Anyone else watching The Next Food Network Star? I finally caught this week’s episode – it didn’t record Monday, long story – so I figured I’d throw some thoughts out there.
First, the format: The show is little short of a hazing. The contestants are asked to do some ridiculous things, like cooking brunch on a moving train or throwing together a potato dish that is “personal” in thirty minutes with zero advance notice. The connection between the tasks and an actual cooking show is tenuous at best.
Also, there is way too much crying. Stop crying. All of you.
As for the contestants, they’ve whacked some pretty clear not-going-to-win-anythings so far, although they still have some serious weeding to do before they get down to the legit contenders. Here’s who remains after Jeffrey – whose delivery is all wrong for TV, and whose mouth appears to naturally form a frown, even when he’s smiling – was eliminated in week 3, ranked from worst to best:
7. Nipa. Pro: Sounds like she can actually cook. Con: Her range is limited to Indian cuisine. She never smiles. She’s not inventive in her cooking. And if she’s not a wicked little witch, she should sue the show’s editors for making her look like one. The whole took-all-the-cayenne thing? If I was Aaron, I would soak Nipa’s entire wardrobe in cayenne water … and her sheets too.
6. Lisa. Pro: Appears to have some solid food ideas and be willing to go outside the box; she’s got a reasonably well-articulated culinary vision. Con: The vision doesn’t always sound appealing. Incredibly weird looking. Squints when she talks to the camera. Has a nose ring.
5. Jennifer. Pro: Big on comfort foods, which are always marketable, and she wants to keep it kid-friendly/family-focused, which is also a great niche. Con: Totally boring on camera. Mashed potato pizza is a disgusting idea, too.
4. Adam. Pro: High-energy. Camera likes him. Into guys’ food (his dishes in week three were bacon cheese fries and, in the “make your own jarred product” contest, a barbecue rub). Referenced Alton Brown in this episode. Con: Dorky, but maybe in a passable way. Served raw food each of the first two weeks. Not sure he’s much of a cook.
3. Kelsey. Pro: She’s very cute. High-energy. Pretty good food concepts, although I can’t figure out why she thought she could cook a gratin in 30 minutes. Con: Comes across as too polished, on which the judges really hammered her this week. No one is going to tune in to see a cute girl cook if she’s fake.
2. Shane. Pro: I think this kid – he’s 19, the youngest ever on TNFNS, apparently – can really cook. He’s good-looking and the camera likes him. Con: Very unpolished, and gets nervous easily; I think both of those can be fixed with training. Tried to do vichyssoise in 30 minutes without stock, which was just a bad judgment call.
1. Aaron. Pro: Can flat-out cook; he’s won plaudits for everything he’s made on the show, and his ideas are rock-solid. Also seems to get time management. Very charismatic; the camera loves him and he presents well. Con: His delivery could use some polishing, and he can trip over his words sometimes, but that’s very fixable. He’s my pick to win.