Food Network Star Recap: Live and Let Pie

Food Network Star RpdneyWe’ve reached that point in the Food Network Star season where two questions loom over every contestant: Is there any way Bob Tuschman and Susie Fogelson would ever greenlight a show built around this person? And is there any way I’d actually watch it?

I can’t really say I was outraged that food-truck squawker Chris was sent to the guillotine this week. Six episodes in, with the finalists being asked to conceive, cook and pitch a food product to a trio of executives (from Kraft, Kellogg’s and Target), dude was still serving up heaping portions of word salad that didn’t mean much of anything at all: “I have a much more broad culinary point of view than the rest of the people in the competition: It’s easy to make veggies, it’s easy to make pie, it’s easy to make barbeque. But it’s not easy to bottle passion for sharing food with other people.”

Wait, Chris’ culinary point of view was “passion for sharing food with other people”? Alton Brown should’ve flipped a switch to a trap door and flushed the dude from the competition right then and there. Actually, I could’ve asked for the same exact fate for Russell after he screamed “Duck fat makes the world go round!” and made “sexy lips” at the camera, but more on him in a minute.

First, we’ve got to talk about Rodney the “Pie Man.” How in the heck could Food Network consider giving this guy a show when he’s unintelligible at least 50 percent of the time? And does anyone really, truly know what the heck was in that jar he was hawking this week? A pre-made pie crust? Quiche fillings? An old wire hanger? It was never clear whether his “Pie Kit” belonged in the refrigerated aisle or how exactly the various components would be kept separated and fresh. The fact that he ignored Bobby Flay’s advice to keep his pitch simple — and instead performed a mumbly song he wrote in the shower — made him my pick for elimination.

Nikki’s failure to understand the meaning of the word “merchandised,” meanwhile, once again undercut her authority and expertise. Her “meat on the side” concept is perhaps the most compelling of the six remaining players, but if the best execution of said concept is pureed veggies in a jar, then there’s no way she’s gonna last more than a half a season.

Which leaves us with Chad, Stacey, Russell and Damaris as the logical contenders for the crown.

I know Damaris isn’t everyone’s cup of sweet tea, but I find her Kentucky charm to be endearing, and her peach-ginger jam looked both simple and delicious. The woman knows her food, knows how to stay true to her point of view, and might fill a niche in Food Network’s post-Paula Deen era.

Stacey, meanwhile, showed a glimmer of actual personality when discussing her son’s dairy intolerance this week, and if she could incorporate the growing market of cooking for folks with food allergies — while learning to not be quite so married to the script in her mind — I could see her as an actual success story.

Chad, on the other hand, is just as slick as Stacey, but there are moments where he undermines himself by admitting his own nervousness (as he did when he got in front of the merchandising experts this week). Food Network already has Bobby Flay’s Boy Meets Grill, which makes me wonder if Chad’s show might wind up being redundant. I mean, is he really so amazing that he’d have something new to say about throwing meat on the barbeque?

Russell, on the other hand, has a counterpoint to the healthy eating movement that could be a massive hit — but I was shocked to hear the Kraft and Kellogg’s execs describe him as “authentic.” To me, there’s something about his bro-centric delivery that makes me cringe, and I don’t think his actual food is consistently good enough to make me want to take the journey to his culinary revolution anyhow.

What do you think? Take our poll, then sound off below on this week’s episode — and who’d be your pick to win the whole enchilada!