Today is Tuesday, so I hope by now you’ve caught up on the season finale of The Next Food Network Star. I’ve had a chance to skim a couple of other blogs and it seems that everyone has a different opinion, and there’s no real clear favorite – at least not in the internet food community.
In the episode prior to the finale, three contestants went to Vegas to shoot a short promo/teaser for their own television show. Aaron had Bobby Flay walking him through the whole thing, step by step, holding his hand. Adam had a choreographed number with Guy Fieri berating him the whole time. Lisa’s was the most difficult, but she had the scripted card in her hand the whole time to tell her what to say – and she still couldn’t do it. Not that it was easy to do with Guy Fieri behind her making snide remarks.
Afterward, each contestant had to put together a buffet for 50 people and do a short presentation. Even though Aaron’s absolutely appalling presentation was so uncomfortable I actually got up and left the room, I was too distracted by what I saw in the first challenge. After watching each contestant’s video promo, I was disappointed by all three. The judges must have felt the same way, because they could not make a decision on the final two, and brought all three back to compete in the last challenge.
Honestly, I think the judges did that because Aaron was the favored contestant, and he completely blew it in the buffet presentation.
So now comes the season finale: All three contestants get to make a 4 minute television show. Each one comes up with what they want their show to be, and they present it to one of their top producers. This producer turns it into a show, and they film it on Rachel Ray’s 30-Minute Meals set.
Lisa comes up with “Beautiful Basics” – simple cooking that could easily be in a 5-star restaurant. That’s the part of Lisa that really interests me. She’s fashionable and elegant, and she can show you how to cook in the “spirit” of fine dining in a very simple way. That appeals to me. What doesn’t appeal to me is that she still gets a tad robotic in front of the camera, and her movements while she’s cooking is a whirlwind. It doesn’t look quite as fun as it should be, even though it’s interesting. Still, I would definitely cook her food.
Adam was just hilarious. He came up with “Always Hungry in Philadelphia” and he talks to viewers via the internet about recipes that they’re getting bored with, and gives them his exciting new version. It did come off a little like another show that’s already airing, but Adam is such an entertainer that I wanted to keep watching. Previously I was not an Adam fan, but after his show, I truly was. He did a “dancing roasted chicken” sitting on top of a beer can. There was a nice looking spice rub that went over the chicken, and some spices and garlic that went into the beer can to “faux” smoke the chicken. Overall he was really great, and his comedic value made me want to watch him all the time.
Aaron went last, in a segment called “Big Daddy’s Kitchen”. He cooked some steak with collard greens, topped with some fried plantains. When I watched the show, there was a lot more audience reaction shown with Aaron’s video of people laughing and really getting into the show. I’m wondering if they were watching the same segment I was, because I didn’t think Aaron was all that funny, engaging, or entertaining. I also didn’t think his food was that original. After the food was plated, Aaron said to the camera, “If you don’t think this looks good then you need your eyes checked!” Again, the cameras panned to the audience who were doubled over, laughing. I wasn’t laughing. I actually felt he was being condescending to the audience. It was like watching a “next notch up” Guy Fieri.
So here’s the end spoiler with a lot of my opinion involved. Read at your own risk.
In the end, Aaron was crowned the winner, but I think the judges had crowned him the winner a long time ago. They liked him from the start – that his food was consistently decent was the proverbial icing on the cake. After the buffet disaster in Vegas, I think it blew the judges’ confidence. They were afraid to give it to anyone other than Aaron, and brought all three back just in case. When Aaron proved he wouldn’t be a complete disaster in front of the camera he was crowned the winner. I do wish Aaron the best of luck and I hope he proves me wrong, but I don’t think his show will be one I watch. He wasn’t entertaining enough for me. I really wanted Lisa to do well, but I think she needs to work on softening her expressions and movements in front of a camera. My favorite at the end was Adam – not only would he appeal to the food masses, but he is someone you would want to watch just to be entertained. Then again, maybe I didn’t see the entire video clip so there was more going on than the home viewers were privy to. In any case, we wish Aaron the best of luck on his win.