Food Network Star Recap: Dance Like You Don't Want Anyone Watching

Not since egomaniacal monster Matthew went home in Week 2 have the “Good riddance!” receptors in my brain gotten as warm and tingly as they did during tonight’s Food Network Star elimination. (Side note: I hate myself for typing this, but you just know the hashtag-spwering Millennial is going to win Star Salvation and leap back into the competition, right? #ugh)

Anyhow, on paper, “I value my time with my kids more than I do the opportunity to become a big-time TV host” is an admirable mantra. It’s just really irksome that Michelle decided to pack up her inconsistent food and her uninspired adjectives and leave the competition only after it became abundantly clear she was headed for the guillotine.

I mean, when your test subjects sample your tomato soup and declare, “I tasted nothing,” followed by, “it actually made the grilled cheese taste worse,” you’ve essentially made yourself as welcome on Food Network as Paula Deen extolling the virtues of a pre-Civil War-era plantation wedding.

But enough about Middling McQuitterson! The episode’s kickoff challenge — create your favorite brunch item in only 20 minutes, and make it “to-go” friendly — found Jay’s andouille hash taco (and tailgate tales presentation) taking home first price… and reiterating his position as the main threat to Eddie. Dom’s smashed meatball and poached egg, however, was the item I’d be most likely to try to make at home — and his “Staten Island boys’ brunch date” yarn was unexpectedly amusing, too.

The food-truck challenge that followed was less clear-cut — mainly because the six finalists were split into teams of two and asked to make one main dish each, then collaborate on a side. Jay’s cajun-spiced patty and Arnold’s Asian slider with ramen-bun scored highest with the judges and sent them to safety, but I was left with a couple of nagging concerns. Is Jay’s cuisine coming off a little too samey-samey to sustain an entire series? And why — despite his drag-queen chops — does Arnold always come across as either deeply tense or aggressively sunny when he’s on camera? I want him to turn it up and dial it back all at the same time, if that makes any sense.

One member each on the losing teams — Dom and Eddie — were clearly not at any risk of being ousted, despite editors’ silliest efforts to make it look like Bobby and Giada were weighing pros and cons of the “Bottom 4” (in name only). Dom’s chicken barbacoa taco with avocado cream looked mouth-watering, though I wished he’d done a better job explaining what exactly “barbacoa” means. Eddie, meanwhile, left the window open a crack — giving Dom and Jay opportunities to sneak in and steal his crown — by using store-bought sauce for his BBQ pork grilled-cheese.

And so, in the end, it was either Alex (whose dish was so wildly spicy that he ended up weeping while preparing it, and ultimately burned his sausage) or Michelle (flavor profile: beige paint) headed for the garbage disposal. Yeah, the way things got edited it looked like Giada was about to pull the plug on Alex, but let’s be fair: His and Dom’s “Hot Slap Taco” video was endearingly ridiculous. Meanwhile, Michelle’s baffling (and arhythmic) dance moves and her inability to find better descriptive terms than “cheesy-weezy” made her a much better pick for a “Bye, Felicia” moment.

Yeah, Alex won’t last more than another week or two, but Michelle’s decision to pull out of the race so late in the game means that — whatever Bobby and Giada were planning — we’re left with the best possible quintet of contestants available.

What did you think of this week’s Food Network Star? Were you irked or excited by Michelle quitting? And who do you think should win it all? 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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38 Comments
  1. Tori says:

    Let’s be real, the only reason people are even watching is to see if Bobby and Giada will out themselves. Unfortunately. Blech.

  2. MsDaisy says:

    Spoiler alert: #goneforgood.

  3. Jonathan says:

    I honestly think the judges were gonna kick out Michelle anyways. Good riddance. Why go into a contest to attempt to win your own show on Food Network TV show if you know you can’t separate family from work? She deserved to go, but I think her quitting was at least a more desirable way to leave the competition.

    Really think Eddie and Jay both are clear-cut finalists. I’d rather watch a show from Jay because his food looks scrumptious and is something I can see myself eating and enjoying very much as well. Even better, he owns the spotlight and he has a great personality. I can imagine him as a Food Network star very easily.

    Sorry to say it, but Dom just comes across as a bully and is way too high strung to me. It leaves me with a lot of “Wow! I can’t believe he just said/did that on TV, and he ‘still’ gets away with it on top of that.” Remember his presentation with Michelle a couple weeks back? *shudders*

    • dan says:

      I think Alex was being cut before Michelle quit. If Michelle was being cut then Giada and Bobby wouldn’t have needed the quick conversation to decide they weren’t cutting anybody. Either that or Michelle told the producers before they came into the judging room, and the producers tipped off Giada and Bobby as to what was about to happen so they could create drama. As for Jay, what is his point of view? All he does is grill meat and talk about tailgating. Isn’t that Bobby’s schtick? I think Jay is doing a good job, but he isn’t bringing a fresh idea to Food Network. And I’m tired of both Dom and Alex. Neither one of them holds any interest as a show host for me. I’m still on Team Eddie!

      • Mike R. says:

        Eddie is going to win, like Dom can not do the TV side and should have left weeks ago. Jay is good, but is too similar to Lenny least year and where even is he. We just have to see who will be the other person on the final 3, maybe whoever gets back in from Syar Salavation… Who cares though this season has been such a disappointment

        • brmapes says:

          Lenny never had a series because of racist/homophobic comments he made that came out after he won. Jay would conceivably fit that similar Lenny void, but with a cajun Louisiana feel instead of a cowboy one.

          I’d watch a show with Jay and Eddie going around as the fan and the player at football tailgates around the country.

      • fiberlicious says:

        ” If Michelle was being cut then Giada and Bobby wouldn’t have needed the quick conversation to decide they weren’t cutting anybody. ”

        Didja read the article? Not even close.

    • Nora B says:

      Dom is not a bully. He’s from New York. It’s cultural. And by NYC standards, he’s actually quite demure.

  4. Chloe says:

    Dom finally came through with the presentations and the food, so it was silly to pretend that he was in danger. He did what they’ve been asking him to do this whole time. I like him, but Eddie is my favorite. Eddie and Jay are clearly the best presenters, but Eddie has more variety in his food than Jay (at least, than what Jay’s brought so far).

    I doubt that the Food Network signed these people up to do the show without giving them the dates of production, so Michelle should have known she’d miss her son’s birthday. Her attitude was just lame. She nearly walked out after her disagreement with Dom a couple of weeks ago, so I guess we shouldn’t be surprised that she quit.

  5. Martoukian says:

    Alex and Eddie are the only participants I would consider watching on a regular basis, but that doesn’t mean I think they’ll win. I think Alex is adorable.

  6. Nora B says:

    Michelle???
    Shouldn’t the greatest motivation for perseverance and success stem from and ultimately FOR your children? Rather than have them be the excuse to QUIT a life’s dream opportunity? Isn’t the goal of all parents to leave a legacy for their offspring?
    I’m with Eddie here.
    Quitters suck!
    I believe she had a shot . Bland food, awkward dancing and all. She was unfailingly likeable, which in the television business goes a lot further than bad tomato soup.
    Disgusted.
    Disappointed.
    For we are now left with a relatively predictable, male dominated, end season that leaves me dozing against the pillows, not at the edge of my seat. Zzzzzzzz
    Emilia and Michelle were the only two female contestants that ever had realistic potential. With them gone, and an obvious outcome, I’ll postpone future excitement until someone, anyone, returns from Salvation.

    • MsDaisy says:

      Emilia (and Rue) are still alive in Star Salvation so she could pop up again soon. Unfortunately I think Emilia turned off lots of viewers with her Improv “performance” and I don’t believe she would win the viewers vote.

      • Nora B says:

        I agree. But was surprised to see Emilia’s ratings actually went up after she got the boot! Check the food network star polls…
        She’s near the top!
        She may very well make it back and still not get a show. I’ll tell you though, I’d rather watch her than Arnold or Jay. I think she has an interesting show idea. Spice class. I’d be willing to learn.

  7. Python Rose Quartz says:

    I was rooting for michelle at the beginning, but lost hope as each week past. Well, this is how the top 3 is shaping up to be. Unless producers throw us a curve ball if they’ve already picked their winner, the top 3 might end up being something ridiculous like jay, arnold, and matthew.

    Jay: has a presentation personality fake enough for tv. the novelty of gumbo won’t last long.

    Eddie: needs to win. FN needs more people of color. I’ll be his producer and we’ll make a show about healthy living and Caribbean cooking.

    Dom: small-minded, arrogant. Can’t deliver on the first thing expected of him, which is to talk about food in front of a camera.

    • fiberlicious says:

      “FN needs more people of color.”

      Which is why he’ll win. I don’t have a problem with that – I’d watch his show.

  8. Amy H says:

    Would never watch a show that Dom was in.

  9. Imzadi says:

    It’s a shame Melissa D’Arabian wasn’t around to talk Michelle into staying a little longer. I have a lot of respect for Melissa balancing her career with her four young daughters. On the other hand, there was Amy Finley. . .

    • Iakovos says:

      Love Melissa, and I look forward to the day when she is cooking weekly again. Guy Fieri and Melissa are the best STARS ever, likely because they came out of the show when it seemed more real, more pure in its competitions and requirement for serious culinary chops. Even the runners-up on those early seasons have proven themselves worthy.

  10. Beth says:

    Dom and Alex’s video was literally an “LOL” moment.

  11. D R says:

    I’d love to see Dom win it. If only he could get past his fear of the camera. I think Jay will win it. He always makes great food. I despise Matthew and would never watch him. I thought Michelle was a little weird. Arnold is another one I wouldn’t watch, because I do not like the way he presents himself.

  12. D R says:

    I am not an Eddie fan. Give me Jay or Dom.

    • Terry tells the Truth says:

      Eddie is the man on this show… Jay comes off as rehearsed (no true identity)… Dom (great NYC accent) but horrible presentation makes me and my family uncomfortable.

  13. ml says:

    Glad she’s gone. Could not imagine watching a full half hour show with her. Think Jay will win but it’s also likely Eddie will end up with a show down the road.

  14. David says:

    Considering Michelle’s parting comments, she should have never entered this. She took an opportunity away from someone else. Jay and Eddie are my current favorites. Dom is a jerk and, he can’t handle the spotlight on his own. Although, he is a good cook.

  15. kristi says:

    Seems like last night’s quit was a little rehearsed. Giada tried to hide her “acting” when Michelle announced her decision. It was Giada’s reaction for a split second that gave it away….Alex was never on the chopping block.
    Reality shows aren’t REAL people– . Of course – they will bring someone back, because being canned then reinstated is keeping it “real”.

  16. Tracy Wilson says:

    Michelle – Good role model to your kids (that you couldn’t stand to be away from any longer) by quitting. So kids, when life gets difficult or challenging, just throw in the towel like Mom did! And you were the last female remaining – thanks for letting all of us women down!

  17. Lil says:

    I think Michelle is a cop out but I wasn’t upset with her leaving because I like Alex a tad better. Inasmuch as Jay and Eddie seem to be the “ones to beat”, my favorite is Dom because as a former NYer, I guess his personality warms the cockles of my heart. Additionally, he makes good food and I think Giada has a little crush on him. He speaks so well when the camera is not on him, that I wish I could tell him to just look at the camera and think it’s Giada, not how many millions of people. I think next to go will be Alex.

    Eddie will win. Mark my words. I’d be surprised if he didn’t. My favorite Food Network Star is Justin (maybe I have a thing for NYers). He’s hardly focused though as far as I can see. Can’t stand Damaris. She gets on my nerves. Anyway…bye, bye Michelle. Dom…get over the fright.

  18. Quitting is the worst thing that woman could have done. I’ve applied three times to be on the Next Food Network Star and didn’t get the call that woman did. The only way I would have left was kicking and screaming.

  19. I would like someone to produce a show with two men, well paired, each one cooking something different and then bring it together, at the end of the hour at table with a wine pairing. A little slapstick humor would be nice. Good looking men would draw ladies for a nighttime show and wine pairing would go big. In case you think I am kidding…just because there is snow on the roof does not mean there is no heat in the furnace. Entertainment PLEASE, no sighs and no evo! Cooking is fun, but on your network Simon is the only one who see humor food.

    • Nora B says:

      Seems like many of the men in the culinary world are either aggressively heterosexual or gay. I don’t care either way, but I see what you mean.
      Lol, snow covered roof!

  20. Mc Cheese says:

    Completely agree with you. Michelle really was a hot mess. Que Sera Sera.

  21. Why is Dom still here? The answer: Giada is obsessed with him. He’s obnoxious and a bully and bland and annoying…

  22. Jess says:

    I don’t think she was that good, to be honest. I’m surprised she made it as far as she did. I like Eddie and Jay. Especially Eddie since he’s from Texas and I root for a fellow Texan, since I am one. It is not just because of that, he seems like a good sport and has a nice personality. Dom seems rude and arrogant. I guess coming from NY, It’s no surprise, no offense. Not all people up there are rude, but you get the general feel.