Food Network Star Recap: A Thin Line Between Love and Hate

“My divorce was way prettier than what’s happening right now.”

The Food Network Star judges are always looking for colorful, spot-on descriptions of what’s on the plate, and dare I say no one nailed that task more accurately this week than Emilia — whose deep discomfort over the vitriol cooked up by reluctant partners Dom and Michelle very much mirrored how I felt watching from the safety of my living-room couch.

And yet while the Staten Island food-truck operator’s domineering sneer and the food-blogging mom’s “I’m taking my Greek yogurt and going home!” petulance proved less than appetizing, they weren’t the only ones whose Food Network Star-worthiness took a hit this week.

Arnold crinkling his nose about the “home cooks” who’ll make up his audience (and sweating during his presentation like he’d just spent a hard day on a boat hunting for the scallops he failed to sear)? No bueno! Front-runner Jay’s undercooked Bronzino and inconsistent pork tenderloin? Troubling! And Rue babbling about “joyful oneness” — without one joyful description of the flavor profiles she was delivering? As Super Nanny would say, “Unasseptable!”

Suddenly, the strongest Top 8 in show history is looking as dodgy as the week-old scallions congealing in the back of your crisper drawer. (Oh trust me, they’re there — right behind the wrinkled bell pepper!)

With that said, let’s run down the five main developments from this week’s episode:

* In the week’s first challenge, Alex’s credibility took a huge hit when he couldn’t name the components of “Five-Spice Blend.” Normally, this wouldn’t seem like such an outrage — except Alex listed it as one of his most cherished ingredients of all-time. Didn’t this chump think to do his homework after he completed his casting call?

* Emilia impressed me with her ability to throw shade at Arnold’s grainy puree and lackluster scallop while coming off like a food authority rather than a contestant attempting to throw a rival under the bus. She’s maybe a tad acidic, but there’s a playfulness that undercuts it — and makes me think her potential show might be fun if she starts it off with a cocktail.

* Eddie certainly maintained his status at the top of the pecking order with a delicious-looking jerk chicken and a cute anecdote about seeking out a Jamaican wife to line up with his favorite food — and learning more about the island nation’s Asian influences in the process.

* I was initially Team Michelle when Dom dismissed his partner in the Match.com partnership challenge, seeing how he wouldn’t pause for five seconds to pow-wow about their kitchen goals or treat her like a partner on any level. But her post-presentation threat to quit the competition had me wondering if perhaps she was responsible for some of the bad mojo, too. I’m glad she survived — Bobby’s point that her dish was the best-tasting of the Bottom 4 had to count for something — but given the finesse Dom has shown with his food (and his previously charming bashfulness) I wasn’t ready to see him exit either.

* With Dom and Michelle surviving, it was Rue — whose Southern African P.O.V. is intriguing on paper, but has never really come to life on screen — who got sent to the guillotine. To be honest, I’d have been just as happy had Arnold gotten eliminated — for a drag-queen party-food expert, he’s been less and less fun with each passing week — but I can’t argue with Rue’s ouster, either. This deep into the season, she needed to bring broilerrific heat rather than “30 seconds in the microwave on medium.”

What did you think of this week’s Food Network Star? Did the right person get eliminated? If not, who would you have axed? Sound off in the comments!

Comments are monitored, so don’t go off topic, don’t frakkin’ curse and don’t bore us with how much your coworker’s sister-in-law makes per hour. Talk smart about TV!

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41 Comments
  1. Gilded Lady says:

    When Rue hit the bottom, I knew she was a goner: she just wasn’t cut out for this competition. Not outward going enough, food never really wowed. Nice girl, but not the right venue for her.

  2. Amy says:

    I think it was good that Rue went home. I thought that South African food could be interesting, but after 5 weeks I still dont know what it is and she has been told to describe her food over and over. Dom and Michelle…not sure what is up with that but its a good point that she could be bringing the bad mojo and we just havent seen It before. Emelia is really starting to grow on me.

    • Nora B says:

      I agree. Rue didn’t get it. And what’s worse is they have time to think about the advice between taping . And watch and rewatch the episodes! I would study every detail like it was a treasure map. C’mon! This is a chance of a lifetime! Learn from your mistakes! Adapt! It was getting annoying hearing Bobby tell her over and over again.

    • Python Rose Quartz says:

      Southern African.

  3. Ginger Snap says:

    Team Eddie!

  4. Loni says:

    I am fine with it. Rue had potential, but was just utterly confusing when she would talk about her food sometimes.

  5. R Taylor says:

    Michelle should have gone home. She threw in the towel and said she was giving up. Michelle’s and Dom’s meal wasn’t good as a whole, they didn’t work as a team and she clearly shook her head as if to say she wasn’t going to be a team player. Come on Bobby Flay. Is there any fair judging left in any of these competitions?

  6. Sandra Schreiber says:

    I love watching this show but I do not enjoy the short skirts, mid body showing and low cut outfits Giada wears. She is beautiful but certain outfits do not belong on a cooking show!!!

    • Lily Gilmore says:

      ditto here, my goodness, when I saw what she was wearing (pretty yes), but this is not a modeling gig for Giada, she’s not the star here.

    • Jane says:

      Have to agree the super short skirts and cleavage revealing clothing is a little ridiculous, especially for a cooking show. I don’t remember her dressing this inappropriately before wonder why the change.

      • Maregolden says:

        Have you ever watched her show Everyday Italian? She was always rocking the cleavage on that show.

    • LindayB says:

      I thought the exact same thing! Very unprofessional and completely inappropriate for a judge on this show as she should be setting an example. It does make me wonder if there is something between her and Bobby because I noticed how much he looked at her.

    • Yoki says:

      Same thing my husband and I said. All the attention was on that.

    • dman6015 says:

      Over the years on her various FN shows, she’s always dressed that way. I believe she may find some fault in her looks, so she does the “Art of Distraction” style of dressing. Difficult to notice facial imperfections if you’re looking elsewhere (at least for the guys, who are the one’s she dresses for).

  7. Ian says:

    I REALLY wanted Rue to win this, but she just couldn’t understand she needed to describe the food! Talk about the food, girl!

  8. skrable2 says:

    Emilia is winning me over after a slow start. But I’m having a hard time trying to see what sort of shows these contestants could pull off. Eddie, Emilia and Jay seem like the top three right now. Alex seems like a washout to me, and his speaking voice and inflections sounds as though he’s doing an imitation of Richard Blais.

    • fiberlicious says:

      i was sure that Rue would win the show – they don’t have anything like what she does on the network.

      I so wanted Dom to go – he behaved like a boor to Michelle and he hates being on camera.

      • Cindy says:

        I totally agree with your assessment of Dom. And I didn’t appreciate how they let him air his grievances and then Anne Burrell just shut Michelle down. Grrrr

      • Marie says:

        Agree, wanting to run after each camera challenge tells me he doesn’t really want this.

  9. Pufftron says:

    I concur w/the comments about Giada’s clothes! Yes, Rue had to go. I don’t like Emilia, either. I wouldn’t watch her show. Love Eddie and I’m HOPING Dom gets better at presenting!

  10. Dan says:

    Arnold should have been eliminated. Two weeks in a row he undercooked his good and his speaking presentations are bland. Apparently his beautiful plating is enough to keep him around. It was Rhue’s first time in the bottom three while the others had all been there before. She deserved one more chance especially after winning the first challenge of the night. The clear favorites are Eddie, Jay and now Emelia. Not sure why they’re keeping Arnold around. Sorry to see Rhue go!

  11. Kim R says:

    Arnold’s food doesn’t seem to be hitting the mark with the judges but I will say, his food styling talents are amazing. Remember his “savory food done up as a bakery” display? Wow! Perhaps cheffing is not in his stars but his artistic expression is definitely stellar!
    As far as the rest go, I’m really hoping Dom is not going to lose his sweetness while gaining more confidence. I kind of like him the most. :)

  12. Iakovos says:

    I would have sent Arnold home. And I was dismayed by Michelle’s behavior. I have always liked STAR but wish we would see Bob Tuchman and Susie Fogelsong (sp?) more as we did in past years. I liked the team concept when Alton was with Bobby and Giada. I would like more food-authority challenges. It seems odd to me the contestants all do so very well on camera during the confession/commentary cut-ins but fail so in the game (Dom, I am talking to you!). And I think something should be said about past STARs… Hello Cowboy Lenny? Where are you? Where is your show? What about that young kid who won a couple seasons back? He never had a weekly program either, did he?

    • Yoki says:

      It was found out that Lenny made q lot of racist and sexist comments, so they just want him to be forgotten.

    • Laura says:

      Justin (the young guy) still does stuff for Food Network (mainly online stuff), but I don’t think he and the network could ever agree on the *type* of show he wanted to do so he just never did one.

  13. cej says:

    When did Food Network Start start? I saw no ads for it, yet I always seem to see ads for the various baking championship shows. I don’t think I even saw it listed here on the “what to watch” column. Usually entertaining summer viewing even though I never watch the winner’s show.

  14. kathy says:

    I knew as soon as they said they would firing their food right before service that Arnold and Rue would be in trouble. I’m glad Arnold got to stay. He does provide a little comedic relief. I’m not loving any of these cooks. Hoping they develop more in the weeks ahead.

  15. smartysenior says:

    Dom is adorable in person and in the private confessionals. I don’t know why he freezes up when doing his public descriptions but if he can grow out of it I see him as a strong front runner. Rue going home surprised me since she didn’t float in the bottom but on the other hand there isn’t anyone who has learned what South African food is either.

  16. Nora B says:

    I couldn’t agree with author more.
    I can’t understand why Rue couldn’t understand what the judges wanted from her, when clearly every week, Bobby stated, “Rue, we want to know who you are. More about your South African point of view!” And every week afterwards she’d bow her head and say, “Okay.” But was it oKay? Because for 5 weeks it failed to sink in. Yet she was quick to roll her eyes at anyone else’s flaws.
    Likewise, in further agreement with the author here, Arnold has become very… droll. And effeminately predictable in his haughty opinions regarding his competitors. While he continues to fumble in the same areas week after week. Get it together! Then talk the smack.
    I wanted Michelle and Dom to stay. Was strangely excited to see Rue ousted. Yet, would have felt equally satisfied with Arnold’s departure.
    Currently secretly rooting for Dom. But able to see Jay, Michelle, or Emilia with an actual show. We’ll have to wait and see!

  17. I want Dom OUT. His true colors are coming out. Also, no TV personality whatsoever!

  18. Lyn says:

    Please Food Network…tell Giada to get over herself! Sooo tired of seeing her cleavage, her ‘wanna be model’ poses with hands in her pockets and her fake smiles. She used to be somewhat refreshing but get rid of her!! Not appropriate for a supposed cooking channel.

  19. Python Rose Quartz says:

    The most irritating thing this episode was Eddie and Michelle mispronouncing his favorite ingredient, repeatedly.

  20. Python Rose Quartz says:

    Can we talk about how bobby and Giada are the worst people? And Dom… Closet jerk? Misogynist? Bad mood? Dislikes Michele? Who knows.

  21. Morgan says:

    The Rue decision was complete BS! Regardless of not having explained her POV well, she consistently had good food, won the first part of the challenge and it was her first time in the bottom. She absolutely deserved another chance. I’m sick of Dom and Michelle. They’ve both been in the bottom more than once and frankly are getting old. I’m so sorry for Rue. She is the ONLY contestant with something unique to present. Regardless of who wins at this point, they will not be anything special that the network does not already have. It’s downhill from here IMO…

  22. Maria Forman says:

    I think the wrong person got elimiated, , Alex would of been my choice to go, Bring Dom back, its that simple , He would be the best person to have on the food network in a long time. Maria R. Forman, Redding Ca

  23. Shirley says:

    Giada needs to put some clothes on. Way too much Boob showing.