The Next Food Network Star: final four

This week during “The Next Food Network Star,” mentor Giada Di Laurentiis announced that the finalists who made it past this week were going to New York City to finish the competition. So much for having this season in a different city, huh? They must have realized they had way more resources in New York to draw from.

Anyway, this episode began with Giada asking the chefs to make their signature dishes and to present them on camera in a one-minute presentation. Sounds too easy for this point in the competition, doesn’t it? Well it was….Giada showed up 10 minutes in and threw them a curve…they would have to add in their least favorite ingredient, and to present them with that ingredient were their family members. Pretty emotional stuff! Aria’s was anchovies, Tom’s white pepper (really?), Aarti’s was okra, Brad’s was ranch dressing and Herb’s canned peas.

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The Next Food Network Star kicks off Season 6

Last night began the new season of “The Next Food Network Star” and they changed things up dramatically this time. Instead of taking place in New York City near the network’s offices and studio, they moved it out to Los Angeles, putting the focus on the “star” portion of the show’s name. Also this season, in addition to regular judges Bobby Flay, Susie Fogelson and Bob Tuschman, the show added Giada Di Laurentiis as a mentor to the twelve contestants. Oh, and the fact that there are twelve instead of ten is also a change.

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TV in the 2000s: My Top Reality Shows For the Decade

Reality TV was kicking into high gear in the early part of the decade, and in 2002 Fox’s “American Idol” changed many things about how we watch TV, how we view the music industry, and how we view Paula Abdul. These are all shows that I blog about, so suffice to say that while I have become somewhat knowledgeable about each show, I do enjoy watching them, and enjoy them immensely. Here is how I rank them…..

“American Idol” (Fox)—It’s hard to argue with ratings and how this show has become the #1 show, maybe of all-time. And while we have taken issue with the judges, the producers and oftentimes, the talent, the fact remains that the concept of “American Idol” is awesome –to let viewers determine who they want to be a pop star. And it’s likely exceeded the expectations of producers and industry execs, particularly with the careers of Kelly Clarkson and Carrie Underwood. In fact, without Idol, what would those two be doing right now?

“The Biggest Loser” (NBC)—It’s hard to believe no one thought of a show like this long before reality TV came to be. And what could be more inspiring to Americans than to prove that those of us getting fat while watching reality TV and eating bad food and not exercising, that we can actually lose weight, and a lot of it, if we put the effort in. But seeing how the show transforms the lives of its contestants is must-see TV, and can be downright heartwarming. Sometimes, however, the producers let gameplay take over, which can cloud the purpose of the show. But still, the show is already in its 8th season and shows no signs of slowing down.

“Top Chef” (Bravo)—Admittedly, I only started watching this one in Season 5, but became hooked faster than I’ve been hooked by any reality show. It’s so well done, and has made me notice things in the production, like lighting and music and continuity, that I’ve never noticed in shows like this before. Then there is the competition itself, and it’s a show that pits, well, top chefs, against each other—chefs that know fine dining but have to stay on the cutting edge of cuisines and techniques for survival on the show.

“Hell’s Kitchen” (Fox)—The boisterous Gordon Ramsay became a fixture in our living rooms a few yeas back, and “Hell’s Kitchen” was an awesome concept for the first two or three seasons. After that, it began to lose some of its appeal—mostly because they have stuck to the same format again and again without much variation. Still a great show, but after six seasons, they need to take a break or change things up.

“The Next Food Network Star” (Food Network)—This show gained all of its credibility after the fact, once Season 2 champ Guy Fieri became a rock star almost overnight. But in the three seasons since, it’s failed to produce anyone like Guy, and maybe never will again. Plus, you can’t keep crowning a champ, and then give them 5-6 shows before letting them fade into oblivion. At least in my book, that hurts this show’s credibility.

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Top Chef Las Vegas: how do you say “double elimination” in French?

Last night on “Top Chef: Las Vegas” on Bravo, it was another 75 minute episode, but an action-packed episode in which two chefs were eliminated from the competition.


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Melissa D’Arabian: from home cook to network star


Melissa D’Arabian won Season 5 of “The Next Food Network Star” on Sunday, but what you may not have known was that since the finale taped (about two months ago, so we were told by the network), her new show, “Ten Dollar Dinners,” already has taped six episodes. The show premieres this Sunday, August 9 at 12:30pm ET/PT, and on the it Melissa will demonstrate how to create flavorful and interesting meals for a family of four for under ten bucks.

DArabian, who recently moved from Keller, Texas to Kirkland, Washington, beat out runner-up Jeffrey Saad of Los Angeles to take the title of Next Food Network Star, and we had the chance to participate in a conference call with Melissa this past Monday. Here are a few of the highlights of what she had to say…..

On her new show’s premise: “The challenge isn’t how to feed a family of four hot dogs on ten dollars. The challenge is how to feed them shrimp or a well-rounded meal that has several components. I think you’re going to be really surprised by the ingredients and by the recipes.”

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