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NFNS August 8th SPOILER

I really enjoyed this episode - great idea with the Iron Chefs. Loved Tom, Aarti is irritating me, and just glad that it's Aria going home.

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  1. this was a fun episode, and i, too, am so glad Aria's finally gone. her behavior during the commentary portion of the challenge was really childish and disrespectful. i'm glad the judges were so wowed by Aarti's food, but i wanted to grab her by the shoulders and SHAKE her every time they showed her spacing out in the kitchen!

    Tom totally dodged a bullet. you *know* the judges must have really wanted to get rid of Aria if they kept him around after serving such awful food.

    2 Replies
    1. re: goodhealthgourmet

      What kept Tom in, despite his food not hitting the mark, was that he embraced the "Iron Chef"-ness of the challenge. He purposefully stepped outside the box and went for it. Aria did not. Her food was nowhere near what it needed to be.

      1. re: cmvan

        He also nailed the hosting, or at least was the best of the bunch for the challenge.

    2. I think that it was a little unfair that Herb and Aartie got shrimp, something that is usually a main component of a dish, and Tom and Aria got bacon, something that is rarely a main dish. What could they have made featuring bacon?
      Glad to see Aria gone, but Aartie's "Golly gee, you liked my food?" attitude is driving me nuts.

      22 Replies
      1. re: dmjordan

        What can you make with bacon?
        - TJ Dogs, really great street food in my neck of the woods
        - Bacon and Shrimp go extremely well together
        - Chocolate Cake w/Bacon (unbelievably good cake)
        - Rumaki and/or any of it's variants
        - Glaze it
        - Corn and bacon muffins/puffs
        - Bacon wrapped tenderloin
        - BLT

        As my sister has always said...everything's better with bacon. The possibilities were endless

        1. re: DiningDiva

          I agree with DiningDiva. Bacon should have been an easy ingredient to showcase. She didn't even come close.

          1. re: DiningDiva

            Mmmm, you're making me hungry DD! I still think that shrimp was a no brainer and bacon much more challenging. Notice that the bottom two both came from the bacon challenge.

            1. re: dmjordan

              Nah, I think the bottom two came from bacon because she had no imagination and he had too much.

              ~TDQ

              1. re: dmjordan

                How were they the bottom 2? I thought they picked a winner of each ingredient first (Aarti and Tom), leaving Aria and Herb to find out who was going home. But then, I watched it late and with some wine in me; I could have that wrong.

                1. re: debbiel

                  Well, Aria was the loser of the bacon challenge, so, she was the bottom of that pair. They didn't seem to like any of her dishes really. And they didn't like ANY of Tom's dishes saying that at least one of them was the worst dish in the history of TNFS. They loved all of Aarti's dishes and two of Herb's three (grit in the clams notwithstanding). So, even though Herb "lost" to Aarti, I think it's fair to say his dishes would be ranked of ahead of Aria's meh dishes and Tom's dreadful, but gutsy dishes.

                  Tom got to stay only because he way outperformed everyone on the commentary part of the challenge and because he failed because he took huge (but stupid, according to Cat Cora and I agree) risks.

                  ~TDQ

                  1. re: The Dairy Queen

                    Oh, I agree they had the worst food. I thought dmj was referring to the final judging. My mistake. And I agree that Tom was saved by his hosting.

                    1. re: debbiel

                      I was referring to the final judging, but was wrong. I think it was so obvious that Tom and Aria did the worst, that they were the bottom two in my mind. It was obvious the Herb wouldn't be going home.

              2. re: DiningDiva

                Even if she wanted to stay with breakfast, I saw a Giada recipe where she put crispy bits of pancetta in the waffle batter. Still want to try that one...

                1. re: Philly Ray

                  I don't know what I would have done in that challenge. I cook all the time, and I try to do different things with food, but honestly, in that challenge, I think I might have frozen up. I would like to think that I would have come up with more interesting dishes than Aria's, but under those circumstances, who knows what I would have come up with.

                  1. re: kprange

                    Same here. Upthread somebody mentioned a few bacon-centric dishes, but in my mind, bacon is the major supporting role, not the main ingredient.

                    I kept thinking "pork belly" when Tom was attempting the bacon "steak". I've never cooked pork belly, but that certainly could have worked as a main dish.

                    1. re: xo_kizzy_xo

                      I'm pretty sure during the bacon battle on ICA a few years ago, someone did a pork belly "steak".

                      1. re: debbiel

                        But they didn't have pork belly...they had bacon. Bacon is already cured and smoked, pork belly is uncooked. Pork belly would have been much easier to make into the "star" of a dish.
                        I agree with the posters above...shrimp was a much easier ingredient to showcase than bacon.

                        1. re: sibeats

                          I wasn't suggesting that he should have made it with pork belly. I was responding to someone else's comment about pork belly.

                          I still don't think bacon is that tough for a chef to showcase. One approach would be to think of non-bacon dishes that could be transformed with the addition of bacon. Bacon then becomes the star of the dish.

                          1. re: debbiel

                            Sorry...my reply was supposed to be attached to the one above yours, where the poster did say they thought about using pork belly.
                            However, Tom did exactly what you suggest, making bacon the star of non-bacon dishes...with terrible results...maybe he just couldn't pull it off, but I still think it's a tough ingredient to showcase...

                            1. re: sibeats

                              Well, paraphrasing Cat, you can do things dumb and you can do things smart. :-) Tom's combos were definitely bad. I'm not a chef, don't eat meat, and cook bacon just once a year (for my husband's birthday), but I might have tried something with wrapping bacon around fruit and grilling (the idea of bacon and a sweet peach appeals to me), done something with the new "craze" of bacon and chocolate, done some dish that pulled together different types of pork but make bacon shine in it. You could make a plate of different items that include bacon (maybe something like greens sauteed with bacon, with bacon wrapped chicken livers?)...just ideas. And who knows, maybe they wouldn't have worked either. And I am now struggling to figure out how a vegetarian just thought about bacon wrapped chicken livers. And am struggling with a craving for bacon-y mashed potatoes.

                              (Oh, and I should say that my comments are probably biased by the fact that, even when I was a meat eater, I loathed shrimp.)

                              1. re: debbiel

                                Yep, I'll agree that there were things that could have been done to make bacon more front and center...but I guess bottom line is that neither of the contestants had the skill to think of or execute them.

                                Now had the situation been reversed, what would "healthy" Herb have done with bacon as the secret ingredient? Or Aarti for that matter, because if I'm not mistaken, Indian cooking does not use pork.

                                1. re: sibeats

                                  Actually, I thought the ingredients were well-chosen for the participants. I though shrimp fit Aarti+Herb nicely and bacon fit Aria+Tom nicely.

                                  I am not aware of any prohibitions in Indian cooking against using pork, unless they are Muslim or Vegetarian Indians. Usually I associate the restriction on using beef with Indian cooking, but Aarti actually used beef in one of her challenges (can't remember which one), so even that doesn't seem to be a problem for her.

                                  ~TDQ

                                  1. re: The Dairy Queen

                                    Yes, that's what I said...if the situation were reversed it would have been more problematic. If Aarti and Herb had the bacon I think it would have been more difficult for them. I don't know if there are prohibitions against using pork, but I did read that Indian cooking generally does not use pork...maybe the source was wrong...

                                    1. re: sibeats

                                      Oh, I'm sorry, I didn't mean to say the same thing as you. I guess I was making the point that I thought they deliberately chose the ingredients to be compatible. It wasn't random--it was deliberate.

                                      ~TDQ

                      2. re: xo_kizzy_xo

                        Or fatback? "I've never eaten it, probably because it's called FAT BACK...why don't they just throw in 'hairy' while they're at it?" -- Jim Gaffigan.

                2. re: dmjordan

                  I also was annoyed by her inability to do the commentary with any pizazz at all. It's like when Ben wouldn't talk on Hell's Kitchen. You know you have to do it, so start talking and put on the personality, which she can have.

                3. One can only imagine the trepidation they felt when they walk on to the set and see not one, but four Iron Chefs to judge their food. OMG.

                  Tom only made it because Aria failed so badly, all the way around. I winced when the judges tried to cut into his "bacon steak". There was no way that was going to be redeemable. "The single worst dish in the history of Next Food Network Star"! Wow. I do agree with cmvan that his ability to "bring it Iron Chef style" also saved him. But will it be enough?

                  Aarti gets on my nerves, but she certainly brought the food in the competition.

                  7 Replies
                  1. re: araknd

                    I could hardly believe my eyes when I saw Tom grinding up bacon to make bacon patties: this is just like the Hormel bacon bars I used to buy for backpacking: OK to eat at 8000 ft, but disgusting at any lower altitude! Yuck.

                    1. re: mnosyne

                      I was thinking it would have worked much better if he had done bacon croquettes instead of bacon patties.

                      1. re: chowser

                        I agree. I think Tom doesn't do well under pressure. He just needs a little more time to think his ideas through so can execute them effectively. I was laughing so hard I was almost crying as he was coming up with his wacky ideas. I think his show would be fun to watch and I'll bet the food would be good too.

                        ~TDQ

                        1. re: The Dairy Queen

                          It would be fun to see a stream of consciousness show with him and cooking--start with xxx ingredients and see where it leads him.

                            1. re: Philly Ray

                              He would be perfect for Chopped! Or, a show like Ready, Set, Cook where they suddenly throw in an odd mystery ingredient midway and they have to incorporate it at that point.

                              1. re: chowser

                                I kind of miss Ready, Set, Cook.

                  2. yes it was fun, but in case you didn't know..... on ICA, they know ahead of time that their secret ingredient will be one of three items, so they have time to develop recipes they can whip up in one hour that will amaze. I doubt the cheftestants had any advance knowledge of their ingredients and REALLY were winging it.

                    Kudos to Tom for taking the risk. Loved his hosting skills.

                    2 Replies
                    1. re: ChefJune

                      ChefJune, I thought the same thing. Not even the Iron Chefs have to come up with their recipes on the spot!

                      The funny thing about Aria is that she was able to change mid-stream how she was presenting her dishes (calling her dish a BACON Waldorf salad) based on feedback she was getting, but she didn't seem to pick up any cues from from Alton Brown that she was bombing. I, too, was glad she finally went home.

                      For the first time, I almost believe I could watch a Herb show. I'm so tired of Aarti. I still think she's going to win, but I'm tired of her false modesty. I don't care how good her food is. And I don't want to hear another word about her mum. Grow up, lady.

                      Tom was hilarious. When they teased the "worst dish in TNFS history," I bet my husband it was going to be Tom because I just had the feeling he would go for it.

                      ~TDQ

                      1. re: The Dairy Queen

                        And, I'd *almost* be willing to bet that the winner will be Tom. Of the remaining 3 he's got the personality that fits in with FTV the most. He's kind of like Adam Gertler was the year he was on, except Tom has the cooking skill Adam lacked.

                        Adam has the prime-time show, not Aaron McCargo Jr. who won that year. Adam get featured regularly on The Best Thing I Ever Ate, not Aaron. The question is, did Bob and Susie learn from their mistake that season, or is history going to repeat itself.

                    2. Totally fun episode. Aarti finally got on my nerves with the golly gee attitude. That girl can cook, she's just got to step up and OWN it now! I'm glad Aria is gone, she really showed her limits last night. LOVED Tom's attitude, even tho the food didn't turn out great, he owned his mistakes and embraced the challenge!