Monday, June 27, 2005

The Next Food Network Star - Finale

Dear god folks. First it was Gilmore Girls and their evil 30 seconds over and now the Food Network is on the gravy train of letting their show run over it's allotted time. Not just run over, but timed so my beloved DVR would cut off at precisely the moment Emeril was announcing the winner. BLEAH!!!!!!!!!

Let's backtrack here to the start of the special hour and a half episode. It was down to the final four. Their challenge was to do a segment with some bald dude on the Early Show. It starts with Hans, who I am loving more and more every day. Hans knocks it out of the ballpark, being his usual informative self and really engaging Harry Smith (CBS bald dude) in helping make his dishes. I am, however, noticing every meal Hans makes include either grits or spaetzle. Next up is EvilSuzanne. The happily married woman beckons Harry to kiss her, again and again. She then tells him he smells good. Is she looking to trade up? You be the judge. That being said she does involve Harry in putting together the food. But it's all I-lost-87-pounds blah-de-blah that she's been spouting for the whole series. I hate her approach to food because it is really all about hating food. It's about viewing food as either medicine (ooh low carb, high fiber!) or poison (bread, fat, sugar!). Fuck that shit. So Dan and Steve are next and seem so involved in their bad schtick they forget that Harry is there. I wish they could stick with the basics. Last up is FakeDeborah. The actress/chef to the celebrities continues her fake, fake, fakery. She is still Paige Davis with a lobotomy. And she gets worse because the woman seems incapable of giving basic information. Her most egregious example of that was when she was asked how long to cook her pork chops and she said "cook it until it's done." Not only that she admonishes the audience to always make sure their pork is completely cooked (well, duh, trichonisis).

In the judging Hans and the gay duo move into the second round. And it's down to EvilSuzanne or FakeDeborah. And EvilSuzanne gets eliminated. THANK GOD.

So the next challenge is where the contestants are given 16 ingredients of which they need to use at least seven of them in at least two dishes. They have an hour to prepare the dish and will be required to demo it. Hans kicks it hard with his dishes making four - some beet thingy, some salmon thingy, some shrimp thingy and the invariable spaetzle. As brilliant as Hans is in conceiving recipes, this packed menu requires him to speak so quickly that only dogs and certain species of shrimp can divine what he's saying. He kinda goes down in flames. Dan and Steve make their signature salmon Wellington and a shrimp cocktail with a cocktail sauce. They seem to be less cheesy about this demo. I think having a dish they know is a hit gives them a better rapport. FakeDeborah soon becomes EvilDeborah by cribbing the salmon in puff pastry concept. Her demo is typical Deborah, stilted and fake.

Breaking J's heart, Hans is eliminated. We come back from the elimination with the fakety, fake, fake presence of Rachel Ray. She talks about the importance of a tagline - "Hi I'm Rachel Ray and I'm here to make 30 minute meals." We see her do a 7 1/2 minute version of her 30 minute meals. It's typically cheesy and affected. The one hilarious part of her segment was her little confessional about Sara Moulton telling her to paste a smile on her face not matter what. I can only say that only works for Sara Moulton because you can totally tell Sara is freaking out inside when things go wrong.

So we then see they final cooking segments from Dan and Steve and EvilDeborah. Dan and Steve make a lobster potpie.

Dan and Steve
The good - fun rapport. I like when they call each other out on being cheeseballs (Dan when he tries to fake a Maine accent and Steve when he goes on and on about pie dough). The potpie looks easy and accessible. Their tagline was clear and catchy.
The bad - They need to look UP. A lot of looking down at the food. Also they didn't show enough. Steve talked the viewer through making piecrust but he never showed how to do it. If you aren't going to walk us through that, just tell us to use bought pie dough or puff pastry. Also, a beet salad just magically appeared at the end to complement the potpie. This would be acceptable if this was something they you would buy premade but they said they MADE it.

The good - She made food. It was fairly easy to follow.
The bad - Look UP. She was her usual irritating self. But also, her tendency to rave about what she was making got in the way of actual information. She almost never gave out measurements. and her father's secret spice? This is a cooking show. The rest of us don't have your father's secret spice. either tell us how to make our own secret spice or shut up.

After frantically combing spoiler boards for the winner, I was relieved but underwhelmed to see it was Dan and Steve. I think they have the skills to have a good show but their concept is boring. There are tons of shows on the Food Network about entertaining. Barefoot Contessa, Michael Chiarello, Giada DeLaurentiis. What would be really interesting is to see a CATERER put thing together. What are the tricks of the trade to make sure that everything's ready by the time people want to come of the table? How do you cook for a crowd? I wish they would create a show around the tools caterers use and how we mortals can translate them to our cooking. But I am not a Food Network exec. If I were, Hans would be the Next Food Network Star.


anapestic said...

It's hard to blame Dan and Steve for all the shortcuts when they were given about five minutes of air time for their pilot. You can't show very much in that amount of time, and most Food Network viewers probably already know how to make pie dough. I wish Hans had been the other finalist, and I think that he was eliminated based on a contest that had not much to do with how a real show would go. Deborah really brought nothing to the table except a smile.

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