Not since egomaniacal monster Matthew went home in Week 2 have the “Good riddance!” receptors in my brain gotten as warm and tingly as they did during tonight’s Food Network Star elimination. (Side note: I hate myself for typing this, but you just know the hashtag-spwering Millennial is going to win Star Salvation and leap back into the competition, right? #ugh)
Anyhow, on paper, “I value my time with my kids more than I do the opportunity to become a big-time TV host” is an admirable mantra. It’s just really irksome that Michelle decided to pack up her inconsistent food and her uninspired adjectives and leave the competition only after it became abundantly clear she was headed for the guillotine.
I mean, when your test subjects sample your tomato soup and declare, “I tasted nothing,” followed by, “it actually made the grilled cheese taste worse,” you’ve essentially made yourself as welcome on Food Network as Paula Deen extolling the virtues of a pre-Civil War-era plantation wedding.
But enough about Middling McQuitterson! The episode’s kickoff challenge — create your favorite brunch item in only 20 minutes, and make it “to-go” friendly — found Jay’s andouille hash taco (and tailgate tales presentation) taking home first price… and reiterating his position as the main threat to Eddie. Dom’s smashed meatball and poached egg, however, was the item I’d be most likely to try to make at home — and his “Staten Island boys’ brunch date” yarn was unexpectedly amusing, too.
The food-truck challenge that followed was less clear-cut — mainly because the six finalists were split into teams of two and asked to make one main dish each, then collaborate on a side. Jay’s cajun-spiced patty and Arnold’s Asian slider with ramen-bun scored highest with the judges and sent them to safety, but I was left with a couple of nagging concerns. Is Jay’s cuisine coming off a little too samey-samey to sustain an entire series? And why — despite his drag-queen chops — does Arnold always come across as either deeply tense or aggressively sunny when he’s on camera? I want him to turn it up and dial it back all at the same time, if that makes any sense.
One member each on the losing teams — Dom and Eddie — were clearly not at any risk of being ousted, despite editors’ silliest efforts to make it look like Bobby and Giada were weighing pros and cons of the “Bottom 4” (in name only). Dom’s chicken barbacoa taco with avocado cream looked mouth-watering, though I wished he’d done a better job explaining what exactly “barbacoa” means. Eddie, meanwhile, left the window open a crack — giving Dom and Jay opportunities to sneak in and steal his crown — by using store-bought sauce for his BBQ pork grilled-cheese.
And so, in the end, it was either Alex (whose dish was so wildly spicy that he ended up weeping while preparing it, and ultimately burned his sausage) or Michelle (flavor profile: beige paint) headed for the garbage disposal. Yeah, the way things got edited it looked like Giada was about to pull the plug on Alex, but let’s be fair: His and Dom’s “Hot Slap Taco” video was endearingly ridiculous. Meanwhile, Michelle’s baffling (and arhythmic) dance moves and her inability to find better descriptive terms than “cheesy-weezy” made her a much better pick for a “Bye, Felicia” moment.
Yeah, Alex won’t last more than another week or two, but Michelle’s decision to pull out of the race so late in the game means that — whatever Bobby and Giada were planning — we’re left with the best possible quintet of contestants available.
What did you think of this week’s Food Network Star? Were you irked or excited by Michelle quitting? And who do you think should win it all? Sound off below!