Last night on episode 3 of “The Next Food Network Star” Season 5, the theme was entertaining on a budget, and in my humble opinion, one contestant was lucky that the judges didn’t issue a double elimination when they had every reason to. But more on that shortly. The show began with all 8 remaining chefs meeting up with Food Network star Tyler Florence at Stew Leonard’s grocery store, which looked sort of like a Whole Foods. The first part of their challenge was to pick out ingredients to serve a dinner party of 12, but with only $60 to spend. In addition, they each had to offer a budget-conscious tip on camera for Florence, who would judge them and declare a winner, with that person to have an advantage in the main challenge.
Jeffrey won the challenge with a brief but very effective tip on how to use Nutella to make crepes for both dessert and breakfast with his family. Melissa and Debbie also did a nice job with their tips. Teddy (who Florence referred to as a cartoon character of himself), Jamika (who advised to re-use marinade) and Michael (just a complete mess) all bombed in the budget tip portion of the challenge.
Then the finalists, who still had no idea who they were cooking for or where, were whisked off to the Hamptons on Long Island, and found out that they would be cooking for Ina Garten, a.k.a. The Barefoot Contessa, along with some of her friends and the judging trio of Bob Tuschman, Susie Fogelson and Bobby Flay. Now me personally, I can’t stand the Barefoot Contessa’s show, which is dripping with frou-frou and well, let’s just say she’s the polar opposite of Guy Fieri. But almost every contestant was a big fan of Contessa, and wanted desperately to impress her.
But then came a twist….they were allowed to use the ingredients they purchased, but would be broken up into four teams of two. Each team had to create an appetizer, entree and dessert, with each chef making one of the three, and the third being a collaborative effort. Jeffrey’s prize for winning the first part of the challenge was to choose his teammate, and he picked Michael. The other teams were drawn randomly by Garten and Flay–Teddy and Debbie, Melissa and Eddie, and Jamika and Katie. Right off the bat, both Debbie and Melissa were not happy about their choice of teammate, and they would later be proven correct.
Each team had to present their dishes to the dinner party, and the judges then talked about how they did with the presentations and what they thought of the food.
Jamika and Katie went first, with Jamika making a glazed salmon, Katie a pasta dish and the collaboration being a fruit-based dessert. The judges felt there wasn’t enough of a collaboration overall and the theme was a bit disjointed, but that both presented their dishes well and Jamika’s salmon was awesome.
Jeffrey and Michael were next, and their collaboration was a spicy roasted tomato soup while Michael made a pesto chicken and broccoli rabe main dish, and the dessert was Jeffrey’s crepe that he spoke about in his budget tip that won him the first part of the challenge. Jeffrey, as usual, did a much better job of presenting than Michael, who just keeps looking “lost” (a judge term) on camera. But all agreed that the food from these two was really great.
Eddie and Melissa were next, and Melissa was her frantic self in the kitchen while Eddie was caught on camera at one point rolling his eyes at her. There was lots of tension and the judges could feel it. For their dishes, Eddie made a watermelon salad with red onion and feta cheese, Melissa made a chicken dish and their collaboration was a bananas foster quesadilla. The Barefoot Contessa loved Melissa’s energy but most of them did not like her chicken so much. Meanwhile, they hated Eddie’s salad, saying the onion overpowered the dish. One judged used the word “inedible.”
Finally Debbie and Teddy went, with Debbie making an Asian “marinara” sauce over linguine, the collaboration being a Pan Asian meatloaf, and the dessert being a thrown-together creation by Teddy of strawberry shortcake with boxed pudding. The judges loved the sauce for Debbie’s pasta though they were skeptical at first. They liked the meatloaf too but called the dessert an “abomination.”
Then, as the eight contestants stood in front of the judges, and listened to critiques and feedback, an amazing thing happened. Eddie admitted that his watermelon salad was something he lifted from a Paula Deen cookbook. Are you kidding me? He poached a recipe, and then tried to inadvertently blame Paula Deen for the fact that the judges hated the dish? Yikes. Then, even worse, Teddy threw Debbie under the bus, just like he did with Melissa the week before. He spouted off that the meatloaf dish was his own, and that the dessert was a collaboration. Meanwhile, the judges remembered Teddy claiming responsibility for the dessert in his presentation. Dude was backpedaling and making everyone uncomfortable and annoyed in the process. And he really pissed Debbie off, who told the judges that in fact the meatloaf was a team creation, and it was.
So the winning team was Jeffrey and Michael, and both were declared safe for another week. They then sent four more back to safety–Jamika, Debbie, Melissa and Katie. That left the two degenerates, Eddie and Teddy. Eddie had now been on the chopping block three straight weeks, and poaching a recipe and rolling his eyes at Melissa could not have helped. Meanwhile, Teddy just showed a horrific lack of integrity, and well, dude is just emotionally unstable….he started crying and apologized to the judges and to Debbie more than once, but the damage was done. Who would the judges send home? A tough call, and Fogelson correctly pointed out that they should send both Eddie and Teddy home. They didn’t, however, ultimately choosing Eddie because of his overall performance the first three weeks.
Meanwhile, Teddy is still hanging around, and that can’t make anyone else on the show comfortable, especially if they have to work on a team with him again. I really thought they should have made an exception and send them both home, but I also realize they have contracted a fixed number of episodes. Teddy can’t be on the show much longer, though.
So what do you all think? Let me know, and we’ll also have an exit interview with Eddie posted in a few days!