The Next Food Network Star Season Premiere: Who Are Your Early Favorites?

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I’m not sure who was in charge of casting Season 7 of The Next Food Network Star, but allow me to raise an Ina Garten-approved cocktail in this magnificent individual’s honor. Last year’s installment of NFNS was essentially an extended coronation march for the lovely Aarti Sequeira, whose victory against a bunch of overmatched tomato cans — many of whom seemed to lack basic cooking and/or on-camera skills – was never really in question.

Season 7, on the other hand, looks to be an entirely different kind of affair. At first glance, I’d say seven or eight of the 15 contestants featured in Sunday night’s season kickoff look like they have at least an outside chance at claiming the top prize of scoring their own Food Network series. And even the stragglers of the pack managed to spice up the cauldron with heaping tablespoons of drama, ridiculousness, and full-fledged crazy.

I’ve already got three early favorites, plus two longshot picks who look like they’ve got potential to improve as the season progresses:

Jeff: Maybe it’s because I’m obsessed with sandwiches (making them, buying them, eating them) but the easygoing Chicago dad’s idea for a series — Between Two Buns — sounds like the kind of thing that would immediately score a “series recording” status on my DVR (even if, at the moment, he’s more a prince than a king in the art of bread, meat, and cheese). Yeah, the ciabata of his chicken-ricotta-caramelized onion bite was a little dry, but is it Jeff’s fault the supermarket was out of brioche? Bonus points for the dude’s punny “Que Lime Pie” recipe title (even if Juba lost the funny in his translation).

Orchid: Won both season-premiere challenges (the latter with teammates Jeff and Juba), but deservedly so. Her pork skewers and cole slaw looked delicious, she gives off a quiet expertise about food, and she’s got a warm, inviting style on camera — although I’d dock her a few points for her cringe-inducing use of the term “Asian persuasion.”

Justin B: As a fishmonger and butcher, the hunky but slightly awkward contestant brings an intriguing point-of-view to the competition, and seems like he’s got the potential to improve with more on-camera experience. Does it make me a fuddy duddy to admit his washer-style earrings freak me out a little?

Longshot special: Judge Bob Tuschman had me cracking up when he noted you could call Vic’s show Empty Plate, but I’m glad the selection committee didn’t boot the tattooed dude just because he and Jyll collided in the kitchen and sent his calamari into a tragic free-fall. His missing lobster tails in the breakfast challenge were a less forgivable gaffe, but dude used the term “ballsagna,” and comes off like a foodier, funnier Vin Diesel.

As for the rest of the season premiere, I was happy the selection committee ousted hapless Howie, who couldn’t identify hummus while snacking off-hours with his fellow contestants, used the word “basic” at least four times during his first on-camera presentation (despite his media “expertise”), and admitted to being “a bit of a novice” in the kitchen. Oh, and worst of all, dude made what appeared to be the worst dish in the final challenge — a “dense, gummy, heavy” plate that Giada refused to credit as being “gnocci.” Guest judge (and my former boss), Entertainment Weekly’s Jess Cagle, chuckled that the dish, “reminds me of my childhood when I used to eat lemon drops and glue.”

Other howlers from the episode:

* Katy deciding it was a good idea to include two pairs of shoes on a kitchen counter to promote her impossible-to-understand series concept.

* Chris thinking that acting like a frat boy with roid rage was the equivalent of “saying hello in a hip way”

* Penny’s unrelenting aggression toward wildly insecure Alicia. I shouldn’t have laughed when the overtly hostile brunette repeatedly made a “buzzer” noise to cut off Alicia’s practice takes for her promo reel, but indeed I did. Ditto for this comment: “Poached pears? That’s what they serve at retirement homes because these people can’t chew!” And later, Penny’s passive aggression turned into open aggression, as she griped about Alicia while standing two feet away from her, as if she wasn’t in the room at all. As their teammate Justin D noted, the Penny-Alicia dynamic was like a wrestling match, though “not even a sexy one I want to watch.”

What did you think of The Next Food Network Star Season 7 premiere? Do you think it’s a more promising cast than Season 6? Who are your early favorites? Who would you like to see booted next? Sound off in the comments, and for all my reality recaps, follow me on Twitter @MichaelSlezakTV!



Comments (65)

  • While it is important that the Next Food network Star is able to cook palatable dishes, it is also important that he/she is likable. Based on that criteria, I would immediately say bye bye to Penny, whose comments to Alicia were bordering on “bullying”. I do understand that editing is intended to add drama where maybe there isn’t any, but if this is the case, then the PTB obviously want to paint Penny as the beeyotch. There is no way I would ever watch a show with her hosting…she is not sexy, she is more trashy, smarmy. Alicia is also too fragile to go much further, and frat boy Chris is just a bit too juvenile. Appears that Juba is one of the better cooks based on comments on his food, but he needs a lot of improvement in the camera department.

    Comment by Sandi B – June 6, 2011 07:13 AM PDT  Reply To This Post
    • I could not agree more about Penny. I am not a viewer who likes to watch a bully and she totally comes across as a witch with a capital B. She singled Alicia out and I full expect her to take her down before she moves on to her next victim. Conflict isn’t entertainment although that seems to be what passes for it on many shows these days.

      Let’s go Orchid, Whitney, and Bun Man.

      Comment by JSmith – June 6, 2011 12:27 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
    • I think you’re dead on. She looks like someone who will target people to “break them” in order to move ahead. She’s not very likable, particularly when several this season seem to be so far, and her food didn’t seem “all that” in comparison. Also, she looks like Paul Stanley of KISS in drag. Sorry.

      Comment by darclyte – June 6, 2011 02:03 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
      • “[Penny] looks like someone who will target people to ‘break them’ in order to move ahead.”

        Indeed she does look like that, and the teaser for next week’s ep seems to indicate that at least some of her fellow finalists have caught on. I didn’t catch who said it, but one of them said something like “make no mistake: Penny’s coming for every one of us.”

        Comment by Bill Dauphin – June 6, 2011 03:40 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
        • Really? I never watch the previews for upcoming episodes because (a) they often manipulate them to make things appear one way when they’re not, and (b) with competition shows I don’t wanna know what’s “coming next week/this season.” Thanks though, cause that’s pretty funny.

          Comment by darclyte – June 6, 2011 04:35 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
    • I did have to laugh at Penny mugging and batting her eyes over shoulder in her promo because she thought that was Sexy. Well, yeah, maybe if she was trying to attract Pepe Le Pew.

      And if you didn’t already believe she thought she was sexy, she told you at least 10 times in presentation. “Stilletos in the Kitchen” Really?

      Comment by Sharon – June 9, 2011 06:19 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
    • I’m watching this week’s episode right now. The judges seem to like Penny, but I think they need to recognize that whether she can cook or not is irrelevant. She is thoroughly unlikeable. I would *never* watch her program, because I dislike her so much I would like to slap her. I’m serious. If I could get away with it, I would slap the woman. She’s awful.

      Comment by Susan C. – June 19, 2011 07:19 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
      • On Penny–the woman’s flat-out hateful, not to mention disgusting. Whether this is her on-camera persona or her actual personality doesn’t matter. Neither does the quality of her food. Not only would I never watch her on a show, I’m about to stop watching Season 7 unless they get rid of her quickly.

        Her presence is affecting my attitude toward the show as a whole. It infuriates me when the judges call her “a strong personality” and suggest that she might express that “strength” in a “friendlier way.” This sounds like they’re endorsing her behavior — and that reflects poorly on them.

        Comment by Linda Altman – July 5, 2011 10:35 AM PDT  Reply To This Post
      • Susan- I could not agree with you more! my husband and i watch the show every week hoping she will be eliminated. Every week we are disappointed to see her stay. She is so irritating. I’m sorry, but she looks like a freaking man! lol Her personality makes her uglier than she already is. I wish we could vote her off the show.

        Comment by christen – July 11, 2011 09:02 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
  • Oh Howie…
    Full disclosure: I listen to him on the radio every morning. I didn’t expect him to go very far to begin with, but I was very disappointed with his performance. Although he doesn’t have formal training, the guy really can cook! He admitted on the radio this morning that Jyll did help him more than he initally realized, but I think the time constraints just got to him.

    That being said, I was very impressed with Orchid and Whitney!

    Comment by Shannon – June 6, 2011 07:34 AM PDT  Reply To This Post
    • I also liked Orchid & Whitney. I also LOVED Jeff’s idea of making sandwiches into meals, and meals into sandwiches. That’s a GREAT concept, and as a former stand up comedian, I think he has the “fun factor” that a show like that would need.

      Michael, who is your 2nd “longshot?” You said you had 2 but only mentioned Vic Diesel Vegas.

      Comment by darclyte – June 6, 2011 02:06 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
      • no way ‘Vic Vegas’ is this guys real name.

        Comment by Stephanie – June 7, 2011 10:17 AM PDT  Reply To This Post
        • No, the Vegas part is an in-quotes nickname. I forget his surname now (and can’t access the FN website from work), but his full name was displayed at least once during the ep.

          Comment by Bill Dauphin – June 7, 2011 11:06 AM PDT  Reply To This Post
  • I did not understand Alicia’s animosity towards Penny. Producers must have left something out cause why would she dislike her strongly right out of the gate? Maybe insecurity? I hope she tones it down or I’ll be chanting Alicia at every elimination.

    I did however like Vic and am glad they gave him a chance.

    Comment by Holly – June 6, 2011 07:45 AM PDT  Reply To This Post
    • “I did not understand Alicia’s animosity towards Penny.”

      SRSLY? I think you’ve got the arrow pointing in the wrong direction there: Penny was hostile toward Alicia from essentially the first moments of the show; Alicia’s own comments were, IMHO, almost entirely in *reaction* to Penny’s aggression. Admittedly, it’s possible the dynamic between them has been modified or enhanced in the editing, but unless FN totally fictionalized the relationship, it’s hard to see Alicia as the aggressor. I hate to indulge in amateur psychology, but since she’s staked out “sexy” as her own territory, I suspect Penny sees thin, pretty, blonde ex-model Alicia as a threat. In fact, she said as much in her side interview during the sidewalk intro section.

      BTW, missed in all the drama was the fact that Alicia seems to have real cooking chops. Her “retirement home” poached pears (yes, I know it was the team dish, but it was really Alicia’s baby) turned out to be one of the judges’ favorite plates. And once she got done crying and spoke up a bit, her best “promo” take was actually pretty good. Both of her prior professions — model and teacher — require a certain amount of resilience in the face of adverse public comment, so I find it hard to believe she’s really as fragile as she appeared in this ep: I expect to see real improvement from her in the coming weeks.

      Comment by Bill Dauphin – June 6, 2011 09:15 AM PDT  Reply To This Post
      • They showed Alicia crying in the promos and Mary Beth comforting her.

        Penny was nasty from the get-go–whether she likes Alicia or not, when you’re on a team, it’s stupid to undermine your team mate. I really hope she goes next.

        Comment by verver – June 6, 2011 11:51 AM PDT  Reply To This Post
  • I really liked Orchid and I like Jeff’s idea of taking anything and putting it on bread or vice versa. I was so happy to see Howie go he really creeped me out. Does anyone get the Bree Van De Kamp vibe from Mary Beth Albright? Whitney seemed pretty chipper but lets see if she has the chops. Also I really don’t care for Juba.

    Comment by casey Coleman – June 6, 2011 07:54 AM PDT  Reply To This Post
    • RE: Brie/Mary Beth similarities. I totally agree. Not in looks but in a haughty, prissy, waspy attitude. This is going to be fun.

      Comment by CindyQ – June 6, 2011 11:02 AM PDT  Reply To This Post
  • I just hope whoever is crowned this year is better by leaps and bounds than last year’s winner, Aarti Sequeira. I didn’t like her on NFNS and I won’t watch Aarti Party, either.

    Comment by vjw – June 6, 2011 08:00 AM PDT  Reply To This Post
    • To each his/her own, I guess. I love Aarti and have tried several of her recipes. Her Bombay Sloppy Joes are honestly one of the best dishes I’ve ever had.

      Comment by JGM – June 6, 2011 11:01 AM PDT  Reply To This Post
    • I really like Aarti and the food she has done on AARTI PARTY though I don’t understand why the season winners get stuck with noon shows on Sunday because I forget to watch…this is a good reminder to check online if her cookbook is available; plus I thought it unfair Food Network gave evening shows to Tom and some other previous contestant instead of giving a bigger push to Aarti; I am liking Vic Vegas; Whitney kinda reminds me of the Whitney from Gordon Ramsey’s Master Chef last season

      Comment by seattlejohn – June 6, 2011 02:31 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
      • Exactly… These are NOT stars when their shows get pushed on Noon/Sunday. Give them something when I will watch. Last year’s runner up has a more profile show and it has nothing to do with cooking. As for Aarti, I loved her on the show, but her selection of recipes in her first few shows were so boring I ended up stopping watching.

        This year’s stand out to me is Jeff. I want to see a show about making sandwiches as “real” meals. I just do not see a place for shows like “Bring Sexy Back in the Kitchen” or “Simple Complex” or most of the rest. There was about 5 people I wanted to just kick off right away, and I keep hoping that these types of shows will just come clean with the audience and say “You, you, you and you just won’t even make the cut, goodbye.”

        Comment by Jericho – June 6, 2011 04:47 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
        • I, too, don’t understand this “bring sexy back to the kitchen” business. When was the kitchen sexy and why did it suddenly become not sexy and why do we need it sexy again?

          Comment by Stephanie – June 7, 2011 10:21 AM PDT  Reply To This Post
          • @Stephanie- LOL! totally agree!

            Comment by christen – July 11, 2011 09:06 PM PDT  
        • Sunday afternoons because most of the actual cooking shows are on then.

          Comment by tomitweets – June 7, 2011 12:38 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
    • I have never understood why they let Aarti go on air with Aarti Party when the show needed to be called Aarti’s Party or something else entirely. Aarti is not an adjective.

      As for the show, I find Aarti occasionally genuine and often dull. She’s obviously no star, but then neither is Melissa, who I liked a great deal on NFNS.

      Comment by Mark – June 6, 2011 04:00 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
  • I did like Orchid but she looks like last seasons winner which might not be good for her.

    Comment by robin – June 6, 2011 08:13 AM PDT  Reply To This Post
    • Srsly? They look _nothing_ alike, unless you’re implying that they’re similar simply because neither one is white.

      Comment by 4F – June 6, 2011 10:18 AM PDT  Reply To This Post
    • I liked Orchid. Although she didn’t remind me of Aarti, I do think she has similar qualities and that could be her downfall in winning this season. Orchid reminds me of the Asian contestant from a few years ago who made it to the end but didn’t win. She was also raised in the South and had a similar concept. Sorry, I don’t remember her name. I think she was on during the season that Melissa won.

      Comment by dan – June 7, 2011 07:15 AM PDT  Reply To This Post
      • “Orchid reminds me of the Asian contestant from a few years ago who made it to the end but didn’t win. She was also raised in the South and had a similar concept.”

        I recall that contestant, though I can’t remember her name, either. IIRC a Korean woman whose specialty was barbecue. People of conspicuous ethnicity face a bit of a problem on this show, because people *expect* them to cook a certain kind of food just because of the way they look. A case in point is the Mexican-American contestant this season (I’m blanking on names entirely today) who said in a early interview clip that she didn’t really focus on Mexican food, but who is being pushed in that direction by the judges.

        Comment by Bill Dauphin – June 7, 2011 07:53 AM PDT  Reply To This Post
  • Penny is hilarious. I don’t think she’s Food Network Star material, but she’s a hoot to watch (I was almost out of breath laughing when she kept making the buzzer sound to cut Alicia off). One thing, though: bringing sexy and stilettos back into the kitchen? Yeah, I’m sorry Penny, but Nadia G. already did that on her show Bitchin Kitchen, which, granted, airs on Cooking Channel and not Food Network, but still: Penny is no Nadia G.

    Alicia sucks. Having a meltdown during the first challenge? That should be grounds for automatic elimination, no facing the judges, do not pass GO, do not collect $200.

    I was glad they got rid of Howie. Serving gnocchi to Giada? Unless you know your gnocchi is superb, why would you even attempt that? Also, talk about a face for radio…

    Chris is like a frat boy stereotype brought to life. Trying to buy beer to share with all his brahs? Ugh. Go away.

    “Does it make me a fuddy duddy to admit his washer-style earrings freak me out a little?”

    Yes, a little. Dude is cute, and with a little practice could smooth out the wrinkles in his on-camera presentation. He brings something interesting to the table that I don’t think Food Network really has right now.

    Orchid is great. She will at the very least be in the top three.

    Comment by 4F – June 6, 2011 08:19 AM PDT  Reply To This Post
  • howie deserved to go. penny is next. loved the show. why in la this year though??

    Comment by renee – June 6, 2011 08:21 AM PDT  Reply To This Post
  • I don’t care if Penny’s food becomes the level of the Gods ambrosia nectar…her nastiness is simply unappealing. Even assuming she does go far in the competition, why would anyone want to watch that on TV? And when is being bitchy and nasty (especially for no reason that came across on the show other then that fact that Penny is overly aggressive) considered sexy. And people who are sexy generally don’t have to keep saying they are!!

    I have a couple of favs based on last night: Orchid, Jeff, and Justin B. And Juda has the ability he just needs to find himself in front of the camera.

    My personal favorite part was the Mary Beth’s complete level of umbrage at Bobby saying she was mediocre. That was hilarious.

    Comment by CJ – June 6, 2011 08:28 AM PDT  Reply To This Post
  • I think you hit the money on the head! Orchid and Jeff are the top picks.

    Penny is nothing but a big bully, and scary. Yes, she is a single mother. Would YOU want to take on Penny and her big mouth? I’d hate to be her employee. In that vein, I expect to see another show from another channel take on Penny and her restaurant soon: Fox’s “Kitchen Nightmares” with Gordon Ramsay.

    The rest of the people seem nice enough, and are apparently good enough chefs, but simply being nice doesn’t cut it as a Food Network or Cooking Channel star. My money is on Orchid and Jeff!

    Comment by Mya Nameo – June 6, 2011 08:52 AM PDT  Reply To This Post
  • Lived in the Philippines for a while and the food was fantastically delicious . . . so will root for little Orchid and hope that at times she gets to put a Filipino (not just generically Asian) spin on things.

    Comment by Lyn – June 6, 2011 09:08 AM PDT  Reply To This Post
    • But what always gets me about this competition is the way schoolmarmy Alton Brown and others expect so much more out of these neophytes than they would ever require from their established “stars.” For example, I’m sure that when there’s a goof by one of the TV hosts — or by one of their food-prep flunkies — there’s always another camera take, a back-up supply of ingredients, or whatever. They didn’t have to walk in off the street and be TV professionals their first day. Sheesh.

      Comment by Lyn – June 6, 2011 09:13 AM PDT  Reply To This Post
      • But this is a competition. The whole point is to prove themselves and win a lucrative career. So yes, I would expect that the other Stars of the network to expect nothing less then the best. Whoever wins will be representing the network, gets their own show and a book deal from the get go. They must prove themselves. It makes no difference if those that have already become stars and have their own shows weren’t held to the same standard as the contestants when they started. Their success on the network has been proven.

        Comment by CJ – June 6, 2011 09:18 AM PDT  Reply To This Post
      • It wasn’t AB that bothered me about that challenge, nor throwing the finalists into the TV deep-end; it was the manifest unfairness of giving each whole team only 4 running takes, so that fumbles by the first or second presenter meant the third person got fewer takes (and in at least two cases that I recall, only one). Whitney aced it anyway, which is to her credit, but Jyll really suffered: I’m sure she wouldn’t have asked for the prompter if she’d had 3 or 4 shots at her bit.

        Everyone should’ve had the same number of takes, regardless of their teammates’ errors. That’s the way the shoot team commercials on Top Model (don’t look at me like that; my wife and daughter like it).

        Comment by Bill Dauphin – June 6, 2011 03:34 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
  • Didn’t anyone else think of Rachael Ray when viewing Whitney Chen? She resembles RR, and comes across as bubbly and personable.

    “Stilettos in the Kitchen” does not interest me in the least. I think Penny was the only one who found herself sexy.

    Comment by Cassie May – June 6, 2011 09:28 AM PDT  Reply To This Post
    • “Didn’t anyone else think of Rachael Ray when viewing Whitney Chen?”

      [Raises hand!] It was the first thing I thought.

      I also thought Orchid, for all her promise, might suffer if she seems like too much of the same “type” as Aarti: No doubt this will change as we learn more about her culinary POV, but my first reaction to Orchid was “hmmm… a short, plump, attractive, cheery Asian woman who cooks an Americanized version of her own ethnic cuisine… I think I’ve seen this movie before.”

      Comment by Bill Dauphin – June 6, 2011 10:26 AM PDT  Reply To This Post
      • To Bill Dauphin — Agree 100% with every point

        Comment by Matt – June 13, 2011 09:43 AM PDT  Reply To This Post
  • I think Penny is totally missing a great opportunity. I think her mediterranean/middle eastern background would be an awesome perspective for a show! I love middle eastern food and I don’t believe (correct me if I’m wrong) there’s a show that concentrates on that. Giada does Italian, Aarti does Indian, but does anyone really do Middle Eastern? Maybe Penny’s not the right person ultimately, but it’s niche someone needs to fill.

    Comment by DonnaRonna – June 6, 2011 09:57 AM PDT  Reply To This Post
    • Yeah, his name was Jeffrey S. (I think). He lost to Melissa D’Arabian.

      Comment by Matt – June 13, 2011 09:45 AM PDT  Reply To This Post
  • This is my favorite reality show because in all of the seasons I’ve watched, I’ve only disagreed with the judges once. I’m really glad they’re giving Vic another chance because I’m sure he’ll wow them next time. Howie absolutely had to go – although I was a little sad that they couldn’t boot Penny as well; too bad it’s only one bad apple per week.

    Great job with the summary, Michael, I couldn’t agree more :)

    Comment by Danielle – June 6, 2011 10:33 AM PDT  Reply To This Post
  • Orchid and Whitney both seem like TV naturals, but it is so early. Alicia seems a bit fragile for the grueling weeks ahead. When Penny begins trying to insult and hurt her feelings, Alicia will have to realize people who do that are nothing but insecure bullies and just blow it off. Jeff and Justin also may go far.

    So far the show has me hooked as usual.

    Comment by CindyQ – June 6, 2011 10:47 AM PDT  Reply To This Post
  • While Penny was a jerk of course, was anyone else annoyed by Alicia’s voice? Not her accent, her actual voice was incredibly grating and sounds like she has a bubble in her throat she needs to clear.

    Comment by Jess – June 6, 2011 10:56 AM PDT  Reply To This Post
  • OMG, the writer of this liked Jeff? I cringed everytime he was on screen. Could not stand his over-the-top posturing and trying to be mr cool. Ugh, I would never watch his show. He was probably one of my least favorites in terms of “watchability’ in the group.

    Comment by jrs – June 6, 2011 10:57 AM PDT  Reply To This Post
    • Jeff is a NATURAL. He’s a dad, he’s relatable. He’s funny. Charming. Cute. sexy. Articulate. Educated. Cultured. I’m not a cook, but i’ll tell you one thing. I’d watch him every day. When I watch TV I want to learn and be entertained. He brings that and more. He’s our next food network star. I feel it. SLAMWICH!

      Comment by Marisa – June 6, 2011 08:08 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
  • Team Jeff! I do like Orchid & Whitney so far as well.

    Comment by Erin – June 6, 2011 11:01 AM PDT  Reply To This Post
  • Penny – Not getting the high heels in the kitchen thing. Food Network will not want to put S E X Y in the kitchen. It sounds like she is obsessed with it.

    None of the other contestents sent my blood curdling like she did.

    Orchid – was fantastic -
    Did not understand why the judges wanted Jeff to kill his “Buns” idea.

    Comment by Cassie – June 6, 2011 11:17 AM PDT  Reply To This Post
    • “Did not understand why the judges wanted Jeff to kill his ‘Buns’ idea.”

      Not the concept, just the title. Did you watch “America’s Next Great Restaurant”? I think it’s the same sorta’ deal as “Saucy Balls”: It might seem like innocent, cheeky fun to most of us, but it’s off-putting to Certain Segments of the Public[tm].

      Comment by Bill Dauphin – June 6, 2011 03:28 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
  • I’m glad Howie went first. I’d like to see Penny go–her constant carping and undermining got on my last nerve.

    Comment by verver – June 6, 2011 11:45 AM PDT  Reply To This Post
  • –Whitney bears a striking resemblance to Rachel Ray, it will interesting to see if the judges note this at some point. Should be very interesting if Rachel Ray herself makes a guest appearance for a challenge.
    –Seems like Juba is this season’s “Should be on Top Chef” contestant.
    –I personally think Jeff’s “Between the Buns” title is brilliant, but if Bob makes him change it, what about: “Guys Can Make Sandwiches Too”

    Comment by trebor – June 6, 2011 12:46 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
    • Bob just needs to “come out and say it”… a show called “Between the Buns” has sexual overtones he is not comfortable talking about on air.

      Comment by Mark – June 6, 2011 04:01 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
      • About 20 years ago, there was a burger joint nearby named “Elegant Buns.” It lasted for many years, until the good-for-you food craze took over. I never heard anything negative about the name.

        Comment by KR – June 7, 2011 12:51 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
  • I thought the group as a whole was more entertaining than last year. The search should be much more enjoyable as a show this season. I don’t really have any favorites yet, but I did like the way Wendy – I think that was her name – Chen handled herself on the promo challenge. Really liked her personality!

    Very glad you’re blogging this!

    Comment by Bobbi – June 6, 2011 02:52 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
  • Orchid and Justin B. are my faves — but YES Slezak, I agree on the earings, espec if they are the “see through the hole” variety (((shudder))). I think he has the looks and potential, as does Orchid. HATED Penny. What a beotch.

    Comment by Jeannine – June 6, 2011 02:55 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
    • I’m reliably informed (by my college-aged daughter) that those “earrings” are actually called “gages.” And yeah, they take some getting used to, but tats, piercings, and such seem to be pretty common among chefs showing up on TV. Even an old fart like me can get used to pretty much anything.

      Comment by Bill Dauphin – June 6, 2011 03:24 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
  • If Justin B wins, the execs need to tell him to lose the gauges. Those things make me wanna vomit no matter who has them!!!

    Comment by Amanda – June 6, 2011 04:56 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
  • Am I the only one who liked Justin D. (even though the guy barely got any screentime)? And really he was the only guy I took much of liking to based on the first episode, though I do find Vic could be interesting aswell. As for as the girls I like Whitney she’s pleasant to watch, Orchid seems nice but a little dull, Alicia I just felt so bad for, and Jyll seems like she could be a good optition. With so many contestants this year it was kind of hard to get a grip on anyones personality (with the exception of some). All I can sya is we’ll see.

    Comment by Paige – June 6, 2011 06:15 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
    • I always assume on a reality/competition show that if they don’t show much of a contestant on the first few shows, that means they go far and we’ll see more of them later. That is certainly the way “Survivor” and “Amazing Race” edit their shows. If that is true with FN, then I expect Justin D. to stick around for awhile; same with Whitney. I expect Penny to stick around for a few episodes as the villian, then she’ll be dumped. Alicia and Jyll may be the early-episode underdogs who stay longer than expected.

      Comment by dan – June 7, 2011 07:24 AM PDT  Reply To This Post
  • I think you mean gauges. As in different diameters…larger gauge, larger hole. Not appetizing at all.

    Bob Tuschman is the Randy Jackson of NFNS. They can’t let him go, but I wish my remote had an auto Tuschman FF.

    Comment by whislerpotpie – June 6, 2011 11:18 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
  • Okay, so as a gay man maybe I’m not completely qualified to weigh in on this, but Penny is far from sexy. She is very unattractive, has horrible hair, a less-than-impressive body, and crazy-eyes. Ordinarily, I wouldn’t care, but if she is going to market herself as sexy, her looks are fair game. And as for “Stilettos in the Kitchen,” all I could think of was Nigella Lawson. Now that’s a sexy chef!

    For some reason I find Jeff very appealing. He seems like a great guy, and he’s kind of adorable…he looks like a bulky Jimmy Fallon. And his show concept is great. I also love Whitney and Orchid. One thing I don’t get is the hate on Alicia’s voice. I actually found her deep voice very soothing and pleasant. Maybe the accent gets grating in large doses and in person.

    I am always amazed, though, that people don’t prepare more for this show. Just as most people go on Survivor without first bothering to learn how to fish, swim, or make fire, some of these contestants seem woefully unprepared. They know they need a point of view, so they should have one figured out ahead of time (not “I have so many”). They know they are going to need to shoot some promos, so they should have written, or at least outlined, several of them ahead of time. They know they will need a show title, so they should put a lot of work into a title ahead of time. As a group, they seem to have gotten it this season, but there still seemed to be several who had no idea what was expected of them.

    Comment by I Heart Slezak – June 7, 2011 08:31 AM PDT  Reply To This Post
    • I was cringing when Penny was doing her ‘sexy’ act for the promo. It wasn’t. She isn’t.

      As for her bullying Alicia, I think she’ll get her un-sexy behind kicked really soon. On a previous season someone (can’t remember who) was trash-talking Melissa because she didn’t have culinary school training. It came up in front of the judges and I remember Bobby Flay verbally slapping that guy down for his comments. And he was offed shortly thereafter, and Melissa went on to win. If the judges get wind of Penny’s attitude, she’ll be gone.

      Comment by KR – June 7, 2011 12:58 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
  • So glad you are covering this show, Michael! Have been following you covering others so this fits right in. Love your columns & videos!
    Have known Orchid for many years, she’s such a sweetheart and runs a great restaurant up the street. Have been so excited for this show to run, and couldn’t be happier to see how great she is doing. Looking forward to following you through this season. Thanks!

    Comment by dowoper – June 8, 2011 11:18 PM PDT  Reply To This Post

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