Food Network Star Recap: The Nightmare Before Christmas

How does that old saying go again? If you can’t describe your dish during a two-minute video, get outta the Food Network Star kitchen.

No, wait, that can’t be the case, seeing how this week’s eliminated contestant was one of only two remaining finalists to even touch upon the flavor and texture of his food during a holiday-dinner presentation.

Color me the lifeless gray of Eddie’s poorly cooked shrimp. Render me as confused as the thousands of viewers still waiting for Arnold to explain the meaning of “framboise” and “ganache.” Dom is gone — I repeat, DOM IS GONE — and while, OK, maybe he never mastered the fine art of uttering the words “Italian Christmas” in two attempts or less, his food has consistently looked the best of the Season 11 crop.

And likability/charisma aside, if I’m going to watch a Food Network personality in action — and actually attempt his recipes on the regular — I don’t really care how many takes it takes him to look like he’s not on the brink of fleeing the studio in a cold sweat and hiding in a darkened alley ’til all camera operators are a minimum of three miles away from him.

Personally, I’d have axed Arnold. Despite all my respect for Food Network execs Bob Tuschman and Susie Fogelson — always a welcome dose of plainspokenness to the panel, even if this time around they didn’t taste a single bite of anyone’s food — the sometimes drag queen’s “Hey, lovebugs” intro wasn’t enough to overcome the slightly desperate, damp-forehead-ed, stiff-torsoed brand of unwatchability Arnold has been cooking up since Week 1. Plus, I’m still not convinced he’s a true culinary maestro — and without a deeper exploration of his tablescapes and party wizardry, he seems like a fourth runner-up at best.

If not Arnold, why not bid adieu to Alex? Who’s going to tune in for a kid that declares, “I’m goin’ balls to the wall with the food!” Rated M… for “Millennial, Please!” Leave your netherregions off the menu! And just as troubling, I have no idea what made his catfish po’boy different from any other po’boy I’ve eaten in my lifetime. Plus, doesn’t Food Network already have a Sandwich King we know and love?

It’s felt for ages like we’re careening toward an Eddie-vs-Jay showdown in Season 11, but for the second week running, the former NFL star’s food looked less than mouth-watering — and even his candied-ginger demo looked like he’d just thrown slices of yellow-beige into a bath of tepid tap water. Hopefully this week was the “suspense edit” leading to his ultimate redemption from the ashes — but what if it’s not?

Jay’s a charmer who’s equally comfortable around meat and fish, but there’s a one-note-ness to his cuisine that he has yet to overcome. A point-of-view is essential, to be certain, but not if it’s monomaniacal. Why the judges haven’t pushed for a broader spectrum of flavors is somewhat troubling, unless they’re merely grooming him to be first runner-up?

At this point, I don’t think I’d be too upset if one of the evicted chefs from the online “Star Salvation” challenge jumped back in and won the whole enchilada — especially if that chef turns out to be Dom. And I suspect Giada and Bobby wouldn’t disagree.

What did you think of this week’s Food Network Star? Would you have sent Dom home? If not, then who’d be on the chopping block? Sound off below!

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