Next Food Network Star - And Then There Were Three
Curse you, Food Network! You double-crossed me and turned me into a liar! I wrote who my guess was on the winner, and you cut them this week! Ooooh you.....
Anyway, this week, by far, had the coolest and most intimidating challenge yet: Iron Chef
For those of you that don't know, the reality of "Iron Chef" is that the competitors get the "secret ingredient" about a week ahead of time. Seriously. They work out all their dishes, and ingredients before-hand, and they've no doubt practiced the hour-drill a couple of dozen times before the cameras roll. The ORIGINAL Iron Chef (Japanese-Style) did their menus on the spot, but even THAT was only in the early episodes. PLUS, only ONE of each dish has to be completed in the hour. They plate the rest of them after the buzzer sounds. Our little Reality-TV experiments were given an hour to create THREE (as opposed to Iron Chef's 5) dishes, their cuisine had to fit into their "style", they had to plate all 12 (3 dishes x 4 judges) in the allotted time. AND, that was only 50% of the challenge! They were split into two 1-on-1 battles, and the contestants NOT cooking had to provide color-commentary for Alton Brown himself!
Battle Striped Bass - Rory vs. Paul
Rory: Strengths - Big Rack; Weaknesses - Her gianormous gums; Style - "Real Food for Real People"
Paul: Strengths - Fabulous; Weaknesses - Prone to feminine bouts of TomFoolery; Style - "Parties on a Budget"
Both of them did surprisingly well in the food area. I'll tell you what, guest judges Bobby Flay and Cat Cora had IMMENSELY insightful comments this week. I really felt like I was tasting their dishes from the descriptions they gave. Paul did something I love, though - he gave the approximate prices of his dishes! The judges weren't impressed.
During the commentary battle, it was hard to pick out the bigger trainwreck. Paul was intimidated by Alton's encyclopedic knowledge of food, and he apparently likes to throw pity parties because he hasn't gone to culinary school. Neither has RACHAEL RAY, chowderhead! He tried to answer humorously, but an improv comic he's not. "Pilot to Base! We're Hit! We're goin' Down in Flames!"
Rory, on the otherhand, apparently thought it would please the judges if she told Alton Brown he was a big-mouth! And then, of course, she tried to sell it with a humungously toothy grin. Jersey thinks you're obnoxious, friend, and they don't appreciate you trying to play "Texan" when you've only been there for a year.
Battle Chicken - Jag vs. Amy
Jag: Strengths - Speedy Gonzales in the Kitchen; Weaknesses - Low, low patience; Style - Latin Fusion
Amy: Strengths - Smart, trained chef; weaknesses - Oh I don't know, maybe that SHE QUIT LAST WEEK AND THEY TALKED HER OUT OF IT!; Style - Gourmet Quitter Next Door
Amy actually looked great in the kitchen, and her dishes seemed sound. She passed onto the next round fairly easily, especially because her color commentary was good AND she even read ingredient boxes to get answers for Alton.
Now Jag... pretty much was the star of the episode. Because of his tendency to act like a Line Cook on Crank, he was the heavy favorite. And he CHOKED. His food was lousy, his commentary was lousy, it was bad bad BAD. And that is PRECISELY the thing that saved him this week. You see, he's not very good. "Raw", as they say in FoodNetwork-lingo. He needs time and experience in front of the camera. He's barely squeaked by the last couple of weeks. He needed a shot in the arm. And he got it in the form of embarrassing himself (as did Amy the week before!).
He set the smoke alarms off. He overspiced something and forgot to spice something else. He made the judges hate him.
And then he cried. But don't get me wrong. These were the tears of the heart-broken. He had failed in front of his idol, Bobby Flay (by the way, everybody BUT Jag called him "Bobby"; to Jag, he was "Chef Flay"), and soon realized he had dishonored his cuisine on basic cable. And further still, Ex-Marine Jag had no choice but to cry on the shoulder of his new gay friend Paul. It was as if someone had scripted the whole episode.
Jag drama'd himself to victory. Remember when that kid in college missed the tying shot, and hid his head in his shirt and cried. THAT kid got national attention, an outpouring of support, and guest-spots on Letterman and Leno. Our hearts go out to the poor schmuck that's landed on his face. So while the Food Network brought us down to the wire, whether or not to ditch Jag or Paul, I don't think anybody was fooled. See ya Paul. For the first time in your life, you weren't dramatic ENOUGH.
Next week: The final 3 get one step closer to America's Vote and MY DREAMJOB!