Saturday, July 21, 2012

Who will win Food Network Star?

It's raining today and there are distant rumbles of thunder. We are in a drought (still) so I'm glad for the rain. And also the cooler temps. I wish it would rain in the Midwest. I can't imagine the agony those corn and soybean farmers are going through.

This Sunday Food Network will reveal the winner of the reality contest "The Next Food Network Star." This is a multi-month series where a pool of contestants vie for the position of having their own television show on Food Network. I like the search for the star. I never watch the star's show. I don't care about cooking shows, frankly. It's just easier to read a recipe and get on with it.

This year was a bit different. I've enjoyed the new set up where three established stars (Bobby Flay, Alton Brown, Giada Di Laurentiis) each pick 5 contestants from among the applicants, mentor them and if one of their people are chosen, will produce their show.

I enjoy seeing how different people mentor a newbie. I like to see how the teams bond. And interestingly, this year there were actually a couple of people I have enjoyed watching. They stand out, unlike in previous seasons where all 15 just blend into each other until the end and then I go "OK, then, that guy whose name I don't remember won" and turn the channel. Like, there was Jeff or Joe with the sandwiches (who was a loud guy) and Aarti who I don't even think has a show anymore and beyond that who can remember?

A side note, Food Network, we all don't need LOUD (Jeff, Guy, Rachael). Sometimes we like to be talked to like normal people. Calmly (Ippy).

One contestant who made it to the finals is Michelle. I would not watch her because of the nose ring, sloppy dressing, and the plethora of color tattoos up and down her arm. Sorry, those things offend me. But more to the food point I would not watch her because her show is all about New England. I am a native New Englander and I'd love to learn how to make better clam fritters or a good chowder. But I live in north Georgia now, 400 miles from the sea. Fresh seafood is not available to me and so her show would be a bust because I'd only wind up longing for what I can't have.

The pilot episodes each of the finalists shows were good, but two stood out for me. Yvan hasn't been a favorite of mine until that moment when he said "can of cream corn from church." His premise is that he will cook inexpensive family style recipes. He explained that they grew up poor. His mom often received a box of food from the church, and then had to make something out of it. I have been in that exact boat. I never know what to do with cream corn to make it taste good. His Mac N Cheese with milk and cream corn sounded absolutely delicious. His show would be very practical for me.

On the opposite end of the scale, Justin's show would be completely impractical. He makes fried fish bones and foi gras donuts and weird things I will never in my lifetime cook. So why watch? He is a witty genius, and it is really interesting to see what he does with food. Remember that checkerboard stroganoff damier tartare? I definitely do. I enjoyed the presentation in his pilot of the cold aspic on grilled romaine as an updated version of Caesar Salad. I never knew it was so easy to make aspic. And the reason I'd watch him is because he is unexpected and he is funny. I never know what he is going to do! To me, that is entertaining, notwithstanding the food. I'm a geek at heart and I fall for a quirky genius every time. Every. Time. Hello, Mr Alton Brown.

This Sunday is the big reveal on who gets the show Sunday. I'm curious to see "who you voted for, America," another change to the show's format. People got to vote for the show they wanted. Like our vote counts and it isn't even rigged, or something. Given my attention span to tv and celebrities, I anticipate being entranced by The Closer by Monday and that will be that for Food Network Star.

When Food Network Star is over I still have a few weeks of Mastherchef and Hell's Kitchen and The Closer. After that there is a frightening gap until Person of Interest and Big Bang Theory come back. I'll have to do some crafting and gasp, read a book.

Who do you think will win? Who do you think should have won but was eliminated? O the injustices of fake reality on fake television! But oh, so fun to watch.

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