"Part 4" - June 19
We are down to 6 finalists
and all of a sudden they get a fax late at night.
Deborah notices there is a southern element to all the
The next day, the next challenge is presented to the
finalists. You have to deal with the task of
multitasking...the preparing of 2 dishes at once. But
before that, we are introduced to the queen of Southern
Cuisine--Ms. Paula Deen. Susannah said when she walked
in, she was like a ray of sunshine. Paula said she would
rather talk than cook. So she prepared Sloppy Joes at
the same time as Black and Blue Burgers. Michael saw her
as a lover of food. Susannah did a funny impression of
her talking about a ton of butter.
Hans said meeting Paula Deen was the highlight of the
trip so far. Deen said not to take yourself seriously.
Don't be a diva. She also said that Gordon Elliott, a
producer of the show and one of the selection committee
keeps her moving. So our first challenge of tonight's
CHALLENGE #1: With the breakdowns faxed to you last
night, you will demo 2 dishes of Paula Deen's recipes in
7 minutes. The committee, your fellow finalists and
Paula herself will be on hand to watch. You should also
get through the talking points of the recipe on the
Steve and Dan said that Paula's having fun in the
kitchen and that should be a lesson to be taken to
Susannah went first. She saw the high calorie and high
fat dishes and tweaked it to her style. She did these
dishes: Fried Green Tomatoes and Bacon Egg Hollandaise.
Steve and Dan saw that she never strays from her lo-cal
focus. Susannah felt she sounded like an instructional
video. Deen said she was very good, but needed life to
Hans did Country Ham w/Redeye Gravy and Cream Cheese
Biscuits. He tried to make more personal connections. He
was hard on himself, because he didn't finish on time.
Deen loved and appreciated the stories. But he
has to work on time.
Deborah did Creamy Onion Canapes with Pecan Stuffed
Dates. She noticed that there was "so much to do in 7
minutes." Susannah said Deborah asked how she did after
the demo. She honestly said, "You looked nervous." The
demo didn't happen for her...and she missed her time.
Deen told her to watch her cues. She needs to show more
Dan and Steve did Rice and Roni and Tugboat Turnips.
Deen said they were really good. They reminded him of
her sons. You pulled the team concept off well.
Michael did two oyster dishes. Oyster Casserole and
Oysters with Lemon Dill Sauce. He noticed his breakdown
on the counter and moved it to the side during his
presentation. It threw him off for the entire demo. He
lost his timing. Deen said he had great potential.
Eric did Peppercorn Crusted Ribeye and Potato with Rig
Tum Ditty. Deen said he was safe and good. He needs to
watch his timing.
Time for the 1st elimination. Susannah says the
eliminations are harder. Michael says it's anyone's
game. The committee's evaluation:
Hans:(by Gordon) You have taken every note and done
superbly with it. The challenge now: What's your food
point of view? And you need to be more confident.
Dan and Steve(by Susie):
You have now become equal partners. Now you
have to keep it natural and real.
Michael(by Bob Tuschman):
You are fun,unique and quirky. But today you
had a hard day, you struggled and your performance was
not ready for prime time.
Susannah(by Gordon): You
did it again, but your performance was robotic. You need
to bring Susannah out. It felt like a supermarket demo.
Susannah knew it too. She felt the sting of the truth.
Eric(by Susie) You grab
and squeeze viewers with your presence, but the
technical is falling short. Personality isn't
Deborah(by Bob): Her
performance felt overrehearsed, and both him and
Gordon wrote "Who Are You?" She said she had to resolve
that the show
has to be not just about food, but about yourself.
Gordon eliminates this person, "Not because this person
wasn't getting better, but they weren't getting better
fast enough." And that person was Michael. Michael
leaves happy with no complaints. So we are down to 5.
The five finalists immediately are pushed into the next
CHALLENGE #2: Produce a 20 second video piece about
an ingredient in your signature dish. You have 30
minutes in Chelsea Market.
Eric's video was shown first. He went the humorous route
with a piece about "Do Onions Make You Cry?" After the
video, the committee comments. Tuschman said this was so
Eric..."all personality, no info." Elliott said we could
fix it in the field, but we don't know if we could fix
him in the kitchen.
Next was Hans who did a "mushroom hunt". Elliott said he
needs to slow down and throw about 1/2 of the script
away and bring out the Southern accent. Tuschman called
him the most improved player.
Deborah did a video on sugar. Susie called her
"delightful". Gordon said her video showed mixed
messages with moderation included with fattening
desserts. Tuschman said she was connected to the camera,
but thought, "What did she say?"
Susannah ran out of time but did a thing on "Thai
Spices." Susie called her "creative" Gordon called her a
Finally it's Dan and Steve who also did a video on
mushrooms. Gordon said it was a "squandered
opportunity." Susie said the information was subtle bu
the delivery was cutesy. Tuschman called it majorly
disappointing. It was their first stumble.
They then get a quick lesson in handling the media from
media coach Bill McGowan. They get dressed and ready for
their final challenge:
CHALLENGE #3: You will cook your signature dishes and
answer questions from the national TV and print media.
Carrie Welsh, the PR manager from Food Network
introduces the press to the "meet and eat." Some
magazines represented were Time, Food and Wine, TV
Guide, People and Insider TV show.
Deborah went first and did her stewed chicken. Dana
Cowin, the editor in chief of Food and Wine and Lev
Grossman from Time ask questions. Dana said Deborah had
Hans went next. He cooked pork schnitzel with
chanterelle mushrooms. He was nervous at first
(including a full of "Schnitzel" joke) but once he
started he was ok. Dana asked if it was going to be an
all German show. He laughed and said no. Robin Michele
from People asked if he tried anything up here in New
York. He got a big laugh by saying he tried NY Southern
food. Lori Powell from Ladies Home Journal said after
his presentation, she wanted to see more.
Dan and Steve did a 3 mushroom tart. They didn't know
when to start, but got underway. Lara Spencer asked how
do you balance the team. Steve said it was like a tennis
match. Carol Dittbrenner of TV Guide asked about
who is the most challenging. Steve did an "everyone
brings something to the table" joke. Lev Grossman said
they had real chemistry.
Eric did a dish called "Kissing Cousins". He enters the
room and asks, "What do you think about me?" Robin
Michele said Eric had personality. The committee, who
was watching said no one had failed, in fact everyone
was hitting it out of the park.
Susannah felt nauseous because she was last. She did
Coconut curry Thai chicken. One person wanted her to be
gossipy about the contestants.. She said, "if i can
deliver a 9 1/2 pound baby, I can win this." Lara
Spencer from the Insider asked how she would balance
this with being a mom. She said she has always worked 2
and 3 jobs, and her kids know that their mom is happy.
Time for the selection committee:
Gordon said the committee felt like proud parents at a
graduation. But it now gets unfair.
Deborah: (by Gordon) Your class, power and beauty shown
through. We learned about you. But, when we were
listening to what you were saying, it wasn't logical.
Hans: (by Susie) You
were charming. Hans said not to tell his wife. He was
rambling in his field piece.
Dan and Steve(by Bob): You had your first stumbles. The
field piece was cutesy. And you stumbled in the press
presentation. But you ended it strong.
Eric (by Gordon): You walked in with a special energy.
But this is not just being a TV star, this is A FOOD
NETWORK star. And the food information wasn't there. You
poured a liquid on the butter and we didn't know what it
Susannah (by Susan:) You were informative and we got to
know you a little bit which made you more human. The
field piece was strong.
And now, Bob lets us know who is staying. Hans, Dan and
Steve, Deborah... and after a long pause...Susannah.
Eric is gone...Hugs all around by Eric. He was happy and
So our final four is set. Hans, Dan and Steve, Deborah
and Susannah. In my opinion, these are the strongest
candidates left, minus Deborah. Next week, Rachael Ray
puts the final four through their paces. And you get to
vote on who becomes the next Food Network Star!