Food Network Star Week 2: Meat Eat Manifesto

Food-Network-Star-RecapI don’t know about you, but I’m 90 percent convinced that Danushka isn’t so much a contestant on Food Network Star as she is a producer plant paid solely to act as the Season 9 villainess.

I mean, she can’t possibly think the best way to score her own show — or, as Susie Fogelson might say, “build her brand” — is to openly mock her competitors’ names, threaten to take off her top in front of Giada De Laurentiis and drop head-scratching complaints about weekly challenges such as “burgers are boring.” (By “boring,” she means “delicious,” right?)

Still, irksome as Danushka is, I couldn’t argue with the judges’ decision to keep her one more week and give the old heave-ho to Andres. As Giada noted, dude’s entire concept — that young men can’t cook, and that he can somehow fix the problem — made a huge, fairly insulting presumption about a large percentage of the Food Network audience. OK, sure, some young guys have questionable culinary skills, but they’re too busy watching G4 or ESPN or whatnot to give a flying fig about Food Network. Men who tune in for Barefoot Contessa or Grill It! with Bobby Flay have no such aversion to the kitchen. In other words, it’s 2013 — not 1973.

To make matters worse, even if Andres had crafted his show concept around his 150-lb weight loss, he still exhibited very little personal magnetism on camera, and made a burger that Giada noted tasted solely of “onion and mustard.”

And thus, we get another week of Danushka hissing things like, “I would never watch a show where someone’s last name is Dinki!” I wonder, though, if we’ll get a chance to see someone correct Danushka’s primary misconception. “One of my biggest challenges is getting my personality across,” she said in her confessional. Oh, actually girl, your personality is coming across loud and clear — shouting from the corner of Smug Avenue and Abhorrent Lane.

But enough about the folks who proved as appetizing as Alton Brown’s awful hat with the purple ribbon. Several folks aced the Burger Bash challenge — putting together fun, engaging two-minute demos, luring healthy numbers of the 1000-member audience to their stands, and serving up successful dishes in the process.

* I loved how Stacey gave her chorizo-and-beef burger a jaunty moniker — “the Baha Betty” — and the way she used bright, fresh veg to add eye appeal to the dish.

* As Damaris noted, grilling expert Chad could’ve served up cardboard and the audience would’ve been all, “mmm, cardboard.” If La Fogelson is really looking for a breakout star, it’s probably this dude, especially since his food has been consistently solid.

* Damaris, for her part, comes off a little like Melissa d’Arabian with a concussion or after a half bottle of gin, but there is something kind of likeable about her wacky vibe. Better still, she seems to know and love her food — and have a pretty decadent POV.

I know the judges loved Russell, his seven culinary sins, and his bacon-bourbon-sugar burger, but there’s something that reads a little forced about his whole shitck. I’m not yet ready to buy it. And as for Viet, any guy who can beat Bobby Flay in an Iron Chef: Ground Meat contest ought to take the podium with a little swagger. I liked the sound of his Banh Mi burger best of all, but he didn’t sell it with much gusto.

Who did you dig this week on Food Network Star? Would you have sent home Andres or Danushka? Sound off in the comments, and for all my reality TV recaps and commentary, follow me on Twitter @MichaelSlezakTV!