Last night’s episode of “The Next Food Network Star” featured two unique challenges. The first was a chili pepper challenge, in which the 9 remaining chefs had to stake their claim to a specific type of chili pepper on a table and then create at dish with it to present on camera for 30 seconds. The winner would have their dish featured at all three of Bobby Flay’s restaurants.
Paul made a scallop dish with habanero and coconut sauce; DAS made some sort of sushi with tuna; Aria made a pork tenderloin with chili marinade; Herb a yellow chili spring roll with crab salad; Brianna made chili and chicken kabobs; Serena had Anaheim peppers and made a salad with mango and avocado; Tom made poblano with chorizo; Aarti made a steak with serrano chutney; and Brad made chicken and shrimp with coconut peanut sauce using Thai chiles.
Nothing like being thrown into the fire. On episode 3 of “The Next Food Network Star” last night, the contestants were again given very difficult challenges that asked them to show their stuff on camera. Being that the show is being filmed in Hollywood this season, it makes sense, but they are really going to make someone earn it this time around.
The episode began with Guy Fieri, who won Season 2 of this show and has seen his career launch into the stratosphere, introduced as guest judge this week, filling in for Bobby Flay. He and mentor Giada Di Laurentiis asked each chef to pick from a box of popcorn in front of them, a movie genre that they would then have to create a dish around and present to an audience.
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.
Last night’s finale of “The Next Food Network Star” featured two contestants in Melissa D’Arabian and Jeffrey Saad who were, frankly, both worthy of winning. So the challenge that they both faced in taping their own pilot would pretty much be the determining factor.
Being that this final episode was taped before a live audience, there was a lot of time to fill. So they began with shots of both contestants with their families back home–Jeffrey in Los Angeles selling real estate and hanging and cooking at home with his wife and two kids, who I believe they said were 13 and 9 years old. Melissa, meanwhile, is from Keller, Texas, and they showed her with her husband and four kids, all girls, between the ages of 1.5 and 4….are you kidding me? No wonder Melissa is so frantic all the time…they showed a shot of her driving a minivan with the four car seats. Yikes.
This Sunday marks the conclusion of Season 5 of “The Next Food Network Star,” pitting Jeffrey Saad against Melissa D’Arabian. It’s hard to believe we’ve reached this point already, but I always say that after the 4th of July, the summer flies by faster than we want it to. Anyway, I’m pulling for Melissa and I think she’s got the goods to be a network star for a long time. Jeffrey, though, is no slouch by any means, and seems like he’s got incredible cooking chops himself. Below is a video preview of the finale, which airs this Sunday, August 2, at 9pm/8pm central.