Food Network Star Recap: Designated Bitter

Quick! You’re a Food Network Star judge watching a contestant squander a live, four-minute cooking demo by rotely listing ingredients, offering no personal anecdotes and failing to even touch upon the improv-storytelling requirements asked of him by special guest David Alan Grier. You’ve got a ridiculously easy target for elimination, right?

Actually, hold up a moment. A second hopeful — despite his boss-level cooking skills and general adorableness during confessionals — sweats like he’s midway through a triathlon, freezes up after only 60 seconds, then flees the scene like his face is on an FBI Most Wanted poster and his audience consists completely of law-enforcement agents. Perfect pick for the guillotine, yeah?

Think again. Lucky for Alex (aka Doomed Chef Walking) and Dom (The Little Staten Island Engine That Hasn’t Quite), icy-but-interesting Emilia decided the midway point of Season 11 was the perfect time to fling caca as indiscriminately as a caged zoo monkey — leaving poor Giada De Laurentiis covering her ears in an attempt to block out the meltdown that nobody wanted to see/hear/get within 50 feet of.

Maybe Emilia — whose Andouille sausage onion-rings looked pretty tasty — could’ve survived her misguided decision to spend half her demo mocking her rival chefs (though her mincing imitation of drag queen Albert was especially brutal, no?), but when she subsequently slipped on a sweater emblazoned with the words “Break the Rules” and declared that she was “really proud” of her performance as an “Alpha female,” the outcome was as pre-determined as a stick of butter in a Barefoot Contessa dessert. Don’t these contestants ever learn that likability/relatability is just as important as, say, one’s ability to julienne a carrot?

With Emilia’s ouster, we’re now down to six folks still in with a chance of following in the footsteps of Aarti Sequeira (still miss her show, BTW), Damaris Phillips (her chili recipe is amahhhhzzz), Guy Fieri and that phony cowboy chump from last year who everyone on Food Network is contractually obligated to never, ever mention again.

Aside from the results, the major takeaways from the week included:

* Eddie reestablishing his front-runner status with a jalapeno-fruit dessert pizza that wowed the CEO of CC’s and a slightly cheesy but still charming effort in the main challenge topped off by some delicious-looking fried quail. (Side note: Dude has mentioned his lovely wife in prior demos — so perhaps he should dial back the “hey, ladies” flirtation in his shtick, yes?)

* Arnold dropping off my list of potential winners thanks to his incredibly stiff demeanor every time he’s doing a demo. Sure, all the words coming out of his mouth sound perfectly fine — and the judges never seem to hate his food — but unless he’s hiding a much more interesting drag persona (and willing to bring out that persona next week), he’s missing the “Star” component crucial to the show’s goals.

* Jay somehow managing to combine calamari, pink lemonade and black rice into a really tasty dish — and positioning himself as the clear alternative to Eddie in what’s quickly turning into a two-cook race. (C’mon, I don’t see any hope for Arnold and Alex, Michelle’s limited food vocabulary disqualifies her… leaving only camera-averse Dom as the dark horse.)

* And finally — with Bob and Susie finally back on the panel (huzzah! love them!), it was up to Bobby Flay to stick up for Dom, doubling down on his belief that the NYC food-truck operator is the flick of a switch away from becoming a legit hosting prospect. I mean, let’s be real — his food authority is unassailable at this point, given his consistently yummy (and visually appealing) creations. Here’s hoping he stops being his own worst enemy — pronto!

What did you think of this week’s Food Network Star? Who would you have sent packing? And who do you think will make up the Top 3? Sound off below!

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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  1. Amy says:

    I was surprised they sent Emilia home. I thought Alex was going for sure as he just rattles on every week and hasn’t improved. But if that is Emilia’s real persobality, I’m not interested.

    • She’s a loose cannon & would have the entire network in hot water. Are you kidding. (think Paula Deen) We were appalled by her cruel, insensitive remarks. Yes, this is a competetion, but not a character assisination.

      • Nora B says:

        I was thinking, is it possible Emilia’s alpha female speech arose from the threat of this male dominated competition? I mean, she says she “wanted to be the last female standing.” And she targeted 3 males in that awful presentation. She was notably pissed at Arnold for sticking her with the bitter melon. However the attacks on Dom and Jay meant there must have been a deeper issue.
        She says they were threatened by, “The Emilia Cirker!” But who’s really threatened by who?

  2. Nemo says:

    I like Dom & Jay & Eddie. Most likely to watch Dom on a show. Glad to see Amelia go- too bad she chose to self-destruct out of fear of failure. Like to watch people doing their best, even if they fail.

    • Nora B says:

      That’s very good, Nemo.
      That’s what Emilia did. Self-destruct.
      I don’t really think she’s evil or stupid. A mistake of this degree from someone like her came from a place I hadn’t been able to name.
      Well put.

    • Pad says:

      Watching Dom on a show would be great because it would be over in like 20 seconds.

    • I’m with you on this one. My family & I enjoy Dom, Jay & Eddie. We are leaning toward Eddie as the winner because of his expertise & personality but Jay is not far behind. Dom, God love him seems terrified of the camera & that’s bad news.

      • fiberlicious says:

        I don’t get all the Dom love. I can’t stand him. He’s a bully, and he’s in a competing to do something he hates and sucks at – It’s a TV show, for Pete’s sake, not street mime.

      • What I find funny is that when he’s doing his “confessionals” to the camera, where he’s just talking about what’s going on, he seems perfectly at ease with the camera. He’s articulate and funny and sweet – but have him doing a presentation for the cameras and the judges, and he just gets lost.

  3. Nora B says:

    Wow! Just wow!
    I’d anticipated something might happen to Emilia, as the previews during the week showed Bob calling someone mean-spirited. However, I hadn’t expected what she actually did to be as bad as it was. As the author here points out, the worst part was her flaunting pride at this tremendously erroneous judgement. Bobby said it. Bad decisions…Well this was beyond bad. Beyond uncomfortable.
    Emilia has it all I thought. Skill, intelligence, looks, speaking ability, food knowledge. Why then risk everything resorting to this tasteless tactic?
    Um…its looking more and more like Eddie or Jay. But I still like Michelle. And hope desperately Dom pulls it together.
    Final three, I see Eddie, Jay, and possibly Michelle, a successful revisit from Emilia, or beleive it or not, Matthew!

  4. Kyle says:

    Why does Dom keep getting chance after chance? He’s terrible! Please don’t let this be another season where the most annoying contestant wins… He needs to go ASAP.

  5. Martin S. says:

    I don’t understand why Dom keeps getting a pass. He’s clearly an excellent chef but that doesn’t mean he’s made for a television show. In fact, he’s consistently shown that he is uncomfortable in the role of a TV personality. I just don’t get how he’s still in the competition!

    • Jenks says:

      I think he keeps getting a pass because someone else has been worse every week. Really, would you have wanted Dom to go over Emilia? Bad judgment, whatever — her decision to cruelly mock her competitors is pure Mean Girl. After that performance, I would never watch a show of hers. Dom will go sooner or later unless he finds the “switch.” At this point, the one I would watch is Eddie. Maybe Jay, too. The others, no.

  6. Fred says:

    The most unbelievable piece of tonight’s show was Food Network partnering with Cicis Pizza. Probably the worst pizza in America. But what do you expect for 5 bucks all you can eat??

    If anychef at the Food network put forth such a crappy product they would be chopped. They must be hard up for sponsors if they are willing to sell out to Ciccis!!!.

    I watched the first 2 weeks and checked in again this week. After the first 2 weeks I could already tell who the finalists would be. Eddie and Jay of course.

    They could have cut Dom, Alex and Emillia the first week as well. You know that they are going to get cut. It is just a matter of what their final screwup will be.

    It is like watching NASCAR. Sooner or later there will be a fiery crash that we just can’t take our eyes off if. We saw Emilia’s car burst into flames just before it hit the wall

    Food Network stardom is more about personality than ability to cook. When was the last time you saw Guy cook in a time slot that that actually had viewers.

    • CJ says:

      Obviously you are stating your opinion about CiCi’s but it’s hardly fact considering this is the same company that has rated with consumers as best pizza in a variety of markets only being beaten out by Papa Murphy’s. From a business perspective, it makes complete sense. CiCi’s is a very large franchise business with something like 500 restaurants in more the half of the United States. We, as viewers, may tune into Food TV for the shows but make no mistake that it’s the business of food entertainment that drives the decisions making on this network.

  7. Python Rose Quartz says:

    Dom is still there because Bobby has a crush on him and Giada is turned on by how “vulnerable” he always seems.

    • Python Rose Quartz says:

      “that phony cowboy chump from last year who everyone on Food Network is contractually obligated to never, ever mention again”

      Is this where we’re at with Lenny McNab? Was last season a huge waste of time?
      Seriously, Luca Della Casa deserves a show. Do we need a petition to go around?

      • EM says:

        Totally forgot about the cowboy but never forgot Luca.

      • lyssandri says:

        Pretty much so. The day after his win was announced , people started posting about these raunchy “shock-jock”-like videos he’d done – some of which were pretty sexist, IIRC – and suddenly it was like Lenny had never existed.

    • Nora B says:

      Don’t think Bobby Flay is remotely homosexual. Just watch his eyes when women walk past.
      Dom is just likeable. And appears to have a kind heart, which absolutely creates a charming vulnerability.

  8. Rosi says:

    Michelle Karan is the most annoying of all. Can not wait to see her go. Why is she still there? She constantly talks about how I make this and this for my kids. This isn’t kiddie food dear. She can’t cook. So why is she there.

  9. Chloe says:

    I never warmed up to Emilia, but I wasn’t expecting her to bomb like this. I wanted to hit “mute” on my remote, but I didn’t reach for it in time.

    Who’s Albert? I think the author means Arnold.

  10. I love watching Dom!!!! I hope he wins. I totally agreed with the judges to send Emilia home. I would of sent her packing right from the start. Love Next Food network star! I always love watching Giada and Bobby together😃.

  11. dman6015 says:

    None of the remaining contestants are worthy of being called a Food Network Star. Whoever wins will get their trial show, then disappear.

  12. dan says:

    Both Bob and Susie made comments about Dom not improving from week one in term’s of his presentation style to which Giada agreed, yet Bobby convinces them that there is a mysterious switch that will turn on Dom’s confidence and he stays. Really? I agree that Emilia self destructed and that Alex hasn’t been impressive at all (I loved when Susie said she couldn’t even remember his presentation), but they should’ve eliminated Dom after multiple weeks in the bottom three and absolutely no improvement in his presentation abilities. Clearly this is the Eddie v. Jay show with the third finalist (probably Dom) being there to create suspense. This season showed such promise when they were making logical elimination decisions in the first few episodes, but over the past two weeks they’ve given Dom a pass and eliminated two female contenders (Rhu and Emilia) while making it clear there will be a male winner this year (no way is Michelle winning this thing). It has to be Eddie for the win at this point.

    • Jenks says:

      I was really sorry to see Rhu go, but she absolutely did not take the the notes they gave her every single week: describe your food. She kept nattering on about everything BUT the food. They gave her plenty of chances to get it right. And no way was Emilia advancing after that truly god-awful performance. I get that Dom hasn’t taken the notes yet, either, but I kind of agree with Bobby that he might still get it together in front of the camera.

      • dan says:

        I agree with you about Rhu. My complaint is that the judges are inconsistent: Rhu was never in the bottom three prior to last week, yet Dom has been there week after week with the exact same criticism. I think they knew Rhu wasn’t winning so they’d rather create drama by keeping Dom and seeing if he’ll improve. After all, this is a tv show above all else (we know from the last few years that the winner doesn’t necessarily get a show…just ask Lenny; and Justin got one special only). Ultimately I think Eddie and Jay are in the top two positions so maybe the elimination order doesn’t matter. I just wish that the favoritism shown to Dom was less obvious.

        • Pad says:

          How did Dom even get on the show? Do they not have to do a practice presentation? That said, I don’t think it was an awful choice last night. They easily could have eliminated Dom or sandwich guy or Emilia — I was hoping they would go Gordon Ramsey on us and maybe eliminate all three. But, in the end, Dom won’t make the final. He is done. They will bring the last female along to the final with Jay and Eddie.
          In the end, the show is flawed because it is still looking for someone who can do a “cooking show” when a show preparing a meal is not entertaining TV anymore. They need to do more presentation and interaction stuff and less actual cooking. Still, the top two in that situation would be Jay and Eddie, so maybe it just doesn’t matter.

  13. Yoki says:

    I woulda been happy if any of them went home. I am LOVING Eddie.

  14. Kim R says:

    Of all the things Emilia could have done to up her presentation, why on earth did she think trashing her fellow contestants was a good idea? I had to look away. :) I’m hoping for Dom’s magic switch to kick in next week. His food always looks so good and I find him very personable. Eddie needs to tone down the “hey ladies” a bit, I think. We don’t want him schmoozy. :)

  15. Rick R. Reed says:

    Once Emilia revealed her true colors and mean spirit, I was done with her and was certain the judges would be too, despite the other two’s lackluster performances. It’s turning into a 2-man race this season. And Eddie’s flirting? Give the guy a break! He’s married; not dead.

  16. AngieD says:

    Eddie was on Master Chef a couple of seasons ago and was likeable on that show, too… but I see him as being better off with a show vs being head chef at a Gordan Ramsey restaurant.

    Jay is also a front runner.

    Overall, the show hasn’t created that many durable stars. I’ve never tried any of Guy Fieri’s recipes. I think I’ve tried a recipe of Melissa D’Arabian’s and Aaron McCargo – watched Demaris and Aarti occasionally. Food Network has to find a true new star soon. It used to be my goto channel, but tired of the re-runs, non-cooking shows, etc.

    • Iakovos says:

      I like Melissa D’Arabian a lot and believe she is so genuine about her food and how it relates to us real folks at home. I’d love to see more of her. Guy Fieri is the best to come out of the STAR machine. Ads for Food Network;s programming, I am weary of the carbon copy competitions and cannibalization of talent. Same six people on every show. Favorite new development were the holiday and spring baking competitions.

  17. jeff says:

    So what really happened to last years winner. I’ve never heard.

  18. Iakovos says:

    So agree with you re: Bob and Susie. I want them there every week as it once was on STAR. And what of Cowboy Lenny (Yes, I said his name!)? What is the bottom line on that apparent misfire? The quirky kid from a few seasons’ back, too. What of him? I wish the challenges were less advertiser-driven. I agree the Eddie, Jay, and Dom are my top three.

  19. Pad says:

    There are exactly two people who can win this season, and we all know who they are. They should have sent three people home last night just to speed along the inevitable.

  20. cej says:

    I must be out of the loop. What happened with Lenny from last year? Did his show bomb? I love watching FNS but rarely watch the winner’s show. Emilia’s presentation was so painful to watch. Half-way through and Dom is still shocked each week when the challenge includes presenting to camera. No matter how good his food is, can he possibly host a show? Love Eddie!

  21. Kim says:

    Why torture us any longer with Dom? I was surprised when Bobby Flay shielded him as it was Giada doing that at first. He’s always touting just himself as the expert, is not a team player and is the rudest towards women that I have ever seen on the show. He’s just not pleasant and I haven’t learned anything about cooking from any of his presentations. One’s personality doesn’t turn around in the next few episodes into goodness and humility. In fact it would be great to get the number down to just 3 or 4 quickly at this point.

  22. Nancy Sills says:

    Emilia. I think it’s going to come down to eddie, Jay and arnold

  23. Shotziegirl says:

    I think we’ll see that switch “flipped” on with Dom, hopefully sooner than later. He is bright & articulate when he’s one-on-one with the camera during the sidebar comments, so the personality & talent are definitely there. My top 3 are Dom, Eddie & Jay, if for no other reason than they consistently hold my interest. Isn’t that the point of any TV show?! As for Emilia, if she believes that “taking chances” & “breaking the rules” mean ridiculing her competitors, then there was certainly no place for her on this network.

  24. mamalyn says:

    Yep, Emilia hit the self-destruct button, even w/ the t-shirt she was wearing. I’m starting to wonder if Dom is Giada’s cousin, the way she protects him.
    I’ll watch a Jay or Eddie show, even if Eddie looks like Big Daddy. They don’t have a cajun show.

  25. Faye Gray says:

    It does not make a difference what the judges think as in the end it will be a popularity contest from the nation. I miss when the judges made the final decision.

  26. Faye Gray says:

    It will just boil down to a nationwide popularity contest. Miss when the judges made the final decision

    • maregolden says:

      The judges are making the final decision. No viewer voting this year. They failed miserably with picking last year’s winner. It kind of reminded me of when there was a web page called “Vote for the Worst” that got Taylor Hicks the win on American Idol one year.

  27. JB says:

    If Alton were still around, Dom would never have made it this far…

  28. Jan Jenkins says:

    I think they easily could have sent all 3 home and not skipped a beat.

  29. Beatrice Loven says:

    Should never have sent Dom packing best chef this season bob and Susie made a big mistake! What are they thinking….or I know they did not realize the show is about cooking!!

  30. Jackie says:

    Omg I missed the last 15 minutes tonight, kids ugh! Who went home????

  31. Constance Mays says:

    I think Eddie should have focused on Caribbean cooking should have been more humble and less obnoxious and should go back to grade school to learn grammar and word pronunciation. Why oh why couldn’t Jay with his Cajun cooking fun stores and comfy personality win? Jay also has a commanding appearance I liked Dom alot but there are already too many Italian–style cooks on the Food Network