Judson Allen seemed to stir up some ego. (Food Network )
This post has been corrected, as indicated below.
If you cannot even pretend to say anything nice about the state of Pennsylvania, especially when you know you are being followed by a "Next Food Network Star" TV camera, you should go home.
We're eight seasons into "The Next Food Network Star" franchise, and for eight seasons Food Network honchos Bob Tuschman and Susie Fogelson have been nearly unerring in their search for the Next Big Thing in Food TV. But this week was one of those rare missteps.
First, they put the wrong team on the chopping block during this week's episode.
And then they sent the wrong competitor home.
The Flayman's team should have been up for elimination after this week's challenge, which was to join Guy Fieri for a TV segment surrounding a theme: Halloween, game day or cooking for kids. Giada De Laurentiis' team aced the game day challenge. And Alton Brown's team did well with the food side of the Halloween challenge, although not so well with the presentation side of the challenge. (Martie Duncan, of course, couldn't shut her trap.)
Now, granted, cooking for kids is by far the hardest of the bunch, and Bobby Flay's team was stuck with it. But then they botched both the food and the presentation.
Malcolm Mitchell forgot to mention that — duh — he's a dad. Meanwhile, Nikki Martin, who acted like she'd rather eat children than cook for them, served up a chunky, bright green kale smoothie. Because that's what every kid in world wants to drink, right? Chunky green stuff? The children, of course, disapproved. (Nikki also stopped talking and let several seconds of dead time go by while she was blending during the presentation.) Michele Ragussis was the team's only saving grace.
What is puzzling, however, is that when it came to the elimination, the judges decided that two teams would be saved instead of allowing the bottom two teams to duke it out. Why was that? My guess: They didn't want to risk seeing Bobby lose another player.
So Alton's team was sacrificed. And then when it came down to choosing between Martie and Judson Allen, the judges chose Judson. I just don't get that. Yes, Susie was correct in her criticism of Judson: He he has a bit of a boastful thing going on. But Alton so eloquently explained that Judson is being asked to embrace the very personality that he has spent a lifetime trying to run away from.
If you look at the state of America's waistline, who has the more unusual and compelling P.O.V.: Martie and her Southern fare, or Judson, who used healthful cooking to lose more than 100 pounds?
I just don't get this love of Martie. She's grating, irritating and suffocating, and she's stealing time from her teammates. True, when she is at her best, she is reminiscent of a brunet Paula Deen. But Food Network doesn't need another Paula Deen, does it? (Or does it?)
Bad move, judges. Martie is tapped out. And her snide remarks about Pennsylvania being a food desert and even the very dish she prepared for the judges (she said she probably wouldn't eat it herself) should be causes enough for packing. Who wants such two-timing behavior in the host of a new cooking show?
Judson, by contrast, could have brought something new and needed to the network.
A few random thoughts:
--How did Team Alton's food taste in the Pitch Room? Maybe I missed it because I was too busy fuming about the looming outcome, but did the judges actually try it and comment on it?
--Michele is back!
--What is with the 'tude, Malcolm? You need a P.O.V. Everyone needs a P.O.V. When did this guy go from being so charming to being so full of himself?
--Is it me, or is Emily Ellyn trying to turn up the sexy? Um, that doesn't work. Just be the home ec teacher we all wish we had, Emily.
--Justin Warner's lips continue to ... redden. I'm calling 911 when they get so red they start turning blue. (Lips aside, how genius was that sardine dish?)
[Updated at 7:58 a.m.: An earlier version of this post mistakenly said that the red lips belong to Josh Lyons. But of course, Lyons was eliminated earlier in competition, and his lips are a regular, normal color.]
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