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Food Network Star - 8/4

I didn't see a thread on this so I'm starting one.

Down to three finalists.

Luca may be fairly nice to look at, but his formula is now to say - for every challenge - "it reminds me of what my grandmother used to make when I was a boy in Torino." I don't buy it. I think it's a schtick and it is getting tiresome.

I agree with others' view on Lenny and the terror in his eyes when he faces the camera. Plus I don't care about cooking like a cowboy. Sorry.

The other contestant - the coastal girl - at least doesn't annoy me. Her food looks pretty good, but she's not all that interesting.

I think we can sum this whole season up with one word. "Meh."

I couldn't care less who "wins".

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  1. Lenny will win and get a show that will suck. Jersey girl will get a show on that other food channel. Luca will get old and fat.

    1 Reply
    1. re: sal_acid

      Sadly, I do think of future fatness whenever I see Luca. I hope it doesn't happen, but...

    2. What makes me think that Nicole will win is when do a promo, it sucks and then they tell you what your show should be about...

      And since when does steaming clams turn it into bbq? Nicole was embarrassingly bad.

      1 Reply
      1. re: cwdonald

        She was doing a riff on cajun barbecued shrimp using clams instead as she said in the promo. In Louisiana it's called barbecued shrimp but it's not actually bbq. Don't ask me why. It's awesome though. It's a bunch of spices with butter poured over head on unshelled shrimp and then they are baked. You serve them with bread to sop up the sauce. yummy I used to live there and I've made it.

      2. Considering there has only been one "star" in however many seasons, I don't see much from these 3 that would change that.

        I'm betting Lenny will win, just because he's an over-the-top caricature and perfect for FN.

        1. I'm picking Luca for the win. I think Lenny and Nicole will be seen again in the future.

          1. I love Luca, but his pilot was annoying - here, let me go and taste the elaborate pasta dish that you're never going to get to try (and no I'm not going to tell you ANYTHING at all about it, it's just eye candy and an advertisment for the fancy restaurant that makes it) then I'm going to go away and make another entirely unrelated dish.

            I like Lenny a lot but he needs a live audience to play to... put him in front of the camera without one and he loses the plot. He was trying way too hard.

            And the 'coastal cuisine' schtick is boring, especially when they insisted that she had to make it 'relevant' by sticking to the US coast. World cuisine is much more exciting...

            6 Replies
            1. re: Kajikit

              The extent of Luca's cooking in the pilot is to puree garlic butter and anchovies together, (they talk nothing about how to cook the branzino... ). One step up from how to boil water.

              I actually got their point aobut Nicole having no credibility for world cuisines. Either you need to have extensively travelled, or not be of white anglo saxon descent. Jersey Girl is not going to pull off teaching me about chilis from Malaysia. There is enought you can do from Main through the gulf coast, not to mention the west coast that there really could be something there. The term coastal cuisine sounds like it was made by an ad executive.

                1. re: cwdonald

                  While I agree about not wanting Nicole to present herself as a 'global cuisine authority' - Rachel Ray used to use numerous 'global flavors' without ever pretending to be an expert.

                  In the 30 Minute Meals framework, it was often framed in the context of "I love X Global food, but out where we live in the country - we don't have those options - but this dish uses X flavors" etc etc. Basically, she'd frame it as being inspired by a Thai restaurant in NYC vs going to Thailand. Ina Garten will also comment on flavors of (insert usually a Western European country) without ever posing as an expert.

                  While it may be a fine line to walk of embracing global influences within an "American" cooking perspective, I think that's far more honest. One of the (many) problems that I think FNS has is that it requires everything to be tied to a deeply personal story. But, "my favorite take away spot a block from my house is a wonderful Thai/Persian/Russian/Peruvian restaurant - this dish is inspired by that" is just fine as a story to me. Particularly if your POV is something like seafood. Just don't feel a need to pretend that your deeply personal story involves living in Tehran.

                  1. re: cresyd

                    Food Network has had their fair share of non experts adapting "global flavors" including Bobby Flay and Tyler Florence.

                    1. re: rasputina

                      To make gross assumptions about the FN viewer - I do think that there's an interest in trying 'new' things, but it's within safe boundaries.

                      All items can be got from a grocery store (maybe the 'nice' one, but not a specialty store), and it's something along the lines of Mexican Burger, Greek Pizza, or a commonly heard dish like "my version of pad thai".

                2. re: Kajikit

                  I agree-- he said "this reminds me of a dish from my home town" and his dish had exactly zero in common with the dish that was shown.

                3. I had 2 thoughts about Luca's pilot (both digressions re the topic of this thread). 1. Did anyone think the buckwheat pasta he sampled at the restaurant look like worms? 2. How many people actually cook with garlic so old it is starting to green sprout? That tip about removing the sprout should've been a tip to use a garlic head within the first 2 months you've bought it, so it doesn't start to sprout...

                  That said, I wouldn't watch a single one of them. None of them, nor their POVs, are compelling. I stopped caring when they booted Emma.

                  6 Replies
                  1. re: sasha1

                    I agree on both points. I was always taught that you remove the green part because it is bitter not because it is very strongly flavored. And yes, it's better to avoid garlic that old completely (but sometimes it happens). What did she call that black pasta? I can't recall. Buckwheat isn't that black though, is it?

                    1. re: sasha1

                      Agree that pasta was unappealing, and the garlic tip is this: your garlic is old!

                      1. re: monavano

                        That was MY first thought - pasta that looks like worms? Eeeeeewwwww! That whole dish looked gross.

                        1. re: chloebell

                          Charred earthworms. Like they were going fishing and the tackle box caught fire.

                          1. re: sasha1

                            That doesnt bother me.. all pasta looks potentially like a worm snake insect etc.

                            Show me the grain, talk to me about the taste.. why is it different. It was a gratuitous advertisment with a bit of eye candy for us guys...

                            1. re: cwdonald

                              I agree the more legitimate beef is that he didn't say the first thing about the pasta, other than the taste was smoky. But the aesthetic really put me off.

                    2. I am sure she is a very nice person, but I had to laugh at Sara, thinking back over her recorded promo saying, basically "I can't believe I forgot to be authentic!"

                      That's like saying "I can be honest by Tuesday." (Extra points for naming that film.)

                      I live on the west coast and cook a lot of fish so Nicole is kind of offering to show me what I already know. Not sure about that.

                      I think Luca has some true skills but agree, his "This reminds me of when I was a child" is getting a bit old.

                      And Lenny can cook much more than cowboy food, but cowboy is his angle. As a non-carnivore, I'm not such how much I would learn from him, but if he can work with a camera versus a crowd, he's pretty powerful.

                      Did anyone read the fine print on voting? Last year it was, basically "You can vote, have at it, but Food Network reserves the right to choose the winner."

                      1 Reply
                      1. re: happybaker

                        Or not even give them a series like Justin Warner.

                      2. I think Lenny is the shoo-in to win and has been for many weeks now. He's just a big personality like Guy Fieri or Jeff Mauro.

                        I like Luca a lot but his heavy accent would be quite a barrier to him having a successful show, especially since FN is all "midwestern" now.

                        Nicole doesn't excite me at all. I live at the Jersey Shore just like she does and nothing she makes is anything special. We are known for our fish (bluefish, striped bass, flounder) and blue crabs, not anything particularly fancy.

                        My money is on Lenny. In the end, it really doesn't matter. Maybe he will get 1 show like Justin or 2-3 seasons like Jeff Mauro, Aarti, and Melissa D'Arabian. None of them last for long and I expect the same for Damaris, last season's winner.

                        10 Replies
                        1. re: Njchicaa

                          Hey, are you also njchicaa on Bubblews? Just curious if we are crossing the streams here. :)

                          But yes, as another Jersey person Nicole's whole "Coastal Cuisine" thing has had me boggled and bored from the start. Jersey Shore cooking as I've basically experienced it is greasy boardwalk food, crabs, oysters, bluefish and...I'm stumped to come up with anything else. It's not exactly gourmet heaven or even all that exciting except for the freshness of the seafood when it's served up plain and simple.

                          Of the three finalists I'd pick Luca just to see if he'd do some real Italian (not Italian-American) food if given more time to explain his dishes - and get away from the stupid restaurant tie-in nonsense which I know they pushed with last season's "pilots" as well. I don't need Lenny to show me how to toss coffee and seasoned salt on a steak.

                          1. re: Njchicaa

                            At least Jeff Mauro is now on The Kitchen and Melissa D'Arabian pops up from time to time.

                            Kelsey (whose last name I forgot) has a pleasant enough show on the Cooking Channel.

                            At least "Big Daddy" isn't around anymore...ugh.

                            1. re: Janet from Richmond

                              Kelsey strikes me as someone who just might build a RR type empire.
                              I think she's extremely driven and a "go getter".

                              The Kitchen just isn't clicking for me- not a great mix of personalities.

                              1. re: monavano

                                They want to be The Chew, but lack the chemistry of The Chew cast. I agree with you about Kelsey.

                              2. re: Janet from Richmond


                                At least Jeff Mauro is now on The Kitchen and Melissa D'Arabian pops up from time to time.

                                Kelsey (whose last name I forgot) has a pleasant enough show on the Cooking Channel.

                                The Kitchen is VERY hard to watch for me. Painful in fact.

                                Melissa D' can pop in whereves she damn well pleases. But......
                                I still don't respect anyhing she cooks nor says as cooking of "chef quality" advice. Just a shill.

                                ZOMG . "I lived in France. Look at me."
                                Didn't work back when she won NFNS. And still not now for me.
                                I still don't get it.


                                1. re: Janet from Richmond

                                  Aarti is still in the stable as well, judging on Guy's Grocery Games from time to time.

                                  One thing Ray and I believe Guy did that made their status possible is go outside the FN machine to do their own thing. DDD was done through an outside production company and pitched to FN instead of done in-house. Much of the FN/CC talent are either content to do whatever FN lets them do or are otherwise unable to get a foothold elsewhere. (Alex G seems to be really trying.)

                                  1. re: ennuisans

                                    Actually, IIRC from last year's book about the founding of Food Network, the outside production company presented a pilot to FN and FN said they would take the show but they wanted Guy to be the host instead of whoever was in the pilot. Guy was also the host of a network game show for a while, completely not food related.

                                    RR made a fanstatic move by going to her network daytime talk show. Now she ties that back into FN (having the NFNS contestants on) and does cross-promotion. Whatever anyone may think of her personality or her cooking, she has been very smart at growing her career.

                                    1. re: pamf

                                      Thanks for that clarification. That does make sense. And yeah, Rachael is no fool, other than perhaps spreading herself too thin. It's like anytime I watch her these days her mind is on something else, and that's not a healthy way to live, no matter the money.

                                      1. re: ennuisans

                                        And I predict throat surgery in her future. She is literally wearing out her vocal cords.

                                        1. re: sandylc

                                          That could well be; she went through that a few years back.

                              3. yeah, I'm not really excited to watch any of their shows, and didn't bother to go online and vote.

                                when does top chef start? sigh

                                1 Reply
                                1. re: jujuthomas

                                  TC Duels is tonight! But the real TC is what, December?

                                2. Personally I wish Emma had been kept. I'm not interested in Jersey girl coastal cuisine. While Luca is attractive I have no interest in an Italian cooking show. And while Lenny's food has been praised on the show, enough with the shtick.

                                  I really don't blame the contestants I blame the dumb ass FN requirement to make each episode a concept. I don't care one iota about the backstories that are made up. Just like the Barefoot Contessa episodes of, I'm having the girls over for cards, or whatever. Is the food good? That's all I care about. You don't need a contrived excuse to cook good food.

                                  1 Reply
                                  1. re: rasputina

                                    Agree 100%. Drop the silly, obviously scripted stories and just cook good food.

                                    As for FNS, even the Damaris show dropped that "teach a clueless man to cook for his honey" smarm. Damaris calmed down some, too, and sometimes has taught me something about KY cooking (my home state).

                                  2. Let me just say, for the first time ever there is a show I would watch...Luca!! He's charming. Honestly, if they do Lenny, IMHO,they will have reached a new low.