Food Network Star Recap: The Nightmare Before Christmas

How does that old saying go again? If you can’t describe your dish during a two-minute video, get outta the Food Network Star kitchen.

No, wait, that can’t be the case, seeing how this week’s eliminated contestant was one of only two remaining finalists to even touch upon the flavor and texture of his food during a holiday-dinner presentation.

Color me the lifeless gray of Eddie’s poorly cooked shrimp. Render me as confused as the thousands of viewers still waiting for Arnold to explain the meaning of “framboise” and “ganache.” Dom is gone — I repeat, DOM IS GONE — and while, OK, maybe he never mastered the fine art of uttering the words “Italian Christmas” in two attempts or less, his food has consistently looked the best of the Season 11 crop.

And likability/charisma aside, if I’m going to watch a Food Network personality in action — and actually attempt his recipes on the regular — I don’t really care how many takes it takes him to look like he’s not on the brink of fleeing the studio in a cold sweat and hiding in a darkened alley ’til all camera operators are a minimum of three miles away from him.

Personally, I’d have axed Arnold. Despite all my respect for Food Network execs Bob Tuschman and Susie Fogelson — always a welcome dose of plainspokenness to the panel, even if this time around they didn’t taste a single bite of anyone’s food — the sometimes drag queen’s “Hey, lovebugs” intro wasn’t enough to overcome the slightly desperate, damp-forehead-ed, stiff-torsoed brand of unwatchability Arnold has been cooking up since Week 1. Plus, I’m still not convinced he’s a true culinary maestro — and without a deeper exploration of his tablescapes and party wizardry, he seems like a fourth runner-up at best.

If not Arnold, why not bid adieu to Alex? Who’s going to tune in for a kid that declares, “I’m goin’ balls to the wall with the food!” Rated M… for “Millennial, Please!” Leave your netherregions off the menu! And just as troubling, I have no idea what made his catfish po’boy different from any other po’boy I’ve eaten in my lifetime. Plus, doesn’t Food Network already have a Sandwich King we know and love?

It’s felt for ages like we’re careening toward an Eddie-vs-Jay showdown in Season 11, but for the second week running, the former NFL star’s food looked less than mouth-watering — and even his candied-ginger demo looked like he’d just thrown slices of yellow-beige into a bath of tepid tap water. Hopefully this week was the “suspense edit” leading to his ultimate redemption from the ashes — but what if it’s not?

Jay’s a charmer who’s equally comfortable around meat and fish, but there’s a one-note-ness to his cuisine that he has yet to overcome. A point-of-view is essential, to be certain, but not if it’s monomaniacal. Why the judges haven’t pushed for a broader spectrum of flavors is somewhat troubling, unless they’re merely grooming him to be first runner-up?

At this point, I don’t think I’d be too upset if one of the evicted chefs from the online “Star Salvation” challenge jumped back in and won the whole enchilada — especially if that chef turns out to be Dom. And I suspect Giada and Bobby wouldn’t disagree.

What did you think of this week’s Food Network Star? Would you have sent Dom home? If not, then who’d be on the chopping block? 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. Marla says:

    I’m with you on this, Michael.

    • JVee says:

      Me, too! Dom is actually the only person that I’d make a point of watching. His food skills seem pretty fabulous and, I know some people might find this strange given his quirks in front of the camera, I find him completely charming. He makes me smile! Hope he ups his skill level with the camera and makes a comeback.

      • JVee says:

        Also, whenever they interviewed him for those in-between sound bites, he seemed relaxed and natural. I actually thought he was the dark horse because those were so good.

  2. Stephanie says:

    I am THRILLED that Dom is gone. It took Bob and Susie to see through Giada’s crush on Dom and Bobby’s inexplicable fondness for him. Dom is admittedly a really good cook but he is NOT meant to be a television personality. He’s not comfortable in front of the camera and he proved that week after week. I’d like to see Emilia back in the mix, but I’ve wanted Jay to win since the beginning.

    • Lisa Davis says:

      I agree! Bye, Dom! And bye to Guida and Bobby! It’s more about them looking out for their own, Italian chefs! He’s terrible on camera, you could not pay me to watch him.

    • Rita says:

      How could he be on tv? He absolutely couldn’t speak in front of a camera. It was painful to watch him.

      • Janice Ringold says:

        Yes he could. We watched his comments on camera week after week. He was totally comfortable. It was the script he had issues with. He just needed someone to write it for him!

    • Jenna says:

      That is completely ridiculous! Allow I can not argue that Jay has a certain likability about him, Dom is the best cook by far. Also, I find Dom’s shyness in front of the camera adorable, it makes him extremely likable.

  3. DaisyPoo says:

    Agree with everything you said 1000%!!!!

  4. Tim says:

    Dom will get his own show for sure. He’s too cute not to be one television.

  5. Aha says:

    I am glad Dom is finally gone. He only got this far because the judges liked him despite never delivering on the TV aspect. I mean he was never impressive aspect and it is still the biggest one to get your own TV show. Hoping Amelia comes back!

  6. Daniel Nguyen says:

    Letting Dom go just killed the show. Thank you Food Network !!!!

  7. Kim says:

    Dom should not have gone home. He showed in the first round that he can be comfortable in front of the camera. Eddie has gone down hill and Arnold in on the wrong show. I will not know who wins because I will not be watching anymore.

  8. J.D. says:

    Dom was not only a good chef…but adorable and likeable too! He also made you feel like he was the kid next door that you used to babysit for who made it big! It was quite clear from the first installment that the “big wigs” Susie and Bob didn’t care for Dom…so u knew he was next even though CLEARLY some of the others did not cook as well as him! Well I hope he makes it back on Star Salvation because he was a stand out!

  9. Joe R says:

    Nothing memorable from any of the contestants; retention record hasn’t been good – maybe they should hire new hosts that will have better success at spotting good talent.

  10. Aiden says:

    I’m so with you, Dom’s elimination (while may be inevitable) seems early to me. I’d have put him ahead of Arnold and Alex. Given a few weeks, maybe he might have even surpassed Jay and Eddie. When he’s comfortable, he’s the most watachable out of the Top 5 for me, and his food is unquestionably some of the best in the competition. The show just got a whole less interesting now.

  11. Steven says:

    Thank goodness. He should’ve been eliminated weeks ago.

  12. dan says:

    Dom was told weeks ago “shape up or ship out.” Looks like Bobby and Giada were ready to give him another pass, but Bob and Susie put an end to the uncomfortable stammering, deer-caught-in-the-headlights looks, and awkwardly silent tv moments. Dom can cook, but he can’t host a tv show. I thought we may have been saying goodbye to Arnold or Eddie, but ultimately they made the right decision and eliminated Dom.

  13. Yoki says:

    I’m surprised Dom is gone after the way Giada ogles over him.

  14. Carol says:

    Dom was/is the best. His food was spectacular and he’s adorable, would love more of his great Italian dishes.. It’s obviously a personality contest, not a food contest. remembering the last food network star, he was obnoxious. Disappointed Dom got axed. Not interested in watching now to see who wins.

  15. Chris Garson says:

    Terrible episode. How can they pass judgement without tastings single bite of food!

  16. Unfortunately, the BEST contestant has left the show. I tuned in weekly to see the Dom show. Whether he was nervous, hilarious, or charming, it was never boring. I was entertained, and hungry, every time he cooked. I have never had any desire to visit New York until I met Dom. I wish he could have stayed, and won, so I could get my weekly fix of that Staten Island swag.

  17. Dom absolutely should not have been sent home-his food is amazing and he’s extremely genuine . I don’t think the Halloween sengment or the valentine segment were any good at all-I am very upset because I think Dom should be the next food network star-

  18. Eddies food and angle is not something I care to watch -Arnold would be great since we haven’t seen someone like him yet on food network, however his food is not food I care for
    Im not sure I will watch anymore since Dom is gone

  19. Kim R says:

    Sigh….a moment of silence for Dom. I realize he had some relaxing on camera to do but his food was always stellar. As far as Arnold is concerned, I really think he is more of a good stylist than a cook. I think a show leaning more in that direction for him would be great. As far as who should win, I’m not sure I care but I enjoy the show every week anyway.

  20. T says:

    I don’t know that I would watch a show with any of the remaining people – maybe Alex but for sure not the rest. So I will wait to see who gets back in and decide if I will continue watching or not.

  21. Mary says:

    The only recipe out of the holiday video I want to try is the Chicken Milanese W/ Arugula Salad. Will miss Dom!

  22. Nora B says:

    The fact that Dom evokes such strong reactions, be they good or bad, says a lot in itself. Love him or hate him!
    Always preferable to neutral monotony, that pretty much describes the remaining cast. It just gets worse and worse.
    I missed the damn show tonight because my DVR was too full to record. However, I regularly watch Star Salvation and almost fell over when Dom popped out.
    This article described everything I’d already envisioned, from sweaty, awkward, phoney, artificially sweet Arnold to Eddie’s disgusting looking food. From Alex saying something inappropriate to same old, same old, oh God, been there, done that, over and over, overdone Jay. Uuuuuck! Snooze!
    Enough with this Giada has a crush, Bobby is gay stuff! Can it not be possible they just like Dom because he’s likeable?! And maybe they see in him what those of us who appreciate Dom see? C’mom. Look around. The options are not appealing at all.
    Look at the mess of a show left without him. Who cares who wins now? I wouldn’t watch a show by any of these remaining four. Never.
    With Matthew and Emilia gone from Salvation, we’d better hope and pray hard for Dom’s return.
    The problem began with primarily unappealing, untalented women from the start. Emilia pulled that, whatever that was. And Michelle quit. I never thought any of the other women stood a chance. It’s not that the men are so wonderful here. But rather that 4 of the 6 women were very unwonderful. Unterriffic. Undone from day one.
    What exactly would be so delightful in a show with Eddie or Jay?? I don’t see it. Allow me to rephrase, I won’t see it! I’ll be watching ANYTHING else.
    Arnold has already posted on his Twitter that he’s a Network Star “finalist.” Does that mean he’s revealing something he shouldn’t about the ending? Or only that he made it to the final six, described by Cushman as ‘the finals’ in the Improve episode?

    • I agree, but I also think that they know in advance who will be the next Star champ. I really think they are betting on Eddie. Since Dom is gone, I will no longer watch the show, he made watching worthwhile. In all of these reality shows they know in advance who the winner is. Letting Dom go early was good television. Not for me. I am done.

      • Nora B says:

        I believe those of us who like Dom do because he’s genuine. While it can be uncomfortable for viewers, Dom’s bashfulness during presentations allows us to relate to his humanity. To know that he’s real. And maybe what we see is what we’ll actually get. An awkward boy who can cook. Not so bad. He’ll improve with time and less pressure.

  23. Nora B says:

    Question: Do you think Emilia was or could have been given a fair shot on Salvation? Or do you believe her little stunt several weeks ago, doomed her there and then? Would the network ever have seriously considered bringing her aboard after that? Or was her failure in Salvation predetermined by her misguided attempt at humor, resulting in gross insensitivity?
    Her coldness is part of her appeal for me. And I personally enojyed the ‘exclusivity’ Alex complained of in Emilia’s Spice Class classes. But was it too much for Food Network?

  24. Joan says:

    I agree with Michael…I felt like I would learn from Dom….and he was improving. Anyone see Giada’s bio show on Food Network? She was awful in the beginning, it took her a while to be comfortable in front of the camera.

  25. Patricia Leonetti says:

    Am really getting tired of Giada and her cleavage on TV! Very immature and disrespectful to women. Please be dressed more appropriately for a hostess on TV.

    • Cheryl Jenkins says:

      I agree with Patricia. Giada needs to have some modesty and cover herself up! No one wants to see her cleavage on any show. She should be ashamed of herself!

    • EAmenendez says:


    • Rita says:

      She’s become a clown that my husband and I laugh at. Silly characture.

    • pat jordan says:

      Totally agree! Who dresses like that to cook???

    • Signe says:

      Oh, I thought I must be the only one wondering why Giada’s breasts are always hanging out.
      What IS that about? It’s bad enough on her cooking show, but for Food Network Star, it was beyond ridiculous. Like she’s screaming, “I HAVE BOOBS!!!” Uh, okay, Giada, most women do.
      Is everyone afraid to give her feedback? Could she get back to cooking?

  26. Michelle says:

    Eddie, Alex and Arnold all should have gone before Dom. Dom can cook. Not sure about the other 3 and I loved the ugly Christmas sweater. I connected with Dom through the sweater because we have an ugly Christmas sweater contest at our own home.

  27. Kathie Summa says:

    Dom was great – should have never sent him home – I am not watching the program again – Giada and Bobby should be making the decisions

  28. EM says:

    Dom can cook. The judges and his fellow contestants thought his food was excellent. He was likeable and I wanted to eat his food. But…how many weeks in and not one thought of branding? Camera skills improved but not by much. I think Bob and Susie were shocked by that. I was surprised the food did not get tasted before the judges made their decision. Arnold and Eddie were lucky this week. It could/should have been one of them. Jay is likable but he reminds me too much of last years winner and Alex is a nice guy but his food is forgettable to me.

    • Mel31602 says:

      I honestly wonder if they did taste the food, but everyone’s dishes were good so the food didn’t have impact in elimination

  29. Wanda says:

    Dom can cook, I would like to watch his show. Now I do not care who wins. The Food Channel has gone down hill, it needs to be about the food.

    • Jenks says:

      Sadly, I believe that ship has sailed. How many actual cooking shows are even on any more, not counting reruns, many of them years old? It’s all competition shows now. The very fact that the food played no part in the decision shows how it’s 100% about personality and brand (translation: what can Food Network sell to make $$$) AND 0% about food.

      • EAmenendez says:

        Ina Garten shows us how to prepare food. And she is a classy woman!!

        • Janice Ringold says:

          Love Ina! You won’t see her cooking with a miniature kitchen or running through a grocery store. Let’s get back to cooking!

          • EAmenendez says:

            Ina Garten and Ree Drummomd are about the only two that actually cook. They explain everything. There is no one on Food Network anymore other than them I want to watch.

        • Signe says:

          I agree with the quality of the cooking show for Ina Garten. She’s a delight to watch and lots to learn from her.
          So many of the other “stars” are such hacks. They don’t even have good knife skills. It’s embarrassing and unpleasant to watch them.

  30. Angie Pennington says:

    Excellent article and right on point.I’ve wanted Dom from the beginning! I want to eat his food doesn’t bother me he’s camera shy…hope he does get to come back he deserves a second chance. I relate to Dom on other levels besides the camera Food Network just wants ratings….as if they don’t have enough

  31. Rebeca says:

    Dom was the only contestant whose show I would’ve seen. The network made a big mistake.

  32. linda says:

    Letting dom go is like letting bobby flay go from his original shows which camera wise sucked. But I guess the so called heads of food network know best. Big disappointment.

  33. Reggie says:

    When Dom is not trying to give a canned presentation, he is extremely likable. His informal camera asides are usually quite good. I think that the one thing he lacks, confidence in front of the camera, can be learned. I am also keeping my fingers crossed that he will master that skill and be the comeback star. He is the only contestant I could see myself tuning in to watch.

  34. Renee says:

    I was not happy they sent Dom home I agree with you his food was the best. I don’t like Arnold , Jay or Alex either they cooked nothing I would want to eat. I do like Eddie but his POV is too narrow.

  35. I won’t be watching this show again unless Dom comes back. If Bob and Susie don’t have enough confidence in Bobby and Giada to let them judge, why don’t they get someone else.

    • EAmenendez says:

      Finished watching Food Network star. And it was always one I made a point to watch. Bobby and Giada would have kept Dom and they were right on!!

  36. So disappointed that Dom wasn’t rewarded for his massive strides this week. Arnold is a sweet guy but really thought he’d be gone this week. So disappointed in this decision!

  37. Bill says:

    This season you guys have made some bad choices. Should have NEVER given into the network. You 2 have been judging them all along. I probably won’t watch the rest of the program.

  38. Food Fan says:

    Liked Dom, done with show now. The whole show seems orchestrated and contrived anyway. All contestants are consistently comfortable in their comments videos, but go to pieces in competitions? And we were supposed to buy that Emilia really had a Jekyll/Hyde personality change on improv night? Oh, and what’s-her-name was the last woman standing, but “boo-hoo, I quit because NOW I miss my kids?” It must be mind-numbing to come up with new scripts for all of these “fill-in-the-blank Star” shows. Embarrassed that I fell for it a few times, glad to be over it and get back to real life.

  39. EAmenendez says:

    That was a mistake eliminating Dom. He had the potential to be a Food Network Star.

  40. Barbara says:

    Dom was my favorite. He was fun to watch. I would of liked to taste his food. Stay in there Dom – I would love to watch you on your own show one day!

  41. Selina Sauls says:

    I personally love Dom, and think the fact that he was camera shy makes him REAL and honest. I think he would be just fine in front of a camera when the pressure of competition was not an issue. He is a very good chef and I hope he gets another opportunity to be on TV.

  42. Diane peters says:

    I watched the show because of Dom. He was growing. Eddie was going in the other direction. I would have not touched his horrible looking shrimp.

  43. Belinda Settlemoir says:


  44. Shirley says:

    So sad to see Dom go. He knows how to cook and you can tell he’s passionate and he’s got a real personality. I could care less if he’s uncomfortable in front if the camera, he will learn. Has anyone ever seen Bobby and Giada when they first started out? Total disasters. Based on the one note criteria, they would have never made the cut.

  45. Bizzle says:

    I think Dom should’ve gone home in the first few weeks, but I don’t think he should’ve gone home THIS week. He worked his theme and described his flavors, unlike Eddie…

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  47. Harriet says:

    Are they promised their own show? It seems they don’t mention that anymore. Just appearances at various food festivals and such, Might watch Jay, Eddie. Would never watch Arnold or Alex. Not into their food. Would probably watch Dom – prefer Italian to the others.e

  48. Diane peters says:

    I watched the show because of Dom. Dom has grown. Eddie is going in the opposite direction. I would not have touched his gray shrimp. Doesn’t what they cooked matter?

  49. Michael John says:

    Arnold should have gone home this week. Dom was likable – is the best cook and has had moments when he talks about the food that he shines. You can work with that. Jay is obviously the front runner, Eddie is as at ease in front of the camera as anyone this show has every had, Alex had a good week – Arnold showed me nothing in both challenges besides a cute opening line.