The Next Food Network Star Episode 7 Recap: Buh-Bye, Jam/Tam

A Miami resident I'd like to meet: Gloria Estefan.
A Miami resident I'd like to meet: Gloria Estefan.

Sorry for the delay in posting. Since three days have elapsed since the show, hopefully I won’t get yelled at in the comments for telling you who leaves up front. It’s really coming down to the wire for our Dallas/Keller Mel. This week, the heat was still on in Miami. Bobby wore a fedora. Jump for it.

So, the ep begins and our finalists are in Miami. For the first challenge, they will appear on a morning show, called “Wake Up, Miami!” or something like that. They will each be presenting a dish, which seems straightforward enough, but what they don’t know is Bob and Susie and guest judge Michael Symon are in the back room with Ashton Kutcher planning to punk them. Well, Ashton isn’t there, but the others are planning on pulling pranks on live tv. Nice. Deb goes first. Symon has stolen her utensils. Come on, FN! You can do better than this. Deb doesn’t even hesitate when she can’t find her whisk/fork/spatula, she just does it with her hands. Girl did good. Next is Jeff, who has “audio problems,” which means a huge fuzzy mic is jammed in his face during the segment. Does he flinch? Not a chance. Just runs his fingers through his hair and says it’s all good. Our girl Mel has the unfortunate task of dealing with the host, who becomes totally overbearing and decides to add his own ingredients to her dish, like an entire bottle of hot sauce into her tapenade. Unfortunately, she goes into overdrive mode, spouting “herewegoherewegoherewego” over and over again. Jam/Tam is last, and she gets the meanest prank of all–the stage manager tells her to wrap it up when she actually has two minutes left, then tells her to speed up, stretch it out, etc. This was the hardest one, IMO. She handles it okay, but doesn’t smile and appears very stressed (ya think?). Deb is the winner (“I won a challenge!!!” she screams, and I punch the TV), and the crew moves along to the next challenge, which we will refer to us the Red Lobster Challenge. In this challenge, our brave contestants will be cooking seafood outside on a grill. They will only be able to use the grill, nothing else. The winner of the RLC gets their dish on the menu at Red Lobster for like, two days or something. Okay, sorta challenging, but the contestants go into the safe zone and start creating dishes that fit in their comfy zones (Deb goes asian, Jeff goes tex/mex, Jam/Tam goes Carribean).
So everyone starts sweating and cooking. Bobby shows up in his fedora and Ray Bans and throws a curve ball. They are going to take away some of the contestant’s ingredients. Pretty clever. So, Jeff’s chilis go away, and he gets asian ingreidents in their place; Mel gets habanero peppers instead of citrus, Jam/Tam gets her pineapple replaced with celery root, and Deb gets mediterranean ingredients instead of her asian ones. So obviously, everyone is flipping out. Mel throws about 100 habaneros on the grill, Jeff rubs his forehead a lot, Jam/Tam looks for a cookbook under the table. Deb is the only one who seems calm. She takes her anchovies, olives, and CAPERS, and begins cooking away.

During the cooking, the judges are just staring them down, peppering them with questions. Jam/Tam totally loses it here. “I’m irritated!” she screams when Bob T. asks her how she’s doing. Everyone else handles it in stride.

Jeff wins with his wasabi-coated shrimp and barramundi in asian broth, though I kinda thought Mel was going to take it with her habanero-marinated fish. Jam/Tam’s dish gets praise, but Deb blows it when Bobby asks her where the capers are. “In the dressing,” she says. “No, you didn’t give me any capers, just olives,” she corrects. “Um, excuse me, my name is BOBBY FLAY AND YOU WILL NOT CORRECT ME,” screams Bobby as his hat pops off. In judging, the crew is NOT happy with Deb for lying, and everyone is confused about why she continues to do this. She cries a little bit and she is safe. Jam/Tam goes home. She just didn’t bring it. Kept saying that we hadn’t seen the best of her yet–when, exactly, were you planning on bringing it, Jam/Tam? Never? Oh, okay, cool. See ya.

Next week, final three. They really, really like Deb. I’m still rooting for Dallas Mel. I like Jeffrey too but Mel’s got more “fire,” like Bobby said. And, Emeril will be there, and so will Tyler (yum), and Morimoto, and the lady chef with spiky blond hair. It’s going to be a good one. Until then…

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