The Next Food Network Star Episode Three: Dallas Mel Still Going Strong

I’m back for episode three after taking an unintentional break from TNFNS last week. And boy, some of these people are trainwrecks already. It’s only the third ep and we’ve got dudes crying, snarkiness in the kitchen, lying, and more throwing under the bus. Jump for it.

I’m not sure who was kicked off last week, and I don’t feel like googling it, but I was happy to see floppy-haired Jeffery is still in the mix, and “I don’t speak Korean, ya’ll, Debbie,” is there, and healthy Katie, and mash-up Michael, and the rest of the gang. And of course, Dallas/Keller Mel, who “glows in the dark,” according to Ina Garten. But I’m getting ahead of myself. Back at the beginning, the chefs head to a store called Stew Leonard’s, a big grocery store they must have an agreement with like Top Chef has with Whole Foods. Tyler Florence is there in a puffy jacket (swoon). He tells them this week’s challenge is to create a budget-friendly dinner party for 12 people. They only get $60. Also, while at Stew Leonard’s, they must record a 30-second spot with a budget tip. Everyone scatters to find food. Mel tells us she is “really great at explaining how to be on a budget,” and she gives an interesting tip: after chopping up the green part of a green onion, put the white part back in a glass of water and the veg will regenerate. Cool. Teddy doesn’t fare as well. Tyler calls him “cartoonish,” and he’s really not nice about it all. Don’t let that puffy jacket fool you–Tyler is no mood to mess around today. Jeffrey is up next, and he tells a cute story about making crepes with Nutella filling for breakfast with his daughter. But, um, crepes and Nutella don’t exactly sound budget-friendly to me. (What do I know? I only buy Cinnamon Life for breakfast). Worst Tip of the Day goes to Jamika (I have “Tamika” written in my notes, so excuse me if I mess that name up at least once), who suggests that we use re-use marinade that we’ve just had raw chicken or meat in. Tyler just about loses it but a FN  intern hands him a scotch or something and he manages to ask her somewhat calmly if she’s trying to kill people. Awk-ward. I have no idea what Micheal’s spot was about, and Katie was rambling on about organic fruits and veggies, and Eddie, well, I think he just rolled his eyes or something. In the end, Cool-As-A-Cucumber Jeffrey wins.

The next morning, our fearless wannabe chefs pile in the van and head to East Hampton. I think the contestants were the only ones surprised when they arrived at Ina Garten’s colonial/palatial/pristine home. Bob and Ina are there, and Ina says something like, “it’s going to be amazing,” and then Bob tells them they will be cooking for Ina and her friends and family…but…there’s a twist! They knew it! The contestants will be paired up. Teams, ugh. They will each make one dish on their own dish and collaborate on the last one. Everyone takes one step away from Teddy in hopes of not getting stuck with him.  Jeffrey gets to pick his partner because he is a stud. No, because he won the challenge. He picks Michael. Mel and Eddie are paired up, and Eddie is not.happy. He says he is “not excited” and that he “might have to pick up the slack on this one.” Eddie probably should have knocked on some wood here, but he didn’t, and you know what happens when you forget to do that, right? Yep, Karma kicks you in the hiney. Anyway, Deb and Teddy are paired up, and Katie and Jamika. Mel and Eddie start cooking. Eddie wants to make a watermelon, onion, and feta salad. Mel is making lemon and thyme chicken, which sounds right up Ina’s alley. They collaborate on a Nutella (what’s up with the Nutella today?) quesadilla and bananas Foster. Ted and Deb are also cooking at this point. They are getting along fabulously and working together to make meatloaf. Ted’s contribution is supposed to be dessert, even though he wasn’t fired up about that at all. He pretty much forgets to make it and has to rush to do a strawberry/vanilla pudding/angel food cake thing (people! what is up with the angel food cake? wasn’t it Deb who put that out the first week? COME ON). Oh–and the whole time Mel and Eddie are cooking he is rolling his eyes, being totally snappy and snarky, and just really being a jerk in general. Makes him look pretty bad.

Anyway, let’s speed this up a bit. Mel and Eddie come out and Mel does her thing. She tells Ina’s friends and family about “clean the pantry” week, where she cooks for a week using food she already has (talk about budget friendly).  They love it. Ina says she “glows in the dark.” One snarly publishing girl doesn’t like her but that’s probably because she’s so caught up in her own world of darkness and negativity. Karma smiles knowingly as everyone hates Eddie’s onion-y salad. Deb and Ted’s meatloaf rocks, but of course, everyone is flabbergasted by the dessert. Next up are Jeff and Michael and Katie and Jamika. Michael is a sweaty mess the whole time while Jeff looks like a FN intern is holding a fan so his hair will blow “just so.” Jam and Katie do some sort of international thing with a yummy looking salmon (Jam) and a healthy but yummy looking whole wheat pasta (Katie). Michael and Jeffrey put out pretty plates but judges think Michael is “lost.” Jeff unfortunately tells the same story about the daughter and the crepes, and gets called out for it.

Finally, it’s time for someone to get kicked out. Ted tries to pull the ol’ switcharoo when the judges ask him which dish was his. “The meatloaf. No, the dessert. No! I’m sorry!” (insert crying here). He tries to apologize to Debbie and she brushes that dirt off her shoulder. Mel calls out Eddie for being a jerk, and Bobby busts him with the whole “we watched the tapes of you cooking” routine. Eddie doesn’t seem to really care either way. Also, he mentions the nasty salad he made is a Paula Deen recipe! Oh, snap. He might as well have packed his bags and left right then, IMO. Michael and Jeffrey win. Mel, Tam/Jam, Katie, and Deb are safe. Eddie and Teddy are up for elimination. Teddy is crying and Eddie says he really is a gentleman (?). Thank goodness, Eddie goes home, but really, no one would have been upset if they both would have left. Clearly neither are going to win. It seems to be a race between Mel, Jeffrey, and Jamika to me. Next week, Michael slams Debbie in the head with a pan. Until then…