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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


FACT FILE:

Host:
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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"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 recipes.

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 show:

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 teleprompter.

Steve and Dan said that Paula's having fun in the kitchen and that should be a lesson to be taken to heart.

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 her presentation.

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 of herself.

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 everything.

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:

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 "pro."

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 fabulous energy.

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 was.

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 had fun.

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!

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