“I brought food trucks.”
Hello, my friends and fellow ‘Gasmii! Hope you’ve had a good week, recovering from the soul-crushing Food Network Star elimination last week. What? Oh, no one really cared much about Justin Food Blogger? Right. So, hope you’ve had a good week! Period!
We have only an hour to recap this week, instead of 90 minutes. That’s awesome because I did a 62 mile bike ride for charity yesterday, and my left pinkie finger still has no feeling. I guess I was braced funny on the handlebars. Typing is a bit of a challenge with that hand, so I feel a little brevity coming on. Hope you understand!
Last week, the editors made sure we knew all about the drama going on in the contestants’ house with all the Penny hate. (It’s not just something I made up!) That’s because it all comes to a head this week. Yay! Give us more drama, and then send her home! Everything I’m reading online about this show tells me that Penny is an unwelcome contestant at this point—no one would want to watch her show. She can cook, but her personality (as shown) sucks.
Wait. This is the first time I’ve truly watched the opening credits. The song is so awful, I just always kinda looked away and did something else while the show opened. I’m watching today, and it’s terrible! Justin Food Blogger stares the camera down like he’s challenging it, Jaboo holds up a lit crème brulee torch in a jovial way, and Penny winks sexily at the camera. There’s a weird slow-motion effect that kicks in half-way through each contestant’s “solo.” It’s creepy. I’m never watching it again. Or I’m fixated on how creepy it is and will never look away again. You pick.
We get started right away this week, after a super-brief moment of watching the sleepy-eyed contestants getting ready in the morning. Orchid, in particular, looks exhausted. But no matter, it’s time to (try to) win this thing!
They head off to a parking lot, where three food trucks and one Tyler Florence are waiting. I think both the camera challenge and the big elimination challenge this week happen in this food truck. As in, they’ll split into three teams, face off against each other in the food trucks, and film 30-second commercial spots to promote their food truck offerings. Then 150 food truck aficionados will watch the commercials and select one food truck to try, based on those commercials. And then I guess someone goes home!
“And I’ll personally sample each dish twice!”
Team assignment is going to be key in this challenge, isn’t it? Get stuck with Frat Boy Chris, and you’ve got an enormous child to manage all day. Get stuck with Comedian Jeff, and you’ve got a Chicago accent to deal with all day. Speaking of keys, though, the team selection process is at random, and it’s by choosing a key out of a canister Tyler is holding. Like a sorting hat, only it doesn’t talk and you don’t put it on your head.
Teams are as follows:
- Yellow Stars: Vin Vegas, Jyll, and Orchid (Orchid is worried about being the smallest personality on that team, getting overshadowed)
- Blue Stars: Frat Boy Chris, Penny, and Mediocre Mary Beth (uh oh)
- Green Stars: Comedian Jeff, Robot Whitney, and Susie Mexican (dream team?)
The teams only have 30 seconds to come up with a theme for their food truck and to write a script for their commercial to really sell it. Did I say 30 seconds? I meant 30 minutes. That’s still not a lot of time.
Team Yellow (Vin Vegas, Jyll, and Orchid) are brimming with ideas. Orchid’s got a name for it already, “Fierce Food Fusion.” Eh, doesn’t really work for me. Vin insists that the original food truck was a taco truck. Uh, not in my town, it’s not! That would be the cheesesteak truck or the falafel cart. Anyway, he keeps going, talking about “being original, but infusing that with something new.” Isn’t “original” and “new” the same thing? So, why is there that “but” in there? He keeps talking about tacos, wanting to put “crazy stuff on tacos.” Didn’t Jyll just do horribly in the last challenge for making really terrible tacos? Not a good idea, Vin.
“You guys, I have ideas that you’ll use but I’m otherwise kinda mellow and not great on camera even though I’m cute as a button!”
Comedian Jeff must’ve gotten his brows waxed just last night, because he’s looking quite delicate and pretty today. Seriously, what happened here? Anyway, Whitney knows that the key to winning this challenge is getting people to the truck in the first place. As she’s brainstorming how to do that, Jeff comes up with an idea: “Balls on the Roll.” He really wants to keep making immature wordplay jokes. I already know it’s a bad idea. Squinchy Bob Tushie didn’t like it the last few times, why would he like the idea now? Anyway, getting past the testicle humor, the team will make different kinds of cuisine in ball form: Asian, Greek, etc. Whitney’s actually okay with it because she’s supposed to be loosening up, according to the selection committee. Ball jokes, it is.
A heated discussion about putting balls in your mouth. Are you pro-balls or anti-balls? What’s your stance?
I think we know HIS stance.
Oh wait, maybe it’s not. Susie Mexican isn’t comfortable with the ball humor. Maybe some people won’t want to think about a nutsack when they choose the food truck they want to eat at. As she’s trying to explain herself, Whitney shushes her. Ew. Adults don’t shush other adults unless they’re at the movies. Anyway, it’s two on one, so Susie loses. I hope she gets the chance to explain her dissent at the time of judging!
We don’t hear much about the Green Team’s truck concept, but I AM surprised to see they’re working together well enough so far. Penny hasn’t said a word, and Mediocre MaryBeth isn’t slobbering over her with fake kisses. Even Frat Boy Chris has it toned down a few notches. I guess they’re making wraps, which is kinda boring. Like, if I had to eat from a food truck every day of my life, I’d pick a wrap to try to stay healthy. But if I’m eating from a food truck ONCE for a reality show competition, I’m going to pick some Fierce Food Fusion or Balls on the Roll. None of this “Chris and his Angels” crap they think they’re going to pull. (Seriously.)
Have I ever mentioned that I’ve always hated working in a group? Especially for something like a group presentation. You have to worry enough about yourself, but then to have to worry about what the other yahoos are going to do? Ugh. Obviously, I’m Type A. Anyway, what this means for me is tension. I’m very tense while watching these group commercial shoots. TENSE, I said!
Also, do they only get one shoot? Sure seems like it. Orchid said, “We’re going to have a great time” three times during that spot, and I think it stays. Sorry, Orchid!
Get used to the “Vin Vegas looks like a bully but is actually a sweetheart” theme. It seems to be working for him, and HE KNOWS IT.
Frat Boy Chris’s team is up next. They really do go with the “Charlie’s Angels” theme, and it’s so awkward. Penny and Mediocre MB are trying to be sexy-cute, but it’s not working for me. At first, it seems like the whole spot will be those two posing while Chris babbles on, but no, the girls also get some solo camera time. It doesn’t help, though, because they’re both posturing and so fake. Ugh, I feel so tense!
Finally, it’s the Balls Team for their take. Comedian Jeff juggles his way off camera, then Susie Mexican handles two huge onions while talking about balls. Whitney’s got more to say about balls. And wow. The other teams look a little confused. When did the memo come out that the food truck aficionados are fifth graders? It’s a gamble, this testes humor nonsense. I hope it pays off. Tyler Florence seems to think it’s a bad idea. Oh well, the damage is done! Gotta go with it!
The teams have $1000 now to shop for their trucks and two hours to cook tomorrow. Time for the restaurant depot mad dash! Whitney’s looking for chick peas for her falafel. She would normally use raw chick peas and soak ‘em, but since they only have two hours, she’s going with canned peas. Since they bothered to show us this, I’ll bet that this means the texture of her falafel will be called into question later.
Vin Vegas is stocking up on all kinds of stuff for his Philly cheese steak burrito thingies he’s making (that’s not a taco?). Jyll knows he’s got a history of overcomplicating his dishes, and she’s worried now that he’s making an overcomplication mistake here, too. I guess that means we’ll later see Vin having a hard time getting food out of the truck on time.
Wow, what are the editors trying to tell us with this next scene? Penny and Comedian Jeff are sitting at the kitchen counter back at home, having a heart-felt conversation about Jeff’s career choices. I know it’s a set-up, because I don’t know one genuine person (and I know lots of genuine people) who would start off a conversation by saying, “So I never asked you how you got into comedy?” But even as a set-up, it’s sweet. Penny’s actually nice and, like, genuine. Doesn’t overcome the previous five episodes of nastiness, but it helps.
Later, Jeff jokes to his teammates about how his red sweatband was blessed by a monk, that it holds special properties to help him win challenges. Whitney and Susie cut up some piece of red material to make their own red headbands. All in the name of team unity. Ball jokes and crappy headbands. Go team!
The next day, everyone arrives at some airplane hangar or something, where the three food trucks are all set up. Each team somehow has a logo created for them, which is placed on signs nearby and also affixed to the truck itself. I misread the Green team’s “Wrap it Up” logo as “What is up”, which was Frat Boy Chris’s idiocy from episode one. Ha! Mediocre MB sets up on the driver’s side of the truck, hoping to stay out of the others’ way and be able to focus on her own stuff.
Susie Mexican is making some kind of “meatballs in a soup” dish that I can’t pronounce or even suss out well enough to Google. Bondigas? Anyway, Susie feels really confident about this dish because it’s been in her family for centuries and it’s universally loved. I just hope people get past the twig-and-berries humor in the commercial to get to her truck to try it out!
Whitney’s doing her falafel thang, but she is definitely worried about the texture of the canned chick peas versus the raw chick peas she usually uses. “But there’s nothing I can do about it.” Yeah, not NOW. Maybe earlier, when you knew you wouldn’t have time to cook stuff properly, you could have decided against making a dish you aren’t confident about. But NOW it’s too late.
Vin Vegas is going to town over in the yellow truck. He’s got a zillion components to his dish—guacamole, scallions, red pepper, onion, cheese, meat, garlic, jalapenos, etc. It all requires prep and it all requires individual cooking attention. I think he’s fine with it all right now, but I bet this gets messy later on. He’s mostly just proud that he’s able to be himself at this point. He and Susie Mexican are on that train together, and I think that’s ultimately a winning point of view. I hope I’m right.
Jyll’s hard at work on her shrimp po’ boy taco. Hmm, that might be really good, or the tortilla might get in the way of the shrimp po’ boy thing. Orchid’s making a Filipino pork dish with a cole slaw, and we watch her obsess over the amount of bite in everything. Should the cole slaw be more vinegary or more creamy? I don’t know! Hopefully Orchid will figure it out.
Mediocre MB is making a ginger lime chicken wrap. I think she seals her fate here when she says, “It’s simple and the flavors are mild, but it’s delicious.” Eh, “simple” and “mild” aren’t going to win against the rest of these chumps, MB, but thanks for playing.
Frat Boy Chris is making a lobster wrap of some kind, involving butter-poached lobster tail and cream cheese. This could be really good or really gross. (And I’m looking forward to my own lobster decadence in a few weeks. I always treat myself to a lobster dinner after my last triathlon of the season. See you lobsters on August 7th!)
Penny’s making a filet mignon kebab and greek salad wrap with a creamy dill yogurt dressing. That sounds delicious. I hate how slowly she’s explaining all of this to us, though, like we’re idiots. I make a “huh” face when she explains that she wanted this to be really flavorful, so she is using a garlic pesto wrap. To ME, this means the greek salad and yogurt dressing and filet will be totally overwhelmed with a garlicky pesto-y smell. You use garlic pesto wraps for turkey wraps, not this.
Taking her sweet ol’ time
Also, Chris is concerned that she’s working too slowly. Mediocre MB is worried, too. We keep seeing shots of the two of them going full-steam ahead while Penny makes love to this piece of filet, telling it how gorgeous it is. Her teammates are getting pretty frustrated. Because they don’t want Penny to screw them over by not having food to serve, they offer to help. At least, MB does. Penny puts her to work chopping onions.
The hungry food truck diners are here! As is the selection committee, which appears to be Squinchy Bob, Giada Enormous Noggin DiLaurentiis, Bobby Pissy Pants Flat, and Tyler Bloated Florence. Time to stop food prep and watch the silly commercials together!
Team Yellow/Food Fusion Frenzy or whatever it is (anyone remember that game for Xbox??) gets a few good laughs from the selection committee and an “I LIKE that!” from Enormous Noggin Giada. Phew. They really did seem the most natural, but Squinchy Bob made a squinchy face at Orchid’s underwhelming personality.
Fuzionnnnn FRENZY!!!! “What, did you lose again?” “Were you even playin’?”
Next up is Team Chris’s Angels, the Wrap truck. Their commercial is a little awkward, but Penny loves seeing herself on the big screen. We know this because she tells us so. I’m a little worried because Mediocre MB mentioned chicken parm wraps, but those don’t seem to be on the menu today. Uh oh. Also, the crowd seems less excited by their promo.
Finally, it’s the Nuts in a Hut truck. I’m sorry, Balls on the Roll. The crowd laughs, sure, because you can’t NOT laugh at a ball joke, but…the selection committee seems worried. Tyler and Bobby were laughing, but not Giada or Squinchy Bob! Comedian Jeff is worried that he fucked up with this concept.
Time for the crowd to choose a truck…and seal these contestants’ destiny. Duhn duhn duuuuhhnnnnnnn. A huge line forms at the Wrap truck, apparently all dying to try Penny’s filet wraps. But she’s lovingly hand-crafting each wrap at a table outside the truck and isn’t hustling. Frat Boy Chris is getting frustrated with her, stalling the diners for “just five minutes.” The diners are all HONGRY, though! They’re getting pissed off.
Mediocre MaryBeth heads out to the line to quell the pitchfork-wielding mob. She randomly hugs people and compliments their glasses, all in hopes that she’s keeping them satisfied while they wait for Penny’s filet. Also, how insulting is it to think that no one wants her ginger lime chicken or Frat Boy’s lobster wrap? Me, I’d want the lobster wrap!
Over at the FFF truck, people are pumped! The crowd loves the energy of the team, and the team’s having a great time interacting with the crowd. I think the food’s not bad either, right? Orchid feels left out, since Jyll and Vin have worked together before and have built a rapport. So, she’s a sidecar and knows it.
Oh, Penny finally got some wraps made, so now they can start slinging food. And people DO want the lobster wrap, too! So far, no one’s asked for the chicken. Ouch. Oh wait, MB forced it on someone, and then he decreed it bland! And apparently the lobster is too creamy, not lobstery enough. But the diners speak well of this team and their energy, too. Okay, so that’s fine. But what about the Balls?
Well, some random diner chump spells it out for us. (Did he get paid extra to be here? You know, the schlumpy guy with fake blonde hair and a Shaggy goatee and bad shirt?) He points out that the line for the Wraps and the FFFs are long, and not so much for the Balls. A wide shot shows us this truth to be self-evident. Yes, there is NO ONE at the Balls’ truck.
“Come on, it’s just balls!”
Two very nervous guys look like they’re heading into a porn shop as they come to the ball truck. Seriously, why do they look so scared? Comedian Jeff and Susie Mexican coax them into trying some of their wares. This is really sad. Frown.
We come back from commercial to two other sad diners who decided to try the balls. One is an older lady with gray hair. She walks up and Jeff asks, “What are you feeling like today?” She answers, “Balls.” It took me a good minute to stop laughing long enough to type up that exchange. She was serious, too! Like, didn’t get the ball joke! HA!
Okay, good, a few other people took a chance on Balls. Jeff’s and Susie’s dishes were very well received. Not only did the diners like the flavors, but they loved that the recipes were based on family recipes. Whitney’s falafel, however, didn’t quite cut it for most people. The texture was off. Is hers the one Giada keeps referring to in previews as “nasty”? (Also, she’s said her dish enough times now that I was able to Google it. Abondigas soup, that’s what Susie’s balls are.)
Time for the selection committee to stop watching everyone and start eating. They hit the Wrap truck first. Each time a contestant explains their dish, the camera cuts to Bobby Flat. For Frat Boy Chris, he shakes his head (probably knowing that the cream cheese overwhelmed the lobster). For Penny, he nods approvingly. And for Mediocre MB? No Bobby Flat, but Giada looks intrigued.
How does it all taste? Penny gets all thumbs up from the judges. It’s flavorful, and Tyler F. thinks it’ll have a lot of traction on the street. Chris’s is a fail. Bobby thinks it tastes like a bagel, and they’re left pulling the wrap apart to look for the scant few pieces of lobster. The judges are underwhelmed with MB’s chicken wrap. I think it was probably boring to begin with, but tasting after eating Penny’s wrap? That sealed her fate. Giada liked the way she described it, though.
Time for the Fusion Frenzy truck! Orchid warns us that she’s going to do her best to impress the selection committee. And she…doesn’t. Apparently, she was supposed to kick off the presentation, but she choked and then it was awkward. Really awkward. So then Vin and Jyll explain their dishes, interacting with the judges, and Orchid keeps trying to chime in but can’t, and I wonder if she’s the one leaving us this week.
But how’d it taste? Jyll and Vin both get tons of kudos from the judges. Like, there’s no wrong note in either dish. Orchid, they don’t love the bitter-ish taste to the dish and don’t feel like it fit in with the other two tacos on the truck. Aww. I feel bad for her, but I also feel like she has something good to go home to, so I don’t feel so bad.
Balls truck time! The judges ask first about the Balls name. Jeff ‘fesses up that it was his idea, but has a good save in explaining that it was a good concept to allow them to feature the flavors of different nationalities. A lot of different cuisines use balls. And he’s right! Bobby Flat nods with begrudging acceptance. Squinchy Bob needs more convincing, I think. Then they ask where the line is for their truck? Again, Comedian Jeff saves the day by saying, “They’re in line to be disappointed!” Another begrudging nod from Bobby Flat.
And how’d it taste, guys? The judges loved the meatball sandwich (Jeff) and the abondigas soup (Susie). Flavor, texture, presentation—all spot on. Tyler Florence poops on the abondigas a little because it IS a lesser-known dish and he felt that Susie should have done more to explain it. Eh, she didn’t really explain it much to anyone, and I figured it out, dude. Finally, they didn’t love Whitney’s falafel, because the texture was off. We knew this would happen.
So, we’re heading into the final evaluations. We already heard from the contestants about their experiences, and we already heard from the judges about how they liked the food from the trucks. So really, we need to talk about the commercials a little more, maybe, and then about the overall arc for each contestant. Who do the judges feel will make a good Food Network Star? I’ll edit out all the other repetitive nonsense for ya. You’re welcome.
Comedian Jeff is worried that he’ll be going home for his ball jokes. Orchid, Mediocre MB, Frat Boy Chris, and Whitney should all be worried that they’ll go home for making sub-par food. That’s where we stand right now.
Oh, here’s the Penny “rowrrr” from last week’s preview. My blood is already getting hot at the build-up. The judges asked how it was to work together. Chris correctly noted that Penny’s dish took a long time to create and it held up service at the beginning of the challenge. MaryBeth tried to explain how she helped Penny chop onions, but somehow, Penny turned catty about it all, trying to note that she was ALREADY chopping the onions when MaryBeth offered to help. As if this distinguishes something? I don’t get it. Then she interrupts MB to clarify the point, and MB explains probably overly deliberately about the situation, and then the meow comes out. Frat Boy Chris laughs out loud. The judges note the animosity, and FINALLY, Penny gets a spanking from mommy and daddies. “This is a Food Network family, you HAVE to be able to get along with people behind the scenes.” Penny agrees to work on being nicer, “given the opportunity.”
About 2 seconds after the “meeooowwr”
Okay, that’s behind us. It was also a let-down, drama-wise. Moving on.
Food wise, Penny wins for her truck. Her food was the best. Frat Boy Chris wins the honor of having Giada call his food “nasty.” Squinchy Bob mentions the commercial here to help Chris understand that he’s still got work to do to seem less like a goofy kid. And Mediocre MB? Her food was boring, her camera presence was awkward, but she’s otherwise got a great way about her with food. Generally.
The Triple F truck (Guy Feeyeti rubbed off on me a little, I think) goes next. Jyll and Vin Vegas get lots of compliments from the judges on their food and on the camera work in their commercial. I feel bad for Orchid, who’s not terrible but in comparison with Jyll and Vin, she seemed weak. The judges note her “baby sister” camera presence, saying she’s simmering while the others were at full boil. But Squinchy Bob actually apologizes for not liking her dish as much as the others! Aww.
And, oh, ouch, it’s the Balls truck team’s turn. Right away, Squinchy Bob slits the throat of the balls joke. Whitney tries to support Jeff, saying she thought it was fun and funny. Giada makes an “oh no, you di’n’t” face. Whitney retorts, “I’m funny, Giada!” That turns into the selection committee warning Whitney to stop focusing so much on what they’re telling her to improve and just be herself. (While, ostensibly, trying to focus on what they want her to improve!) She makes an appropriate WTF face about it all. Oh, also, they didn’t like her food!
“He wanted to joke about balls, and I liked it. I know you didn’t, Susie, but I’m funny, so I thought it was great.”
Susie’s abondigas soup is highly complimented, but they warn her to be more informative in her presentation, especially when she’s dealing with ingredients or dishes that the regular American wouldn’t know offhand. She smiles and says she’ll work on it. As for Jeff, his meatballs were also highly praised, but his balls schtick was a complete fail. The judges love how he’s talking about his meatballs now, because he’s soulful and genuine. I think most men want you to be soulful and genuine about balls, don’t they?
So, who are the top chefs from each food truck? Susie—yay! Vin—yay! And Penny—okay! And the overall winner of the day is Vin Vegas! He nods humbly. They’re all safe and leave the evaluation room.
Then we have to talk about the three worst from this week. You guessed it ahead of time like I did, right? Mediocre MB, Orchid, and Whitney. That means Jeff, Jyll, and Frat Boy Chris are safe. Honestly, I expected them to make an exception to the format and keep Chris back in there for possible elimination. How does this guy keep slipping through?!
Okay, let’s finish this, shall we? The judges need to decide between losing MaryBeth, who makes good TV (to an extent) but boring food; Orchid, who makes excellent food but boring TV; or Whitney, who’s a little all over the place, trying to find herself? I think it’s going to be MB. Boring food will never win, and I think she’s not connecting as well with any of the audiences so far.
About 2 seconds before Orchid goes home.
And it’s… wow, I’m wrong. MB is safe! It’s Orchid who’s leaving us tonight! Awww. I like Orchid, but I agree with the decision. She hasn’t grown comfortable on camera yet, so she’s gotta go. I kinda can’t believe MB is still around, though.
So, next week? Ooh, looks like a good one! First of all, it’s Wolfgang Puck, and he doesn’t fuck around. He’s so direct, it’s scary (as evidenced by him offering to take Jyll into the kitchen RIGHT NOW to show her how to make risotto. Oooh!). And then it’s a double-elimination week. YAY! A recapper’s dream! See you then!