Posts tagged ‘Adam Roberts’

NFNS: Big Daddy’s Cliché Kitchen

UPDATE: Big Daddy’s Kitchen has been renewed for 13 more episodes.  Read HERE.

So now I have watched the worst kept secret in history, Aaron McCargo Jr. is the Next Food Network Star winner.  Hence forth to be referred to as the NFNS winner because “star” seems an extreme long shot.  Boring.  My thoughts skew negative.  Aaron did the poorest of the three finalists last week and this week was no different.  Aaron’s pilot seemed like an exercise where he tried to incorporate as many cooking show clichés as possible.  Also, he did what he called “Jerk” seasoning, but it was no where close.  I don’t know what it was, but it wasn’t Jerk – if it doesn’t have Scotch Bonnet peppers it isn’t Jerk.  As usual he was hard to understand and seemed to be at his best when he forgot the camera was on.  All and all, it was not a winning performance.

Adam’s concept was brilliant although I may be biased; I have been shopping a similar show for the past few months.  Adam was funny and entertaining, he stuck with the only thing he is good at, BBQ, but once again his expertise was drawn into question when asked why he put rosemary into a dry rub his answer was, “for flavor.”  Really?  I would have never thought that?  Lisa on the other hand was scary good.  I mean she seemed so natural it was like she had been doing this her entire life or least since ’93 when the Food Network first went on the air (like Bobby Flay).  Lisa also credited guest host/producer Gordon Elliot with helping her put her vision on film.  Nice move, Lisa, he’s an important man in this industry.  Gordon’s reaction to each during taping was an important factor on how things went.  He seemed to have to correct Adam and Aaron more than he did Lisa to whom he usually just said, “beautiful.”

Some other things caught my attention in the show.  When each contestant was introduced to the live studio audience, Adam and Lisa’s interaction with the crowd was suspiciously demur while Aaron seemed to already be in celebration mode.  Curious.  Also, it was interesting to see how loud Kelsey Nixon‘s ovation was.  It was clear that everyone on hand knew that she was the best.  I have been watching Google Trends all evening.  GT is a list of the hottest 100 keyword searches on the world’s most popular search engine, Google.  It is updated every hour and all night “lisa garza” has been searched more than “aaron mccargo,” and that friends is a direct indication of who the viewers want to see.  And not to be forgotten in this is the fact that TFN got their real winner of “Star” in the form of Mary Nolan

Lisa, I know we will see you again soon.  There is chatter about the Fine Living Network, a perfect fit.  Good luck.  It appears that she is doing ok already as she is on tour for Whole Foods, the Texas-based grocer.  This is from the web-based magazine SideDish,:

The Liza Garza Train stopped in Austin this weekend. She’s on a Whole Foods Market statewide tour (3 weekends in Dallas, 2 stores in Houston, and the flagship store in Austin this weekend). People stopped Lisa everywhere on the streets. At the Lamar store, customers asked for her autograph on anything and everything, including a wooden tasting spoon, as she did a cooking demo of cod with peach salsa. And she never once cried.

Adam, please consider two things, culinary school (just for some fine tuning) and trying out for Last Comic Standing, you are a riot.  I like the way your mind works.

Aaron, good luck with your new show.  I hope you prove all of your doubters (self included) wrong.  You are a good person and deserve to have good things happen for you.  And, hey, even if Big Daddy’s Kitchen only airs the six guaranteed episodes that is still six more than I have, and I am jealous.  Well, I do have a cooking show available on youtube which is more than most people.  Ok, I feel good about myself again.  Now I have to get ready for my phone interview in the morning with Food Detective host Ted Allen.  That’s right, I’m name dropping.


July 28, 2008 at 1:41 am 4 comments

NFNS: We Have a Winner!

Okay, so who won isn’t the news going into tonight’s finale.  Unless, the leak was a hoax or they re-taped the ending pretty much everyone knows that Aaron wins, but no one knows why.  Did he win any competitions?  I don’t think so.  He survived through attrition.  Other, more qualified candidates were booted for conjured reasons.  Shane: we know we criticized you in the beginning for acting too mature for your age but you’re too young.  Yeah I get that one, panel – no one ever wants to watch a show about a child prodigy, right Doogie Houser?  Plus it isn’t like someone dropping two and a half boy-band members in just three years isn’t inspiring and worthy of a long career is it Jared Fogel?

I’m sorry, Kelsey, but between your gorgeous smile, fantastic food knowledge, unbelievable energy, genuine passion, and the fact that you have won more challenges than all of the others combined we just can’t see you as a food expert.  What was that?  Sunny Anderson is a DJ and Sandra Lee doesn’t actually cook; she reheats?  Their different, you’re just too young.  What?  Mary Nolan is 26?  Well, uh, er, hmm, oh yeah, those extra few months of life are very important – you’ll see.

Of course Nolan is the real winner of Next Food Network Star.  She got her show and didn’t even have to compete.  I wonder if she had been in the final three in place of Lisa Garza if her promo would have seen her dangling from a string 30 feet off the ground.  I think not.  I still maintain that Lisa’s promo challenge last week was designed specifically to cut her out, but yet she won the final challenge in impressive style while Aaron bombed like nothing we have ever seen before.  Adam copped out with his smoked meat buffet, and a monotone soliloquy worthy of an Obama campaign speech.

There just wasn’t much talent this year.  There was Cory the comedian who wasn’t funny.  Kevin who re-defined jerk.  Jeffery who wasn’t memorable in any way, Nipa who was scared of fish, Jennifer who had the confidence of Ichabod Crane (not the Johnny Depp version), Shane, well Shane was pretty good, and Kelsey who was perfect in every way.  Then you have all three of the final pair – Lisa the poster child for lithium, Adam who cannot cook, and the winner Aaron who was never was really bad but at the same time never was really good either.  There were also some new things this year – Bob wrote a blog, Susie kept a vlog, and Adam Roberts (no relation to Kevin) found something to dish about.

I bet this is way more than Bobby bargained for when he agreed to MC this year.

July 27, 2008 at 1:47 am 5 comments

NFNS: Bold Prediction

This Sunday is the second-to-last challenge of the Next Food Network Star 4 and I have a bold prediction.  In the previews for this weekend’s showing there is a clip of Susie Fogelson saying, “This is a first in Next Food Network Star history.”

In my review of last week’s show I mentioned that it looked as though Lisa Garza was being set up for failure.  This week each contestant has to shoot a 30 promo.  For Aaron’s promo he has to stand at a craps table, for Adam’s he has to stand on the stage of an empty theatre with a showgirl on each arm.  Lisa, on the other hand gets strapped into a cable system and hoisted three stories into the air and banged off a wine tower.  The difficulty and quite honestly the danger of Lisa’s challenge is light-years beyond what the other two have to go through and thus is a little suspicious.

Let me say this, when you’ve only done a show three other times, I should think that “firsts” are a regular event each day.  That being said my prediction is that the infamous “first” is . . . no one will be eliminated.  Lisa is the heart of what draws people to the show.  The love/hate aspect of her personality is far more compelling than Aaron learning to be comfortable on camera or Adam learning to cook.  So that’s it, a three way tie.

UPDATE: It’s over and I was right, a three way tie.  And I have no idea why?  I’ll have more after I watch the show again, but in my opinion one chef won the competition tonight and the other two should already be gone.  My NFNS update will contain a few fireworks so bookmark iit or subscribe.

July 18, 2008 at 3:01 pm 1 comment

NFNS: Sayonara Shane

First a little confession.  I have not seen this week’s episode of the Next Food Network Star.  I was at a friend’s house, a friend who hates Reality TV and finds Food TV boring.  The DVR is on the fritz so I did what every obsessed fan would do.  I went crazy.  Then I went to the NFNS website.


Imagine my surprise when I saw an exit interview with Shane.  Shane who had finally gotten over his awe at meeting the TFN celebs and had really been on a hot streak.  I was even more surprised to see that he and Kelsey were the last two left in the room after the others were given a pass.  I think that more than once I have mentioned that I think Kelsey is by far the best talent in this group.  I was even more surprised when I saw just how bad Lisa stunk the joint up with her performance on Rachael Ray’s show.  She should have been booted off.  Aaron hit a grand slam, finally we saw an Aaron that was fun to watch.


The site has a nice string of behind the scenes interviews and previews that really give you an in-depth feel for what the judges are thinking and how the contestants really feel.  There is a vlog with Susie Folgeson in which she reveals that Bob Tuschman just never liked Shane’s youth and inexperience.  I think that Susie has a similar problem with Kelsey, but that is just my own conjecture.  Bobby Flay joined Susie on her vlog and it is clear that if Bobby is actually rooting for anyone it is Kelsey going so far as to say that if he needed someone to baby sit his kid it would be Kelsey hands down.  Even Susie agreed.

Sunny Anderson joins Adam Roberts on FN Dish to break down the episode.  They are both “shocked” that Lisa was not booted.  Sunny even says, “Dead air is deadly.”  She also said that Lisa, “has five seconds of material for a ten minute show.”  Sunny predicts that Kelsey will be the next to go and then Lisa.  If that is true then this year’s winner will be the next Amy Finley or Hearty Boy.  If they have another winner who does their six episodes and then disappears it will be a sign that the selection process is the problem, not the contestants.  Speaking of Amy, did you know she wrote a book?  Yeah, Me either.


There are two exit interviews with Shane and in both he seems genuinely grateful for the chance he was given and the experiences he has had.  Like I have said before Shane is so easy to root for that it is sad to see him go.  After watching all of the post show vids I, like most people who watched, cannot believe that Lisa isn’t gone.  This show is a Reality Show and the reality of life is that polarizing characters like Lisa bring viewers flocking to their sets.  When Lisa is good, she is very good but when she is not on her game it is painful to watch.


There is a 10+ minute preview of the next episode where Adam takes on Lisa in variation of Throwdown.  That should be ugly as Lisa is by far the best pure cook in the contest and Adam is by far the worst. They each have to prepare a signature dish of their own and then they have to prepare their opponent’s signature dish.  Adam chose macaroni and cheese for signature dish which almost seems like a gimme for Lisa.  Lisa’s signature dish is the classic French Cassoulet a white bean and sausage stew that Adam has never tried in his life.  Paula Deen also joins the Flay and the final four for dinner at Mesa Grill (Las Vegas) and the spoiler show a very interesting conversation that I am looking forward to seeing more of.







July 7, 2008 at 5:29 pm

Meet Mary Nolan

So just who is Mary Nolan? She is a student at the Institute of Culinary Education in New York. She is a journalist who has a degree from The University of Wisconsin-Madison and has worked at Gourmet. She is a foodie with Midwestern roots. Most notably, however, she is the new host of the Food Network’s Chic & Easy. Nolan’s life experience is inviable, she grew up in Davenport, Iowa, graduated from journalism school, lived for a semester in Florence, Italy, worked for a major magazine in the Big Apple, and now she is the host of a TV show. All by the age of 26!

The Food Network describes the show thusly, “Chic & Easy showcases the philosophy that successful entertaining results from mouth-watering menus and an eye towards stylish, welcoming atmospheres that don’t break the bank. With easy preparation, and flavorful food that wows time and again, Mary Nolan offers accessible and inspired solutions for the unforgettable occasion. Mary’s sophisticated yet simple meals are delicious, easy to prepare and hard to forget. Whether it’s through her practical approach to using local produce, showcasing a single splurge ingredient, or impressing guests with a unique flea-market find, get ready for the party, because Mary’s crowd-pleasing and affordable ideas make entertaining your friends Chic & Easy.”

It sounds a little like Christopher Lowell and Sandra Lee got tossed into a blender with a copy of the Joy of Cooking (Simon & Schuster). According to the Quad City Times (Davenport, Iowa), Nolan had auditioned for a TFN reality show (Next Food Network Star) but the officials thought so much of her video that they offered her a gig. I would love to see that video. For now check out TFN’s resident blogger Adam Roberts hanging out with Mary at a charity event in Las Vegas.

Chic and Easy premiered Sunday, May 18th at 9:30AM (ET) on the Food Network.

June 5, 2008 at 9:25 am 3 comments


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Stuart Reb Donald

Stuart is a celebrity chef and award winning food writer. Donald performs live cooking demonstrations and penned the cookbook Amigeauxs - Mexican/Creole Fusion Cuisine. He hosts two Internet cooking shows "Everyday Gourmet" and "Little Grill Big Flavor."



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