The Next Food Network Star: Episode Two

We finally caught up on The Next Food Network Star last night (we were a little preoccupied with the Tonys (Awards and Soprano) on Sunday when the episode aired). This week, the contestants demonstrated a recipe on-camera and had to pitch grilling recipes to the editors of Bon Appetit, with the winning recipe getting the cover of the mag’s July issue. We’re pleased to report that hometown favorite Tommy Grella is still going strong, although his momentum seems to have stepped down a touch from last week. Some other thoughts and highlights from the poor man’s Top Chef:

•There are some very odd speech patterns circulating amongst the contestants, from Rory’s “This is the next food NETwork star” to the eliminated Nikki’s “Jerk chicken (pause) says about me (pause) that I’m a little (pause) spicy and a little sweet (pause) at the same time.”
•Notable quotables included Amy’s “I would kill. (pause) For this prize.”, Bob Tuschman’s gleeful “Let’s talk about Bon App!” and this charming exchange between Nikki and guest judge Giada De Laurentiis:
Giada: (incredulously) Are you wearing heels?
Nikki: (matter-of-fact-ly) I always cook in heels.
Giada: I cook in flip flops!
•Earlier in this post, we jokingly referred to The Next Food Network Star as “the poor man’s Top Chef.” While that may be true in the context of legitimacy within the wider food world, the two actually have very different aims. Top Chef is interested in finding the best restaurant cook whereas TNFNS is looking for someone who can inspire home cooks. Most of the recipes that garner the most praise on Top Chef would never fly on TNFNS and vice versa. Nowhere was this more apparent than in this week’s episode of TNFNS, when Jag was scolded by one of the Bon Appetit editors for being “too restaurant-y.” Although his food was the best, the judges wondered if he could appeal to home cooks. Depending on your point of view, this is either the reason why the Food Network is so successful or the reason the Food Network is an abomination.
•Paul continues to be a stealth jerk (passive-aggressively calling out Colombe for her mistakes in the demo), but our evidence that he is the new Andrae Gonzalo only increased when he cried. Twice. Say it with us in your best Tim Gunn voice: “What happened to Paul?”
•Stop! Grella time! It was another camera-filled week for Methuen’s favorite. He told us that “Jag has two speeds: fast and warp!” He casually plugged Bon Appetit! He pronounced “parsley” with a pronounced Boston accent! He informed us that two steaks “look like Grella” and that “petite isn’t my thing and neither is my food!” He had a recipe featured on the Food Network’s website! Unfortunately, the judges didn’t enjoy the visual aspects of his grill recipe, which Bon Appetit Editor-in-Chief Barbara Fairchild referred to as “a lump of brown on brown.” Susie Fogelson wondered if there’s more to him than “just a big Italian guy who cooks the same dishes over and over.” Only time will tell.

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The Next Food Network Star: Episode Two