Food Network Star Recap: They’ve Got Some ‘Splainin To Do

 

First things first:

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For commenter James H.

To answer the question left by the premiere recap, yes, the vagina table is back this season.

So episode two is going to be all about the teaching.  The contestants need to show that they can explain to viewers how to cook, so the viewers can actually make the dish.  Not a bad idea — if you ever read the comments on any Food Network recipe, an astounding number of people claim that the dish does not work as promised.  Of course, most of these people also “tweak” the dish by say, leaving the apples out of the apple pie and substituting zucchini instead, then complaining that the dish isn’t sweet enough.  But I digress.

So the contestants enter the kitchen and are met by Alton.  He tells them that they need to teach him, as the cook, the steps to make a green bean casserole.  Nobody asks the correct question, which is “why the fuck would you want to make something so disgusting?”  Instead, they talk to the camera about how good they think they will be at teaching.

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Getting ready to teach Alton a thing or two.

Lenny is up first, and walks Alton through the complicated process of trimming green beans and throwing them in boiling water. Chris then instructs Alton on the art of dicing an onion.  However, since the point of the onions is to be french-fried and scattered over the top of this abomination known as green bean casserole, Crazy-Eyes Sarah then instructs Alton to totally disregard the onions and instead has him make a different, fried version.  Oh, just open a can of Durkee’s and call it a day.  Let’s just say Sarah’s move is not going to endear her to Chris.

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Let me guess, you didn’t come here to make friends?

Next up, Luca.  He uses the accent and brings up an Italian grandmother, and that’s all it takes.  Alton may not want to throw his panties at Luca quite as much as Giada does, but he’s clearly charmed.  Ruben once again has to follow Luca.  This really sucks for Ruben.  It also sucks that he has apparently never made a green bean casserole before.  I mean, in my view, that is a point of pride, but it does make it a little tougher to instruct someone in the “art” of cooking one.  So Ruben tells Alton to add chicken stock to the sautéing mushrooms without first having him add the flour, and from the reactions of his fellow contestants, you’d think he suggested chopping up puppies and adding them to the mix.  They freak out and squeal to each other “the sauce is going to be lumpy!” with the same level of urgency Paul Revere used for his announcement about the British.

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Forever to be known as the “lumpy gravy-maker”

So it falls to Aryen, as next up, to correct the dish.  She has no idea what to do, and Lenny gives her the solution, but Alton gives her the credit for it.

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Who’s got two thumbs and is pissed that Aryen took credit for his skills?  This guy!

The remaining contestants needs to teach Alton to make chicken-fried steak, and again, I ask why?  If you’ve got a good steak, don’t crap it up by breading and frying it within an inch of its life.  And if it’s the fried you want, then fry your chicken.  (Before all of the Southern readers decide to boycott my recaps for life, I do like fried pickles, sweet tea and barbecue.)  Chris is up first, and it turns out he has to instruct Alton in butchering a slab of beef.  Loreal, the butcher, is jealous.  She comes up next and starts off by criticizing the butchering.  Competing with Sarah for the not-here-to-make-friends crown, are we?  But she’s much better than Sarah, mixing her cooking instructions with tips and tricks.

Nicole is next, who you may remember as the fish girl.  (Not like that, you pervs!)  She quickly and easily walks Alton through the process of dredging and breading something, and Crazy-Eyes Sarah is impressed, stating in an interview “I’m going to have to keep my eye on her.”  I think Sarah’s staked Nicole out as her competition since the moment she walked in looking prettier than Sarah.  The funny thing is that I don’t think Nicole is even aware of Sarah, so this whole competitive thing is completely in Sarah’s head.  Her crazy, crazy, pageant girl head.

Emma is up next.  You may remember that she is a culinary instructor, so you would expect this to be her sweet spot.  And she’s OK for an instructor, but not for a TV instructor, with her soft voice and her comfort with long silences.  Next up, Kenny, who instructs Alton in the fine art of making gravy.  He, like Ruben before him, manages to make it lumpy, and again, the contestants act like he’s just expressed a preference for eating babies.

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You like texture in your gravy, right?

At the end of the challenge, luckily, we don’t have to view the final, disgusting product of this exercise.  Instead, Alton compliments them all and singles Aryen out for particular praise, based on the tip she got from Lenny.

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It’s not cheating unless they find out.

Giada and Bobby then join Alton to deliver the next challenge — which will be an elimination challenge.  The contestants will, one by one, be presented with common household ingredients and will have 15 minutes to present to camera while cooking and instructing on a dish in that time.  Crazy-eyes terms it the “Food Network Hunger Games,” but unless she’s thinking her district is going to parachute in recipes, I think she’s just using a phrase she heard somewhere and doesn’t understand.

We learn the twist to this challenge is that, unbeknownst to the contestants, Iron Chef Alex Guaranschelli will be watching their video and preparing the dish along with them.  The judges will then taste both dishes.  This is actually a really good way to see how well these guys can communicate.

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Except that I’m a much better cook than the average viewer, bitch.

So Lenny is up first, and makes a crab cake and coleslaw.  Alex loves his personality, and his cooking and instructional skills.  And I agree.  I just wish he’d leave the stupid hat and neckerchief at home.    Aryen then presents a Brazilian beef stew.  Both Alex and the actual judges raise an eyebrow at her addition of cream but they like her.  Sure, who cares if she can cook?  And in fact, she can’t.  The judges dislike it.

Loreal is up next and presents a pretty salad.  She tells us that she feels she has to slow down and be clearer.  And she is, but in the process, she loses all her personality, walking through th recipe like a zombie.  The judges like her food and her instructional skills, but tell her they want the real Loreal back.

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So you want me to actually look at the camera, then?

By contrast, Ruben talks at us a mile a minute, and his Cuban accent becomes thicker and thicker.  Alex claims to be getting lost trying to follow his directions, and doubts a home cook could keep up.  He also presents the judges with rubbery scallops, so not looking good for old Ruben.  Nicole does a little better, in my opinion, creating a couscous salad and mixing in great tips.  But the judges find her low-energy.  They do not find Chris low-eneergy.  He bops around the kitchen, chattering away, having a great time and chroming viewers, but gets so scattered that he ends up not finishing his wonton dish by the end of the 15 minutes.

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You’d still rather watch me than Guy Fieri, though.

The biggest disappointment is Luca.  He is making a tuna dish, but never looks at the camera once.  Alex says, ‘I just had a cooking lesson with Luca’s scalp.”  Luca, you’ve got to know that your looks are your key in the competition.  And the top of your head is not your best angle.

Cooking instructor Emma continues to be very clear, but her voice stays quiet and unexcited.  Not what the Food Network wants. Next up, Chris.  He presents roasted chicken breast on a romaine salad, but is so busy showing off what an expert he is, he doesn’t actually instruct the viewer on how to cook what he’s cooking.

And now it’s time for Crazy-eyes.  Don’t ask me why, but she looks at the ingredients on offer and decides her best “date night” dish will be a turkey burger and mashed potatoes.  And, to add insult to injury, her turkey burger apparently sucks.  Maybe her angle is “last date night”?  Like, the meal you get dumped over?

Kenny proposes an awesome-sounding meal of sea bass and pesto, but waits until the last minute to get things cooking, then can’t turn on his burner, and accordingly presents no food to the judges.  He whines about it backstage for quite some time.

Judging time!  Yes, yes, at the vagina table.  But no, no Network People this episode.  All of them come in for some kind of criticism.  Giada sounds on the verge of tears when instructing Luca on the need to present to camera, and Alton lectures Kenny on being able to take mishaps in stride.  To his credit, Kenny pipes up and acknowledges that the problem was caused by his waiting until the last minute to start heating his pan, and the judges compliment his maturity in recognizing that.

So top honors go to Lenny, which feels good to him after his genius was unacknowledged in Alton’s earlier competition.  Bottom three are Kenny and Chris (who failed to get food on the plate) and Luca.  Wow.  Did not see that coming!  Yes, he was dull as dishwater on camera, but sending the eye candy home in the second episode?  And yes, that’s what ends up happening.  I can only assume that he spurned Giada’s advances, and this is his punishment.

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Should have let her give me that hand job.

As for our punishment, it looks like next week’s episode is going to be based on Cutthroat Kitchen.  So nothing to do with the actual job, but a way to ensure lots of personal drama.  See you all then!