"Stage 1: A
Challenge from the Iron Chefs/Stage 2: Never Stop Taping" -
Last year, ten thousand tapes were
sent to New York in their search to become the Next Food
Network Star. 8 Finalists were chosen and the American public
along with the selection committee chose Chicago based
caterers Dan Smith and Steve McDonough to become the next Food
Network Star. And their show, "Party Line with the Hearty
Boys" is a success on Saturday mornings.
It was so nice we are doing it
twice. This is Jason Block and I am here with the host of the
show Marc Summers to introduce to you the 8 finalists chosen
by the Food Network and the American Public. No cheesy videos
this year...so let's meet the 8 finalists for the 2nd edition
of "The Next Food Network Star":
1. Carissa Seward--San
Diego, CA: She grew up on a dairy farm, got a
running scholarship to college. Her mom died in 2003. Then she
went to Paris and was accepted to the Cordon Bleu cooking
school. She wants her own show to show that food can be dirty,
fun and sexy...and you don't need a dowdy apron.
Schumacher--Brooklyn, NY: He is 25, with a
fiancee and a 7 month old daughter. He attended culinary
school, and his family is his support system. He quit cooking
to support his family and is a logistic manager for the NY
Blood Center. He says his energy will prevail.
Rodriguez--Port St. Lucie, FLA: She is married
with 4 children. At first she didn't enjoy cooking but learned
to like it from her mom and grandmother. She was voted into
the competition by the fans on foodnetwork.com. "It isn't a
chore anymore, this is a dream come true."
Sutherland--Silver Lake, CA: The openly gay
contestant of this session(like Dan and Steve last time), he
works at the Comfort Cafe. He is "big" in a lot of ways. Fern
is his canine companion.
5. Jess Dang--Palo
Alto, CA: Came to the US when she was 2 from
Vietnam. Attended Stanford and is happy in life. She is a
business analyst at a consulting firm. She calls cooking
comforting to cook. She is a quick learner which is her
6. Guy Fieri--Santa
Rosa, CA: He is on the board of the California
Restaurant Association. He owns 3 restaurants. He has a son,
Hunter and his wife is 8 1/2 months pregnant. He loves to cook
with his family.
7. Beth Raynor--Sausalito,
CA: A self-confessed "food nerd" she started a
catering business in 2001, but the operation ceased after the
dot-com bust. She is engaged and food is "her expression of
Lyon--Hollywood, CA: He works hard at his
physique. He went to culinary school and works at a jazz
restaurant called Vibrato owned by Herb Alpert. He calls food
And those are your final 8. I
would have liked to have seen a little more representation
from "flyover country"myself. But let's see what happens.
The finalists arrive at Food
Network, and everyone is excited. They meet Mark Summers and
Nathan noticed everyone has a bag with their name on it in
front of them. It represents their favorite ingredient they
work with. Everyone opens their bag which leads right away to
their first challenge:
CHALLENGE: CREATE A
DISH WITH YOUR FAVORITE FOOD ITEM THAT YOU LIKE TO WORK WITH.
IT HAS TO BOTH REFLECT THE FOOD ITEM AND YOUR PERSONAL STYLE.
THE CONTESTANTS HAVE 30 MINUTES TO PREP AND 5 MINUTES TO DEMO
THE ITEM IN FRONT OF THE SELECTION COMMITTEE.
Nathan said it was a little
difficult. Carissa said it was intense because people were
fighting over the same ingredient. Jess felt intimidated while
Carissa cut her finger. Jess was excited after it was over.
Let's now introduce the selection committee:
Returning from last year are Bob
Tuschman, Senior VP of Programming for Food Network. His job
was to "protect the network." Also we have Susie Fogelson, VP
of Marketing. "Our Chefs are like Rock Stars."
But this year we have a new third
judge. Gordon Elliott is out, and Iron Chef Bobby Flay is in.
"Food is the most important thing. Once you realize
that...everything is easy." He tells the contestants to make
the camera your own with energy and pop.
So we have our first demos:
Reggie is up first with a Fig
Salad with his favorite ingredient--FIGS. Nathan called Reggie
an "entity" unto himself. Reggie thought he did well.
Andy is next--his ingredient is
PORK TENDERLION. Nathan said his strength is to communicate
about the food, but he needs more personality. Andy said he
wasn't used to talking to the camera. Bob Tuschman said, "He
had a great smile, when the camera was turned off."
Carissa used STEAK. But her
"butterflies got her. I felt like while they were there they
were criticizing me. I could have done a lot better."
Beth used SHRIMP. She thought she
did too much prep, but the 5 minutes blew by and didn't plate
in time. Bob: "She has to step up the game."
Nathan used WINE. He tried a
Korean dish called Bodago...he said it was too complex for 5
minutes. He specifically tried to impress them with chef
knowledge and it was a mess in the 5 minutes.
Guy used SWEET ONION to do an
onion ring. Susie Fogelson: "He's strong." Bob: "He has a lot
going for him."
Yvette used POTATO. She felt
"confident and cocky". She almost made the time. "Bob: "I Got
A Sense she cares and makes these dishes."
Finally Jess uses SHRIMP. She
"lost her head". She knew her skills were on the lower end of
the spectrum and she over estimated the time...and she wasn't
The next challenge needs some big
chef shoes to fill. So we introduce 3 of the 4 American Iron
Chefs. Chefs Masaharu Morimoto, Mario Batali and Bobby Flay
are going to test the contestants in an "Iron Chef Skills
Morimoto will test their knife
skills, Batali will test their knowledge on how to
desconstruct a dish of his, and Flay will test on
Presentation. They are each are handed personalized chef
whites and then are off to test.
knife skills are to a) small dice an onion, b) julienne a
carrot and c) filet a fish. You have to talk to the camera and
choose any knife that was there. They had 5 minutes.
Beth doesn't filet the fish.
Morimoto: "She doesn't have any knife skills."
Reggie said my knife skills are
"awful. I butchered the fish."
We see the rest of the competitors
including Yvette who gave up. Morimoto showed her how to filet
Batali has cooked a dish and the challengers have to describe
the ingredients in the dish. The dishes included "Swordfish
Involtini" and Mushroom Potatio and Asparagus Cake.
We see different members try and
do it in front of Batali.
CHALLENGE: Plate a
dish including lobster in 3 minutes in front of Bobby Flay.
He asked Guy: "Are a you a cook or
a jeweler?" after seeing all his jewelry. We see different
members do it and Carissa said it was difficult to get her
thoughts in order. She could have done better.
Time for the first visit to the
elimination room. Reggie felt the intensity.
Time for the evaluations.
Nathan(by Bob): You were trying
too hard to impress us with "chefy" terminology. It felt like
a barrier to the crowd.
Evette(by Susie): You felt out of
your element. You didn't even try to filet the fish.
Jess(by Flay): You looked like a
car out of control. You need to relax.
Carissa(by Bob): You need to
eliminate "yummy, crazy, and fire it up" from your vocabulary.
He felt that certain images that she used(like lobster butt
and taking a "pea") were unappetizing
to the home viewer.
Reggie(by Susie): You are a baker.
We need to make you comfortable with savory as well as sweet.
You do have the presentation though.
Beth(by Flay): Personality didn't
shine through and you had bad knife skills.
Andrew(by Bob) You need to dial it
up. The camera uses energy up. You need to use the food to get
to know you.
Guy(by Susie): You have an obvious
love of food, but you need to share info. You have the
presentation in Spades.
Susie is about to announce the
eliminations, but in an unprecedented move...no one goes home.
"We don't know everyone enough yet." Everyone gets a second
In Part II..everyone goes into
Studio B and look who walks in but the star of 4 Food Network
Shows...it's Rachael Ray! Today is about making TV. We hear
from Irene Wang and various Food Network Execs explaining how
the studio is a pressure cooker.
Rachael talks about her first
appearance on Emeril Live. She explains the key, which Bobby
Flay explained last year at this point which is NEVER STOP
TAPING. Rachael explains about the teleprompter and the stage
manager. Each of the 8 contestants go through a part of the
Beth starts the show which is
about Meatloaf. Rachael gave pointers.
Reggie did the SWAPOUT. Rachael
loved his personality.
Carissa did TIMING. She missed the
eggs, but it was ok.
Nathan did CAMERA TURNS. Rachael
said it was "meat--not science class." Reggie called this
lesson a "gift"
Evette did STRETCHING. Again
Rachael explained to "NEVER STOP TAPE."
Guy did the SAUCE in 90 seconds.
Jess did PLATING.
Andy did the END OF SHOW.
Carissa said that meeting Rachael
was the highlight so far.
Mark explains the heart of the
Food Network Kitchens is the 25 Kitchen chefs for all shows.
Usually about a month before a show a recipe is broken down
and prepared. The chefs have a relationship between themselves
and the talent.
Harriet Slew of the kitchen staff
explains the next challenge:
CHALLENGE: THE FOOD
NETWORK STAFF HAS BROKEN DOWN YOUR SUBMISSION OF "COOKING EASY
DISHES" INTO A RECIPE. YOU WILL HAVE TO MAKE YOUR OWN SWAPOUTS
AND YOUR OWN "MISE EN PLACE" YOU WILL DEMO IT IN STUDIO B FOR
5 MINUTES IN FRONT OF THE COMMITTEE. THEY WILL ALSO TASTE THE
DISHES AS WELL. YOU HAVE 30 MINUTES TO PREP ALL PARTS OF THE
We see the mad dash to prep the
meal and we go right into the demos for the selection
Andy Schumacher does a "Curry
Cream Chicken Couscous with Couscous Salad" He ran out of
time, but Bob said "It was his first full demo, but it was
After each demo, you can go into the Green Room and watch the
other contestants demo their dishes.
Jess does "Asian Bolognese". She
felt devastated and it was the worst feeling. She didn't
Guy did "Chipotle Pasta" Bob: "He
made it complicated, but it was good."
Evette did "Little Louie's Chicken
Quesadillas"(named after her son.) She didn't see the knives,
but made the time. Flay called it "Nothing special." Bob
wanted more of "Guy's Pasta."
Nathan did a "Coconut Kafir Leaf
Halibut with Cabbage". He blew the swapout with the Fish.
Susie: "3 minutes of the demo was 'if you can't do this, use
this" means "I can't do this."
Carissa missed the swapout in her
prep. So she switched her "Roasted Sausgae and Bell Peppers"
Bob said "Very Comfortable and Fluid"
Reggie tried to do a "Puree of
Spinach and Peas Soup" . The Food Processor wouldn't work, but
Reggie didn't miss a beat. Flay said the soup didn't need to
be pureed and the "best things happen by accident."
Beth did a Turkey Pine Nut Cabbage
Wraps. Bob said there was No Joy In It. Susie was bored.
It's elimination time and this
time someone goes home for real. Evaluations first:
Reggie(by Flay): The beginning
your personality shown through but you reached a moment of
truth. We see a tape from 1996 where Flay's food processor
wouldn't work. He said the soup was good. His star rose.
Carissa(by Susie) You didn't have
as much fun today.
Beth(by Bob): You have a
consistent fluid delivery, but it was flat with no
personality. You need to bring passion to life.
Nathan(by Flay): It was an
ambitious dish. You have great technique, but the personality
needs to show. It hasn't come out yet.
Jess(by Susie): You still are
feeling nervous. You were rushing and didn't finish the dish.
Guy(by Bob): Interesting, but you
were talking to the camera as if we were line chefs. It was a
total turn off. Don't speak chef to chef.
Evette(by Flay) You had a great
start, the quesadilla had no flavor, but you need to let the
Andy(by Susie) You need to "charm
me". You need to continue to infuse the demo with personality.
Ok, we need to know who is
leaving. But first, these chefs advance:
Bob advances ANDY & EVETTE.
Bobby advances REGGIE &
Susie advances NATHAN &
So it's down to BETH &
JESS. Bob says BETH stays and
JESS DANG is the first chef to be sent home.
She says she never got used to the camera and the pressure. It
was hard for her to leave. The 7 remaining chefs toast Jess
and we are one step closer to finding out who is the next
"Food Network" star!