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!

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. Lily says:

    I would have sent Dadushka home. Her whiny droning and semi-conscious mumbling are worse than her microscopic “burger” (pea-sized like her brain). You’re right, she’s gotta be doing it on purpose! Anyone so genuinely incapable of listening to feedback and directions would be incapable of turning on a stove burner!

  2. mikey says:

    Why single Danushka out, aren’t they all plants? The key is trying to figure out which one they really want. Also, I believe it was a 100-member audience, not 1,000.

  3. CJH says:

    I can’t stand Danushka…I really hope they send her home next week even if she does something good which I cannot imagine happening. Thank you to Michael for recapping this show..I hope you will continue to do this…I watch every year and really do love this show…maybe you or someone on the staff could recap HGTV Design Star.

    • pinkie says:

      I have mostly lurked here for the past week, but had to agree with your post…about Danushka and the recapping of this show. Many thanks to Michael Slezak.
      And a big YES for a recap of HGTV Design Star.

  4. Coetelle says:

    I was thinking the same thing about Danushka (esp since she also was on “Chopped,” as were a few other past contestants), did a search and found your post right near the top. She was annoying on “Chopped,” she’s annoying here also.

    • Marie says:

      Was wondering if others had seen her on “Chopped” also….on that, she said she was a chef on a “private yacht” and she acted and talked exactly the same way……didn’t like her then – don’t like her now. I was surprised to see her on this show.

      • Maura says:

        Thank you, that is where I saw her before, loved her quirkiness then love it now…too bad others don’t get it.

  5. Carol Higgins says:

    Of course there has to be someone for us to hate and Danushka is the perfect target just as Penny was last year. The only difference is Penny could cook.

  6. Chablis says:

    I am disliking “Lovely” as well. Her schtick us old and tiresome m. Please recap Design Star or whatever they are calling it.

    • Dyna says:

      Lovely is ok — she just needs to get a real culinary point of view instead of the gimmicks. She was on Season 6 Hell’s kitchen

  7. 3dhouseofmagic says:

    Totally agree about Danushka! I felt it from the first ep that she was only there to be the villain. She gets way too much “diary” time which tells me the other contestants are probably a bit boring so they are trying to make the show more dynamic. It’s obvious with all of the meters and audience screens that they are trying to decide between a few of them. Someone like Andres who didn’t really captivate on camera would not have gotten a regular interview compared to the other strong candidates.

  8. Lois says:

    I have never written to anything before. I love Food Network, I love this show , I would never ever ever watch Danushka, she is horrible. Makes me question the the casting. Do better next season please, this isn’t Mean Girls!

  9. King says:

    What??? I love Danushka! She’s entertaining and funny. The show would be boring without her. I knew she wasn’t the one going home last night. The weight-loss dude messed up pretty well. I think Chad is good but could use a makeover. He looks like William H. Macy!

    • Kay says:

      Love her? For what? Her LACK of personality? Her constant berating of others? For whining and complaining in EVERY comment? Eww…that is all I can say. Ewww.

    • Geb says:

      I’m with you when it comes to Danushka, in her interview sessions and non-presentational moments she’s hilarious. She’s just got a really dry sense of humor and needs to kick it up to stay in the game.

    • Maura says:

      TOTALLY agree with you….no one else has Danushka’s interesting attitude.

  10. that_girl says:

    baJa Betty … As in Baja California.

  11. Flicker says:

    Nigel Lythgoe gets fired from Idol and not a comment from you Michael?! If you’re on holidays – enjoy the sunshine :)

  12. Erin says:

    Danushka should have been gone in the first week. The focus group didn’t like her personality, & the judges didn’t like her food. The woman from Peru whose name I can’t remember also didn’t do well with the focus group, but the judges liked her food. They should have kept her instead. It’s clear they want her as a villain, & I agree she gets a ton of diary time.

    • Dyna says:

      Danushka SHOULD have went home the first time and to get a pass after another poor showing is ridiculous. I agree that something is up with this and almost deleted the timer from my dvr settings.

      I do remember her from Chopped and I would never turn on tv to watch her purposely.

      She is the only one I don’t like this season, but I can tell you who is going to win in another 2 shows. I knew fairly quickly that the weird dude would win last year — wouldn’t watch his show either……does he have one?

    • Dyna says:

      AGREED!!!! Think she’s able to stay around b/c she’s eye candy for Bobby and Alton?? Just a thought….

    • Maura says:

      Interesting how you can remember Daushka’s name but not the name of the person you thought was better.

    • Dyna says:

      They are really pushing this pie guy, which is pathetic . He has not made good food and the judges acknowledge this fact; however, he continues to go forward. They want him as their next Guy Fiera (however u spell it). I’m not a fan of his either, but that appears to be their only success story from the show.

      This is the same crap they did last year, trying to get an Alton Brown clone.

      This season sucks despite them loading up the pack with seasoned reality tv contestants. If, as I predict, the worthless pie man wins, I’m done with this show

  13. ilovefootball25 says:

    I watch the show because football isn’t on yet, but it’s making me angry. Did you know that last year’s winner, Justin Warner, didn’t get his show because Alton Brown (and the Food Network) decided not to produce it. So, the whole thing, “the winner receives their own show”….should have a disclaimer (if the Food Network decides to greenlight it). What the fans think really doesn’t make a difference in the end.

  14. K> Mason says:

    I have always noticed that Food Network Star and HGTV Design Star put a phony “nasty” person on the show(Obviously actors.) just to irk the other contestants and try to force a little drama into the show. No one who wants their own show would behave so horribly. How naive do they think their audience is?

  15. CAM says:

    “Oh, actually girl, your personality is coming across loud and clear — shouting from the corner of Smug Avenue and Abhorrent Lane.” EXACTLY!

  16. AngieD says:

    So far, the most successful FNS winner seems to be Guy Fieri – he wasn’t my favorite, but he’s definitely been successful. Frankly, I think FN has stretched itself too thin by adding Cooking Channel. Cooking Channel isn’t offered by all providers, but FN has continued as though it has, which means less cooking on FN.

  17. Ashly says:

    Danushka is beyond condescending, but every show needs its villain. I kind of like Russell. I’m not sure if he has the magnetism to sell his 7 culinary sins, but it’s definitely an intriguing concept. There are still so many contestants that it’s hard to pick a fave, but I like Viet, Russell, BBQ guy, and Baja Betty girl. I really felt for Damaris. Everybody’s had their embarassing moments; unfortunately, hers were televised on national TV.

  18. Justin says:

    Danushka is my favorite, I love her! Will she win? No, she probably won’t even last the next week or two. But I find her incredibly entertaining, and the show will be a bit more boring with her absence.

    • Entertaining…????…She’s a moron….She has no talent, she can’t speak coherently, she’s a self absorbed brat that pretty well does nothing but take up valuable space…..

  19. syb says:

    Oh every show has a villain/villainess–Top Chef, Runway, all of them. So FNS hops on the “token bad girl” train, big deal. She’s kind of amusing. I was more offended by the concept of pimento cheese myself… Danushka’s going to trot out some outstanding dish next week, just you wait…LOL.

  20. Kay says:

    Danushka was annoying on Chopped and she’s even MORE annoying on Food Network Star. Is this what she wants her “claim to fame” to be…”Hi, I’m Danushka. I feel that I am superior to every other human on the planet. I am “lowering” myself by being on Food Network Star, but hey…they like me as a villain. I don’t much like anyone..and I can honestly say I have few friends because all I do is whine and complain. But…eat my food!”

  21. Mel says:

    Michael you are hysterical! Loved the “kinda” recap. I so agree, Danushka is definitely a plant. Maybe you get paid more to be a whiny brat. This is an ex-model who doesn’t know how to turn off her model face, that’s why she always looks like such a b*tch! Agree with others, need a recap of HGTV Star (I so liked the name Design Star better, but I am a creature of habit!)

  22. Faith says:

    Does anyone else miss last year’s format where Giada, Bobby, and Alton all picked a team? I thought the team challenges were interesting and I enjoyed the team spirit that existed between contestants. Plus, it seemed that none of the contestants’ culinary skills were completely dead on arrival last year.

    Honestly, I don’t really like any of this new season’s contestants enough to watch them with their own show. Damaris is fun to watch, but only because of how ridiculous she is. The past three seasons’ winners (Aarti, Jeff, and Justin) were all favorites of mine from the getgo, and I’m sad to see that Justin didn’t get a regular show. I watched the first Rebel Eats, and I thought it was pretty good.

  23. I am so ashamed of Food Network Star hosts. Giada, Bobby and Alton for allowing such a pathetic, self centered, narcissistic,self absorbed drone speaking moron Danushka to continue on this show…Are you people suffering from some sort of food poisoning or what…???… There is nothing sincere about her wanting to be a great Food Network Star and she’s a joke…I have watched FNS for years and I am truly disappointed in your decision to not only keep this troll but let a someone go who is truly wanting and trying this for all it’s worth..I see her standing and doing nothing to get people to taste her food creations in episode 2 and the one you cut at least tried to help himself by going to other lines to sell his food..My great expectations of another great FNS season is not part of my Sunday schedule any longer…..I will no longer watch Bobby’s or Giada or (my very favorite) Alton’s cooking shows again…..
    Very, Very Disappointed in Virginia
    Lela Campbell

    • Maura says:

      Wow!!! what did Danushka ever do to you to make you write such bitter unkind comments? I’m sure Giada, Bobby and Alton don’t wan’t or need watchers of your mentality.

  24. I believe it’s time for a change UP…..Giada, Bobby and Alton should be replaced by
    Ina Garten, Aaron Sanchez and Ted Allen.
    Lela Campbell

  25. Maura says:

    In my opinion Danushka was the contestant with the most interesting personality….love her…!. Too bad jealousy is judging her…I don’t think the show will now be worth watching…

  26. Hassan says:

    As expected, we see hit-and-run victim John Locke arriving at the emergency room at
    the same time as gut-shot Sun and shell-shocked Jin. The list goes on, and serves
    as proof of DRTV’s viability in today’s changing market conditions.
    What makes him ultimately a loser is that he manages both to be incompetent and destructive.

  27. Jinko says:

    This season is awful. So boring! Where in heaven’s name did they find this rag tag bunch? I like Bobby, Giada, and Alton even less. I know there is something better to watch, and I will find it. So long, Food Network Star.