Here it is! The opening episode and live-blog of the latest edition of The Next Food Network Star. It may be a poor, poor substitute for the glitz and glamor of Top Chef: Masters (on which at least one Food Network personality, Michael Chiarello, is competing). In fact, my sister rolled her eyes when I told her I was doing this tonight. But I bet she'll be reading along while watching that "Total Eclipse of the Heart (Literal Version)" that's been going around the Internet.
I will be developing the drinking game as we go along. A less nebulous one will feature next week, with rules posted on the side. The drink of choice tonight is New Belgium Brewery's Fat Tire Beer. Yes, the same beer that I lovingly transported in my checked luggage from Ontario, California, to BWI Airport because the asshats in Annapolis won't change the laws to make it legal to mail alcohol to your own home across Maryland state lines.
8:59 The challenges are tougher, bitch!
Uhm, and why do you wanna join these clowns again? J/K. About most of 'em. Okay not Sandra Lee.
9:01 Wow, the competitors are a motley bunch of shlubs, no? Ah, I'm being mean.
Jen: Legally Blonde much?
Jamika and Monique are from the ATL and the PHL(?) respectively. Aw, damn, they're going too FAST I CAN'T KEEP UP!
Michael: The goof of the show?
Eddie: The boy has a faux hawk.
9:03 Bad cliché: DRINK!!!
Melissa from Dallas is talking about family. Another DRINK-worthy moment.
Oooh, who's this? It's our semi-local boy
And then there's Debbie, who does a Korean/Southern fusion, and Jeffrey from Cali.
SIGH - I will figure out who these people are at some point.
9:04 You can't believe this is starting so soon? Um, have you ever seen this show before?
9:05: Sorry Suze, it's just a reality show.
9:06 So, would Bobby Flay be like their drag mother? The RuPaul to her Drag Racers?
Tonight's challenge: cater the 18th Anniversary Party for Food Network! No pressure, really.
9:07 And this is already a pre-chosen team challenge. Is there a flow chart for this?
9:08 Brett is "Green Team" Captain. How did he become Team Captain? The dishes don't seem to have a theme here. But the guys on the team are cute. And if you like women, they are, too.
9:09 Oooh, Debbie on the Red Team is doing a crab cake with spicy mayo. I like this woman. Do go far, Debbie. Do go far...
I am already hating faux-hawk guy.
Oooh, do they get to use the New York Whole Foods, too?
9:10 Green Team bought too little, Red Team bought too much. Again, SIGH. This seems like a DRINK moment, too...
9:11 Okay, a few Drinking Game Rules I've come up with so far:
- If someone says or does something stupid
- If someone talks wistfully about "their kids/spouse/parents/partner/dog, cat or goldfish"
- For every Food Network celebrity that pops up (just once per hour for each cheflebrity)
- Any team spends too much for their food.
9:14 Oh boy they're BACK! Mikey wants to kill Debbie. Jeff's stuff is left out, and he is not happy.
9:15 Meanwhile, all is bliss over with the Green Team. Elle, erm, Jenn is accosted for her simple Green Team Green Beans. All seemed like bliss, but the Flaymeister is kinda underwhelmed so far.
9:16 "My girls love this apple tart" - Family reference, DRINK!
Teddy is adorable, no? I'd eat that man's gratin anytime.
9:17 bobby's getting along with Mikey. We don't see him reacting with anyone else so far. Um, Food Net folks, did y'all leave somethin' out?
9:18 I love crab cakes. Go fig. A Baltimorean who loves crab cakes? I know, odd, isn't it?
I guess her kids don't get unbaked tarts. But the Green Team is showing team work, so that's good for them.
9:19 Um, Debs? Where's the dijon?
9:20 Debbie's kind of a suck-ass leader.
9:21 Hey, I've been to the Riverside Best Buy!
9:23 I could've sworn they got rid of that English guy from Dinner: Impossible!
9:24 OMG, there are so many Food Network celebrities I'll get alcohol poising if I do my drinking game. Obligatory DOUBLE SWIG, and that's it for now.
9:25 Hey, y'mook. I'm Brett. I'm the captain, bitch. Fugheddabadit.
9:26 Jamika comes up first. Spicy-sweet shrimp cocktail with mango jicama slaw.
Next is Teddyfrom the WDC. He did gruyere gratin.
Like Hello! I'm totally fabulous Jenn with my green beans with grape tomatoes. They go wonderfully with this plate.
Melissa: apple tart. With caramel drizzle. Oh, what FUN!!!!!1!!11!! DRINK for the reference to her girls.
9:28 Wait, WTF is Nancy O'Dell doing there?
Morimoto intimidates poor Legally Blonde Chef. Apparently, Giada intimidates our apple tart woman.
And Brett inserts foot in mouth.
9:29 The breakdown:
Melissa: Duffman and Sunny love her tarts. Anne forgets to do her Cookie Monster noise.
Jamika: The shrimp was a major ick factor, but she's got an IT thing!
Jen: Green beans were "unpleasant"
Teddy: Raw taters. Oooooooooo....
Brett: "Jail / army food" and "spongy mushrooms" - Duff's and Giada's responses respectively.
Things are looking pretty sickly for the Green Team.
9:32 Oh, please let the Red Team do better. And I was wrong: it's the 16th anniversary, not the 18th. Food Network still can't vote.
9:34 Angel food cake is from the dev-ille.
9:35 Deb's story is intriguing. Oh, those are the type of crab cakes that are breaded on the outside.
Katie: a dietitian who made a colorful, fun salad with goat cheese. FUN! (Sarcastic grin)
Jeffrey: his style is just throwing things together. Cumin-rubbed zucchini with citrus and red chili.
Michael: Shouldn't he be on Project Runway? Just sayin'. Oh, listen to that Jersey twang.
Eddie: Uber-reserved. A deconstructed BLT with avocado and, um, something that starts with an S?
9:37 Alton's face says: "Yay, just what we need here. A registered dietitian. Fun."
9:38 I have to put my Maryland sensibilities out of my head. Just remember: not all crab cakes have internal breading. Not all crab cakes have internal breading. Not all crab cakes have internal breading...
9:39 The assessments:
Debbie and Michael: They did a good job overall.
Jeffrey: The zucchini works!
Katie: The salad and chard were safe and boring.
Eddie: The BLAST Ball was no blast.
And the cake? Well, the Red Team knew it would be a failure.
9:41 Initial assessment: Overall, it seems like the Red Team did better in terms of individual dishes. Most of the chefs on the Green Team failed to please, while most of the Red Team chefs did, in fact, please at least somewhat. But someone has to account for that godawful dessert on the Red Team.
Who's going home? Dunno. I'd place my bets on somebody on the Green Team.
9:43 Hey guys, at least no one made a face while they were eating. That's a plus.
9:44 Red Team Assessment: Debbie was overbudget, but OOOOOO , she LIED about it! (Stupidity: DRINK!) Angel food cake was an embarrassment. Debbie takes responsibility. At least she's big enough to take the blame. But they loved her spicy mayo, and her opening was delightful.
Michael: His tenderloin was Suzie's fave. And his presentation? Fierccccccccce.
Katie: Throwaway dishes. Dull as a doorknob. Deer in the headlights, silly grin. Oy.
Eddie: Blinking boy. His presentation? "Corporate" and "Earnest" like a senior class president. We have a whole high school senior class up here tonight, folks!
Jeffrey: Earthy, tasty dish. And he's so excited about food!!! He MADE Flay hungry!
9:48 Flay tears into the Green Team. Oh my, Brett looks surprised by the bad evaluation.
Jamika: Slaw was refreshing, but shrimp was - what did Brown say? - "the gatekeeper of badness". At least she's charming.
Melissa: Apple tart was the only good thing, apparently. Presentation was light and fun, but TOO INTENSE. If anyone on the Green Team is leaving, it's probably not her.
Jen: Like, the dish was totally unworthy of our reception. Like, gag me with a spoon.
I think she's leaving.
Teddy: He knew something went wrong. He realizes it. Even though everyone loved the flavors, the raw potato thing was, um, not good.
Does Melissa ever stop smiling?
9:51 If I had to wager, I'd say Jen was packing her briefcase and heading home on account of those absolutely forgettable green beans. But shows like this often throw you a curve ball, so it'll probably be Katie - for that boring, dietitian-inspired salad and chard - or Teddy - for his potatoes raw gratin.
So that's my bet: Jen, otherwise Katie, otherwise Teddy.
9:54 Where is Adam Roberts' commentary when you need it?
9:55 Oh, if you want to vote on who goes home, you can! Here.
9:56 They liked Jeffrey, Michael and Melissa. out of them, the big winner was... JEFFREY! Congrats to him! he must've really wow'd the judges.
9:57 Teddy and Katie are safe, as is Jamika. So is it Jen?
Debbie is also good. And it comes down to Eddie, Jen and Brett. Again, I think it's Jen.
9:58 And the loser is...
Jen. Hey, I got one right! That's 1 for 1 for me! But it's sad for Jen. Like, this is like totally gag-tastic.
9:59 Oh boy! Drama next week!
We never got to know our resident Elle Woods. Like, I don't know what else we can say about her. Like, it totally sucks that we don't get to see more of Jen's cooking! Then again, if it's more of the same as her green beans, maybe, like, it's not such a bad thing. Let's assume the best and wish her a totally rad future.