The Final Four: Martie, Yvan, Michele and Lipsticks. (Food Network )
Midway through "Food Network Stars," there was some concern about The Network's decisions. But that's all bygones now. Because The Network proved itself by tossing out the rulebook this week when it decided to greenlight four pilots -- and not just three.
Now, it's up to America to choose who will be the next "Food Network Star."
So, who's getting your vote?
Were you chewing on your fingernails as The Network -- a.k.a. Susie Fogelson and Bob Tuschman -- began eliminating competitors on Sunday night in a bid to slash the field in half from six to three. Nikki Martin was the first to go, followed by Ippy Aiona. Then it came time to a Sophie's Choice kind of moment (does it seem insensitive to say that in this context? Somehow, when Alton Brown said it, it seemed all right).
Would the network go with Lipsticks -- who seems to have given up the reds in favors of the pinks, perhaps in a nod to summer -- or Martie Duncan? How could they choose? Justin Warner has been a standout from the start with his adorkable, mad-genius-let-loose-in-the-kitchen recipes. I've been ready to put him on the DVR since the Season 8 pilot, and I continue to think he'll be the last one standing.
But ... but ... how could The Network turn its back on Martie, who went from annoying and grating to absolutely charming and delightful over the course of a grueling competition that forced her to make peace with her inner, talkative demons.
How could The Network possibly choose between them? They didn't. In their infinite wisdom, The Network took both.
Hey, Martie with a party, I've got a spot on the DVR waiting for you, too.
Are you surprised that Michele Ragussis made it through? She came across as aggressive in her pitch, with the fingerpointing and such. (Which is so weird, because, as has been said a million times before, she is just not like that "off camera.") And I am still not convinced that "My New England" is broad enough to carry a show. But I think she's plenty appealing when she just relaxes and cooks. Please stop selling me and pointing at me, Michele, I am already there!
I am still not 100% sold on Yvan Lemoine. I think his sing-songy voice will send me over the edge if I have to listen to it week after week. But I loved his pilot. Loved that his family was all around. Loved that he comes from hard times, and can really talk about keeping to a budget. But you know what struck a chord with me? When he pitched his corn-filled mac and cheese by talking about how "stretchy and good" all the cheese was. Granted, I love cheese. But it all topped his fun, casual way of putting that dish together. Note to Giada De Laurentiis: Beat that uptalking stage voice out of him, and you've got something there.
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