Monday, June 14, 2010

bye, Doreen

I watched the second episode of this season's "The Next Food Network Star," and witnessed the unsurprising departure of Doreen Fang. Doreen struck me as a nice person, but as the contest judges kept remarking, she had no clear culinary point of view. When you think of the most popular FN stars, you know what they're all about in an instant:

Alton Brown: food science, gadgets, and the importance of planning and prep
Bobby Flay: Southwestern, grilling, comfort food, cocktails
Guy Fieri: California fusion, rib-sticking diner food, cocktails
Giada De Laurentiis: light, modern Italian-American
Paula Deen: shamelessly heavy, rich Southern cuisine
Sunny Anderson: omnibus American comfort food
The Neelys: BBQ-accented American comfort food
Rachel Ray: quick meals, comfort food, Italian-American cuisine
Robert Irvine: admin skills, grit, and improvisation while cooking for 300

So who was Doreen? Well, I guess we'll never know, but it came as no surprise that she was shown the door, especially after last week's dismal performance and this week's chewy pulled pork.

I dearly hope that Dzintra, the batty culinary instructor, goes next. The woman is a mentally cluttered mess, and I'm beginning to wonder what she must be like as a teacher. With every challenge, she complains that her given task is, in some way or other, the most undesirable. Until she learns to master her emotions and control her own mind, she'll never amount to anything. I'll give her this, though: I've never seen her act in an unsportsmanlike way toward her co-competitors. I think she's probably a friendly, well-intended soul, so I don't class her among the cutthroats.

The big surprise, during the second episode, was the critique that Aria (last week's front-runner) received: the judges felt that her slow, exaggerated spoken cadence sounded too much as if she were talking to children. She managed to do well enough not to have to worry about being eliminated (as did the energetic Herb, who did better this week), but she wasn't top dog: that honor went to a very surprised Aarti. Aria, Aarti, and Herb remain in the top three. Das, meanwhile, partially redeemed himself after a poor opening last week, but we'll have to see whether he improves in front of the camera. Paul, the improv guy, fared poorly this week, and may be bumping shoulders with Dzintra on the way out the door. Brad, who was praised by Wolfgang Puck last week, made a smoked pork dish deemed inedible by at least two of the judges; this was surprising to me, and I now wonder how consistent his cooking is. He, too, still needs to learn how to work with the camera. Brianna once again cooked well, but people apparently found her personal style off-putting. Serena cooked the most beautiful-looking dish of the episode, but her mile-a-minute speaking style may ultimately prove too frenetic for the judges' taste.

The competition is shaping up nicely. Thus far, I think the people who have won their challenges have deserved their wins, and the people who have been eliminated have deserved their fate.


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