The Next Food Network Star: do you believe in karma?

For those of us pissed off that the judges of “The Next Food Network Star” kept giving Debbie Lee pass after pass this season, despite the fact that she was dishonest and deceitful while acting all jolly and Korean, karma reared its head in our favor. More on that in a minute, but last night’s showdown between the final three of Lee, Melissa D’Arabian and Jeffrey Saad was actually very exciting to watch.

They began the episode by having the three finalists meet Emeril Lagasse at his restaurant, and Emeril announced their challenge for the week–in honor of the upcoming film, “Julie & Julia,” the contestants would have to create their own ultimate 3-course meal for some very distinguished judges. Each would have $1000 to shop as well as the help of a sous chef. After shopping (and Jeffrey being way under budget), they arrived back to find out who their sous chefs would be….naturally, former contestants….Jamika, Michael and Katie, who would be paired with Melissa, Debbie and Katie, respectively.

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5 questions with Jamika Pessoa of Next Food Network Star

Jamika Pessoa was the latest contestant to be eliminated on Food Network’s hit reality series, “The Next Food Network Star,” as her exit last night leaves three standing–Melissa, Jeffrey and Debbie. Jamika had a difficult time adapting to the curveballs that the producers and judges were throwing at her in last night’s episode, but there is no doubt she has talent as an entertainer and cook. We had the chance to ask Jamika a few questions about her elimination and her future career:

Premium Hollywood: Do you regret how you reacted in the Red Lobster challenge and would you react differently if you could turn back time?

Jamika Pessoa: No, I don’t regret it because I live life with no regrets. I am the type of person who tells you exactly how I feel and think and think I am very real all day every day. You never have to guess about me or how I am feeling. I would rather be sent home for being too real than being considered a phony. I felt like I handled myself well throughout the competition in a very honorable and respectful way.

PH: Have you cooked with celery root again since that challenge?

JP: I have not cooked with celery root since then, but I am thinking of refining that dish and making it one of my signature dishes.

PH: What are your career plans at this time and do you feel there may be a Food Network opportunity for you even if you didn’t win this?

JP: I certainly would like to continue in television and entertainment. I think I could offer Food Network viewers (and beyond) a unique perspective and style people would love to watch. I would love to have a traveling food show like diners, drive-ins, and dives with a more upscale twist to it. Traveling and eating cross country, now that’s a dream job!

PH: Aside from yourself, who was your favorite contestant this season, the one that you would watch as a fan?

JP: Besides myself, I would watch a show with Debbie or Michael. Debbie is very creative and shines on camera. Michael is hilarious and cooks some great food.

PH: What advice would you give someone auditioning for Food Network Star?

JP: I would tell anyone auditioning to be themselves at all costs. Once you lose your credibility as a personality on TV, it is hard to get it back. Although I did not win, I have gotten much respect from fans and viewers honoring me for being the real deal. And say lots of prayers; you are going to need them!

  

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The Next Food Network Star: and then there were three…

Is it just me or is this season of “The Next Food Network Star” flying? We are now down to the final three contestants, which means that in a couple of weeks we will have our new champion. I also have that same feeling I had last year…that is, that there is no clear-cut, Guy Fieri-like favorite. In fact, I think the network struck gold with Fieri and may never find anyone like him in this venue again. But that’s okay, because the producers and execs have to know that anyway.

So last night’s episode continued in Miami where the final four of Melissa, Jeffrey, Debbie and Jamika were greeted by Iron Chef Michael Symon at their hotel, the Eden Roc. Symon assigned them their first challenge of the day, a live cooking demo on a Miami network TV morning show. But what Symon didn’t tell them was that each of the chefs would be sabotaged in one way or another during their demo.

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The Next Food Network Star: Into the fire to start Season 5

Nothing like being thrown into the fire, huh? Last night, Season 5 of “The Next Food Network Star” kicked off with the ten finalists meeting in their cramped living quarters, and then being basically being thrown into a cage with wild animals…..well, you know what I mean. They had to cater a party for the network’s “sweet 16” party, where celebrities and Food Network stars would be eating their creations and critiquing them. Yikes.

The ten (Brett August (Washington Heights, N.Y.), Katie Cavuto (Philadelphia, Pa.), Melissa d’Arabian (Keller, Texas), Teddy Folkman (Alexandria, Va.), Eddie Gilbert (Manhattan Beach, Calif.), Jen Isham (Orlando, Fla.), Debbie Lee (West Hollywood, Calif.), Jamika Pessoa (Atlanta, Ga.), Michael Proietti (New York, N.Y.) and Jeffrey Saad (Los Angeles, Calif.). were broken up into two teams of five, with Bobby Flay picking those teams. Bretty, Teddy, Jamika, Melissa, and Jen made up one team and Michael, Debbie, Katie, Jeffrey and Eddie the other. Each team had $1200 to shop for their ingredients and five hours to prepare their dishes. The event would be held at Alex Guarnaschelli’s Butter restaurant.

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