Food Network Star Recap: Tiny Kitchens Are Funny

Last episode, we lost Luca, to my great surprise. But you commenters are smarter than I am, and have figured out that eliminating Luca sends the sexy Italian to Food network’s ridiculous Star Salvation, and therefore increases the chance that we’ll log on to their website in order to keep watching the sexy Italian. Sorry, Susie Fogelson. Still not gonna watch it.

Meanwhile, however, the actual contestants, sans Luca, head into the test kitchen to find they are in an episode of Cutthroat Kitchen. This is another Food Network show (you can hear The Network chanting, “Synergy! Synergy!”), hosted by Alton, in which contestants can bu various tricks and traps to sabotage their fellow contestants in a cooking competition. The people I feel sorry for are the judges, who end up having to eat the revolting results without knowing, for instance, that one chef had all his flour stolen, and thus became an unwilling representative of the gluten-free contingent in baking his cake. So I guess the fun of this contest comes from watching our contestants try to sabotage each other, and gang up on the contestant (Lenny) they consider (Lenny) to be the biggest threat. Hint: starts with L, ends with enny, and wears a gigantic cowboy hat.

First group is Loreal, Chris, Chris, Nicole, and Aryen. They are assigned to make spaghetti and meatballs. Chris 1, who we learn was a contestant on the actual Cutthroat (synergggyyyy), explains that he’s grabbing all kinds of options, never knowing how he’ll be sabotaged. Nicole, who has not been a Cutthroat contestant, forgets to grab pasta. So that should make the “spaghetti” part a little more challenging.

Sabotaging. Loreal buys a pasta spoon, which she gets to have taped to Chris’ hand for the entirety of the challenge.

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So I can use this as a backscratcher, too?

Alton next brings out three grinders — hand grinder, spice grinder and a snow-cone machine. The successful bidder can make three fellow contestants grind their meat with those machines. So Chris 1 gets it and immediately revenges himself by giving the snow cone machine to Loreal. The hand grinder to Nicole, and the spice grinder goes to Chris 2.

Mess ensues. Loreal is, unsurprisingly, less than successful in grinding her meat in a machine made for Snoopy snow cones. So she dumps a ton of cheese and alcohol into the mix. Normally, I’d be a big fan of cheese and alcohol, but this is not looking like an improvement.

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If this doesn’t work, she’s going to set it on fire.

Random interruption by Alton, bidding off the right to make one contestant stop their work and stomp grapes. Really? This is a cooking show? These sabotages seem one step up from getting slimed on Nickolodeon. So Nicole is forced to stomp grapes, thanks to Loreal. She’s a little bitchy about it too, making clear that she’s doing it to laugh at Nicole looking less than elegant. As soon as Nicole is released from stomping duty, she rushes back to try to create some sort of gnocchi substitute from cheese and flour.

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Grape-stomping.  A skill every Food Network host needs.

Aryen is trying to make a spicy penne, recognizing that her “international” angle has thus for resulted in uninteresting and bland food. So let’s see how that works out for her, as the clock counts down.

Bobby Flay is the judge, joined by some dude who is apparently a regular judge on Cutthroat. So they don’t know what sabotages may have happened in the kitchen, and are supposedly judging the dishes on their own merits.

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Random Cutthroat Kitchen judge, dreading what he’s going to have to eat.

First up, Chris 2, the New Orleans guy, who presents his Bloody Mary version of spaghetti and meatballs. His dish goes over well. Chris 1, the Cutthroat veteran, presents a meatball with elk and pork shoulder. His presentation is rambling and ends up cutoff for time. So the judges like the food, hate him.

Nicole presents her meatballs and “bread crumb gnocchi,” which she tries to link to her Jersey Shore background. Bobby tells her she should have made a meatball with fish. Bobby is wrong.  Next up, Aryen. Her presentation is great, but her dish is far too spicy to eat.


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First too bland, now too spicy.  I’m like Goldilocks over here.

Finally, Loreal presents her dish with a wink, which comes off as annoying and fake, and Bobby focuses right in on the unpleasant texture of the meatballs.

Before we find out who won in that group, we have to watch the next group (Lenny, Ruben, Emma, Crazy-eyes Sarah and Kenny) prepare a breakfast plate. Contestants scramble to gdb ingredients. Kenny starts grabbing fruit, deciding he wants a sweet breakfast, while Crazy-eyes grabs for salsa, cilantro and everything else Southwestern, telling us her “date night” philosophy is to cook for someone, and here, she’s cooking for Bobby Flay.

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I accept this sandwich as a sign Bobby and I are meant for each other.  Why are you laughing at me?

Immediately after the contestants return with their baskets, Alton gives them the opportunity to bid on bacon. The successful bidder can force three contestants to swap out their bacon for the bacon contained in a BLT, a Cobb salad and a platter of chocolate-covered bacon. Kenny jumps at it, and passes the chopped, stale and chocolate-covered bacons to Lenny, Crazy-eyes and Emma, respectively. Interestingly, Kenny shows his awareness of his level in the competition by explaining that he expects to be competing with Crazy-eyes for the bottom, and hopes to sabotage her.

Sabotage Item #2: the little kitchen. This is apparently famous in Cutthroat World; it’s like Playskool-sized, with teeny-weeny little bowls and pans, teeny-tiny utensils, and a wee little stove. This is what the Keebler Elves use to make their cookies. Lenny, correctly guessing that every other contestants can’t wait to stick Lenny in the mini-kitchen, quickly bids his entire stack of cash to win the kitchen. He sticks Cuban Ruben with the My First Kitchen handicap, and the breakfast contest is on.

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Tiny kitchen.  Ruben show actual size.

Emma decides to embrace her chocolate-covered bacon by making a fried sandwich of buratta cheese with the bacon and chocolate. Sounds like something Elvis would have created a song about. Ruben is being an incredibly good sport about his mini-kitchen, trying to boil up potatoes for a sausage-bacon-hash kind of thing, while his teeny-weeny can only fit one potato at a time. And Kenny . . . oh Kenny. He’s decided to make a breakfast on-the-go, which is a good idea, but decided against the standard yogurt-fruit parfait, in favor of stuffing a pancake, eggs, bacon, fruit compote and cream into a jar. This sounds really bad, and not in the “so bad it’s good” kind of way.

Everyone is scrambling, but of course, Alton has to interrupt them again, this time with a smoothie bike, which is an Exercycle with a blender attached. Much like Nicole and the grapes, the winner can force another contestant to interrupt their work long enough to pedal the bike, power the blender, and create a smoothie. Is anyone the least bit surprised that Lenny ends up a-pedalin’? The sole surprise is that it is Emma who sends him. Guess she’s not as sweet as she looks.

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Add your own “Yee Haw” sounds effects here.

Cooking, pedaling, scrambling. I giggle every time they show Ruben hunched over in the mini-kitchen, which comes up to about his shins. Lenny finishes his smoothie and rushes back to try to roll out a friend corn tortilla, which he serves with an egg. Kenny notices how ugly his dish looks as he shoves jelly, pancakes and eggs into a glass, but doesn’t seem to make the logical leap to that it probably tastes like crap, too. So we’ll wait for the judges to tell him so, I guess.

Oh, and they do. Bobby starts off with the understatements that there’s a lot going on in the glass. He mentions that he doesn’t know what sabotages Kenny may have faced, which is awesome, because Kenny had no sabotages at all. This fuckup is 100% totally Kenny.

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A tip: When your dish looks like this, it’s probable that things won’t end well.

The judges love Emma’s dish, which she relates to vacations in the Alps, and her presentation as well. Ruben presents a little dish with sausage, bacon and fiend eggs over a mashed potato. The judges like the dish, but he’s criticized for how small it is. Tee hee, small. Tiny kitchen, represent!

Crazy eyes presents to the judges by telling them she’s cooking this “breakfast in bed” especially for Bobby. Everyone laughs, but Bobby is clearly wondering about the availability of protective orders in the region. Sarah’s dish takes a backseat to the level of crazy that is Sarah.

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Seriously guys, she keeps staring at me.  Can we get security in here?

And finally, we have Cowboy Lenny. He presents his “egg pie” with salsa, and tells a convoluted story about chuck wagons. I think the point of it is that cowboys won’t eat quiche, but they will if you call the same dish egg pie. And it looks like judges will eat and enjoy egg pie too. But, remember the tortilla thing Lenny was working on? Bobby Flay spits it out! Sarah smirks, telling us that “Lenny, we just sunk your battleship.” Jigga-wha? OK, let’s unpack everything that’s wrong with that sentence. Lenny’s cowboy shtick has zero to do with battleships. Maybe you shot his horse, or snapped his lasso, or doused his campfire? Oh, and by the way, you did nothing. Much like Kenny’s abortion of a breakfast, the fuckup is not the result of sabotage, but 100% Lenny. And finally, Sarah is crazy, lest we forget.

So apparently, the contestants have to be regathered at the vagina table for winners and elimination. Giada is still missing, so it’s just Bobby and Alton. They award the winner title for the first heat to Christopher 2, for his Bloody Mary spaghetti. For the second heat, Emma and her chocolate-cheese-bacon sandwich take the win.

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Good Lord, what did Loreal do to her hair? It’s gone from rockabilly chick to “star of an 80’s sitcom.” And she’s dressed in something that Denise Huxtable probably would have worn — some kind of . . . plaster? shortfall? With a black lace choker?

I can’t even. Losers from each heat are Loreal, Chris 1, Lenny and Kenny. And with very little fanfare, the decision is made to send Kenny home. Seeya, dude. I hope someone else does the cooking in your fast casual restaurants.

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And Loser.

Next week, some sort of video challenge that looks truly painful.  See you all then!