Find a back issue

The Next Food Network Star: Episode 6

I admit I’m not an expert on reality TV and I am not a frequent watcher of foodie shows. I am not pulling a diva act here, I am just being honest. My first immersion into broadcast food fights was last year when local talents Casey Thompson and Tre Wilcox were cast on Bravo’s Top Chef. As a food writer, I covered the series for this blog. I spoke with Casey and Tre before, during, and after the competition and I sensed there was some frustration over how the show took hundreds of hours of footage and edited them down into the network’s version of a compelling TV show. That is their job. But from what I understood, many of the competitors felt that some of their best stuff ended up in the cutting room grease trap.

Fast forward to this season’s The Next Food Network Star which stars another hometown gal, Lisa Garza, co-owner of Suze and a full-time mom and caterer. Anybody who knows Lisa, and I’ve worked with her many times over the last eight years, knows she’s, to say the least, a bundle of energy. She’s like a wacky wind-up car that goes shooting across the floor, banging into walls, and changing directions until someone stops the craziness by putting their foot on top of her. So forgive me if I rant a below about last night’s show. Jump before I do.

Hi. Anywhoo, the short version of last night’s premise: all the contestants had to put together a full-on cooking demo of a meal that was innovative and nutritious and pleased the palate of a Girl Scout. (True.) Not too difficult until they threw in the fact that said demo would take place on Rachael Ray in front of a live studio audience. Each contestant had 4 minutes to show how they’d conferred with their Girl Scout, come up with a meal plan, and worked together to make it all perfect. It was a great idea since the Food Network is looking for is someone who can carry their own TV show and, up until now, the contestants have had limited time to show off what talents, if any, they possess on camera.

What I don’t understand is why the Food Network aired the pre-recorded segments destined for last nights The Next Food Network Star on “Rach’s” show last Thursday. I watched her show last week and I was stunned at the different conclusions and comments the “selection committee”–Susie Fogelson, Bob Tushman, and the ubiquitous Bobby Flay dished out after last night’s show. Take Lisa’s performance, please. During her 4 minutes of fame with Rachael, Lisa loosened up and got straight to it—“my whole point of view is you don’t have to dumb down food for kids.” To which Rachael said, “Don’t dumb your food down for your kids. I love that.” The audience applauded loudly and lovingly. Rachael also “loved” the fact that Lisa was using flat iron steak because it’s quick and affordable and Lisa made the excellent point that most kids miss getting healthy proteins in their diet. After Lisa made it clear that she’d worked with her Girl Scout on discovering new foods like couscous, Rachael’s assessment was: “This is a great meal because its very easy but its not at a high skill level. Kids can make it for their parents.” Another round of applause. Rachael’s final analysis: “A gorgeous and well-balanced meal.”
Fast forward to last night’s show where we were shown a different edit of the same segment. Instead of showing all the positive feeds from Rachael, Next Star, once again, played down Lisa’s culinary talents and even though she made the cut and advanced to the final four, it wasn’t before Susie Fogelson scolded Lisa by saying, “Rachael took that demo from you and ran it.” Susie, you are dead wrong. Lisa was the least intimated contestant on the show. If you don’t believe me, and you have the time, watch for yourself.

Lisa on Rachael Ray

Lisa on Next Star

PS. Next Star, if you want to send me the whole clip of Lisa, bring it. (Somebody help me, I’m way too into this.)

Read This Next

28 comments on “The Next Food Network Star: Episode 6

  1. i am SO with you on this one. All of these shows are edited for entertainment value..i don’t think we ever get to see the “real” person any more….and that’s sad.

  2. I’m sure they are editing it for dramatic effect. They have to highlight and blow up certain contestant’s flaws at times and then do the same for their strengths to make it APPEAR competitive otherwise they would lose viewership. I would not be surprised if the producers knew who the last 2 contestants they wanted from the beginning.

  3. I’m sure you are both right, so do it without showing us the real deal first. I just don’t understand why they showed the whole deal on the Rachael Ray show and then “redid” it for the Next Star show. Seems like a wacky way to boost their ratings if what they want to do is increase their ratings and maintain the selection committee’s credibility. If the show was reversed and the selection committee was the contestant and they were asked to demonstrate how to correctly market your TV show, the producers of Next Star would be in the showers.

  4. Nancy I am SO WITH YOU ON THIS. How DARE FN screw with people’s lives like this??? How dare they screw with ME like this? I am emotionally involved in this (not like the other Lisa if course), as they count on for such high viewership, and really don’t appreciate being deceived.

    I also think Lisa AND ANY OF THESE CONDIDATES deserve a fair chance to win this and deserve every effort to be made to portray them ACCURATELY. I couldn’t believe that was the same segment!!!

    I am so pissed. I can only imagine how Lisa feels being put through all this stress and assinine cooking challenges and they are just making an ass out of her and the viewers.

    This is an outrage. I may never watch the FN Star again.

  5. PS I do not think FN did this for ratings- they have ratings- I think they did this to manipulate and justify the outcome they want.

  6. Wow Nancy! How unfair. I think she did great. Oooh, now I’m really ticked off for her. Based on the Rachel Ray clip you linked, Susie Fogelson’s comment to Lisa makes no sense. (And her nostrils flare when she speaks anyway…really creeps me out.)

  7. I adore Lisa, while she is a bundle of energy, her taste and execution is always spot-on. I feel duped, the difference between the Rachel Ray video and what they showed on the TV last night is right out of the playbook for a rigged game show.

    Lisa girl, if you read this, I have voted for you for Viewers Choice from every email address I own, every day. I hope you win, but hope this network of idiots never gets you tied down to a contract.

  8. If you click on the bio of Susie Fogelson you’ll see a link to comments over on the left side. I’d comment with a link to SideDish, but don’t think that would look good from work. And my home computer is dead. I would love for these comments to be seen by FN Star. I’ve never watched it before now and only started about learning about Lisa Garza. Think I’m not going to be a fan much longer. I really feel deceived.

  9. That’s awful. I’m cheering for her and I was having a hard time watching the awkwardness last night, but now that I see the difference, I’m not sure if I’m seeing the whole story from any contestant. Doesn’t really matter as the winner will most likely be stuck in a Sunday morning time slot (read: 7 AM) and will then be relegated to Diners, Drive Ins, and Dives to stay at Motel 6s and eat with the locals…

  10. So you are saying that you can’t believe reality shows can edit so dramatically to create different plotlines? Or you can’t believe Food Network would throw open the production curtain to show “how the sausage is made?” Without getting too existential…come on guys…these shows have no reality/authenticity any more than any other reality program. This is not a documentary…it’s low-cost entertainment programming that happens to use limited scripting and heavy editing.

  11. Oh WOW! Last night i was cringing, trying to get through the moments of awkward silence…then i watched the clip from Ray’s show and i didn’t feel the least bit uncomfortable. Thanks for pointing this clip out to us.

  12. Upon further investigation, only 3:10 seconds of the 4:00 time allowance was shown on the RR clip (35 seconds of talking before the timer starts, and then Rachel stops her at 3:45 into the clip). Maybe the other 0:50 was super awkward and that’s what they focused on for NFNS while the RR show had to kill the dead air spots? Nancy, if you get that full clip from FN, we want full disclosure!

  13. Wow, talk about a bunch of homers. I’m sorry but I just don’t see what the attraction is. She seems like a real nutjob. What’s with her makeup? She just comes off like a wacko domineering something who needs to take her meds. No way she will win this thing.

  14. I’m not saying she should win. I don’t really care. I was just pointing out I thought it was bizarre that they aired part of the show BEFORE real time. OK, so it’s not-reality TV and NFNS can edit to whatever drama they want to create. I just thought it was a dumb move to have two versions out there. But the more I type about it, the more I’m starting to think they are smarter than I am.

  15. Bubba- is that necessary? Did some sylish confident woman pee in your cornflakes this morning?

  16. Brandy, sorry but I have to disagree with you on this one…stylish confident women don’t have to come onto the Side Burner blog to get across their point because they feel so “misunderstood” aka Lisa Garza speaks yet again (yawn…….). I don’t need to be told by Lisa what I should think of her.
    Let’s get to some “real” cooking challenges that don’t involve midget untensils or hanging from the ceiling, etc. then maybe I’ll see a little of her supposed culinary style.
    Peace out.

  17. Stylish confident women also don’t have to come on SideDish (not Side Burner btw) to say Peace Out. Of course, maybe you’re neither? Sorry, not quite following how any of these food challenges weren’t “real”. Put down the bong, pick up a cookbook and get back to us.

  18. I don’t live in Dallas, and I don’t know Lisa. But, I love her sense of Style, and the food she cooks looks yummy. I am hoping she wins this. All I can say is WOW even the Food Network boards are out of control with love her or hate her. She can stir the emotions in people and maybe that’s not such a bad thing? I hope you win this thing and if you do I hope you have really thick skin.

  19. Nancy, do you know anyone who for some bizarre reason watches Rachel’s show and TiVo’s it? Were all 4 minutes shown on the actual show or was it edited there as well?

    I’ve been fortunate to sample Lisa’s food and see her in action at Savor Dallas,and she is one of the people who I have always remembered. Great food, great style. Why she would want anything to do with FoodNetwork- the network who let’s Sandra Lee assemble crappy food every week and call it cooking- is beyond me.I hope she decides to control her own destiny and take to market that marmalade – I can’t stop thinking about it!

  20. Nancy, they are only smarter in the sense that they indeed create different plotlines according to whim/vote/production value, etc. And I think its cute that so many folks think of reality tv shows as disinterested documentaries trying to strive toward “truth.”

  21. Bobby, great point. Zinger. Lifestyle, I think somebody above wrote that the RR segment ran 3:10 and they could have edited out 30 seconds of Lisa turning to stone but my point is that I don’t agree with what the FN Judges said about her overall performance. Here is what Bob said on his blog:

    “She [Lisa] started out strong: the very cute “mom” side of her emerged and she was down to earth and twinkly. But when Rachael came on strong to move the segment along, Lisa just shut down. Rachael couldn’t relate to the sophisticated food she created for her Girl Scout.”

    Couldn’t relate? She said I love it at least three times. She even said (paraphrasing here) “Don’t dummy down your food for kinds.”

  22. Snooty, not sure I follow your lead re: my post yesterday. My beef with Lisa is the same as with Kelsey, i.e. if she would quit trying to be something she isn’t and let a real personality (if there is one) surface, the show would be hers. I just see a woman trying desperately to be an “Uber sophisticate”. I have no doubt she can cook, but even haute cuisine needs some soul…As for the bong, perhaps Lisa could benefit..she might relax enough to pull the stick out.
    As for the challenges, let them cook once a la Top Chef..or am I pining for Padma??

  23. I’m questioning what was shown on RR “Live” vs what is on the internet feed. If the RR show truly is live it should show the full 4 minutes.

    Dallas is so fortunate to have the chefs (including the talented Joanne Bondy) and dining experiences that we do – I would hate to lose someone as talented as Lisa Garza to the FoodNetwork.

  24. Congrats to Aaron,I am happy for him. However, Adam rocks. He may not be what the judges look for but boy, that guy has personality, charisma, and can pull anything off. He needed a break. His eggs were not cooked so was Lisa’s pork -over cooked and burnt, but the judges thought it was great. I feel Bobby is threathened by the style and creativity of the young man, never gave him a chance from the outset, even when he commented, you look at his face and see the disgust like you should not be here – O Bobby, I love your show but with a guy like Adam he can outdo you anyday. He’s young, lovable and can cook, may be not fancy like your Lisa, but you never thught about smoking and rubbing a chicken and cooking with beer – talk about creative. I will watch him on TV any day and anytime. A true entertainer and a cook I’d say. You judges are too critical like you are the perfect people god created. I like you Bob, you appear to be honest with your comments. I trust that Adam will find a job and do well, all the best to him in the future.

  25. Congrats to Aaron,I am happy for him. However, Adam rocks. He may not be what the judges look for but boy, that guy has personality, charisma, and can pull anything off. He needed a break. His eggs were not cooked so was Lisa’s pork -over cooked and burnt, but the judges thought it was great. I feel Bobby is threathened by the style and creativity of the young man, never gave him a chance from the outset, even when he commented, you look at his face and see the disgust like you should not be here – O Bobby, I love your show but with a guy like Adam he can outdo you anyday. He’s young, lovable and can cook, may be not fancy like your Lisa, but you never thught about smoking and rubbing a chicken and cooking with beer – talk about creative. I will watch him on TV any day and anytime. A true entertainer and a cook I’d say. You judges are too critical like you are the perfect people god created. I like you Bob, you appear to be honest with your comments. Adam has brought something new to the food netwoprk, internet cooking, a novelty idea, I do hope that the food network does not STEAL HIS IDEA – MAN IT IS JUST DIFFERENT TO WHAT WE SEE EVERY DAY. ADAM I JUST LOVE YOU AND YOUR IDEAS. SOEMDAY YOU WIL GET A BREAK, TRUST ME. I trust that Adam will find a job and do well, all the best to him in the future.