Sunday, August 14, 2011

Next Food Network Star: Cook For Your Life & Pilots

Eliminate one
only two make a pilot -
one comes out on top

It's finally time to crown the Next Food Network Star! It's down to three: Vic, Susie and Jeff. All three spend some time in the morning reflecting on their journey and talk about wanting to make their families proud. We get to see pictures of Jeff and his adorable son. I wanted Jeff to win before, but now I really want him to win or his son might cry.

The first challenge of the day is to create their pilots - or so they think. Giada announces that even though there are three of them remaining, only two will be creating pilots. I guess Food Network cut the budget. In order to decide who will get to make their pilot they will have one more camera challenge where they will make the best dish of their life. They have this chance to show off all their skills.

Jeff decides to make a deconstructed version of his dad's eggplant parmesan. Vic plans to make an zuppa di pesce and is excited because he has a great story to tell. Susie decides to make her dad's carnitas dish which is port cooked in lard. Yay lard. When time is up, they hug it out.

Jeff goes first. His sandwich love came from his dad Gus. He created a sandwich with eggplant medallions. Giada says it's her favorite sandwich from Jeff. Bobby also likes it. Susie also talks about her parents and how they used to cook for the family. The carnitas are tender and they like the grilled cactus. I am not as impressed with her story as I was with Jeff. Vic goes last. I'm still not used to him being called Vic Mo (sp?). Bob says it's one of his best camera challenges but Bobby says he didn't at all talk about the technique to cooking the meal. That's kinda important on a cooking show.

Find out who the judges send home and who gets to create a pilot after the JUMP!
The judges deliberate and it's obvious that Jeff is not going home. They see everything in him, including a way to market his show which is extremely important. Vic has grown the most over the season and they think he will charm everyone that watches his show. I am not yet charmed. Susie is also at the top of her game.

The two who will be making a pilot are: Susie and Jeff. Vic agrees with their decision and gives it two thumbs up:

Unlike Mary Beth, he lets Jeff hug him. Vic is very gracious to the remaining two and talks about how he's learned so much. Kudos to him for keeping his head held high. He also mentions he dropped out of high school at the ninth grade. No wonder he has the Victionary. He says he learned everything he missed out of in school here during this show. My friend texts me, "yeah he learned everything - except calculus." True that.

Giada meets with the final two and tells them that tomorrow they'll create their pilots with a very special director. Once again, the two reflect on why they are here and how badly they want to win. They meet with Guy Fieri who will be their special director on the shoot the next morning. They each get their hair and make up and are given 4 tries to create their 30 minute pilot.

Jeff goes first. He immediately freaks out. I would too if this was staring back at me:
He starts saying, "BOOM!" after everything. It's strange. He takes a minute, reflects on his family and then knocks it out of the park. He ends with his line: "Remember, you are only a couple steps away from turning any sandwich into a meal and any meal into one fantastic sandwich." Cheers to that, Sandwich King.

Susie is up next. The crew walks her through the kitchen and she seems a little off kilter. It's a new kitchen for her. She starts out ok then starts stumbling over every word. Guy comes in and gives her a pep talk. She gets a little further in her pilot and again stumbles. She is totally over thinking everything and in turn loses her focus. She too turns to thinking of her family which snaps her back into her zone and of course makes it all the way through. I personally think her sope looks like a peanut butter cookie with cole slaw and melted cheese on top.

This peanut butter cookie looks good.

Time for the final elimination. Susie wakes up Jeff like a kid on Christmas morning. Once again, you guessed it, they reflect. This time it is literally in a mirror.

In order to help choose the winner, they will be watching along with a focus group. The focus group are all the eliminated finalist. Susie feigns excitement. Jeff says he'll take it all - as long as it's positive.

They watch Spice It Up with Susie Jimenez. The feedback is mostly positive. Penny is the first to criticize and say she isn't engaging. Chris disagrees and says he kept his ADD in check. Jyll says it was fabulous. Even Jeff agrees that her pilot was really good.

Next everyone gets to see Sandwich King with Jeff Mauro. The focus group begins with Vic. "WOW" he says. Howie (the radio host eliminated in week one) says it has too much shtick - seriously? You are a radio host? You bathe in shtick! Penny loved it. Susie also says he did a wonderful job.

Bob reminds them that the winner will get their own show on the Food Network, a feature in Food Network magazine and will headline the first ever Food Network book tour. The judges take the time to praise each contestant and send them away so they can deliberate.

It's finally time to announce the winner. The winner is: JEFF!!! YAY!

Jeff's show will be on Food Network on Sunday mornings at 10:30am central. I'm setting my DVR now.

Do you think the right person won? Will you watch Jeff's show?

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