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Liveblogging The Next Food Network Star 7.7

(A big shout out goes to the heat wave and the brief power shortage during which I lost more than half of this original post! Nothing like having to do things twice. And speaking of twice…)

As dawn breaks over the palatial mountain stronghold, Jeff busily brushes his teeth, Paul Stanley, looking rather a lot like Medusa, lurches over the 50 foot plank in the centre of the kitchen and slurps emptily at her coffee, Big Chris combs his hair into the signature ridiculous Zippy the Pinhead point in the middle of his head, and Cold Steel Whitney is once again on the telephone. This time it is with her boyfriend, Will, who sounds a good deal like the adults in a Charlie Brown cartoon. He is, it appears, either giving her support or breaking up with her because she is holding back tears but, in that the producers have failed to translate his warbly dialogue into meaningful words at the bottom of the screen, it’s difficult to be sure. It is clear that young Whitney will either be going home this week, since she has been the primary focus of our attention at the beginning of two episodes, or she will win a challenge and be vindicated in the face of another terrifying hour long programme.

Arriving at the Food Star Kitchens, Los Angeles Bureau, Dark Lord Flay welcomes the Padawans to the Food Star Kitchens, Los Angeles Bureau and congratulates them on having made it ‘halfway through the competition.’

‘And there went out a proclamation amongst the host about the middle of the challenge having been reached and a great cry went up from the multitudes that you have just got to be joking because the human mind may only absorb what the human buttocks may endure…’   Gastronomie, 8:12

Lord Flay explains that the ‘Mid-Terms are our chance to assess how you’ve done over the entire competition so far and include it in our evaluations. At the end of this week,’ he continues, ‘two of you will be going home.’ And he holds up two fingers to illustrate his point. FNS7-two Of course he does his with his palm facing inward, not outward. Had he been standing somewhere in the vicinity of professional footballers from, oh let’s just say Manchester United, he would likely have been introduced reasonably swiftly to the business end of a cleated shoe, because those two fingers can also mean a hearty Fuck You.

After the dual elimination, the remaining Padawans (that would be six if you’re checking your score cards at home, and a number Lord Flay does not bother to indicate with his fingers as it would take two hands, unless he’s polydactyl) will be jetted away to New York for the tedious final half of the series.

And there is much rejoicing.

Because this is ‘Mid-Term,’ the Padawans are told they will face their toughest ever…

…what..?

That’s right! Very good!

They must prepare their own individual  ‘signature dish’ in some indeterminate time frame and then, as always, present that dish to the camera (or ‘to camera’ in cool mediaspeak where the definite article is tres blasé ). The twist is, of course, that they must present their signature dish in ‘a two minute cooking demo’ (or ‘demonstration’). Because they each have ‘some issues’ (insert spit take), Lord Flay will walk amongst them whilst they cook and dole out useful criticisms for them to ponder before they step in front of the cameras.

Susie is told to ‘focus’ when she is teaching. However when it comes to demonstrating the creation of a tortilla, she forgets to mention she has made her signature chicken enchilada which then prompts Bob Tuschman to tell her she needs to ‘think logically and clearly and drive with a map in front of you.’ Jeff has a ‘crazy great energy’ but he lacks a certain ‘warmth.’ And when he presents his signature sandwich, not only does he project that warmth but also displays no ‘crazy great energy’ and seems extremely flat.

Jyll is charged by Lord Flay to ‘surprise’ him and stop being so like a news presenter, however her plan of being spontaneous and frantically begging the viewers not to be scared or switch the channel at the very thought of eating raw beef backfires, and the Jedi Council sit stoically. Cold Steel Whitney is told that she, like Jeff, lacks ‘personal warmth’ as well. To combat this issue, she explains to the camera that she has had a personal relationship with gazpacho. Because admitting that you’ve had a personal relationship with a food product always makes you seem warm in a completely not weird or creepy sort of way.

Mary Beth needs to talk to the Jedi Council as if she ‘invented this dish’ (spaghetti) and she does – after her Camera Challenge is complete. Paul Stanley is told simply that she needs to be ‘likable on television,’ for example by not being on it, and then Lord Flay walks away from her. From the depths of the BNR she anguishes over the fact that ‘I’m going into this thinking “I’m not likable”’ a statement which ought to win an Emmy for Most Profound Acknowledgement of the Obvious.FNS7-lon-chaney She also stalks into the room looking a great deal like Lon Chaney in London After Midnight which does very little to endear her to a prospective audience.

That her presentation is somewhat cringe-worthy and scattered towards the end seems to entirely escape her and she queries of Darth Giada ‘Could you see that there was more effort on the likeability?’

‘If you’re not having fun,’ Darth Giada tells her sternly and succinctly, ‘you’re not more likeable.’

Even Lord Flay reflects on her increasing ability to be ‘not good on camera’ and to create good food. ‘But,’ he asks rhetorically, ‘can her food save her one more week?’ ‘Oh please, no,’ is the answer I am hoping for. Internet rumours of her winning and having a programme potentially called The Simple Palate aside, I imagine her show would have less viewers than a television channel sign-off signal.

Vic needs to ‘be an expert,’ Lord Flay suggests. ‘Be a “Big Picture” teacher.’ However, this translates on camera as Vic introducing himself and for two minutes reciting the ingredients and methods used in his signature dish without actually cooking anything. When this fact is pointed out to him by Bob T, Vic says, not to Darth Giada as we saw in the teasers, ‘I feel ya. I’m sorry.’

Channelling Chaka Khan, Bob T cries, ‘No! I feel for you! This is the week we’re sending two people home!’ And he does not hold up two fingers to show how much two is.

Big Chris is not specifically told anything, though his dish is comprised of, as Jeff says, ‘one hundred and twelve components’ and he will needlessly complicate things. Lord Flay, getting nowhere, simply walks away from him as well. Big Chris takes this to mean that he needlessly complicates dishes, so he is out to prove that he can ‘teach a ton of things in two minutes.’ He promptly illustrates just how completely wrong he is by babbling very much like the idiot he is. And when Bob Tuschman explains that ‘When you try to tell us everything, you tell us nothing,’ Big Chris tells him that ‘In two minutes I didn’t really know what to focus on’ and thereby negating his certainty that he could ‘teach a ton of things in two minutes.’

Perhaps not so surprisingly, in that she was the primary focus of our attention at the beginning of two episodes, Cold Steel Whitney stood out as the best amongst the other Padawans in this challenge and, much to her delight, Bob T informs her she will have ‘an advantage in the next challenge.’ At this point, it seems rather unfair as none of the other previous winners have necessarily been given advantages other than when Paul Stanley got to dole out specific dishes to her competitors what feels like last year in episode 2.

FNS7-still-two‘The next challenge,’ Lord flay announces to the assembled Padawans just before they are returned to the palatial mountain stronghold to rest up after an arduous 11 minute day and because doing everything at once doesn’t satisfactorily prolong the agony, ‘is gonna decide which two of you will be going home.’ And, once again, he  holds up two fingers to indicate how many two is.

***

Later the next afternoon, there is a knock on the entrance to the palatial mountain stronghold and Lord Flay sweeps in. ‘Bobby Flay is in the house – literally,’ Big Chris gleefully and pointlessly tells us from the solitude of the BNR. And then, if not slightly prophetically, he says ‘We know something’s about to go down!’

‘Alright,’ Lord Flay tells them, ‘your challenge today is to create an over-the-top, extravagant dinner party, here, tonight.’ But this will be no ordinary over-the-top, extravagant dinner party. It will be an over-the-top extravagant dinner party for the entire Jedi Council – including the sporadically absent Susie Fogelson – and Emperor Wolfgang Puck just like the title Dinner Party for Wolfgang Puck and the teasers have indicated. Each of the Padawans will be responsible for one dish, however they will not be sent out to shop. Rather, they must utilise whatever ingredients are currently on hand in the kitchen at the palatial mountain stronghold. And for some ridiculous reason, the decor of the dinner party, which really hasn’t got anything at all to do with anyone being a possible Next Food Network Star, will also be taken into account by the Jedi Council, and so Mary Beth and her new BFF Paul Stanley volunteer to do the shopping for that portion of the challenge.

Big Chris, again from the BNR, is confident that ‘Cooking for Wolfgang Puck doesn’t scare me. But,’ he adds, ‘I want any course except dessert’ which, naturally, he gets as Cold Steel Whitney, who understands an ‘eight course meal typically runs a certain way,’ such as one through eight, decides the order in which the Padawans will serve their courses, which, in turn rather dictates what they will be preparing: Jeff will be first, followed by Vic, then Mary Beth, pre-determined antagonist Paul Stanley, and her nemesis Jyll. Cold Steel Whitney will do the sixth course, followed by Susie and—

‘That means, Chris,’ Lord Flay has narrowed it down entirely on his own, ‘you’re making dessert.’

‘This is a nightmare for me,’ Big Chris confesses from the BNR, looking as though he is about to burst into tears. ‘I have dessert – on the mid-term challenge – for Wolfgang Puck. There is nothing harder than that.’ Except for making Paul Stanley likeable. Or the decision by Big Chris to once more attempt his special chocolate ganache cakes which failed so miserably at some unnamed hotel in some unnamed kitchen when he was the ostensible ‘leader’ of Team Robert. And, like before, he feels no compulsion to follow any sort of recipe. Because Cold Steel Whitney is usurping the larger of the two ovens for her main course (chicken), the Sweet Taste of Failure Cakes that Big Chris is planning to make are relegated to a smaller side oven which he will need to share with Mary Beth. And he insists from the BNR that, ‘I put my cakes in the oven and say “The left oven needs to be on 350. No. Higher.”’

Of course, as we have seen in the teaser, his instructions are largely ignored and soon Big Chris, with a clear sense of irritation, demands of no-one in particular, ‘Yo! Why did you turn this up without telling me!?’

‘I didn’t!’ an unidentified female voice off screen responds defensively, clearly having thought Big Chris was addressing her.

‘It’s on 450!’ he observes. ‘Unbelievable!’ He then goes on to explain to a disinterested group of busily-cooking Padawans that, ‘I call it sabotage. I think someone just turned my oven up and tried to ruin my dessert. I’m not even joking.’ Thankfully everyone is still disinterested and continue to ignore him as they go about their own business. In a stark rebuttal of their silence, Big Chris heatedly whisks something in a bowl just to show them how he’s not even joking.

Meanwhile, united by the universal need to shop, Mary Beth and Paul Stanley arrive via Black Ops SUV at Target (all promotional considerations paid) – and, honestly, if you were to serve dinner for a world-renown chef and entrepreneur, wouldn’t Target be at the very top of your shopping list as well? None of that silly Barney’s or Harrods or Saks nonsense. Thankfully the girls don’t need to put much thought or effort into their decisions because Home Style Expert™ Sabrina Soto from HGTV and corporate spokesmodel for Target just conveniently happens to be at the very same Target as them and, recognising them as potential Next Food Network Stars, she proffers a list of things to do and not to do when having an over-the-top, extravagant dinner for a world renown chef and entrepreneur and then points to the very aisle in which they need to spend their undetermined amount of money.

Upon their return to the palatial mountain stronghold, Big Chris is still whinging over the fact that someone turned up the heat on the oven. Turns out it was Mary Beth, as she cannot adequately cook her squash (for soup) at a mere 350. Big Chris scolds her for her meddling and how it could have compromised the very integrity of his special recipeless chocolate ganache fail cakes, prompting Jeff to tell us from the isolation of the BNR that he feels Big Chris ought to ‘just move on’ and a frustrated Cold Steel Whitney – in a sudden display of personal warmth – suggests ‘Let’s not talk about the oven any more.’

‘Oh, I’m gonna put it out there,’ Big Chris vows, angrily chopping a potato just to show her how he’s gonna put it out there.

Abruptly, and with only minutes remaining before service, Jeff comes to the stunning realisation that he has not been wearing his Magic Mike Reno Good Luck Headband (a situation he quickly amends), Mary Beth spurts a load of butternut squash soup out of a whizzing  food processor in a spectacular Porn Star money shot whilst Jyll pops the cork on a bottle of champagne.

Gathering pool-side in the spacious courtyard of the palatial mountain stronghold, the Padawans watch with anticipation as Dark Lord Flay descends the grand stone staircase and introduces his Master, The Emperor, ‘Chef Wolfgang Puck!’ (who says ‘Hallo!’) whilst the remaining Jedi Council trot along behind. Cold Steel Whitney, in a display of personal warmth, welcomes the Emperor to what she calls ‘our house’ and, shoving a glass of freshly-opened champagne into his hand, suggests that ‘If you want to take a seat, we’ll bring out the first course!’ because she is in a rush to get to the end of the episode.

As they seat themselves, Darth Giada and Susie Fogelson remark that the decor is ‘simple, elegant’ and ‘is really creative’ for some stuff they just got from Target.

Jeff’s first course, a beef carpaccio over a bed of arugula with macerated cherries, is said by Emperor Puck to be ‘a little skimpy.’ Politely, Jeff reminds him that the real world is currently in a recession and the gathered elite chuckle at this quaint notion. As they tuck in to the salad, Emperor Puck babbles something vaguely incoherent about how he could taste that there was fart in it he liked and something about Italy. ‘It’s my kinda salad,’ Darth Giada says, sadly neglecting to mention whether or not she could taste fart in it, and Lord Flay is surprised by something so ‘dainty’ coming from Jeff. They all agree, however, that Jeff could be The Next Food Network Star.

What Vic has ‘made for youse tonight’ is a twist on his mother’s Mozzarella en Carozza, which, The Emperor says, is ‘not greezy,’ and Lord Flay must confess that he feels Vic is ‘more and more likeable’ just like Paul Stanley isn’t. ‘Starting today,’ Mary Beth says (or about seven weeks too late) she is going to show everyone that she can cook. She is very eloquent in describing her butternut squash soup but ultimately disappoints the Jedi Council with a dish too heavily spiced with cayenne pepper, to which Lord Flay replies ‘Alright, next dish.’

The next dish, upon which ‘there’s a lot riding,’ is Paul Stanley’s and she understands that she needs to ‘kill it.’ Whatever ‘it’ is. In a Prozac-induced performance, she tells the collected elite that ‘What I’ve decided to serve to you today is seafood and shrimp on top of, uh, baby arugula and some figs.’ Emperor Puck hopes ‘it tastes as good as it looks’ because her description was dull as a post. ‘Nooshe jan,’ she tells them, ‘which means “bon appetit” in Farsi.’ Actually, the closest English approximation is ‘May you enjoy it.’  Bon appetit is French. But let’s not split hairs. Despite her curiously almost warm performance – a feat which impressed even Lord Flay – Bob T must consider ‘Can she be that in front of the camera? That’s what she hasn’t been’ and Darth Giada concurs with a quiet nod.

New pre-determined protagonist, Jyll has crafted a nice sweet corn risotto with grilled asparagus, oven roasted tomatoes and some fresh parmesan for her guests. That is to say she believes she has crafted a nice risotto. She is torn between the options of making it ‘a little looser’ (as it has been cooking for a while now, which is not good for a nice risotto) and perhaps compromising the texture, or retain the present texture and possibly compromise the flavour. In the end, she decides to take the musical advice of Yes and ‘leave it.’  And that was not a good decision.

‘What is your name?’ Emperor Puck points at her after wincing on the first bite.

‘Jyll,’ she tells him with a big friendly Wisconsin smile.

‘This is not really a risotto,’ he objects. Across the table Darth Giada smiles a nervous smile and her eyes slide away with embarrassment. ‘Can I come and show you how to make a risotto?’

‘Please!’ Jyll nods happily.

‘Come with me,’ Emperor Puck demands as he rises from the table carrying her nice risotto. ‘In the kitchen.’

‘Oh, really?’ Jyll is stunned – as are the Jedi Council – as Emperor Puck leads Jyll away.

Lord Flay, frustrated and dismayed, hangs his head in his hand, muttering, ‘Oh Jesus Christ…’

So Jyll leads Emperor Puck to the kitchen and, with all the Padawans gathered about, Risotto 101 is taught to Jyll in a slightly humiliating way. When the lesson is through, they return to the Jedi’s table where Lord Flay explains that he understands she may be feeling bad but, ‘as a chef, if we didn’t talk to our cooks and correct them, they can’t get better.’

For withstanding the terror of what he just put her through and still being able to smile, Emperor Puck gives Jyll ‘an A from my point.’ Susie Fogelson does not agree and demands that Jyll’s worst enemy is not allowing her real emotions through that big Wisconsin smile and Darth Giada agrees. Had they been in the kitchen shortly after, perhaps they would have seen real emotion as Jyll broke down crying from the chastisement. It does give one pause to consider, though, given this new-found desire for real emotions, when we, the home viewers, will get to see Darth Giada, Sandra Lee, or Ina Garten have a psychotic break ‘on camera’ and go on a massive crying jag over some scorched meal or see Alton Brown go on a destructive rampage when one of his precious ‘multi-taskers’ fails to operate correctly?

Cold Steel Whitney finally gets to present her dish, an Asian-inspired roasted chicken with puffed wild rice, which variously represents either her ‘dad and grandma’ or her ‘parents on a plate’ depending upon which description she wants to stick with. Though she seems to exude a sort of personal warmth as she describes her meal, Bob T asks of the intent faces all about him, ‘Can she command the imagination of a hundred million people?’ And then he answers his own rhetorical question, saying, ‘I’m not sure yet.’

Although there was no Mexican cheese anywhere to be found in the palatial mountain stronghold, Susie has made a Mexican dish anyway, an open-face  chile relleno , as an alternative to a cheese platter. ‘She’s very resourceful,’ Lord Flay remarks, realising she has made the dish with feta rather than the more traditional cheeses, like making a Bantha patty from a L’lahsh-marinated nutrient globule. Susie Fogelson is touched by Susie’s ability to utilise her heritage for inspiration as was suggested to her early on in the series and she and Lord Flay seem in agreement that Susie ‘makes Mexican soul food.’ Even Emperor Puck concedes, in a curiously coherent sentence, that ‘Of all the dishes, this will stay in my head the most.’ And then he adds, ‘I would watch her.’

The Jedi, it seems, have pre-maturely lavished praise upon Susie without regard to the magnificent dessert awaiting them. Big Chris, taking a cue from Jeff, has decided that a Magic Mike Reno Good Luck Headband is the thing for him. And what a huge difference it has made! Marching to the Jedi’s table, he shoots a quick ‘How ya doin?’ at Emperor Puck who, in some confusion, replies, ‘Excellent.’

‘Hello everybody,’ Big Chris says and, not wanting to embarrass himself, declares, ‘Dessert’s not something I’m really familiar with.’ Darth Giada looks concerned and unhappy. ‘And, uhm, what you have in front of you is a chocolate fudge cake. Around that is Tahitian vanilla crème en glaze with a caramel candy on top. You know, again, I’m not really familiar with desserts. Cake turned out okay in my eyes – not as good as I would’ve liked. You know, it’s not something I’m familiar with, so—’

‘Why are you apologising for this?’ Lord Flay charges as Big Chris stammers through another apology. ‘It’s driving me crazy!’

‘I’ll give you the bad comments after,’ Emperor Puck assures him. ‘So you give us the good ones.’

‘No,’ says Big Chris, ‘you know, I have nothin to be sorry about. I gave it my all. The refrigerators were stocked with meat and poultry [also a meat, or, if you’d prefer, a protein] and, you know, I’m a chef. I would die to make you a risotto. Thanks, guys.’  As Big Chris exits in triumph, it obviously has not occurred to him that, despite the Risotto 101 lesson taught just minutes before, risotto is made with rice, not meat. How embarrassing.

Apart from being ‘a walking apology,’ according to Bob T, Big Chris was quite a hit and Emperor Puck acknowledges that ‘it doesn’t comes on rye’ and says ‘you want to why you on here.’ Darth Giada agrees and explains that, ‘The cake, for me, is the strangest texture ever. Gets stuck in my teeth, it’s not decadent or rich.’

***

After a much needed break for advertisements, the Padawans gather in the Stark Beige Crockery Exhibit Hall in silence. Many of them appear to be little Sadawans, such as Jyll who, weeping from the solace of the BNR, confesses her embarrassment at having Emperor Puck teach her how to make risotto. Soon they rise and trod quietly into the Council Chambers where they must wait through a nice long tracking shot of the stoic faces of the Jedi and some effervescent strings before Lord Flay welcomes them to the elimination and reminds them that they’ve ‘made it to our Food Star Mid-Terms: our chance to assess how you’ve done over the entire competition so far just like I said at the beginning of the show in case you forgot.’

‘Six of you,’ Susie Fogelson buoyantly explains, ‘will be moving on to the next phase of the competition in New York City. Which means, for two of you, the journey ends here.’ She does not indicate in any tangible way what two is but smiles nonetheless as the music turns dramatic and the judgements are handed out:

Vic, very near the bottom for four weeks, has risen to very near the top – with the one small bit of backpedalling earlier in the episode during that challenge thingy they do in front of the camera at the start of every episode – but Lord Flay wants to see him be more confident, more aggressive, and more authoritative. Cold Steel Whitney, so says Darth Giada, ‘can definitely cook’ but still comes across as ‘a little bit impersonal and clinical.’

Susie – clearly a budding favourite amongst the Jedi – is praised by Bob T for ‘passion, joy, culinary technique’ but still must learn to focus her power. She has inspired Darth Giada ‘to think about Mexican food in a whole different way’ which, she is told, is ‘the number one goal for a Food Network Star’ and Susie Fogelson feels ‘there’s some really special things’ about her and wonders if she would be ‘willing to share that.’  This opens the floodgates and, looking as though she is blowing her nose in her hand, Susie (not Fogelson) tells a very emotional and personal tale of overcoming adversity to get where she is.

Jyll, it is noted by Bob T, ‘had a not totally welcome cooking lesson from Wolfgang Puck’ and she concedes she was ‘absolutely mortified’ but was determined to show that she would ‘not crack under pressure.’ It is exactly those cracks that the Jedi Council want to see – especially Susie Fogelson who insists that ‘We know you have something special or you wouldn’t be here,’ but desires for Jyll to be less ‘artificial.’ Jeff, meanwhile, vacillates between schtick, deadpan, and warmth but rarely all three at the same time and Lord Flay simply cannot ascertain why Jeff would make a salad for Emperor Puck if he considers himself to be ‘The Sandwich King.’ That’s about it. Nothing about how he could be The Next Food Network Star.

FNS7-lon-chaney2Turning to Paul Stanley, Bob T tells her that he has loved eating everything she has put in front of them (because he missed out on the mac & cheese), and she smiles that terrifying Lon Chaney smile again.

‘What’s harder for me,’ he continues, ‘is when you’re in front of the camera,’ and her dark smile collapses.

She counters by saying that she’s ‘feeling good’ and wants to teach, share, and inspire – though Bob wonders aloud if there’s time enough for that to happen. Again, I say ‘Oh please, no’ is the answer he is searching for.

Big Chris is ‘a little immature,’ according to Darth Giada in much the same way Jupiter is a little big and roundy. Lord Flay feels he needs ‘more experience cooking on a line so you can learn a lot more.’

‘But you just haven’t tried my food yet,’ Big Chris pouts solemnly.

‘I’ve been sitting here for the last six weeks trying your food,’ Lord Flay scolds him. ‘You want to bring up the lobster dish with the cream cheese again? I don’t think so.’

‘Okay.’

‘I tasted the chocolate dessert last night,’ Lord Flay adds fervently. ‘You want me to keep going?’

Big Chris is silent.

‘I just don’t know how to straighten you out,’ confesses Lord Flay. ‘I don’t know if it’s a maturity thing or what it is. I feel like I have the same conversation with you over and over.’

‘I mean, I’ve listened to—’

‘I know you’ve listened,’ Lord Flay cuts him off,  ‘but you don’t actually take hold of it!’

‘Okay…’ Big Chris whispers, appearing to be on the verge of tears, thinking he ought to have worn his new Magic Mike Reno Good Luck Headband.

Mary Beth leaves Darth Giada in awe of how well she talks about food but she is said to ‘kinda cook like someone who needs the tips that Food Network Stars give.’ As Mary Beth stares at her, Lord Flay explains that the choice of cayenne was a ‘mis-cue’ and how the soup ‘had no flavour – just hot.’ Darth Giada, perhaps more cruelly than is really necessary, very animatedly tells a devastated Mary Beth that ‘We are only as good as our food.’

Although no overall winner is announced for the second portion of the programme and the decor over which Mary Beth and Paul Stanley slaved because it was said to be an important inclusion in the judging of the over-the-top extravagant dinner party is completely disregarded, those who are going on to New York are, as expected, Susie, Jeff, Cold Steel Whitney, and a very relieved Vic, and they scamper from the room in conquest.

This, then, leaves Jyll, Big Chris, Mary Beth, and Paul Stanley to shuffle dejectedly from the Council Chambers whilst the Jedi deliberate on their fates, but not before Susie Fogelson is shown for a second time reiterating happily that ‘for two of you, the journey ends here’ as if they somehow hadn’t figure that out quite yet after seeing the other four Padawans scamper from the room in conquest after being told they would be going to New York.

Once again it is the routine litany of expected comments: Paul Stanley makes terrific food but her camera presence makes Lord Flay wonder ‘Is she gonna be warm enough to really hold a viewer?’ a thought which repulses me. Bob T replies, ‘It’s seven weeks now. I have not seen her be good on camera’ and Darth Giada nods, knowing he meant ‘on the camera.’ Mary Beth is described by Bob T as ‘poetic and smart’ and Lord Flay confesses he enjoys watching her but her ‘food chops’ are troublesome to him. Susie Fogelson says ‘She has not blown me away with any dish to date and it’s already the middle of the competition I’ve hardly been here for.’

As for Jyll, Darth Giada says she ‘does have personality but I don’t think it has to do with food, and it makes her seem unauthentic,’ although I’m sure she meant to say ‘inauthentic.’ Bob T doesn’t feel that Big Chris ‘knows who he is yet,’ so perhaps he should hand him a small card which reads Hi! I’m Bob Tuschman, Senior Vice President of Food Network. Lord Flay is disappointed that Big Chris ‘comes off confident’ but then is an idiot. ‘He’s a little puffed up now’ Susie indicates, referring obviously to the special recipeless chocolate ganache cakes no-one enjoyed, ‘which makes him look a little asinine because he doesn’t deliver. And then he becomes this sad sweetheart of a puppy and you’re just like, “Why do you act like that, then?”’ And the answer is ‘Why do you even ask such a pointless, obvious question?’

Once the bottom four Padawans return to the Council Chambers and make themselves uncomfortable before the dais, Bob T says, ‘Chris.’

Big Chris replies, ‘Bob’ showing that he does know who he is.

Bob T smiles warmly. ‘I’m sorry, you’re going to be leaving us tonight.’

Big Chris nods, looking dazed. ‘Thank you,’ he says. ‘Thank you all. It’s been a great expense…’ I’m almost certain he meant to say ‘experience’ but he was trying to stop himself crying and his voice cracked. As he is sent back to the Stark Beige Crockery Exhibit Hall, he tells us from the solace of the BNR that this is not the end of him and ‘hopefully I’ll make something of my name.’ You can make ‘Shirc’ or ‘Schri’ from it. Those are just two examples, of course.

Mary Beth, in an unexpected twist, is congratulated by Darth Giada for making it to the next round and she reels from the shock, thanking the Jedi profusely for the opportunity. And, because she didn’t cry like Big Chris did, she is allowed to remain in the Council Chambers to hear the final verdict.

Even more shocking than Cold Steel Whitney being the primary focus of our attention at the beginning of two episodes as an expected diversionary tactic or the fact that the decor of the over-the-top extravagant dinner party was utterly ignored after so much prominence was placed on it, is that our Jyll is very flatly told by Dark Lord Flay that she will be going to New York City.

FNS7-no-laughShe clasps her hand over her mouth and steps away, eyes wide in disbelief – likely because she’d managed to not just laugh out loud in the face of pre-determined antagonist Paul Stanley who, in the meantime, rolls her eyes back as if she’d taken a hard slap and whispers ‘Oh my god’ in absolute astonishment that her vicious attitude, transparent Lon Chaney smile and unpleasant camera presence made her insufferable to watch.

Once Paul Stanley has composed herself, Lord Flay apologises to her and then, whilst she’s saying ‘You know, it’s really been an honour,’ he cuts her off with a quick ‘Thanks for giving it your all’ because there are only two minutes left in the programme and he’s a busy man.

And as Big Chris and Paul Stanley exit together through the Plain Brown Closet Door to Nowhere, Jeff giddily informs us from the BNR that, without them, ‘all the drama’s gone! Now only the contenders are left.’

But… did Vic break the heart of Darth Giada? Did he shake his head and groan with loathing? Did Lord Flay indicates that ‘The stakes this week are higher than they ever have been before?’ Did Bob T ever tell them, ‘The time for glimmering is past – you gotta shine?’

Next time, someone will probably say ‘New York, here we come!’ and Vic may just be heard to say ‘Mamma, your boy is home!’ and then cry ‘What’s up?’ to the audience on Rachael Ray’s programme Rachael Ray. ‘It’s a big day in the kitchen,’ Rachael Ray will or will not tell her audience and Cold Steel Whitney might make ‘white chicken chilli’ whilst Jeff may slap some hands. ‘Always go to your butcher and get a good bone,’ a tousled and sassy-looking Mary Beth could likely tell the Rachael Ray audience, and Dark Lord Flay might tell someone ‘She lost her energy a little bit’ before explaining that ‘One of you will be going home.’

And Rachael Ray will be on the programme also…

2 Responses to Liveblogging The Next Food Network Star 7.7

  1. Rachel says:

    your blog is better than foodtv!

  2. Geo says:

    I appreciate that, Rachel! To be honest, though, it’s a pretty easy target.