Food Network Star: A Favorite Emerges

This week’s  episode of Food Network Star promised us another tough cut with a dash of comedy; as the chefs were set to be roasted by various comedians. While the competitors lived up to the expectations, the comedians fell flat. In the end, a clear favorite emerged and another chef was sent home. Here’s what went down this week.

After arriving in New York, the contestants were given an opportunity to run around Chelsea Market to find the “best thing they ever ate.” Once they decided on an item, the contestants were taken to a version of the “Best Thing I ever Ate” set — which is basically a stool in front of a white background — to present their food. At this point, we know what to expect from the chefs in these challenges, and the results were somewhat predictable. Jeff and Mary Beth both did a great job accurately describing their food, but also making it sound desirable to the viewer. Jeff absolutely nailed this challenge, and was eventually named the winner. Susie, Vic and Whitney didn’t perform as well in the challenge — failing to make their food sound desirable.

Since Jeff was named the winner of the first challenge — giving him two wins in a row — he was given the opportunity to assign various meats to his competitors for the second challenge. Mary Beth was assigned duck, which she informed the viewers (many, many times) that she had never cooked before. The chefs had to cook their assorted roasts, and then present their food to a table of comedians. Food Network really built up the event in the previews leading up to the episode, but the Roast was generally pretty lame. Even Gilbert Gottfried was tame.

All of the contestants’ food went over well with both the comedians and the judges. Again, Jeff stood out the most and was named the winner of the challenge — that’s three in a row for Jeff. At this point, he has to be considered the favorite going forward. It seems like after the whole “Balls on the Go” food truck episode, Jeff has really taken the competition seriously. He seems to have found the perfect balance of personality he needs to win this thing. Right now, he looks unstoppable.

Once the dust settled, Whitney and Mary Beth were the bottom two contestants. In what I thought was a somewhat surprising move, the judges elected to cut Whitney. She hasn’t shown much personality from week to week, but I don’t think her food ever received negative reviews. Either way, she wasn’t well-rounded enough to actually be named the next “Food Network Star.”

That brings up another issue — as we head into the last couple of weeks, only two contestants really have what it takes to be named the next “Food Network Star.” Vic still doesn’t have the camera presence, and Mary Beth’s food hasn’t always been up to par. There’s no doubt Mary Beth will excel next week in the Kevin Brauch role when the chefs take on Iron Chef, but she’s nowhere near as strong as Jeff or Susie. Bobby Flay really seems to enjoy Susie’s personality, so the fight between those two could be pretty fierce. Unfortunately, that leaves Vic as the contestant I expect to be eliminated next week. Either way, Jeff and Susie are going to make the finals.

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