Food Network Star Recap: No Country for Bold Ramen

Something died in the middle of this week’s Food Network Star — and not just guest judge Katie Lee’s will to live after being asked to accept the idea that a steaming bowl of soup makes the perfect warm-weather family-reunion entree.

Nope, I’m talking about the last shred of suspense regarding the Season 11 proceedings — which flatlined at the exact moment Jay chose to make Pigs in a Blanket (using store-bought biscuit dough!) and Ants on a Log (yes, that thing where you put peanut butter and raisins on a celery stick) for his mentor challenge.

Look, no disrespect to your childhood or mine, but if Jay gets his own Food Network series on the basis of recipes that would make even my four-year-old twins throw synchronized “Chef, please” side-eyes, then we might as well scrap the entire series and give Bobby and Giada their own Bachelor– and Bachelorette-style dating series. (I kid! I kid! Though Giada is already rockin’ the perfect assortment of cleavage-baring ensembles to bring all the boys to the pasta bar. Also, my mother would drop everything for a chance to spend a night in a fantasy suite with Bobby — so long as there was a grill on the balcony.)

Don’t mistake this as me discrediting Jay’s food or his New Orleans-grilling-meaty POV — dude has served up some really tasty-looking vittles over the past couple months — but this is a competition. And the pigs in a blanket/ants on a log menu — without so much as an inspired dipping sauce or deconstructed twist — is the competitive equivalent of American Pharoah just hanging out in the starting gate and telling his overmatched rivals, “Go on guys — I’mma let y’all have this one!”

All this is my way of saying Eddie is gonna win this thing like Meryl Streep in an acting battle against Kim Kardashian, Jessica Alba and Vince Vaughn (condolences to my TVLine pal Kim Roots for pulling True Detective duty this season).

He’s got charisma, he’s got a Caribbean-inspired concept that Food Network could use and he’s never made me question his culinary authority. Who’s gonna beat him at this point? Certainly not exhausting Arnold, with his uncomfortably stiff posture and painful stabs at “hey gurrlll” camp.

Actually, let’s not forget next week’s episode will reintroduce the winner of online second-chance series Star Salvation back into the competition — and as a man who had the pulled-pork mac-and-cheese at Dom Tesoriero’s Saratoga Racecourse food truck this afternoon, I have to offer this caveat: Don’t count that Staten Island cutie out yet!

With that said, let’s review this week’s proceedings. The mentor challenge asks the four remaining fellas — Eddie, Jay, Arnold and Alex — to nail a “faux-live” cooking segment with host Catherine McCord, and Eddie wins, even though his overly flirty response to Catherine’s beauty makes me wonder about that wife he was raving about just a few episodes ago. Still, his burger toppings and muscle-flexing put him miles ahead of Jay’s tragic after-school snacks, Arnold’s inability to convince us he knows how to use a food processor and Alex’s failure to defend garlic as an ingredient that belongs in a romantic date-night dish. (Honestly, isn’t “garlic-breath” more of a trumped-up cliché than a real consideration for those of us working it out in the kitchen?)

Eddie’s win allows him to give out assignments for a “Summer Live!” program — I guess Rachael Ray didn’t want to host the Food Network Star finalists this season? — where each fella gets five minutes to demo a dish (and engage his co-hosts) in front of a live audience.

Screen Shot 2015-08-02 at 7.58.58 PMWithout the judges tasting a single spoonful, it’s clear Eddie and Jay will survive. The former’s vegetable-ribbon pasta with lemon sauce is easy on the eyes and appropriately summer-y – and his charisma even spills over into his rival contestants’ segments. Jay, meanwhile, serves up some less-than-finessed looking chocolate tarts, but his natural warmth (and his easy cocktail) keep him out of danger.

And thus, it’s down to Alex or Arnold for elimination. Both of ’em succeed with their food — though Arnold’s grilled cilantro shrimp and corn meet the parameters of the challenge (and express his POV) better than sandwich guy Alex’s bacon-miso ramen — which means it’s really going to be a decision about presentation. Sure, Arnold’s almost frantic delivery is hard to watch, but when Alex can’t manage to spin a single relatable story about why his family had their reunion in Indonesia or explain why he’s left the soup out of the classic soup-sandwich pairing, it’s clear he’s burnt toast. Giada’s side eye as he insists “In Asia, you’re eating soup all summer long!” tells us exactly where her vote is going — and in this case, she is 100 percent correct.

Before I turn it over to you, though, let’s allow Katie Lee a deliciously bitchy parting shot: “Nothing says summer like a hot bowl of bacon ramen.”

What did you think of this week’s Food Network Star? Was the right contestant sent home? And who do you want to win Star Salvation: Rue, Dom or Alex? Also, can anyone beat Eddie? Sound off in the comments with your thoughts!

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. Streets ahead says:

    Slezak, if I didn’t absolutely adore you before, that headline completely sealed my affection.

  2. Amy says:

    Despite the pigs in the blanket, I am really liking Jay and plan to try that Strawberry Basil Bourbon cocktail…how good did that look? Eddie is coming off as player, to where I’m not sure I would trust him and his wife has to be wondering the same thing. I love Arnold, but I don’t think he is posed enough to win, but his POV is a good one and something not really on Food Network. On Star Salvation….I have my hope on that Mac and Cheese Food Truck guy. We’ll see next week.

  3. Python Rose Quartz says:

    Yeah, Katie Lee is one of those FN people that I want to push in front of a bus. I love jeff, but did the two serve any real purpose this episode?

    Alex seems like a cool guy but I was so done with him constantly TOUCHING HIS HAIR AND THEN TOUCHING THE FOOD HE WAS PREPARING.

    • LADY_in_MD says:

      Whenever I see her on food network I think of the snl sketch of the former porn stars selling products trying to sound smart but are truly dumb

  4. Brenda says:

    won’t watch any shows if Arnold wins!

  5. Stephanie says:

    “He’s never made me question his culinary authority.” Really? While Eddie’s charm is undeniable, his point of view has been up in the air all season. He was cheat day guy, Caribbean food guy, Texan guy and would pick one of those depending on the challenge. He’s been all over the place. His charisma and looks have often pulled him through.

    I like Eddie well enough and would watch a show he hosted but Food Network Star season 11 has always been Jay’s game to lose. Jay has been consistently great. Almost every guest judge has commented on his warmth and comfort on camera and in person. The reaction to Jay is “Give this guy his own show already.”

    I mention this because Giada and Bobby have a clear favorite who isn’t Jay or even Eddie, so their bias has made this season’s judging inconsistent. FNS could really benefit from a third voice, even if that voice isn’t Alton Brown’s. I know Jeff Mauro already has a weekly gig on The Kitchen, but both he and Alex Guarnaschelli are excellent on Star Salvation. As a former winner of FNS, Melissa D’Arabian would be a welcome addition to the permanent judging panel.

    • Python Rose Quartz says:

      My dream judge panel includes tyler florence and sunny anderson. So done with giada and her glittery boobs. I love Melissa.

      About jay and Eddie though, I think eddie has a greater “star” presence than jay does (cringed as I typed that). jay is good at playing the game but I don’t think he’s the best guy for a cooking show, I think he’s fake and his consistency is kind of boring. Although I think he’d be great teaching kids how to cook, his pigs and ants demo made me realize this. You make a solid point about eddie, but I generally think that pov’s are gimmicks generally. I hope he sticks with Caribbean cuisine though. He is different than what FN has to offer currently, not too out there like Rue. I love her and would love to try her cooking but could not see her garnering a huge following with some of the exotic fare she presents like bone marrow. Most americans aren’t very adventurous.

  6. Tim says:

    Can’t wait for Dom’s return!

  7. Ninius says:

    Giada is going to go all out for Dom. So obvious!
    Bye Alex, you are a great cook.
    Katie Lee, go home!
    Eddie for the win!

  8. slbertolino says:

    Katie Lee go home. Jay has the personality and I think the Southern Cajun food ideas to pull of a show. Arnold is annoying, talks too fast, never lets anyone talk. Just shut up!!! OK so I like Ramen Noodle guy, but he doesn’t have star quality. Period….I didn’t think Jeff Morrow did, but he has survived. Eddie has lots of personality and is great on camera. Whether his culinary viewpoint can get him through????

  9. skrable2 says:

    I think I’d watch a show where Eddie and Jay were co-hosts

  10. Lizbeth says:

    Rue doesn’t interest me.
    Alex is sweet and a good cook it seems, but scattered.
    Dom should have salvation!
    Jay is viewable for sure. Perhaps a Cajuney, male, Paula Deen type genre.
    Eddie too is made for TV. In a happy, flirtatious, southern, Caribbean, athletic, POV. –Whatever that is…
    Neither of them has yet inspired me with food or a suitable show idea though.
    I still think Emilia had the most style and creativity for a series.
    Hoping Dom will take the final win. Jay and Eddie close behind for possible shows of their own regardless.
    Arnold is an absolute ‘dragggg!’
    Should have been gone!

  11. Nila Chudzinski says:

    I would have sent Arnold home. If I was flipping channels to find something to watch and he was on I would keep right on flipping. There is something about him I just don’t like. If Dom comes back I would like to see him win.

  12. EM says:

    I couldn’t believe Jay’s after school snacks. Cooking competition! This was his first big stumble. Eddie was the clear winner this week. He had the pressure of going first in the ensemble portion and he nailed it by including the others very naturally. He also was engaging in the others segments. Arnold is getting harder and harder to watch. Count me in as hoping Dom makes it back.

  13. fiberlicious says:

    It was always going to be Eddie. How many African American hosts are there on FN?

    • S. Hamilton says:

      Whatever happened to “Big Daddy”?

    • Python Rose Quartz says:

      Sunny was recruited because of the lack of black viewership. Currently, there is so little diversity on FN, it’s nauseating. That’s not why eddie should win though, even though I really hope he does!

    • dan says:

      Big Daddy was cancelled and the Neelys got divorced. I think Sunny Anderson is the only African American host on FN consistently. They recently had a black woman from England as a judge on the summer cake/pastry/dessert competition show, but I don’t know if she has another other gigs on FN. I think they’re clearly favoring Eddie for the win. I’d watch a show with him. I wouldn’t watch Jay.

  14. anne says:

    DOM, DOM, DOM!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  15. Cookie says:

    All these shows should have ‘blind tastings’ to hopefully omit the ‘faves’ of the judges. That being said, sooo glad Alton Brown was not on to add his sarcaustic (spelling intentional) comments and eye rolling. Unclear why Food network likes his ‘brand’ but I have never. I did not agree with last year’s choice and look what happened to him?

  16. jen says:

    I really wanted Arnold to go. I really don’t like how he presents at all. He talks so fast. At least Alex has done great presentations. I also don’t want Eddie to win. I much prefer Jay, and actually think that he has a great shot to win. I want Dom to come back in the competition so badly.

  17. Cookie says:

    Michael Slezak, the title of your article is why I stopped and read it and laughed. And it also prompted me to comment a bit earlier. Your piece is priceless. You targeted all that is both fun and wrong with this show. I gave up wondering ‘who will win’ given how wrong I’ve been before, and decided just to enjoy the entertainment part.

  18. Goodbyenoway says:

    I can’t even look at Giada without thinking of all those blow jobs she gave to colleagues in the back rooms.

  19. Ricky Lee Jones says:

    These recaps make me want to watch the actual show … well not really but amaze-balls recaps!

  20. Marla says:

    “and as a man who had the pulled-pork mac-and-cheese at Dom Tesoriero’s Saratoga Racecourse food truck this afternoon, I have to offer this caveat: Don’t count that Staten Island cutie out yet!”

    YES! Salvation seemed really close but I felt that they might be leaning towards Dom. Especially Alex Guarnacelli (sorry if I’m mangling the spelling of her name).

    I think it’s obvious at this point that Eddie will win. And of the remaining contestants IMO, he should.

    Still hoping for Dom to pull a miracle. Maybe the Food Network should give them both shows or feature Dom on another show, especially considering they seem to forget to feature the winner from a few years ago, Justin. The kid was great! It’s always Jeff Mauro or Damaris, whose voice and persona grate on my nerves. As for last year’s Lenny…fine by me not seeing him.

  21. shannonmctx says:

    Jay has personality and presence for cooking show or hosting the food/travel type shows. I think he has best chance at being a Food Network Star with longer shelf life whether he wins or not. I adore Eddie but not sure on his POV – fitness/healthy, Caribbean, cheat days? All of them? Absolute thumbs up to the suggested Jay and Eddie show!

    I’d watch a show with Arnold’s POV – party foods/entertaining. And mostly wish he’s just go full camp or drag, loosen up and have some fun.

    Dom is awesome cook but I don’t see ever watching a show with him. He’s just not personable on camera. I see him very successful at Food network live food events they do around the country. Its about the food and he doesn’t have to worry about being on camera. Feel the same about Eddie.

    All in all talented group this year and I think they all can have some food network success whether a show, a tv special, regular magazine presence or live event appearances.

  22. Brenda says:

    You missed it sending Dom home last week. All of the contestants deserve to be there because they are talented. I watch Food Network and if I am looking for a program to watch, I would watch Dom. He is sexy and charming and would give Bobby Flay a challenge!

  23. Sue says:

    Have long been a fan of Giada and I get she is going thru separation/divorce from Todd and in need of feeling desirable, but really, this is a food/cooking show. Is it appropriate to be in evocative, skin baring, cocktail wear every episode? I think not.

  24. donna barresi says:

    who are you to judge? the man don’t have kids!! he don’t know snacks kids eat!!! get off your high horse ! and as for giada can she wear a dress a little tighter or lower cut scum bag!! and no ramen is not a reunion food!!

  25. I couldn’t agree more! Watched Star Salvation last night and noticed that they show the winner being Dom! If you watch the first 2 minutes or so, they show a guy getting into the white car that they claim is the winner at the end. I paused the video and noticed that it was Dom!!
    I’m rooting for Eddie or Dom, Jay is SOOOOOOOO BORING!!!!! I’ve seen the southern style cooking a MILLION times. He doesn’t seem genuine at all, everything is the same week to week. I wouldn’t watch anyones show except Eddie or Dom. Can’t wait to see who pulls out the win!

  26. Thank goodness Alex is gone next has to be Arnold. Eddie ‘s personality is so fun to watch and his food sounds great as well he is very well grounded and FN needs a breath of fresh air
    Jay I like as well but his food turns me off he doesn’t seem to be able to go in any other direction but his Louisiana style and we need someone that isn’t afraid of stepping out of his comfort field ie Bobby Flay.

  27. Rita murdoch says:

    Right guy sent home. I like jay, but Eddie is coming on strong. Jay has usually turned out impressive dishes, but Eddie has that charisma going for him!

  28. Rita murdoch says:

    Just read all the comments. Can’t believe some of you actually like Domm! He is soo arrogant and totally uneasy in front of the camera! I just wouldn’t be able to watch his show without cringing! Ugh! I like giada, but there is no need to wear sexy clothes on a cooking show that families watch. Kinda out of place! Never have liked bobby flay. Don’t think I have ever seen him smile! There has to be someone more personable who can replace him. Love the Kitchen show and wish it was on more than once a week.

  29. lola says:

    i agree with rita

  30. lola says:

    I liked it better when the stars actually mentored the people….to just say “present a live show” with no pointers seems kinda crazy! Eddie is really personable but can he actually cook, he out shines his dishes (bottled BBQ sauce??)…..I think Jay has had the most defined POV…..PLEASE bring in different people, Bobby has little personality and Giada dresses so inappropriately for a “cooking show” we get it, you’re skinny and have cleavage….bring in some fun people like Robert Irvine and Sunny….now that would be entertaining!!!!

  31. Jill says:

    I never really bought Dom being so bad on camera. They do the talking heads and he was always great in those, which are talking to a camera! So I think they played that up so he could come back and suddenly be better!

    Eddie doesn’t ever cook anything I haven’t seen before and his ultra-competitive nature rubs me the wrong way. His reaction to M quitting still bothers me and I shudder to think of how he would’ve reacted had he not won the mentorship battle.

    While not the greatest on camera, Alex was the one contestant that I’d try cooking everything he made.

    Jay is perfectly fine but cliche.

  32. Pete says:

    Did I hear Giada scream encouragement to Eddie like a 13 year old teenager?

  33. Tigger says:

    why did they get rid of Dom?? get rid of Eddie. We didnt like him on Master chef and dont like him know, get Dom back hope Jay or Dom wins, anyone else win….another show down the drain- LOL

  34. B Sheets says:

    I didn’t think that Bobby & Gilda were EVER going to get rid of Dom !!! If he had gone on to win, I promised myself I would never watch Bobby & Gilda in anything in which they were involved.
    I think the combo of Jay & Eddie would be a hoot!!!