Food Network Star Recap: Who Are You When Nobody's Cooking?

Imagine going to see a summer blockbuster where the superhero sits out the last 15 minutes to search the internet for the best price on matching tights and capes.

That’s essentially what went down on the penultimate Season 11 episode of Food Network Star, where Bobby and Giada (with some help from Bob and Susie) picked the correct Top 3 — and then sent them off to make pilots where none of ’em so much as brought water to a boil.

For 10 weeks now, I’ve been salivating over Dom’s classic Italian fare, getting more excited than I’d expected about Jay’s cajun cuisine and hoping Eddie would fine-tune his Caribbean-Southern POV and toss the “NFL health buff” stuff that’s left me scratching my noggin (when my noggin hasn’t been completely overwhelmed by his charisma).

And yet — without the slightest bit of explanation — Food Network Star tried to convince us that each and every one of its finalists had actually wanted to make road-trip diaries of other people’s cooking all along. Yeah, and Batman just wanted to be a TV recapper. Tuschman, pleeease!

OK, OK, I’ll quit kvetching about the bait-and-switch — while advocating that all future seasons be called Next Food Network Host Whose Salary Is Slightly Less Than Giada’s Décolletage-Powderer — and break down the week’s action in a few simple bullet points.

* The hour kicks off with the announcement that Dom took home top prize in Star Salvation — and will now be returning for a final challenge with Jay, Eddie and Arnold (the clear weak link, based on his exhausting on-camera demeanor and failure to offer any real instruction about how he makes his party food so pretty). Sure enough, when the sometimes drag queen (who, inexplicably, never brought she-glamour to the competition) fast-boils his homemade Mediterranean sausage — a move that makes his sous chef Rue practically vom into the quinoa salad  — it’s 90 percent certain he’ll walk the plank (even if Eddie’s one-minute demo video is a frantic mess, too). Oh sure, Dom’s choice of the hashtag-dropping imbecile whose name I refuse to type makes me momentarily worried my faith in him was for naught, but Arnold’s look of panic/self-loathing when Bobby bites into his food tells the tale, and in the end, he’s sent packing.

* Jay, meanwhile, has the best week ever. I’m not sure there’s any special finesse or interesting twist on his crawfish etouffee, fried catfish, grilled asparagus, rice and cornbread — not one interesting twist whatsoever — but he’s so relaxed and warm when he’s in front of the camera, you can understand why Bob is ready to sign him on the spot.

* And then it’s time for pilots — directed by a very astute and very lovely Rachael Ray, a woman who knows how to harness each of her three apprentices’ energies without spending unnecessary time coddling ’em. First up is Jay, whose show idea — Deep-Fried America — abandons the Louisiana-loving theory he’s presented all season long. His sense of humor is killer — “he’s a professional model that fries chicken,” Jay says of the superhot owner of NY chicken-and-waffle joint Sweet Chick — but how many episodes or seasons can one squeeze out of this concept? My cholesterol level will not allow me to put this on my DVR — and yet, if it’s merely ease in front of the camera (and not cheftasticness) that’s the criteria, there’s no way Jay loses, is there?

* Eddies’ concept — an exploration of southern BBQ — also abandons the Caribbean/health food mantra he’s had in his slow cooker all season. (And as with Jay, the Food Network Star producers don’t give us so much as a soundbite explaining why the change of focus.) The guy can definitely describe food in a way that’s evocative, and he’s charming and easy on the eyes, too. I can’t think of any reason he shouldn’t have his own Food Network show — but I just wish the concept was one that was a little broader (or more unique) than this.

* Finally, there’s Dom’s Big Flavor, Little Italy — where he’ll visit historical and/or family style Italian restaraunts and learn their secrets. At least the POV is in line with everything Dom has claimed to be, and I don’t care what anyone says, when he’s smiling and laughing and talking about flavor and texture, he is the closest thing to a star we’ve seen all season. “This red-sauce joint has been serving spaghetti and meatballs almost longer than Italy has been a country.” Ha! Will Dom probably need more takes and more editing every episode than Jay and Eddie? Absolutely. But if I was in charge of Food Network’s programming dollars, I’d put my money on the Staten Island cutie as the safest long-term bet from the Season 11 finalists. (I’d probably greenlight six-episode seasons for Jay and Eddie, too, but that’s probably too much “gold stars for all the kids!” philosophy for one recap, eh?)

What did you think of this week’s Food Network Star? Were you disappointed in the pilot concepts? And who’s your pick to win? Take our poll below, then 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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  1. Mel31602 says:

    I’ve only been watching this show the past few seasons but most of the pilots usually involved the traveling to a restaurant and watching someone else cook. Sadly FN seems to think that’s what people want to watch. I was more shocked that Eddie somehow had a BBQ POV out of nowhere – what happened to his Caribbean flavors? And doesn’t FN already have a million BBQ shows?

    • Python Rose Quartz says:

      Yeah, and mighty quinn’s is not that good.

      So disappointed. It felt like they were assigned these concepts and the only one that seems right is dom’s… I just can’t stand him. I was pulling for Eddie to do a Caribbean cuisine/ healthy living program because holy crap, all food network pushes is comfort food. Jay… I know he did some kind of web series about his own (attempted?) weight loss a couple years ago, and now he wants to do a show where all we do is watch him stuff his face with fried food? I’m not a judgy health nut, if he ends up being FN’s choice for its new star, they will have proven that they really dont give a f* about our arteries.

      And seriously, WE DON’T GET TO VOTE???

      • LADY_in_MD says:

        I was just about to post the same thing I thought there would be voting like before and nothing I don’t even see where to watch the pilots

      • MsDaisy says:

        It’s just the last 2 or 3 seasons that the winner has been chosen by fan votes. After last season’s disaster with Lenny McNab I sure they wanted to put the choice back in the hands of the network.

        • Sara M says:

          But Lenny winning wasn’t the viewers fault, it was the network’s lack of background checks and their own horrible judge of character. We only saw what they showed us of him (and I found him gross from the start). I have no faith that they’ll pick the right winner, they do not seem to have a good sense of likeability. Jay is meh, but they ALWAYS heap so much praise on him and talk about how charming he is. I wouldn’t watch his show.

        • mp says:

          Two of the people America chose didn’t get shows, although we call him jimmy neutron can’t remember his name, Has Been On A Few AHOWS

      • Lizbeth says:

        I keep hearing that Might Quinn’s is greasy and sucks. Thanks for sharing and saving me $50-$100. I’ll definitely rethink my planned trip there. One downtown and another in Clifton, NJ.
        The owner seems to be very friendly with Bobby Flay. Hence all the undeserved publicity.
        Thanks again.
        As for Jay, I keep thinking, Paula Deen before the scandal…
        Still wish that hadn’t happened. Her food was far too rich for my liking. But she was my absolute favorite food personality.
        Jay has a warm, comforting, quality that reminds me of her. For sure, though, following him around to greasy, fried food joints, held zero appeal. Who came up with that?! Bad, bad, idea.

  2. Billie Doux says:

    Yeah, really. Terrific recap and right on the nose. What are they doing? I have no interest in any of these three hosting a travel and taste show. And honestly, the only one I like is Eddie, and I can just feel that the fix is in for either Dom or Jay. Discouraging.

    • Licy says:

      I know, Eddie is my favorite and I’m pretty sure he has the least amount of votes. I’m like 80% sure that most of the votes are going to Dom. Pretty sure that he will win, which I am not happy about. Guess we’ll figure out tonight…

  3. Amy says:

    Does anyone else think that Food Network isn’t letting fans vote this season after they voted for Lenny last season? And, I hope we get to see cooking versus this restaurant tour thing.

    • Mel31602 says:

      Yeah it’s like they blame us for what happened w Lenny but bc those lewd videos didn’t go crazy viral no one really knew about then except diehard fans. It’s FN’s own fault for not vetting contestants better

  4. NP says:

    Wonder if they did the restaurant tour thing to sabotage Dom since his weakness is presentation and his strength is cooking? Honestly if these guys are getting travel shows I don’t care who wins – I want to watch them cook!

    • LADY_in_MD says:

      I think they did it to help Don since he can’t do well talking about his own food but is better at talking to other people

  5. Dan says:

    Not sure why anyone likes Jay, he’s such a smarmy fake.Even his candids wierd me out.

  6. I disliked Dom from the very beginning, pretty good cook but no personality. And oh so obvious he would be the saved one! I am sure Giada had much to do about it.
    Jay or Eddie to win!!

  7. Aha says:

    Jay deserves this. He should be the winner and if he loses then I don’t get the show.

    • Jonathan says:

      Agreed. I’m a foodie, and Jay’s food consistently whets my appetite. I can close my eyes and hear him talk about it in length and be compelled to eat it blindfolded even. I’ve never seen a program on FN that featured Louisiana cuisine, so I’d be very interested in watching his program. I can relate with Jay more as someone who appreciates good-tasting food and southern cuisine. I can’t say the same for Eddie or Dom because they both lack originality and the type of presence needed for FN.

      Dom rarely ever has a good presentation or ends them at the right time; you can only edit so much. He has little to no experience with having stage presence, giving a presentation, or keeping his condescending nature outside of work relations with others. I would never watch a show hosted by him. The good part to him is he is consistent with his Italian cuisine, but he doesn’t seem to know much outside of that. Italian foods have been beaten to a pulp by FN already. He’s not showing me anything new I’d be interested in.

      Eddie was someone I was rooting for originally, but he clearly has a case of gym fever. He comes across as a health nut, and (I’m gonna be honest here) I don’t watch FN for healthy cuisine; I watch it for foods that look like they’d be good eating, comfort foods. Jay and Dom have that. Food you would order from a restaurant or make yourself because it looks like it tastes good. And, now, Eddie is going from Caribbean to BBQ…what?! I wouldn’t really care for a show from him because he doesn’t seem to know what he wants to do anymore. This has been something Eddie has displayed throughout the show continually.

      Jay has been the only one who has stuck with a unique style that makes you ‘know’ it’s him doing the presenting–Louisiana cuisine, fried food, and beer. People saying otherwise on the fried foods aspect: I urge you to see his FN Star Profile. Fried food is labeled there among his favorites. He delivers on all these aspects and thensome, relates it to his life, and does all of this while genuinely being invested in his presentations. He sticks to who he is at heart and that says a lot. More than that, he’s a Radio Host as well and has far more experience than anyone else in the competition with hosting shows, in general, as well as food. Jay deserves to win. :)

  8. Cal says:

    I don’t understand why the judges think Jay is so great. I find him to be very boring. I wouldn’t want to take cooking advice from him because his meals seem very unhealthy. I love Dom. He’s a great cook and charming too.

  9. Ricky Lee Jones says:

    Leave it to Food Network to find the only boring drag queen in America lol

  10. Leticia says:

    I think this show is so fake, this is the 2nd time that an italian is out of the competition and miraculously wins his way back ( i believe food network train him and twls him what exactly they have to do). FAKE FAKE FAKE FAKE

  11. Peggy S. says:

    I’m disappointed that Dom has returned. Yes, he can really cook, but I find him smug and arrogant.

  12. CRISMACK says:


  13. I was disappointed, what happened to eddie POV. Also I expected the finalist to cook.

  14. RedReddington says:

    If I have to watch Giada’s obvious mega crush on Dom anymore, I may have to puke. It’s nauseating how clearly the judges favor him. The only reason he was cut in the first place was because Susie and Bob wanted it. I hope the one who deserves to win actually wins, and not because of the love affair the judges have with Dom.

  15. From the first week could not decide Jay or Eddie. Still can’t decide. Too bad can’t be two winners Jay and Eddie.

  16. Marla says:

    I love Italian food, so I’m rooting for Dom. I don’t find him smug or arrogant at all. Just the opposite. Perhaps the people who feel otherwise don’t understand a NY personality. I like the guy. I hope he wins. He’s the only one I’d watch.

  17. Kyle says:

    What a horrible season if Dom wins.. Two losers in a row. Might be time to give up this show

  18. EM says:

    I don’t want to watch another version of DDD. I started to doze off during the travel diary segment. If that is what the winner is going to be doing it doesn’t matter to me who wins. I won’t be watching. If they go back to actual cooking I’d watch Dom and Eddie.

    • Nellie says:

      I agree, there’s already too many ‘good ole boys’ on this network. Dom seems to be who the hosts want, he’s NOT who I want. I’d watch a show with Eddie – was so sorry to see Arnold go.

  19. Annie says:

    I was disappointed in the pilots too. There are too many tour and taste shows already. Add those to all the competition shows and you have very few actual cooking shows left. If I was to pick a winner just by the pilot it would be Dom. I wish I could cook like somebody’s little, old, Italian granny. Sadly, I am rarely successful when I try to make anything Italian. That type of show would inspire me to try again and again. The other pilots, meh. I’m hot and cold on Eddie. One minute he’s kicking ass and taking names and the next he’s fumbling. I don’t like the new POV. I think Jay is the smoothest presenter. His food looks good but I don’t know if I would want to watch an entire season of him. Give him some FN special presentations a few times a year and I won’t get tired of him.

  20. Sarah says:

    ALL four should have one show … it would be interesting. Arnold too! What’s you say FN?

  21. Carol Headley says:

    I’m a Dom supporter. It has been mentioned that he is a cutie but the shots of him cooking are actually sexy. He is so focused, so intent on the goal and his finished product looks and sounds sublime. For some reason he does very well talking to us during the casual camera shots and during his filming with the judges. If anything he must have a problem with “ready, go” which I really feel could easily be resolved if he became part of the network. Anyway, for me he has a star quality plus his cooking leaps through the screen.

  22. dan says:

    Last night’s episode was disappointing. I expected Dom or Rue to come back from Star Salvation, so I wasn’t surprised when Dom walked in although I would’ve preferred Rue. The final challenge with each finalist picking a sous chef was done well, but what was special about Jay’s Cajun catfish meal? And it looked like Emilia did most of the hard work while Jay stirred his gumbo. I’m just not a fan of Jay and I hope he doesn’t win. As soon as Rue said she was worried about Arnold’s sausage possibly being dry I knew he’d be out. Eddie and Alex worked well together, as did Dom and Mathew. I’m pretty sure Dom picked Mathew because he didn’t want to work with any of the women after what happened with Michelle. As for the pilot episodes: what happened to Cajun grilling, Caribbean healthy food and fresh-made Italian? All I saw was Diners, Drive-ins and Dives without Guy Fieri. Very disappointing. I’ve been rooting for Eddie from the beginning, but now I really don’t care who wins. I don’t want to see any of them travelling around the country interviewing other chefs. Put them in a kitchen studio and let them cook. I’m not surprised the viewers aren’t voting. Every time the viewers pick somebody who doesn’t work out, the FN changes the format and lets The Network decide the winner.

  23. Nelson says:

    Seriously Giada get your mouth off of Dom’s Nuts! Food network and stuck up Giada have already made up their minds!

  24. JM says:

    I’m so glad to read that everyone else was going ‘Wha??’ when the three made non-cooking pilots. I don’t understand these travel cooking shows. I have no interest in watching them, and yet, they keep making them. WHO is watching them? Why must the contestants cook well, if they are never required to cook? It might as well be a ‘personality contest–no cooking experience required’ show. I liked all four of the final chefs. Personally, I’d watch Dom or Eddie COOK (and in Eddie’s case, Carribean food NOT BBQ), but if they just make a travel show, then I really don’t care who wins.

  25. Nellie says:

    Well i see Dom is in the lead. I watch a lot of Food Network and purchase a lot from the brand – I’m not buying Dom. I can’t believe Arnold was let go to bring back Dom. Yes, make Dom or Jay the new star and you’ll help me break my addiction to the Food Network. What a major disappointment.

  26. Imzadi says:

    The “hashtag-dropping imbecile” is actually an excellent cook and made a bolognese sauce for Dom’s pasta that the judges complimented. That was NOT a dumb move on Dom’s part at all. And he has actually toned things down a bit on Star Salvation; he was less arrogant and obnoxious, and I was actually starting to like him.

  27. Scott says:

    What is new no black chefs on anymore or host and you guys were worried about Paula Deen look in the mirror! We are excellent chefs and cooks!!

  28. kat says:

    Giada clearly has a “thing” for Dom……..
    Has anyone else noticed how much skin she is showing these days????? I guess being a newly single person allows for this. She has the body to show it but I think she’s trying a bit too hard to impress Dom and/or BobbyFlay.

    • Exactly! She has an orgasm everytime he’s on camera. She just can’t hide it.

    • Pat says:

      I have not been happy with the display of décolletage. Distracting and somewhat vulgar. After reading comments of others I would note watch Dom or Jay as Italian has been done and done. As for Jay I am not interested in unhealthy food that has no nuance of flavor other than fried.eddie is not perfect but he is preferable as he feels sincere and he actually cooked vegetables.

  29. 2Blessed says:

    I will say this season was wayyy better than last season. However, the pilots were so disappointing! I want Eddie to win, I like his original POV and there isn’t much diversity on Food Network these days either. I hope Food Network gives the winner a kitchen studio, and let them cook!

  30. Kathy says:

    I seriously think Eddie and Jay are superstars and Food Network needs an infusion of new talent. Dom is so personable and his food is amazing. I would miss watching all three of these amazing, knowledgeable men.

  31. Harriet Hobbs says:

    Eddie will be gone because he is a young black male. If you look at the shows on FN, the young black male is one of the first to go on Chopped, GGG, and to some degree Cutthroat Kitchen. There is NOT one black male,star on FN. The only black female star is Sunny Anderson, and her time has been cut considerably. It is time FN shows some diversity. I am a 55 year old middle to upper class white southern lady. It is time we see something different on Food Network.

  32. lisa castoldi says:

    I love Dom, he is fresh, not so perfect, but he can cook and is geniune–

  33. kevb62 says:

    I want Dom to win, but I suspect it will be Jay. I’m ok with either of them winning actually.

  34. Michelle Lua says:

    I felt the same way about the “pilots”. I was very disappointed that they were all filmed on a “road trip” show”. If that’s what they get, I wouldn’t watch any of them. I need INFORMATION from my Food Network hosts, not watching them eat in cities I’ll probably never go to.

  35. Marie says:

    0h tears I really wanted Arnold in the top 3, although I also wanted Dom, Jay & Eddie in the top 3 too!!!!!

  36. Cecilia says:

    I can’t believe FN is going to send the winner on a traveling show. We already have Guy going off and showing us how others cook across the US. I want to have someone I can tune to and know he will show me how to prepare something step by step. I like all three candidates but my vote is for Eddie. HOWEVER, he does not need to go off and show us how others BBQ. His original point of view and health infused perspective is more of what the Food Network needs. BBQ, really???? Come on! I am losing faith in the network. I think they are losing touch with what made them so popular, teaching us how to make good food.

  37. I personally love Dom and was glad that he’s back! Like several other people commenting, I found the pilot concepts to be boring.

  38. Alana says:

    Love the natural warmth and the way Dom keeps it real. I could watch him for hours. He has shown so much improvement but always stayed true to his roots and cooking POV.

  39. Lauren says:

    I just don’t like Dom I wouldn’t watch him and I watch food net work all day everyday. Jay u kinda of have to like him because he seems like a nice guy… Hope Eddie wins.

  40. Dom is still there because of Giada. She has an orgasm everytime he’s on camera, seriously! I can’t stand him!

  41. Morgan says:

    I have been rooting for Dom since the beginning. I was so upset when he was eliminated then i was jumping out of my seat when he won the star salvation. I hope Dom wins because i really want to watch him on tv. Lets go Dom!

  42. Robin Nathan says:

    I could not agree more. The show winners used to get a cooking show, not a hosting show. What happened to their POVs?? This is disgusting. I guess the only cooks left on the food network are playing those ridiculous games. Time for a new network???

  43. Dale says:

    A note about the “pilots.” Remember that the show that actually makes it on the air doesn’t always resemble the contestant’s pilot. Damaris Phillips’ pilot concept was: She will help young, single men improve their cooking skills so that they’ll be able to impress the ladies; it was called “Food of Love” or something. Her actual show is much more low-concept, loosely built around the idea of modern Southern food, and she often brings on a guest, but it could be just her aged uncle.

  44. JoAnnP says:

    Dom is a classic New Yorker. His take on Italian food is inspiring. I appreciate his humble but never say die attitude. He has come a long way. I would like to see him in a show that takes him on the road looking for interesting dishes and then brings him back into the kitchen to teach us how to cook what he’s found. He should definitely be part of the Food Network family!

  45. SANDY says:


  46. Big D says:

    Dom is the only real person on the show. Presentation skills can be taught but his passion for the art of cooking runs through his veins. He has come a long way and will be a rare find for the Network.

  47. smartysenior says:

    I have zero interest in restaurant reviews for places I will never set foot in. I thought they were competing for a cooking show because they’ve been cooking all this time. Silly me.

  48. JMill says:

    I didn’t get the impression that the pilots represented the concept of the final shows, nor that they were JUST travel log shows

    I got the sense they were ‘pilots’ only in the sense that each contestant would be doing a entire show from opening to sign off; each using the same template to better compare one to the other. Even within that template, we only saw a portion of what was being done, the biggest unseen element being a segment where they do a cooking demo based on some recipe or dish from the restaurant they visited.

  49. Ollie Sedgwick says:

    I agree Michael, I was really surprised when their pilots were about them visiting food joints, when we’ve been seeing their own recipes all season – that’s what I was looking forward to! Food network already has DDD, the two new road trip shows and the Anthony Anderson show for seeing other people’s cooking. I want to see what Jay, Dom or Eddie can cook!

  50. Ron Glee says:

    Fix has been in from the start with Dom. This show has been totally scripted for the comeback kid.