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“Thank God I found a career where I can be dead-eyed and soulless for laughs. And thank you for dinner, Food Network.”
Good evening, ‘Gasmii! I mean, good whatever-stupid-time-of-the-day-it-is-when-you-read-this, I guess. Right? How presumptuous of me to assume you’re reading it at the same time of day that I’m writing it. How solipsistic of me.
But you’re not here for my self-deprecation or vocabulary, you’re here to talk about Food Network Star! Yeah!
First of all, I’m sorry about the delay. A teensy brown-out during a thunderstorm on Monday blew my cable completely to smithereens. I couldn’t access my DVR, and I couldn’t see my on-screen channel guide. I was lost. I watched Bachelorette, for chrissakes. Ugh. But I’m here now. My DVR is back in biznass (and the buttons are back to working properly again, too, hooray!). However, I gotta get this thing DONE, so I may rush through it a bit tonight. Today. Whatever time of day it is. I’m sorry.
So, last week on Food Network Star! Jyll went home, probably a little defeated but also a little relieved. She wasn’t bringing it ALL, or maybe she was bringing too much. Whatever. We’ve got Susie Mexican, Vin Vegas, Comedian Jeff, Robot Whitney, and Mediocre MaryBeth left to worry about. What stupid set-ups are there this week?
Well, we start off at the house, as usual. Oh, I’m sorry, the FLATOTEL. You forgot the “h”. Anyway, Susie’s tired, puttin’ on her makeup, looking a little like Ray Romano. I love her, but she looks haggard. Yes, there’s a reason I’m not the one on reality TV, thanks!
Enough of that, into the Sad Buicks to head over to Chelsea Market!
Bobby Flat meets ‘em and explains their first challenge of today. We all know that unless someone really biffs it on the camera challenge, it’s not really valued as a part of the whole “who do the judges want to send home?” drama, so I’ll try not to spend too much time here.
I’m never sure about the mid-calf boot with a dress look. Susie pulls it off, but I think I’d look like a chubby convict in the same boots.
Anyway, the challenge is to do their own version of “The Best Thing I Ever Ate,” that show that’s on Friday nights to fill up some time. You know, Ann Burrell talks about a really good cheesecake up on Boston and Michael Symon talks about good French onion soup he had in, like, St. Louis. But the contestants will do it here, after running around Chelsea Market for an hour, tasting everything they can. They’ll tape a two-minute segment about whatever they loved, and that’s that.
Oh, and their segments will be directed by Mr. Flat himself. You know, how Guy Feeyeti helped them with a Triple D segment and Alton “Thomas Dolby” Brown helped them with their first camera challenge. That kinda deal. Everyone makes “oooh, I’m sounding like I’m excited but I’m actually pooping my pants a bit” sounds.
You can’t see it here, but there’s an enormous rock chasing them down the aisle of the Chelsea Market. I hope they all make it through that rock wall door before it closes on ‘em. Maybe one will lose a hat and have to reach back for it JUSTINTIME.
So, apparently, the market is closed while these buffoons run around. Whitney hits up a crepe stand and interrogates the guys about the crepe batter. Then she asks “What kind of blue cheese is that? What kind of lemons do you use?” What pointless questions to ask! Just taste the shit, tell them what you liked, see what comes out. Especially because the crepe guys do not seem to be that chatty (<–said in a Paul F. Tompkins-esque falsetto stage whisper).
Actually, she sounds like that asshole kid who fucked up the McAllisters’ vacation in Home Alone. “What kind of van is this? Does it get good gas mileage? Does it have all-wheel drive?”
Vin Vegas struts around, looking for a place to land. See, he doesn’t feel like any of these places in the market (so far) represent his point of view. But, hmm, you ARE permitted to taste foods outside your purview and enjoy them, right? Like, is Susie Mexican ONLY allowed to enjoy Mexican food? Will MaryBeth only be allowed to try mediocre lawyer food? Oh, SP, that’s just silly.
“Here are some fried tattoos and braised eyebrows! Yay!”
But seriously, dude, eat some stuff and figure out what you like.
He ends up at some Italian place, which is fine, but they seem to have pretty standard stuff. It better be tasty for him to be jizzing all about it in a “Best Thing I Ever Ate” segment! He talks about a chicken parm that he likes. Well, that’s fantastic.
Comedian Jeff seems to fall into the same trap. Does he HAVE to speak about sandwiches? Can’t he like something else? I think I must be the dum-dum here. I think they DO have to stick with their stupid POV. Ergo, Jeff likes a Reuben. I love Reubens. (I also love the Reuben omelet at Zoe’s Kitchen in Cambridge, Mass. GO THERE. Pastrami chopped into ribbons, folded into the eggs with a dash of sauerkraut and some swiss cheese, and a side of russian dressing to dip it in. OMG.)
“Sorry, I’m only allowed to like sandwiches.”
Susie seems to be following my understanding of the challenge, which is to eat a bunch of stuff and talk about it. So she’s got a huge plate of pancakes and a plate with sunny-side-up eggs atop a salad, I think? Some other stuff, too. She’s packing it in, and I love it. Her folly here might be that she’s not focusing on flavors enough and is missing nuance. Well, haven’t the judges said that all along, that she lacks focus and needs to stick to one pigeonhole? Yes?
Mediocre MaryBeth isn’t worried about this challenge, by the way, cuz she’s a food writer. Bobby said the trick with this particular show is to describe food in a way that makes people hungry, makes them want to lick their TVs. She’s always had that skill, so she’ll be fine (I hope).
So, they get started on filming their segments. The other contestants stand around and watch you as you present. I would NOT like that.
Susie goes first. Ugh, she goes right into that pigeonhole, talking about some amazing flautas she found at the market. Yep, gotta talk about the Mexican. She’s describing it all pretty well, I think, with her teensy lilt of an accent. Mediocre MB is looking on, thinking Susie’s spending too much time on the ingredients and not on how it actually tastes. Ugh, expert MB.
Ooooh, behind the scenes!
Turns out she’s right. Bobby’s like, “You spent too much time on the ingredients and not on how it actually tastes.” Damn it. Her energy is infectious, though, and they love that. She hops off the stool feeling awful about herself, and I’m sad. You weren’t awful at all!
Vin’s up next. He talks rather flatly about this chicken parm he discovered 45 minutes ago and “loves.” And he doesn’t describe how it tastes!! Susie’s like, “Hey, wait a minute! I just got critiqued for that, and YOU fucked it up, too! YAY!”
Call me crazy, but doesn’t Bobby look like some evil guy in a wheelchair here? Like from Inspector Gadget or something? Was he even in a wheelchair? HALP!
Comedian Jeff’s turn. He is smarter than the average bear, because he … describes how the food tastes! Hallelujah! And that sounds like a really nice sandwich. He’s not too schticky, and he’s not too low in energy. It’s actually pretty great. Bobby nods and says, “nice job.”
Mediocre MaryBeth is next. Her lead-in is a little scripted and mommy-ish, and if there’s something I hate, it’s grown women talking to me like they’re my mom. You’re not my mom. Anyway, she starts talking about this crepe stand she loves, and—oh shit, Whitney’s like, “That’s MY crepe stand!” The look on her face is awesome. Oh, and MB is pronouncing it “crep”, like “crap” with an e. Not “rhymes with drape” like the rest of us American bozos.
Of COURSE MaryBeth wears Dansko clogs.
Whitney’s basically freaked because she doesn’t want to look like she’s copying MB. (It’s okay, they know there are a finite number of things to talk about, they know you didn’t sit there with ZERO plan until MB started talking. Get over it!) At least Whitney pronounces it like drape, which makes me feel less uncomfortable than “crep.” And now the word “crepe” sounds really strange, no matter HOW you pronounce it.
So Whitney’s almost too careful to not talk about the same stuff MB just said, so she can’t talk about the texture of the crepe or even some of the fillings. Instead, she talks about how the crepe is made, and she sounds really nervous and looks really unhappy. MB stares on with a meanie face. (In the first episode, she admitted her “I’m thinking” face is very similar to her “I will cut you” face, so I gotta think she’s more thoughtful here than murderous.)
“I’m stilted beyond recognition.”
Oooh, though, maybe murderous, as Whitney ends up with the exact same conclusion as MB about this stupid crepes. You know, the pointy end of the crepe is the best bite because all the shit inside oozes down in there. MB looks MAD. And Bobby’s critique here goes to Whitney for talking about the pointy end being the best bite without actually TAKING the bite. Whitney didn’t want to copy MB, but Bobby was like, “If you ALSO thought it, it’s okay. Be yourself.”
Oh, in this case, winning the challenge actually means something. Sometimes, the win is meaningless, ya know? Anyway, Comedian Jeff won, and he’ll “have an advantage” in the star challenge.
So, what will that star challenge be? It’ll be a “entertaining staple”—a roast. We all know it’s a COMEDIAN roast, but the contestants all think it’s just roasting meats. Right? They all pick a protein, and then they’ll present to a group of “surprised guests” who will “keep them on their toes.”
Comedian Jeff gets to dole out the meats. Like, they’re printed on butcher knives in a butcher block. Does he get to look at ALL of them before assigning them, or is he just randomly throwing out meats to whomever as he goes?
“Here’s something you’re scared of!”
Well, anyway, Robot Whitney gets a pork crown roast. Vin gets the prime rib. Duck goes to MaryBeth, and Susie Mexican gets the leg of lamb. Comedian Jeff takes the rump roast. Bobby explains that they’ll have $300 to spend at a specialty butcher shop, then four hours to cook it all tomorrow.
The contestants all head to some guy in some store, who’s already got $300 worth of each ingredient sitting at the ready, so this whole scene is annoying. Comedian Jeff makes a joke about veganism, so there’s that, but otherwise, useless.
Robot Whitney’s panties get in a bunch at the butcher shop, though, because Mediocre MB picks the brain of the butcher for ideas on roasting a duck, cuz she’s never done it before. Don’t act like you wouldn’t do the same thing, Whitney! Vin’s mad when MB asks the butcher about using a blackberry glaze. Okay, now I see why they’re annoyed. Learning that duck roasting is best done low and slow is one thing, getting a recipe for a glaze is another.
So, guys, did you know that Susie’s dad died? And it was around the time she started cooking, so it’s inexorably linked in her mind—and now, ours? (She calls home and has a dad-heavy conversation with her sister to pep herself up.)
The next day, everyone arrives at some townhome/club thing. Bobby is waiting. So, guys, you’re not only roasting food in the kitchen, but YOU are going to be roasted, too! By comedians! There’s Louie Anderson and Gilbert Gottfried, pretty standard stuff. Then there’s some stand-up lady, Judy Gold? Don’t know her, sorry. Then there’s Anthony Anderson from Law & Order (bonk bonk), and Aubrey Plaza from Parks and Rec. I effin’ LOVE Parks and Rec, so yay! (My FAVORITE line from that show is when Andy’s trying to convince April to date him, and he taunts, “You won’t live to regret it!” LOLOLOLOL)
So, basically, the contestants are going to get picked on, mocked, and teased. It’s a test of their composure. Well, that’s not really fun. I’d collapse in about one second. I’m sure Comedian Jeff will be fine. Robot Whitney might actually do okay, too, since she’s so wooden. I bet Susie stammers a lot, and I’m sure Vin will give us a lot of raised eyebrows. I hate those raised eyebrows.
So, they’re all cooking. It’s not all that interesting now that Penny’s not picking fights and Frat Boy Chris isn’t dropping things outside the walk-in.
Time to face the firing squad.
Vin is up first. He made a Flintstones’ sized prime rib with a teensy bit of asparagus and some potatoes. The selection committee is there, and all the comedians are just itching to poke fun. The slabs of meat arrive, and everyone gasps. Susie Meanieface Judge asks if anyone would ever eat this. Vin loses a little confidence. The comedians start making Viking jokes and dinosaur quips.
“And those tattoos! So silly!”
Vin plows ahead, talking about the momma’s boy angle and then the Vegas angle, so that’s why there’s a huge steak on your plate. The meat is apparently very tasty, as is everything else, it’s just, to quote Trump, “Yuge.” Then Squinchy Bob is like, “Which is it, Mommy’s boy or Vegas?” and Louie Anderson says that Vin’s totally a momma’s boy, not a Vegas asshat. Vic acquiesces.
Oh, and when Squinchy Bob talks about Vin being a “soulful” guy, I can’t help but think of blowjobs. Call me crazy, but the ONLY time I ever use the word “soulful” is when I’m joking about blowjobs. There, put THAT in your SexyPanda bowl of knowledge.
Mediocre MaryBeth is next. She’s never cooked a duck before, so she’s a little freaked. She made it with the blackberry glaze, and she also roasted up some brussel sprouts with bacon and apples, AND she made potatoes fried in the duck fat. Well, that actually all sounds awesome. But she’s still way flustered.
So, she comes out and explains her duck, and she starts telling everyone that duck meat is dark and juicy because the ducks are active, flapping her arms to make the point. Everyone’s like, “huh?” Like, calm down, lady! So she stops. And Gilbert Gottfried makes his quip about this being the first time he’s ever liked duck. Take that, AFLAC! MB, though, doesn’t get the joke and takes the comment literally, as a compliment to her cooking. I’m a little embarrassed for her.
Then she starts talking more about ducks and how she likes to learn about food and whatever. Who cares. Certainly not the selection committee or the comedians! They think she’s cold and “pedantic.” And for having a show about Sunday suppers, something “soulful” (there it is again!), she’s coming across without any warmth. Yikes.
Comedian Jeff and his rump roast are up next. Also, he’ll be talking about his meat. ALSO, he’ll be talking about the food he bought at a butcher shop that he put in an oven to cook before serving it to people to eat! Hahahaha, oh, I slay me.
Anyway, he cooked this rump roast and then made it into a sandwich. He talks about frying his chips in suet, which is the fat around the kidneys. A.Anderson asks, “Sweat?” haha, yeah, cooked in sweat, jackass. Anyway, Jeff feels fine about how it’s all going.
Not Jeff’s food. Just a photo. Thanks.
Then they start to make jokes about the rump, how he’s an ass man, etc. Then Judy Gold, the stand-up comedian, asks about his former stand-up comedy career. Oh boy, here we go. She asks what his opening joke was, and it was something about being a fat kid and wearing a t-shirt in the pool, how awful it looked when he’d get out, etc. Squinchy Bob’s boner deflates IMMEDIATELY.
Time for the Susie Mexican show! She’s sweet and genuine as she tells her story about growing up in Mexico, but living in the States because her family picked vegetables, yadda yadda. The comedians look a little lost. Oh, and she made spicy roasted leg of lamb, some chipotle spiced potato gratin, and some roasted carrots/beets/caramelized onions. Um, yum.
Judy Gold makes me laugh when she asks where Susie grew up, and she answers right back with a heavily accented and complicated Mexican town/state name. Judy doesn’t miss a beat and says, “oh, I thought so!” HA! Susie’s a good sport as they ask her to rattle off her name and her sister’s name and whatnot. Ya know, just to hear the Mexican accent in full. I think it’s cute.
Oh, then we have to talk about her dead father again. I’m getting tired of it. I know it’s her story, just like Vic’s is about his dead mom and MB’s is that she’s a DC food writer. But come on. I prefer my people to be more than one-dimensional, even if they’re just telling me how to season some meat for my sandwich.
Finally, time for some Robot Whitney. She comes out a little nervous, telling the group about her career switch from engineering to cooking. She chokes up as she talks about it. Aubrey Plaza looks b-o-r-e-d by it all.
She explains her dish, which is a crown pork roast or something, and she immediately informs the group about the date of the pig’s slaughter, and, hey, how old it was when it was slaughtered. Yummy! Aubrey Plaza makes a joke about the pig’s personality, ya know, since we know it and its slaughter so well. Everyone laughs except Whitney, who’s left with a dumb grin.
Oh, and then Gilbert calls her a soul-less, flesh-eating zombie! Yay! That’s fun! He sees what I see! Anyway, when she’s gone, they talk about how her crying made them uncomfortable, and entertainers need to be better at controlling their emotions.
Okay, we’re coming down the home stretch. I’ll make this easy on us, since we’ve all been watching for two months now and know what’s up:
They’ll talk alllllll about that, and they’ll ask uncomfortable questions, and then they’ll talk all about it some more, then they’ll send someone home. Oh, and someone might “win,” too, though we all know that’s generally meaningless. This is the part of the show I start to tune out because it’s always the same stupid stuff.
Comedian Jeff is the winner, by the way. I could have called that. He’s in the final four. Vin Vegas and Susie Mexican are also safe.
“Congratulations on being called sexy.” “Thank you.”
“It’s a spicy meat-a-ball!”
So, it’s down to Mediocre MaryBeth and Robot Whitney. I have a feeling it’s Whitney, and I also have a feeling that she doesn’t mind going home. Like, I’m sure it sucks to not win, but she looks like she’s about to crack. Anyway, I think they think MaryBeth is more coachable than Whitney is. Like, teaching someone how to cook is easier than teaching them personality.
Oh, by the way, MB’s dress is NOT doing her any favors. The belt is fine, it gives her a waist, but the way the dress clings below that is not helping. Just FYI.
Hard to tell right here, but it’s just no bueno.
So, yeah, it’s Whitney going home tonight. Not surprised! She cries. She talks about how this is her passion, she’s gonna keep trying, etc. Okay, see ya!
“I may lack personality, but I can prove I used deodorant today. Thank you for this opportunity!”
Next week! It’s Iron Chef week. Looks like former contestants come back as sous chefs, so there’s Penny! Working with MB! Oh, that’s fun. Otherwise, I’m sure it’s dramatic as only Food Network Star can try to be! See you then!