The Next Food Network Star
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Eight people (or seven people and one team) hit up the Food Network for a pilot of their own show. But who'll beat the heat and who'll get out of the kitchen?

Recaps by Jason Block, GSNN


Marc Summers
Judges: Bob Tischman, Susie Fogelson, Gordon Elliott
EP: Tom Seligson
Packager: CBS EYEtoo Productions for Food Network
Airs: Sundays at 9pm ET on Food Network

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"Finale" - June 26

We are now down to our final four and we immediately are on the set of the CBS Early Show (synergy as this is produced by CBSEYETOO Productions) and we see Harry Smith talking to the contestants before the next challenge:

CHALLENGE #1: You will cook 3 budget minded meals in 5 minutes with Harry Smith in a segment called "Dinner For Four." The committee will watch and Harry will critique.

Hans does a Watermelon with Hickema Salad, Country Style Pork Ribs and Nectarines in Lemon Syrup. Bob Tuschman says he keeps getting better and better. Dan and Steve say he kept it moving. Harry said "You Rock and Roll" Gordon Elliott said that Hans has grown the most. Deborah said she didn't want to after Hans as he was really good.

Deborah did an Avocado Salad, Brussels Sprouts with Caramelized Onion, Grilled Pork Chops, and Vanilla Ice Cream with chopped Coconut. Harry asked a question about how many minutes the pork should be grilled and Deborah answered, "When they are done." Harry criticized her and said you have to know the answer to the questions asked.

Susannah was next and before the segment flirted with Harry a little. She tried not to be nervous. Susie Fogelson--"she is smooth, but I want her to have fun." Tischman..."She is smooth, but I am confused to what she is saying." Susannah felt "all over the place." And she was criticizing herself in the green room with "coulda, woulda, shoulda."

Dan & Steve go last. They do a crispy quesadilla, ancho grilled pork and black-eyed vinaigrette, and a granita. Afterwards, Harry said they felt too rehearsed and it was "a little pushed."

The committee in the green room say this is the really hard past.

Evaluation time:

Susannah (by Elliott) You were the only one who stuck to the central theme. But he was lost as a listener and it was not all there.
Dan & Steve (by Fogelson) You didn't integrate Harry enough, he wasn't a party favor.
Hans (by Bob) You have grown faster, further than everyone else here. It was a great time.
Deborah (by Elliott) For the 1st half you were there. Once the pork chops hit... it was over. You need to be consistent.

Susie announces the final three...Hans, Dan & Steve... Deborah said she was nervous when it went down to her and Susannah.

...and Deborah. Susannah is out.

Susannah leaves and was "very surprised since Deborah didn't nail the technical at all".

Hans said he was happy, but sad that someone had to go.

The three finalists are down to their final judged challenge as America will vote for the final two. And here it is:

CHALLENGE: The Food Network Stylists have given the finalists 10 items. They are: SALMON, PRAWNS, PAPAYA, LEEKS, SHITAKE MUSHROOMS, BEETS, SERRANO CHILES, SPINACH, TOMATOES AND PUFF PASTRY. In an "Iron Chef" like challenge, they have to make at least 2 dishes in 1 hour using at least 7 of the 10 items. Then they have 5 minutes to demo the dish and the committee will judge the demo and the final product.

Hans described it as "an adrenaline rush." His goal was to do more than anyone else. And just like that...the time is over.

Dan & Steve go first and do a Salmon Wellington and Shrimp Cocktail. They incorporated anecdotes and Fogelson called the dishes good.

Hans did dishes with included Papaya Pico de Gallo. He felt he rushed the demo, and all the stuff he learned went out the window. Tischman--it was about great food, not great TV.

Deborah did a Salmon w/Spinach and Shrimp w/Papaya. She tried to balance the technical w/personality. Fogelson found the dishes clever.

Evaluation time: Deborah (Bob): Tonight you came out like a thoroughbred, but when the main course lost it. You had a finished dish and I didn't know where it came from.

Dan & Steve (by Elliott): Your comedy could either be charming or a turnoff. Tonight it was charming. You had good info and techniques.

Hans (by Fogelson): You have learned a lot, but everything you did learn went for naught. You were way too rushed, and fast.

Susie announces the first finalist...Dan & Steve. Bob announces the 2nd...Deborah. Hans is out. He calls it a wild ride.

And the live voting started on and via text messaging for the next 1/2 get to vote on the Next Food Network Star.

And now each finalist gets to shoot their own mini pilot. And they are in studio A and get some final tips from the host of "30 Minute Meals" and Food Network star (and resident hottie) Rachael Ray. Deborah calls her pilot "Spice of Life". Rachael's best yourself--you can't fake that. Sara Moulton gave her the best advice: "Smile all the time for no reason." She laughs.

She tells them about the mission statement of the show. She relates that 3 and 4 yr old kids do her opening line, "Hi. I'm Rachael Ray and I cook 30 minute meals." Rachael thinks that's adorable.

We see the run through of a segment which will be Salami Scrambles and Pink Summer Cocktails. They also joke around about the "Big Carry" where they try to get Rachael to carry the most items without breaking. Dan & Steve said she gave great information. She also reminds them to know
where your tools are.

So Dan & Steve go first with their pilot "Soup to Nuts" and a Lobster Pot Pie. They go through a walk-through, rehearsal. They felt the crew was surprised how put together they were. The committee and Rachael were
there, but only for support.

We see their pilot. Then we see Deborah's pilot called "Spice of Life" which is Fried Chicken with Country Greens. Gordon gave notes to each team during the split of each half.

After the pilots are viewed, we go back to Mark who does an interview with Dan and Steve. They said being a team is a balance and a help. They grew the most in multitasking. We go to a profile of the team. Dan grew up Italian and Steve had an English mother--and each meal was Meat, Potatoes and Vegetable. Switch to their catering business, "The Cafe at Hearty Boys" in Chicago. They try to create food with sensibility. They say it's hard to be in a relationship and work together, but they have been doing it for 8 years. They started as a small business and now have a staff from 40-60. They are "America's Version of 2 Fat Ladies." Their vision is going to be to have fun with food and be comfortable with entertaining.

Now it's Deborah's turn. She said she made it this far because she isn't like anyone else. She learned the most that personality has to shine through. Deborah grew up in DC. She started learning cooking at 11 from her mom. If she wasn't cooking she would be acting. She went to the California School of Culinary Arts. Being a celebrity chef she is responsible for everything. She goes shopping as early as 6AM. She loves showing people how to cook and that food doesn't have to be overwhelming.

Next we have the finalist reunion.. we have Hans, Eric, Harmony, Brook, Susannah and Michael come in. We some of the favorite moments of the first four episodes and a lot of cutting loose from the contestants. Michael said his best memory was kissing Paula Deen. Susannah said her name is now changed to "How's your finger?" Hans said he had to learn how to "talk faster", which got a big laugh. Eric said his biggest problem was dealing with his "friend" the teleprompter. Brook is happy with seeing his friends again. Harmony hopes that everyone keeps in touch.

We have the final walk between Dan & Steve and Deborah. Dan and Steve let Deborah go in first into the kitchens of Food Network into a LIVE shot of the staff and finalists applauding the final two. Mark Summers says its down to 2 finalist from 10,000 entries. Deborah is nervous. Dan & Steve is looking forward to the results. Brooke Johnson, the President of Food Network, says the winner's show will debut in September as part of the "In The Kitchen" series. And the first meeting is Monday morning!

And as a surprise, Deborah's Parents and Dan and Steve's mothers show up. And it's time for the final results. And who better to bring them in on a shiny silver tray than the king of Food Network...Emeril Lagasse himself! He opens the envelope...and the winner...judged by


Confetti falls down and champagne is passed out...hugs are given...they are shown on the ABC Times Square billboard as the winner! They say they will do their best! And with that...The Next Food Network's star is chosen... and I am out. This is Jason Block...saying good eats and good luck!

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