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“Damn it, it’s my last time!”
Hey ‘Gasmii!! You ready to get past this lame introduction I try to write every week in order to get down to the heart of the matter? But your will gets weak and your thoughts start to scatter? But you think it’s about forgiveness? Forgiveness?
Even if…even if you don’t love me anymore?
Oh, wait. Food Network Star finale. FOCUS, Panda. Focus.
It’s time for our seventh season of Food Network Star to conclude. The person who made it past the Flay/DiLaurentiis/Squinchy Bob/Susie Judgypants gauntlet will get their own show for a little bit. They’ll be in the Food Network Magazine. People will bitch about them on Facebook. Let’s get to it.
So, I know we’re down to a final three, but y’all know Vin Diesel ain’t getting the gig, right? I mean, really. This race is down to Susie Mexican and Comedian Jeff. And we’ve all kinda seen it coming the past few weeks, that Jeff’s been slightly less grating/worrisome to the judges, so he’s probably the winner. I don’t think I’m ruining anyone’s viewing experience by saying that right now, right? Good.
Speaking of these nerds, Susie and Jeff are getting ready for the final day of competition, talking about their families and whatnot. Vin’s brushing his teeth and whatever, too, but no one cares about him cuz he definitely doesn’t win.
So we head right out to the final challenge(s)!
The final three apparently always gets to film their pilot episode of their show concept as part of the final competition. I haven’t seen the past few seasons, so I hadn’t remembered this. Glad Susie Mexican reminded us!
“Wait, that was my job!”
Giada the Ginormous (Head) meets ‘em at the Food Network studios in Chelsea Market. She’s all “Yay, you’re the final three! Yay, you get to make pilots!” Everyone’s clapping and happy. Then Giada lays the boom down—only two of you are going to make pilots. There’s a surprise camera challenge they’ve got to get through first, and the shittiest person there doesn’t get to make a pilot. I have all kinds of half-formed quips about Vin forming, but I’ll let this play out first.
Enjoy it while it lasts, Vin.
This surprise camera challenge involves the contestants making “the best dish of your life,” a dish that proves how awesome they are and why they deserve their own show. Ugh. Hasn’t their presence on this monstrous reality show been proof enough of what they deserve? Actually, wait. Don’t answer that.
Get cookin’, assholes! And they do. Comedian Jeff is making a sandwich that’s a deconstructed bit of eggplant parm. Ya know, the family connection and whatnot. It looks really good, actually. With this kind of a dish, I can more easily see an entire show about sandwiches doing well.
Vin’s talking to himself about his “cooking zone,” doing dorky Vin Vegas-y things. I think he wants us to have a last Vegas-y hurrah before he gets the boot. Speaking of The Boot, he’s making a classic Italian feast—the seven fishes—into one cohesive soup. I bet it tastes like a bunch of hot fish! Also, ugh, he keeps talking about being a momma’s boy. Gross.
Susie Mexican is making a dish in honor of her—wait for it, then say it aloud with me in all caps—DEAD FATHER. Oy. She’s making carnitas in lard, quipping cutely about people using the lard on their face. She notes how this is the last time they’re all cooking together, and you do see genuine friendship in everyone who’s still there. That’s sweet.
Time to present this shizzle to camera! Comedian Jeff goes first. He tells a good ol’ family story about his dad makin’ sandwiches out of nothing in the middle of the night. (Is 11:30 the middle of the night? According to Comedian Jeff, it is!) The judges love the eggplant parm sammich. Susie Judgypants makes a small negative comment about the energy level, but I think it’s just to hide her lady boner.
“We are your loyal servants, Sandwich King.”
Susie brings her carnitas out and tells a story of her dad wearing a sombero, riding a burro around, and shooting guns into the air. Okay, only the sombrero part was true. But wow, what a stereotype, eh? Anyway, she made a cactus salad, I think, and also a margarita! Winner in my book! The judges liked her presentation. Squinchy Bob is all Proud Dad about Susie. Be careful, Squinchy Bob—Susie’s dads DIE.
Vin Vegas Mo comes out for his camera challenge, and it’s pretty boring. He talks as though he’s presenting by rote, and it just lacks the pizzazz that Comedian Jeff and Susie Mexican brought before. He wraps up his presentation without really mentioning the actual food at all, getting so caught up in the family story. Susie Judgy is all “full on momma’s boy here.” Vin winks and thanks her. I’m making a “something stinks” face at this whole thing.
The judges discuss it briefly, deciding that the food isn’t an issue with any of the candidates. The issue, then, is their camera presence and personality. They love Jeff. They love Susie. They’re impressed with Vin and think he’d connect with the audience…but he doesn’t have it.
So, yadda yadda, the judges bring them back out and announce who’s going home, and it’s Vin, and goodbye, Momma’s boy. I’m sure you’re nice, but your smarm got under my skin like a bad rash. Wish you success in other realms! When he says goodbye to Jeff and Susie, Jeff’s like, “Vin sucked so bad at first, and then he got better. It’s a shame to see him go.” Well, this isn’t like my summer league swim team, you don’t get a prize for most improved! (Though I got that prize way back in 1987, thank you.) Susie’s like, “He tried so hard.” Wow, the backhanded compliments are really pretty funny!
Aww. Bye, eyebrows.
Okay, time to film those pilots! Jeff and Susie head on over to Studio A to get started on filming. Who is their surprise guest director today? Oh yay, it’s that Guy Feeyeti character all over again! I have the DVR on pause right now, and Feeyeti’s stuck in an awful expression. He’s totally “derp”. And I don’t get how his overly long soul patch is so blonde when the rest of his gross beard is so dark. And yet the mustache is patchy. It’s just ugh all around.
“I dye the gross soul patch, Panda!”
But actually, I’ll grudgingly admit that while Feeyeti the character is annoying, Guy is actually a knowledgeable dude who seems friendly and good-hearted enough, and he can relate to the contestants since he’s BEEN there. So, yeah, welcome Feeyeti.
Time to go get hair and makeup done. This pilot’s getting seen by the selection committee (read: judges) AND a focus group. We all know from the previews that said focus group is actually the other ousted contestants. Fun!
Comedian Jeff’s rockin’ the moobs today, I see. I wonder if wardrobe will get him a brassiere. Oh, nope! It’s a Mister Rogers sweater! WOW, it enhances his girth. I think it’s maybe going to hide potential pit stains. Nothing’s more appetizing during a cooking show than the host rockin’ big stinky pits.
I think it’s like a hoodie without a hood, but it still Mr. Rogers-es that mofo.
Oh, so Comedian Jeff is going first, actually. He’s making a bracciole sandwich like the bracciole his momma made him when he was a kid. Wait, I thought the momma’s boy went home? Anyway, it’s a tough cut of meat, a flank steak in essence, pounded out to be thin and tender, and then you cook it with peppers and such. He’s doing his demo, and I guess he’s doing okay on the second take (first take was a deer-in-headlights disaster), except he’s saying “boom” a lot. Like, at least ten times. (Reminds me of a time I was training my coworkers on a new process and I kept talking about the “pitfalls” of what they were doing if they did it wrong. I must’ve said pitfall a dozen times, to the point that someone sent me an email with a .gif of the guy jumping over a crocodile. THANKS.)
Feeyeti stops him after the 50th “boom”. He mocks Jeff a little about the “boom,” calling it a crutch word. Jeff’s worried about filling the dead air, but Feeyeti calms that fear. Dead air is better than a cavalcade of booms. Jeff “dials it in” when he thinks about his family, and he embarks on his third (and final) take. It’s boom-less and a lot better.
Look at that girth!
Now it’s Susie Mexican’s turn. She’s loving the whole hair and makeup routine. Considering how long it takes me to turn from my own version of Ray Romano into SexyPanda, I quite agree with her. She’s ready to rock!
Feeyeti has one of the crew members go over Susie’s mis en place with her, which actually takes a little time, so I’m almost positive we’ll see Susie flub something on her first take because she can’t find it. Right?
Well, no. Her first take gets flubbed due to simple nerves. Understandable. I’d be a fucking mess. She’s stumbling over her words and “loses” the camera. Feeyeti gives her a pep talk. Take two is a little better, but she’s still all fumbly and lacking focus. “Am I back to week one?!” Susie “dials in” to her dead father, his calm way of speaking, and it anchors her enough to get through her third and final take. And it’s actually really good! And I really want to make those sopes with refried beans and some kind of slaw!!
“Thank you for helping me!”
Thank you, Food Network, for heeding my call! http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/sopes-with-chorizo-refried-beans-and-a-tangy-slaw-recipe/index.html
It’s the next day. Judgment day. Time to view those pilots and hear what the focus group and selection committee has to say. Susie looks gorgeous, but why is the back of her dress gaping open like that? I’m guessing they had to stuff her mic pack down there and it doesn’t zip up with all that up in there. Off to the studio!
The judges bring in the focus group, and as we already knew, it’s the eliminated contestants. Vin smiles and hugs ‘em, and Frat Boy Chris hugs Jeff, but otherwise, some of them are wearing some pretty tight smiles. Really? Comedian Jeff rambles on and on to kiss a little focus group ass, which annoys me.
Confession time: I am a sap. We watch Susie’s demo first, and I actually get choked up a few times! Like, it’s so cool to see her in this polished demo, and it all comes together, finally. She’s adorable. I want to hang out with her and cook with her!
Comedian Jeff is nervous. Susie’s pilot was pretty dang good. He can see it in the judges’ faces. But Squinchy Bob pees on the parade, reminding Susie that she’s gotta now sit and listen to the focus group’s “very honest” feedback. Ugh.
Penny kicks it off with something negative. OF COURSE. She sounds like she’s been drugged, by the way, or is maybe hungover. Whatever, Penny sucks. All you people who think I’m a hater—you gotta believe me now, don’tcha? C’mon. I’m using lots of colloquial language and shortenin’ my words with apostrophes to seem more relatable!
Frat Boy Chris openly disagrees with Penny and stands in support of Susie. Yay, I knew he wasn’t totally stupid!
Time for Jeff’s pilot. It’s good, of course. I’m not getting choked up. I think it’s more because Jeff has always been relatively competent all along, so there’s no redemption arc going on for me. He’s fine. He’s funny. Susie starts to get nervous.
Time for the thoughts of the focus group. They throw it to Vin first, who slobbers all over Jeff’s heiny-hole. Then they ask Howie. Who? Remember that douchey guy who went home in week one? The one who didn’t really know what he was doing, who was rude to Jyll, who said Food Network needed someone like him (a food simpleton) on air to help the average Joe? That guy. Oh, and he has a small, weird face. Anyway, he says Jeff was too “schticky”. Coming from a morning radio show host, that’s rich. Penny slurs over herself to say she’d enjoy Jeff’s show.
The focus group is dismissed. I’d really like to know the thoughts of the chefs I respect. Ya know, Mediocre MaryBeth, Robot Whitney, even Jyll. Not just the drama monkeys.
Anyway, time to talk more about this stuff, ONE LAST TIME. It’s a judgmental recap of the entire season. It goes a little like this:
“We’re imperfect but hold you to a higher standard.”
Comedian Jeff: had a clear POV from the start, the sandwich king, making any meal into a sandwich and any sandwich into a meal. He’ll be great.
Susie Mexican: has a wonderful energy and lights up the screen, her food is delicious. She’ll be great.
Okay, it wasn’t much of a deliberation. Like, all the cutthroat stuff is done, it’s just a nice discussion of great they both are. And that’s that.
The judges bring out the Food Network president, some lady in a wrap dress. She has some President-of-the-Company words to say to them both. Boring.
So, who won? Comedian Jeff did. Hooray! I wish it were Susie, but I’m okay with Jeff. That’s fine. Congrats, mooby dude!
(In other news, my DVR got all wound up on itself when I pressed “play” to hear Booby Flat announce the winner, and the visual got all slo-mo but the audio was cued normally, and I was all, “Whoa, Food Network is getting artsy in their editing for the big reveal!” It was really weird! Then I rewound it and watched again to make sure, and…it was just a glitch. I wish you’d seen what I saw. It was very student film.)
The judges hug ‘em. Jeff’s and Susie’s families come out to hug ‘em. It’s the most anticlimactic win I’ve ever seen. Jeff’s son is adorable.
I’d saved this photo as “Jeff son and Gollum.”
And that’s that! How do YOU feel? I think I need a drink.
BONUS MATERIAL: Since I’m finished my recap a little earlier in the evening than usual, and since my DVR recorded some reunion special with these nerds, I’m gonna watch it and report on the most interesting stuff! If it exists! Yay!
Bobby Flat introduces it as “the wildest season yet.” That’s like calling Laura Bush the “wildest First Lady yet.” Like, non sequitor, does not compute. Anyway, moving on. (I don’t have all night!)
I think all the good stuff is in the preview, including Jeff being asked to mock the selection committee. Hooray! But I’ll keep watching. I bet it’s the same old stuff about the editing showing the wrong thing, Penny sucking, and people being doofuses.
First there’s a montage about Vin. Whatevs. Then one about Susie. Okay, that’s fine. I guess there’s one about Jeff, too. Oh wait, there’s a clock in the corner, telling us the finale starts in 50 minutes. So they aired the reunion before the finale? Interesting. (Not really. That was “interesting” as in, “I have to say something about it.” Not “I have interest in this.”)
Oh yeah, Juba!
Squinchy Bob asks Mediocre MaryBeth if she’d watch Jeff’s show, and she takes a really long time to answer, saying something about how bad things happened, that she can’t separate the personal from the professional, and that Susie cooks really good food—WITH A SOUL. Well, now. What can THAT mean?
Oh, then they bring up something I don’t think we really saw the first time around, which was MB shaking off Jeff’s hug the night she was eliminated. Weird. Why are they harping on this? Because, besides Penny, it’s the only drama? Hmm.
Then there’s a montage about Penny. Eye roll. Then there’s a montage about Penny and MaryBeth. Boring. Then there’s a montage about other rivalries in the house (Jyll vs. Frat Boy Chris, anyone?) Boring! (Well, annoying to watch because Frat Boy Chris grates.)
Then there’s the “Comedian Jeff is funny” montage, which actually does get me to LOL a bit. He does do good impressions! Okay, now I’m snorting at his impression of Penny returning to backstage EVERY TIME saying, “They loved it.”
Then Squinchy Bob, in all his naked earnestness/practiced delivery, asks if Jeff “does any of us”? So Jeff does a Squinchy Bob impression. Thin ice, buddy boy! But then someone points out that Food Blogger Justin does a Bobby Flay impression, and it’s funny. Not Comedian Jeff funny, but funny.
Then there’s a montage of the gross food they all made. Then there’s a montage of a montage. Wait. Sorry, I’m just losing focus.
Oh, we talk about Jyll and Wolfgang Puck for a second. And…that’s about it.
Then we talk about how adorable Susie Mexican is, all her fumbling and bumbling.
And then there’s Vin’s “Victionary,” which explains all his made-up words. That’s actually a charming little segment, and I wish we’d known more about this before today. I always thought Vin was totally smarmy and not genuine, but somehow, this warms him to me.
Then Squinchy Bob wants to mix Frat Boy Chris’s buffoonery with boring Ichabod Justin (remember him?? He tries too hard!), so they both mellow out around their edges. Montage! They actually spend a lot of time on this segment. I tune out a bit.
And that’s pretty much it. Like, there’s a part where we revisit all the harshest criticisms, but whatever. I’m over it.
Come find my recaps on Millionaire Matchmaker, would ya?! It’s my third season, so I actually know what I’m talking about! Yay!