The Next Food Network Star Episode 8 Recap: And Then There Were Two

Washington State, where Dallas/Keller Mel actually lives.
Washington State, where Dallas/Keller Mel actually lives.

Well friends, we have almost reached the end of The Next Food Network Star. We are this close to finding out who will be the next Bobby/Giada/Rachael/Sandra/Paula. Last night, we got down to two. Dallas Mel is still bringing it. But wait! WTF is this? Oh, man!! I’ve already written my entire recap, so even though I feel quite deflated, here it is anyway. Sad face.

Well here we are again, in Miami, watching “I’m Korean, ya’ll” Debbie blow-dry her hair. “I’ve had some lapses in judgment,” she admits. Um, yep. After they get ready, she and Dallas/Keller/Kirkland Mel and dreamy Jeffrey are greeted by Emeril. There was some commotion in my house at this moment, so I missed the details, but I gleaned that Em tells them they will be making three courses in three hours, and there will be a demo during the dinner. Also, they are to be “inspired” by a new film called Julie & Julia. The contestants watch a free screening (read: ENORMOUS movie plug) and get all wide-eyed about Julia Child and what she means to them. They laugh, they cry. Then, it’s off to shop at some Whole Foods market knockoff. Mel decides her menu will be: ratatouille, chicken and potato tart, and salad and cheese. Deb mentions “Seoul to Soul” about 600 times. She is making Korean shortribs for her second course, BBQ shrimp for first, and a fried egg roll for dessert. Jeff is making seared scallops, seafood risotto, and mousse. He gets to the register, and the total pops up: $317. They had $1000 to spend. At this point, I think I’d be grabbing some extras or something, but Jeff is his usual calm self.

The contestants are taken to a private house in Miami where they will cook. The heavens open up and the angels sing when the walk in. The place is like a huge white box with a long table in the middle. Our three walk around the room and look at the nametags: Rick Bayless, Morimoto, Tyler Florence, Marcus Sammuelson, the Neelys, they’re all there. They walk in to the kitchen, and then, OMG! Michael, Katie, and Jam/Tam are there to be sous chefs! What a surprise! Or not, because this happens on every stinkin reality cooking show! Anyway, they start cooking, and Deb is very concerrrrrrned about Jeff’s risotto. Yeah, I’ll bet she is. Jam/Tam is helping Mel and whoopsie, the orzo she’s making is waaaay too salty. Luckily she has a backup, but then with six minutes to go (or so they make it seem), she pulls what appears to be a raw tart out of the oven. So this is where we are all supposed to think she is crashing and burning. Meanwhile Katie keeps asking Jeff about the risotto. “Um, are you SURE you want this much liquid? Really, like this? Are you sure? Absolutely sure? Double-dog sure?” He says yes and we all know where this is going…

Our (former) girl Mel comes out first. She’s smiley and talking pretty slowly about her.entire.life. There’s some tough stuff in there, for sure, but the speech went a little long IMO. And for some reason, the Neely woman was crying, but maybe Morimoto had just spit his straw wrapper at her from across the table. Bobby calls her poetic. Then she serves the rat-a-touille and the Neely man likes it. Next up is the brick chicken, which she also demos. It was kinda weird to see them demo’ing to these chefs and treating them like they are just Food Network viewers (now, make sure the pan is hot and place the chicken skin-side down, etc). But, that’s the way they had to do it. Everyone loves the brick chicken and surprise! The potato tart is not raw but perfectly cooked. She does a salad and cheese dessert (what they have for dessert every night at her house, grumble), but the hit is really the little pastry she also serves on the plate. Even Francois Payard loves it. So, she does well. Really, really well.

Next up is Debbie. She literally runs out to the table. She tells some story I don’t pay much attention to, and then serves her BBQ shrimp on a savory corn salad (would corn salad be sweet?). Tyler calls her out by telling her it’s not very “Seoul to Soul.” Ha, hahahhahaha. Alex-the-chef-from-Butter told her “we want you to bleed culture.” Ew. The shortribs got mixed reviews due to the relative toughness of the meat compared to “usual” preparations of shortribs (“we Koreans like to gnaw on our meat,” Deb said). Bayless liked it, but then again, he hadn’t said much lately and maybe just needed some face time (facetime!). Deb demos her fried egg roll dessert, and Neely man loved it, but Marcus Samuelsson’s dough was raw. However, Deb was undeterred. “I feel like yeah, I rocked it,” she said when it was finished. Next up is Jeff, and I gotta say, I really noticed Susie perking up when he came out today. She kinda fluttered. He demos his scallop and does it pretty much flawlessly, though he didn’t plate it that I saw, which struck me as weird but no one else thought so. Tyler loved it, everyone loved it. BUT. The risotto is up next. And we all already know where this is going–in fact, sous-chef Katie probably caught the first cab out of there after plating it up. He’s explaining how the dish represents his “wife on a plate,” (!), and the chefs faces are going are slowly going snarly and sour as they chew. Jeff pauses to breathe, and he really, really shouldn’t have done that. “This is the worst risotto I’ve ever had,” Payard spouts off. “This is a DISRESPECT TO ITALY!!” yells Marcus S. They all seemed really, really offended…but they didn’t really explain why…it was undercooked? Too soupy? Was the fish bad? Who knows. Anyway, they hate it, and Jeff crawls out from under the table long enough to talk about his mousse and biscotti. Thank G it’s not a disrespect to eggs or something. That part is over, and now it’s time for judging.

So, we head back into the brightly-lit judging room, and someone says, “this is arguably the most difficult challenge of the season.” What’s to argue about? Cooking for those chefs would be tough for anyone, any day. Bob says Mel keeps surprising him, and the pastry was the best thing he ate all day. Then he says Jeff had a “magical moment” in the demo, but they are all stuck on the fact that he only spent $300 of his $1000. Bobby F. wanted more flavor out of Deb. They all get a chance to talk. Mel says the same thing she did last week, about being a voice for housewives, and Deb decides that she “understands the whole population of America!!” Barf. The judges deliberate. Bobby does NOT like Deb, thank goodness, because everyone else does. Bob says Jeff “has the goods.” The contestants come back in. Mel is safe! Then…omgomgomg…Jeff stays. Deb is ouuuutttta heeeeere! Finally. But she handles it pretty well. Mel and Jeff chat on the balcony and they are pretty cute. Nothing bad to say about either one of them (ed note: obvs this was written before the Washington info). Next week: Their own pilots.  Until then…

Newsletter

Our SideDish newsletter features Dallas’s newest dining spots, scrumptious recipes from local restaurants, and news on breweries, cocktail hours and more.

Find It

Search our directories for...

Restaurants

Restaurants

Bars

Bars

Tex-Mex

Tex-Mex

BBQ

BBQ

View All

View All

Comments