent her ass home. They choose they right winner.