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The Next Food Network Star Recap: Go, Dallas (Keller) Mel

nfns5_melissa_s3x4_alLast night was the first episode of the Food Network’s The Next Food Network Star. Naturally, there’s a Dallas-ish contestant: Melissa d’Arabian from Keller, Texas. Please tell me someone else watched besides me and my long-suffering BF. This show bores the pants off me. But thank G, our gal Mel looks like she’s got some star potential. Jump for the recap.

So, here’s the scoop. We meet our ten contestants in the brightly lit Food Network kitchens and it’s already pretty clear what people’s “personalities” are going to be. There’s Katie, a dietician and a chef, Michael, an over-the-top cuisine combiner, Debbie, a Korean/Southern girl, Jen, a “modern day housewife,” and Melissa, the “ultimate home cook.” So, Bobby Flay, Susie, and Bob from FN come in. Contestants are welcomed, but surely they are distracted by Bobby’s neon striped tie with a funky knot that was apparently tied in the dark by some poor FN intern. The judges tell them they their first challenge will be cooking for the Food Network’s 16th Anniversary party at Butter (um, 2004 called, and they’d like their trendy restaurant back). Contestants appear appropriately shocked and awed that Giada, Morimoto, Alton, and Aaron McCarg0, Jr. will be there. Well, awed about the rest, but probably not about McCargo. Anyway, teams are formed, and Melissa is on the green team, headed up by Big Personality Brett. A menu is decided upon and Mel offers to make apple tarts.  Apple. Tarts. Brett is going to make beef tenderloin, Major Bangs Jen “modern day housewife” wants to make “modern day” green beans (cough) and Teddy says he’s a real chef. He’ll make truffled potatoes gratin. The red team is headed by “I don’t speak Korean, ya’ll” Debbie, and their menu includes crab cakes (Deb), five-spice beef (mash-up Michael), healthy salad and greens (Katie), jicama and shrimp (Jamika), and some little B.L.T. thingys with a cutesy name that look like hell (Eddie).

So they run to Whole Foods and yell things at each other. Ingredients are purchased, and it’s back to the FN Kitchen, where Mel gets lots of screen time as the team scrambles to get her apple tarts in the oven with 30 minutes to spare. The red team didn’t make a good list and several key items are forgotten. Brett decides not to wear an apron which totally grosses me out for some reason (sidenote: the fact that they wear their regular clothes is distracting to me. I know they aren’t professionals and don’t have to wear chef’s whites but I just don’t like the fact they cook in their street clothes sometimes forget aprons. It’s just me.)

So next it’s off to Butter, and it’s time for the teams to present. Lindsay Lohan is in the corner looking confused. No, she’s not. Brett gets up there, waves his hands, mumbles something about beautiful ladies, and walks off. Everyone is stunned! Where is Brett’s personality? Everyone else does okay, but then Mel steps up, and guhls, she does us proud. She’s confident. She’s well-spoken. She’s bubbly! Most everyone loves her, except Anne Burrell, who thinks she is way too chatty. Luckily, the apple tarts are an enormous hit. In fact, it is Bobby’s favorite dish. So, there’s that. The beef reminds the cool cake chef with all the tats of being in jail or the army. The green beans are horrid.

The green team is next up, and Deb gives a good presentation, and so does Michael. The chefs hate Katie’s healthy food. And the angel food cake with jam on it? Probably the most poorly executed dish in the history of food tv. Alton actually had to hold Giada and cover her eyes.

Time for elimination. The contestants crowd into that brightly colored room and look for their spots on the floor. Melissa is in the top three, and I really thought she would win. Instead, Jeffrey, who I’ve forgotten to mention until now, is the winner. His earthy zucchini dish won the judges over and they also liked his floppy hair. Everyone tries to throw Deb under the bus for forgetting ingredients and putting the worst-dessert-in-FN-history out there for Giada to even look at. But she is safe. The final two up for elim are Major Bangs Jen and faux-hawk-tiny-tomato-BLT-thingy Eddie. And, Major Bangs is outta here. Next week, it looks like we get some tears from Mel, but from the looks of things, she’s going to be a contender. I also think Jamika is good, Michael is entertaining, and Jeffrey is floppy and confident.

Until next week…

13 comments on “The Next Food Network Star Recap: Go, Dallas (Keller) Mel

  1. Praise the lord that Jen is gone. I’m not sure I could have taken one more week of those bangs.

  2. Jennifer..and the curls with it! OMG! LOL
    Can’t stand the dietician’s crazy eyes. I like our Keller girl, but I am oddly distracted by her teeth.

    I was unimpressed by the whole segment, however…

  3. Every time I watch this show, I marvel at the fact that the skill level seems to be so much lower than that of Top Chef.

    And someone should have paid the price for that pound cake monstrosity, namely Deb, whose executive decision put it on the plates in the end.

    Although it’s hard to argue kicking off the fancy green beans.

    While we’re at it – did anything ever happen with Lisa Garza’s TV prospects?

  4. I agree…their cooking caliber is way lower than that of Top Chef. Salads? Green beans? Store bought pound cake?! Umm, no. Boring but I know i’ll watch it. They should’ve BROUGHT IT on their first dishes!

  5. Well let’s see. . . she doesn’t squint, she doesn’t dress up like an alien, she doesn’t talk down to her fellow contestants, she doesn’t cry on cue and then promptly kiss up on cue, and she certainly doesn’t fall on her big ‘ol tramp stamp and tell us how much money she payed for designer shoes from a designer that doesn’t even make shoes.

    You’re right — Mel’s way too nice, normal, and natural for television. Get rid of her.

  6. Squinty= Mean spirited person.

    so uncalled for.


    NN- I miss Lisa too.

  7. My hands wanted to run my fingers through Jeffrey’s great hair. He’s my favorite. He’s hot, he looks great on camera and I hope he wins.

    Regarding Lisa, she’s divorced and recently said she had an “unnamed gig”. She was on Good Morning Texas not too long ago. Is she still involved with that restaurant? IMHO she should have won last year’s show. Go Jeffrey!

  8. I (hanging my head forlornly as I type) watched the show…why, oh why, can’t they find qualified people that will actually cook something we all want to eat, behave as if they actually belong in a kitchen and not be so obnoxious that only a bottle of wine and a piece of chocolate cake can get you through an episode (I am talking to you Anne, Neelys, Rachel, Aaron, Sunny, etc.)? Bring on Top Chef Masters!!!

  9. @Brandy
    Technically Nancy told us she “misses Liza” and we all know who that is even with only a first name mentioned. And I sure miss Liza too.

    Not to worry all, Ms. Minnelli is currently in full collaboration with the writers of the movie Chicago in a new unreleased movie called “Katies Blues” in which she will write, produce, and star. She’s said to be very excited and is doing extremely well.

    Meanwhile . . .
    Yes, Lisa is divorced, sells aprons, and still chats up (to all who will still listen?) of the imminent release of ‘The Lisa Garza Show Starring Ms. Lisa Garza in Living Color’ brought to you by Monolo Blanik – makers of fine shoes everywhere.

    Think the title’s a bit long tho, don’t you agree Brandy?

  10. Sorry I missed the Liza reference… thought it was a typo. Good god, are you always this cheerful? Obviously you have a personal interest in bashing her. I happen to think she’s fab. And an incredible cook. And has a great concept for a show. (healthy gourmet food… could it be?!?!) And I think she’s smart. And is fashionable (when did that become a bad thing?) I’m sure she’s not the first person to get a divorce, btw. Why is that even necessary to bring up?