"Parts 1 & 2" - June 5
In the opening of this new
show, and the first for Food Network, chef Emeril
Lagasse introduces us to the concept of the show...one
chef from over 10,000 tapes submitted will "outcook,
outcharm, and outlast" and win a contract for their own
Food Network show! They are looking for a chef with
"personality, performance and a new culinary point of
Welcome to "The Next Food Network Star!"
Our host Marc Summers is in front of Chelsea Market, the
home of Food Network's Studios. He explains that the end
of the show will be a cook off where our two finalists
will shoot a mini-pilot of "30 Minute Meals", made
famous by chef Rachael Ray. But we are getting a little
ahead of ourselves here.
There were 10,000 tapes submitted from all over the
world. And we are shown some of the more bizarre ones
including a naked woman in a bath of fruits and
vegetables, an Amish cook named Petey Crotch(!) and a
guy from Osaka, Japan. They had to narrow them down to 8
finalists who will perform in front of our selection
committee. Let's meet them:
a) Bob Tischman, the Senior Vice President of
Programming for Food Network
b) Susie Fogelson, the VP of Marketing
c) Gordon Elliott, Host and Producer
They have grouped our semi-finalist into groups. Our
first group of
Semi-finalists put some flash and energy into thier
work. Here are our
first group--the FLASHIEST CHEFS:
Nick Manochicco, Roland Jane from Orlando, Florida and
Brook Harlan from
Columbia, Missouri. We see all their tapes with their
flash and panache.
_*FINALIST #1: BROOK HARLAN*_
He teaches Culinary Arts at his local HS and is an
coach. He started cooking when he was 8 yrs old. He
believes he has the
energy and the knowledge to become the next Food Network
Our next group of semi-finalists showed dishes that
would make you lick
the screen. Here are our semi-finalists in the MOST
Deborah Fewell, from Pasadena, CA; Lisa Ann Safrie; and
_*FINALIST #2: DEBORAH FEWELL*_
Deborah is a personal celebrity chef and actress.
Our committee was surprised at the number of teams that
Here are our next group of semi-finalists: TEAMS
Sandra and Cynthia from Jackson, Wyoming and Greenwich,
CT; Steve and
Dan from Chicago who own a catering business and are an
couple; and Al and Cara from Bellmore, NY
_*FINALIST #3: STEVE MCDONNA AND DAN SMITH*_
They have been catering for 7 years and a couple for 8
years. They think
that Food Network needs a gay show on the air.
To see what goes into the production of a show, we go
behind the scenes with Alton Brown, the host of "Good
Eats" (one of my personal favorites on the network). He
writes about 90% of the show and sees the food as
characters within the show. Vanessa Parker is the head
of the prep kitchen. She oversees recipe development and
it's a lot of hard work. Alton sees this show as the
ability not just to cook, but to make people's lives
Marc tells us that Alton sent a tape unsolicited himself
and that is how he got his own show.
We are then subjected to a lot of tapes with a lot of
kitchen mishaps, bloopers and other disasters.
Back in the master control room of Food Network, this
nerve center is where you can see food from every angle.
Here are our next group of semi-finalists who think they
have the best THEME to be on TV:
Laura Klein from LA,
"The Organic Diva"; Patrice Olivon who takes the simple
and makes it complex; and Harmony Marceau from NYC who
has a passion about cooking...
_*FINALIST #4: HARMONY MARCEAU*_
Harmony Marceau is a
shoe model, but loves to be in the kitchen the most...
A lot of the tapes shows that well food and booze go
together...sometimes a bit too well. We see a selection
of tapes where some alcohol (and maybe a lot more than
should have been) was used.
Our next group of semi-finalists are outside the box to
say the least. Here are our semi-finalists who are our
Michael Thomas from Venice, California; Alyssa Boyle
from Valley Village, CA and the "Food Train" Pete
Chelala from Fairfield, CT
_*FINALIST #5: MICHAEL THOMAS *_
He is a personal chef
and surfer. His philosophy is "Why not just get into
it". He is really into food.
Another one of my favorite chefs is here to welcome the
finalists with a snack and party. Welcome Mr. Mario
Batali who scooters into the studio. He believes the
next star has to have "a knowledge of food, and a lively
personality, along with the intensity".
Mark takes us back to the history of Food Network from
"How to Boil Water" to "Iron Chef America" in the 11
years of the network they have gone to a Stove, Sink,
Countertop shows to shows where it's fun to learn and
enjoy yourself. They are passionate about food.
Mario wasn't as comfortable as he is now in front of the
camera. They show some clips from 1995 where he was a
tad stiff and nervous.
In life as in as cooking you have to keep focus. Here
are our next group of semi-finalist chefs who have BUSY
Rena Snell from Sandy, UT who is a mother of 4; Susannah
Lochetti from Plymouth, MA who is a working mother who
lost 89 pounds and Angela Thomas from Fayetteville, GA
who is a vegetarian who is "not a rabbit".
_*FINALIST #6: SUSANNAH LOCHETTI*_
She is a mother of 2 boys and a graphic designer part
time. She is also a fitness instructor who defines
herself as the "average mom".
There were a lot people who tried to nickname themselves
from the "anti-chef" to the "queen of Quesadillas". Some
of those tapes were shown.
A lot of chefs don't
start out going to culinary schools or apprentice in
restaurants. Here are our next group of semi-finalist
chefs who were SELF-TAUGHT.
Eric Warren from Los Angeles, CA; Brian Van Dedemoth who
read cookbooks, and Danielle Spies from Redwood, CA who
makes cooking easy
_*FINALIST #7: ERIC WARREN *_
Eric is a big big man in
the frame of Ruben Studdard (my personal observation) He
is full of love and laughter. He gives back to the
community who works with Developmentally Disabled
All our finalists enter the Food Network Studios...but
shouldn't there be 8 finalists? There are. Mark says
that 10 videos were put on the Food Network website at
http: www.foodnetwork.com and narrowed it down to these
Hans Rueffert from Jasper, GA who believes that food is
"1/2 heart, 1/2 soul" and Patrick Rolfe from Lake Brest,
WA who believes in local local local.
_*FINALIST #8: HANS RUEFFERT*_
Hans is a head chef in
his family restaurant for 15 years. His sister passed
away last year. That made him realize life is short. He
got over 1,000,000 votes and already feels he won
The finalists party with Brooke Johnson, the President
of the Food Network... and the next day...
Our 1st Challenge is upon us:
_/*CHALLENGE #1: Prepare a dish with the simplest
ingredient...eggs. The finalists have 20 minutes to
prepare a dish and be ready to do a 5 minute demo of the
Harmony was concerned with the time element. While they
were cooking, Michael was singing about tomatoes, Mark
was asking Harmony, Hans and Deborah about their
individual dishes...Harmony had trouble with her pan to
get it to sizzle. Mark gives the 5 minute call and
Michael's personality is what you see is what you get.
Michael is a nutjob. Time expires and Harmony thought
she was golden, until she realized that she had to
prepare the demo food as well. She didn't do that.
Our finalists are ready to demo their egg dishes.
Deborah goes first and tries to do her "3 Omelet" of
Bacon, Sauteed Mushrooms, and Scallions. She was having
trouble and her omelet went kablooey. The committee
Susannah did her "Egg White Omelet Italiano". She was
impressive and "was here to get a job" according to her.
She did well.
Michael did a "scrambled eggs with salmon and chives".
He was off the wall. But he lost on time. He ran out of
Hans did a "frittatenzuppe". Eric said he had the best
presentation, and the gay couple loved it.
Brook did a frittata and Harmony wants him as her
"instructor". Yipe. Everyone is watching. Brook talked
way too fast according to himself and the committee.
Eric did poached eggs. Harmony and Brook saw how alive
and energetic once he got on camera. The committee saw
his personality shine through.
Dan and Steve are up next and since "gays know brunch"
they did a savory pancake with smoked salmon hash.
Deborah noticed their teamwork.
Harmony didn't do well in front of the camera. She
didn't have the prepared stuff ready to go and her demo
That was the end of this demo and the end of Part I.
Part II began with the finalists in Studio B to get a
crash course in TV 101. Marc Summers was there to give
them hints and tips. They were introduced to Cecil the
Floor Manager and were told the magic words... NEVER
STOP THE SHOW. Harmony was excited.
Each finalist was told to do a different task while
reading the teleprompter. Remember, during every moment,
our committee will be watching. Brook did the "show
open" and said the words "barbecue flare" instead of
"barbecue fare". Again, he was told to talk slow.
Harmony found talking and reading to be difficult.
Deborah had to "show the item" to the camera. Michael
had problems with time limits again as he didn't follow
the "time cues." Hans had to "stretch" and did so by
eating part of an onion. Eric did "camera turns",
Susannah did the "swap out" and Dan and Steve "threw it
to commercial." The key, Marc Summers said was to relax
and have fun. And as Dan and Steve's faces turned blank
with terror, Food Network chefs showed up with cakes for
our next challenge:
/_*CHALLENGE #2: Frost a cake while reading the
teleprompter. Sounds easy, right? What our challengers
didn't know was that (for the only time in the
competition) Food Network has rigged the demo to have
something go wrong for each competitor. This is to see
how our finalists handle things not going right.
Remember the key words...NEVER STOP THE SHOW!
Brook's task was: APPLY A COAT OF ICING. His cake didn't
come out of the pan and the cameraman was way in his
face. Afterwards, each competitor got to see the other
Stephanie task was: MAKE CREAM CHEESE FROSTING. Her
teleprompter had wrong words and her mixer was faulty.
She improvised well by mixing it by hand.
Dan and Steve's task was: FROST WITH BUTTERCREAM
FROSTING. Their icing was rock hard so they mimed the
frosting techniques. Nice job.
Michael's task was: TRANSFER TO CAKE STAND. The stand
broke. He handled it well.
Eric's task was to FROST A CAKE. He had no tools...so he
used a potato peeler. His prompter went dead, and in the
words of Dan and Steve... "Eric's eyes went big just
like my dog's does when you whistle."
Harmony's task was to PIPE WITH A PASTRY BAG. Her bag
got stuck, but she improvised beautifully by using a
Ziploc bag. Big points for her. (C-Note: She's been
watching Good Eats!)
Hans had to do the same thing. But this time his
frosting was warm and runny. The frosting ran down the
sides of the cake, and he called it "Chocolate Explosion
Deborah had to STENCIL POWDERED SUGAR. Her microphone
had massive feedback and the lights went out. She
continued like a trooper.
We go back to the Food Network kitchens and we introduce
another big Food Network Star--Bobby Flay. Cooking has
to be effortless and it looks
effortless due to the staff of Food Network.
Susan Stanton, the VP of Culinary Production explains
that culinary production is 2 parts...the cooks and food
stylists and the writers and editors. The editors and
writers explain how a show breakdown is written then the
chef gives the instructions to the shoppers who buy the
food. They prep the show one day before in a procedure
called "mise en place" or "in it's place". This is where
the food is prepared so that all the chefs have to do is
cook and make good television. Flay explains he couldn't
do it without the staff and introduces sous chef Miriam
Garrar, who oversees the daily operation of the Food
Then Mr. Flay and Miriam go through the choreography and
rehearsal of how to do a recipe. This was a Chilean Sea
Bass recipe. The finalists watch intensely and Flay
explains that he still gets nervous every time he goes
on camera. Harmony said it was like watching Donald
Trump give tips about Business in Business School. Flay
explained that you NEVER say "Through the Magic of
Television"...According to Flay, "There is no magic in
television". And then the next challenge was given:
_/*CHALLENGE #3: After receiving a breakdown of a
Bobby Flay recipe, you will demo it in Studio B. Bobby
Flay will be watching and grading you.
The finalists received their breakdown and after 5
minutes of study, and one minute of run through with
Miriam....here we go:
Hans did Roasted Yellow Pepper Grits.
Tischman: "Knows his food--no personality."
Flay: After mentioning hating hominy, and loving grits,
he told Hans...you must "always speak positive about
food." He liked the way he spoke about foods.
Deborah was a little crazy doing Warm Crab and Potato
Salad. She didn't
include a habanero pepper and that threw her off.
Fogelson: "I wanted to know more about Deborah."
Flay: "You lost your smile because you were nervous. And
you forget the
Habanero. You did have good technical delivery."
Brook said his 1st 10 seconds were brutal. They were. He
was doing New
Mexican Soft Tacos with Chicken.
Elliott: He was passionate and needs to calm down. (See
a Pattern here?)
Flay: "If you are going to do tricks (which he did with
a pepper grinder) you have to bring it all the way. Be
confident. And never mention salmonella... that's a bad
Susannah's hand were shaking. But she knew this could be
a one-time opportunity. So she cooked Swiss Chard
w/Serrano Chile Vinegar.
Elliott: "She could go on any morning show in America."
Tischman: "I see a real host here."
Flay said he got to know her about 1/2 way into her
Michael did Bacon herb wrapped Pork Tenderloin. This
time his sink didn't work (not planned that way) and
washed his hands with "mystery water."
Elliott: He is one of the more exciting contestants we
have, but the elements are not put together yet.
Flay thought he was very funny especially about a
comment about how most "vegetarians miss bacon the
most". But he needs to have more organized cooking.
Dan & Steve were next. Their recipe was Crispy Whole
Striped Bass w/tomatilla sauce. Dan was more nervous
with the 5 minute time limit...not a lot of time with 2
Fogelson: "engaging to watch...got the food chops...not
stepping over each other."
Flay: "You weren't having fun until the end."
Harmony did Spicy Shrimp Salad. She had jitters, but
told herself to chill out.
Tischman: "If she harnesses her energy and could connect
with the camera, she could be a winner."
About 1/2 way in, she felt comfortable.
Flay: "You stumbled in the beginning, but got into it."
Eric wrote a poem for Bobby Flay which he performed.
"It's my game to lose". He did Cumin Crusted- Chicken.
Elliott: He is like a deer in the headlights. Where's
the personality? (He was imploding.)
Flay: "You had energy, and you made a new name for a
certain cheese." Eric knew he didn't give the best
And now the contestants had to wait, as the committee
consulted with Flay, sous chef Miriam and Food Network
Chef Rob Bleiffer.
They are all called into the studio for the committee's
judging. Harmony knew everyone was nervous. Eric said
you could count every step as he walked, as it could be
the last one. Susannah felt the intensity building up.
The committee is introduced to our 8 finalists. And each
finalist is graded:
Eric (by Bob Tischman)--You
have a warmth and charm but you choked in studio.
Harmony (by Susan Fogelson)--You are charming and bright
but very nervous.
Hans (By Gordon Elliott) --You have the best food
knowledge, but we never
got to know anything about you. Hans accepted the
Susannah (by Bob) Smooth, unflappable delivery, but you
Brook (by Susan) Your tape showed confidence and
energy...I didn't see it
here. Brook noticed that too.
Dan & Steve (by Gordon) They need to be better
choreographed and know
your roles as a team. Dan & Steve were thankful for the
know what to do now.
Michael (by Bob) You have a unique, quirky, individual
your humor didn't mesh with the information.
Deborah (by Susan) Like Brook, your tape energy didn't
come through in
And now, who goes on? Gordon reads the first 3 finalists
that stay on: Michael, Dan & Steve and Susannah.
Susan reads Eric,
Harmony and Deborah.
Hans's reaction: "I am
happy for all of them, but my name wasn't called
Bob reads the final
name...he asks Hans...to stay. And with that Brook
Harlan, from Columbia, MO is the first one eliminated.
My opinion: Brook did have to go. He was too fast and
didn't listen to instruction. Who will be eliminated
next week? Tune in to find out...