The Next Food Network Star, Week 6

Okay, let’s get a show of hands here. Who else thought Adam was going to say, “Who else can say Rachel Ray jerked my chicken?”

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I did.

This past episode of the Next Food Network star finally shows the contestants doing something quite appropriate: Guesting on Rachel Ray’s show. Each contestant was given a little Brownie Scout as a helper, and then asked to put together a simple recipe that they and their helper could demonstrate to an audience within a 4 minute time frame. The twist was that it was going to be on Rachel Ray’s daytime show.

The contestants met with Rachel beforehand, and she gave them some advice: Food television is about storytelling. You’re cooking and showing the viewer how to do it, but you’re always telling them a story that gets people involved with what you’re doing.

I was happy to see Aaron rise to the challenge and really shine in front of the audience. His presentation was well done and, according to the judges, the food was good. Adam was another one who did well, yet the judges confessed to him that they are still not confident in his cooking abilities.

Those two were the highlights. The lowlight was Lisa, who shut down in front of the camera. She was off to a decent start, then got overwhelmed and stopped talking. Rachel Ray had to carry the rest of the segment for her. It was a shame, because she really did get a nice start.

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The rest was really uncomfortable to watch. Shane and Kelsey, two of the stronger cooks in the competition, fell short during their air time. Kelsey even made Rachel Ray cook her eggs, while Kelsey did little else other than just stand there.

In the end, Shane was kicked off. This really, really surprised me. I checked Bob Tuschman’s blog (one of the Next Food Network Judges) today. He had gone into the elimination thinking they would be saying goodbye to Kelsey. However after speaking with Shane, the judges felt that, although Shane’s culinary training and skill is very good, he hasn’t had a lot of life experience to really share passion for cooking. Instead, when Shane gets in front of a camera, it feels more like a stiff set of instructions, rather than story. Bob’s blog post is pretty short and quite enlightening if you wanted to head over to the Food Network’s site and take a quick read. Here’s a quick excerpt:

So, heading into the evaluation, I’m definitely thinking it’s Kelsey’s turn to say goodbye. But in the course of our long evaluation, I ask Shane about the origin of his passion for French food. I was stunned to hear that he had never been to France. Ever. He had simply taken a cooking class in French technique and that was the source of his “passion.”

Now, Shane is a talented, mature, and extremely likeable young man. But it became clear to me that he’s still just the student repeating back the teacher’s words. That’s good for your GPA, but not good for television. Shane will be a talent to watch. But he’s just not ready yet. So, unfortunately, it was au revoir to Shane.

The video segments are being featured on Rachel Ray’s Daytime Show website – but keep in mind that what you’re seeing there is a little different than what aired on The Next Food Network star, due to the ways the Producers wanted to portray the challenges.

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