Monday, July 22, 2013

Next Food Network Star Season 9 Episode 8 Recap

Last week, the online competition to determine which eliminated Wannabe gets to return to the show, Last Chance Kitchen Star Salvation, ended with a cliffhanger (well, to those who care) - did Chad win, or did akaLovely? Alton, Bobby, and Giada give the bad news to the Wannabes, who had no idea there was a second, behind-the-scenes, rip-off of Top Chef-style competition going on after hours.

To everyone's great dismay (at least to those of us seated on the couch in my living room), the loser re-entering the competition is...



Now that that awful detail is done, let's go on to the first challenge. Apparently the job of a Food Network star is to describe a plate of food in such a manner as to make the home audience hungry. (I suppose that's why Rachael Ray yells "yummo!" all the time. We're supposed to have some sort of Pavlovian response.) The Wannabes have thirty minutes to prepare a plate of food and 30 seconds to describe it in such a way that the mentors start drooling all over their pocket squares (or in Giada's case, cleavage). I suppose we should call this the Buitoni Challenge, because the contestants must use that company's fresh pasta. They are admonished to pronounce things correctly, otherwise they will feel the Wrath of Giada. (She might bite them with those Colgate teeth of hers.)

Cooking commences. The edit goes to akaLovely first, and she talks about her pasta with shrimp. I can't tell you how much I dislike this character. She seems so phoney...oily...I find nothing pleasant about her. Everyone else I like, especially Rodney, who gives a shout out to Baltimore's Little Italy while he's prepping his dish. Which is not pie, by the way.

After thirty minutes, four of the Wannabes are chased out of the room, leaving Damaris and akaLovely behind. There's a twist! They switch plates. akaLovely must taste Damaris' pasta and describe it in 30 seconds. It's clear that akaLovely missed the food adjective challenge last week, because she can only come up with "beautiful," "delicious," and even manages to throw the over-used and completely out-of-place word, "journey," in there. Unless you're going to China to buy your ingredients and then bringing them back to your kitchen in Topeka to cook, you're not taking a frickin' journey. You're cooking a g-d plate of g-d pasta purchased at the local g-d supermarket. (That's "gosh-darn," by the way. Alton-speak.)

Geez Louise.

Not only that, she says, "maRscapone." I would have loved to see Giada jump down her throat for that, "Mas-car-po-NAY," Bitch!"

Damaris tries another tack by telling a story about heartbreak and eating pasta to soothe it. At least that seems to be what she's trying to say, but 30 seconds goes by mighty fast.

The next battle is Stacey vs. Rodney. She also starts a story that she can't finish, and you know she's just frantic without her set of mental index cards all lined up and ready to go. Rodney's mind goes blank; he keeps calling the chicken saltimbocca, "sweet," which it shouldn't be.

Finally, Russell and Nikki go head-to-head. He's now making sure that he mentions his culinary sins every time he opens his mouth, and he even applies them to Nikki's all-vegetarian burst-tomato pasta, which is anything but sinful. Nikki does marginally better, but it's pretty safe to say that all six of them suck.

The mentors think Nikki is deserving of the win, however, which gives her an advantage in the next challenge.

Another thing that Food Network stars must do is travel around to other peoples' restaurants, stuff their faces with food, and talk and chew at the same time. (Dipshits, Douchebags, and Dorks just got an Emmy nomination, so you know this style of programming will never go away now.) The Wannabes, in two teams, must hit a joint in Southern Cali famous for one thing or another and film a field piece. Nikki's advantage - she gets to choose her teammates, and she wisely goes for Damaris and Stacey. That leaves Rodney, Russell, and akaLovely to fend for themselves.

Team Girlz go to the Donut Man in Glendora, CA. Team akaBoyz go to Vito's Pizzeria, in West Hollywood. They get some time to write their piece before filming begins, and mercifully they get to do retakes.

On Team Girlz, Damaris does the intro, and she comes off as bubbly and fun. She throws the scene to Stacey, who's interviewing Jim, the Donut Man and inventor of the fresh strawberry donut, which is made with potato flour. At least, she's supposed to be interviewing him. Instead, she's so nervous and eager to get the whole thing over with that she talks over him. She even answers her questions for him while he's left gasping like a fish.

Finally, Nikki takes the end of the clip, where she must engage a customer. She asks a little girl about her favorite donut, the girl answers brightly, and the clip is ovah.

Oh, did I mention that the winning team is safe from elimination? That means one person from the losing team is outta there. We here at Casa Minx can only hope that Team Girlz is the winner and that akaLovely shoots herself in the foot.

Next we see Team akaBoyz at Vito's. Russell starts with the intro, in which he mentions a 500 year old yeast and calls it a culinary sin. Huh? Rodney gets the interview and is absolutely a riot, at least the parts that are understandable.

He's jawing with the pizzaiolo like he's done this forever. Finally, akaLovely woodenly bites into a slice of obviously cold pizza and asks a question of the two male long-time Vito's customers sitting in a booth nearby. They answer dully and she doesn't try to engage them further. She's a big dud. Get her out of there.

After the filming, the Wannbes get to take showers before meeting the mentors at the DeMille Theater in Culver City. There is also a three-person focus group present made up of people from the Hollywood Reporter, who presumably know star power. Welp, you're not going to find any here, folks! Sorry for wasting your time!

They watch Team Girlz' clip first and seem to really like Damaris and Nikki. Stacey comes off as hammy to them though, and they don't like the way she runs all over Jim the Donut Man.

All three members of Team akaBoyz stumble. Russell didn't need to make it about himself, Rodney didn't display any culinary authority; the Hollywood Reporter people thought his personality might just have been shtick (although it was clear that the mentors loved him), and akaLovely was too polished. And a big dud. Get. Her. Out. Of. There.

Back at the kitchen, the giant glowing vagina table is put back in service as the Wannabes are given the verdict. Team Girlz did well enough to win, and Stacey cries, knowing that if they hadn't won, she'd be the one leaving. Team akaBoyz presented three possible choices for elimination, although it was pretty clear that Rodney was safe.

In a non-unanimous decision, akaLovely became akaLoser. Yay! She does leave us with a threat, however, saying we'll see her again. And that's when I'll be changing the channel.

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