Posts tagged ‘kelsey nixon’

NFNS 5: Episode 7

One Of You Will Be Going Home Tonight

The gang is still down in South Florida and it’s nitty gritty time.  There are two true contenders, Jeffrey and Melissa and two contestants that should have been booted weeks ago but for some reason the judges have kept protecting them, Jamika and Debbie.

Tonight featured the worst challenges I’ve ever seen.  Deliberately sabotaging the contestants in both rounds was not the least bit interesting.  The only thing that could have made tonight’s episode watchable is if Melissa gave Bob Tuschman a good, firm junk punt.


  • Brett – went home week 2.
  • Teddy – went home week 4.
  • Katie – went home week 5.
  • Michael– went home week 6 despite easily beating out Jamika & Debbie.
  • Debbie – did supiciously well.
  • Eddie – went home week 3.
  • Jamika – fell apart again.
  • Jeffrey – was the best contestant from day 1 and nothing has changed.
  • Melissa – still the only other true contender – she fills a nitch.
  • Jen – went home week 1.

In the first challenge each contestant had to do a four-minute live cooking demo.  What they didn’t know was that their segments were going to be sabotaged.  The person who came up with this idea should be clubbed.  Debbie did well, too well.  It was almost as if she knew what was coming.  Also the degree to which she was sabotaged was considerably less than the others.  Guess what? Debbie won the first challenge.  Hmm.

The second challenge was another sell-out to one of those corporate restaurants that puts profit above the health of their consumers, Red Lobster.  Ask any US fisherman or shrimper what they think of Red Lobster and they’ll tell you that old RL hasn’t used domestic seafood since 1971.  And we all know (or at least should) that foreign seafood is killing us.  If you want to know more about this issue read HERE.

Each contestant was lead to an outdoor kitchen where they were asked to prepare a seafood dish for the Red Lobster menu “in their style.”  Halfway through the challenge Bobby Flay and guest Michael Symon took away all of the elements that defined their style and gave them flavors from outside their comfort zone.  Well, all except Debbie who had her Southeast Asian ingredients replaced with Middle Eastern ingredients, ones you would still see in Southeast Asia – capers, anchovies and olives.

Despite lobbing Debbie an underhanded pitch she forgot to use the capers.  First she said they were in the her dressing, then she said she wasn’t given capers at all.  Then the tears started to flow.  If she wins her show should be called “Lyin’ and Cryin’ with Debbie Lee – Adventures in Korean cuisine with a Korean flair in a Korean kitchen – you know, cuz I’m Korean.”

Jamika fell apart on this challenge just like she did on the last eight or nine.  Too bad, she seems like a doll but the pressure of this competition really got to her.  She really should have gone home weeks ago – she did not deserve what they put her through.  Melissa did quite well and Jeffrey blew the judges away.

As of Last Week – Who should win based on what we’ve seen so far: Jeffrey or Melissa (and it really isn’t debatable.)

After This Week – Who should win based on what we’ve seen so far: Jeffrey or Melissa (and it still isn’t debatable.)

As of Last Week – Who will win based on what we’ve seen in the past: Jamika or Debbie.

After This Week – Who will win based on what we’ve seen in the past: Debbie.

Winner(s) this week:  – 1st Challenge – Debbie.  2nd Challenge – Jeffery.

The finalist who will be going home is . . .




July 19, 2009 at 9:28 pm

NFNS 5: Episode 6

One Of You Will Be Going Home Tonight

 SoBe, baby.


  • Brett – went home week 2.
  • Teddy – went home week 4.
  • Katie – went home week 5.
  • Michael – Slow start on food and presentation – better finish though not great.
  • Debbie – bombed 1st challenge – was despicable in the 2nd.
  • Eddie – went home week 3.
  • Jamika – 1st challenge was weak 2nd a little better.
  • Jeffrey – continues to distance himself.
  • Melissa – only other true contender at this point.
  • Jen – went home week 1.

In the first challenge, the contestants were taken to five airport restaurants and had to create a dish for the menu of their assigned restaurant.  The winner’s dish actually makes it to the menu of their restaurant.  Jeffrey rocked the first challenge and Melissa did well, too.  Michael did fair.  Jamika was below average and Debbie just flat out sucked.

The second challenge was to cater a fabulous South Beach cocktail party and Jeffery (by virtue of his 1st challenge win) was named team leader and he decided to let everyone choose what they will prepare for the party.   Brilliant strategy – let everyone sink or swim on their own merrits.  But will it bite him in the butt?

Michael rocked the bar, Jeffrey was the ideal host, Melissa ran the kitchen (even though it was Debbie’s responsability – you’ll why in a second)  while Jamikastruggled keeping up but did a good job considering.  Debbie helped no one but herself.  Because Debbie sat on her island, Melissa then had to make five dishes in stead of three.  Food wasn’t coming out fast enough so Bobby Flay went to check the back of the house.  Before long Michael had to abandon the bar to go prepare his own recipes because Debbie wasn’t doing her assignment.  As a result, though, Debbie’s dishes were the best received.  Interesting strategy she had as well, sabotage everyone else.  Same old Debbie.  If she wins, I am done with this show.

The judges have been propping up Jamika and Debbie for weeks now.  If it happens again tonight that means that Jeffrey, Melissa or Michael go home after a week where they were far better than the other two.  Jeffrey’s food (and cocktail) underwhelmed, Michael’s as well (the one’s Debbie was supposed to help with but didn’t), Jamika’swere hit or miss, Melissa’s food was okay but she had to do five dishes.  Jamika had to do four while Debbie just focused on her two.  That information did not go over well with the judges after Debbie claimed she did everything single-handily.  Melissa called her out and the judges finally saw the real Debbie.

The judges did prop up Jamika a great deal, her food was fair & her presentation was below average, but she is very likable.  Melissa went over well with the judges with good food and great personality as did Jeffrey for the same reasons.  The judges keep harping on Michael’s dislike of the camera (the same judges that picked Aaron “mumble, mumble, back to the camera” McCargo Jr.) but admitted he was far and away the best personality of the group – his food was okay (the food Debbie was supposed to help with).  They also addressed Debbie’s lack of anything resembling character – man they must really want to fill that demographic.

I see that Food Network carefullyhidden their fan poll this year on their web site.  Not only that but they have made voting a 20 minute process by requiring loads of personal information.  And this poll does not show who thefans want to see but who they think should be eliminated.  I wonder if this has anything to do with Kelsey Nixon running away with the voting last year and eventual winner Aaron McCargo Jr. spending most of the voting period (appropriately) in the middle of the pack.


As of Last Week – Who should win based on what we’ve seen so far: Jeffrey, Michael or Melissa

After This Week – Who should win based on what we’ve seen so far: Jeffrey or Melissa (and it really isn’t debatable.)

As of Last Week – Who will win based on what we’ve seen in the past: Jamika or Debbie.

After This Week – Who will win based on what we’ve seen in the past: Jamika or Debbie.

Winner(s) this week:  – 1st Challenge – Jeffrey.  2nd Challenge – I’m not sure how, but Jamika.

The finalist who will be going home is . . .



July 12, 2009 at 9:13 pm 1 comment

NFNS 5: Why Should I Watch?

On June 7th, the Food Network kicks off it’s fifth season of the Next Food Network Star.  My question to the Food Network is Why should I watch?  I mean, your track record is dubious to say the least.

Season one was historical in a couple of ways.  It was the first such contest of it’s kind.  Second, the winners were a gay couple which, too, made it ground breaking.  Dan Smith and Steve McDonagh are bright and talented caterers from Chicago.  Their winning show, Party Line with the Hearty Boys, was not very entertaining but that wasn’t as important as the standards set by that first season.

Season two yielded the only Next Food Network Star winner to ever actually become a Food Network star, Guy Fieri.  And a star he has become.  Those TGIFriday’s commercials speak to the California culinarians mass appeal.  He has hosted Guy’s Big Bite, Guy Off the Hook, Ultimate Recipe Showdown and another show you may have heard of, Diner’s Drive-ins and Dives.

Season three is where things started getting – what’s the word? -oh, yeah, suspicious.  JAG would have won, should have won, but for the last minute revelation that he had exagerated his resumé.  This resulted in an 11th hour return of recently booted Amy Finley who, given a second chance, ended up winning the contest (just like in a Hollywood script).

Why is this suspicious?  Having been through the NFNS process I know how thorough their background checks are.  Honestly, it’s easier to slip something past the FBI than it is The Food Network.  With that in mind the idea that FN hadn’t bothered to check the accuracy of resumés just doesn’t wash.  I do know this, the inncident was huge for the ratings.

Season four the shinannigans were even more outlandish.  A stand-up comedian who was so unfunny it was actually painful, a boorish elitest who described anyone who has ever eaten boxed macaroni and cheese as “white trash” and a chef who was scared of fish and stayed weeks too long because she was pretty and satisfied a missing demographic at TFN, Indian cuisine.

There were two contestants who blew away the competition every single week.  Shane Lyons and Kelsey Nixon were both perfect packages, however the judges (Bob Tuschman in particular) kept harping on their youth.  It didn’t matter how well they performed, they were too young to take seriously.  That of course begs the question, why let them into the contest at all?  Nixon, by the way, won TFN’s fan poll on their own web site in a land slide.

After eliminating the two best contestants, in succesive weeks no less, we were left with the trio of Liza Garza, Aaron McCargo Jr. and Adam Gertler.  Garza arrived as a foppish diva with serious cooking chops who, more than anyone else on the show, listened to the judges and turned herself into exactly what they alleged they were looking for.  Gertler was good on camera but had limited culinary skills.  McCargo was a passable cook but was terrible on camera; still is.

In an episode designed to whittle it down to two ccontestants McCargo, who had been a model of mediocrecy, bombed.  He bombed hard.  In fact, it was without a doubt the single worst performance in the history of the show.  Adam was okay and Garza blew the doors off the studio.  Easy choice right?  Boot the guy who bombed, right?  Nope, the judges decided to change the rules and bring all three back for the finale.  Aaron should have been gone but given a second chance brought home victory (just like in a Hollywood script).

Then there was the slip on the web site.  Apparently, some web geek accidentally revealed the outcome of the show days before the final episode was to premiere.  The web fiasco turned into a boon as fans who had tuned out because of the questionable antics (the elimination of Kelcey Nixon, especially) tuned back in to see if the web screw-up was a deception.

Rumors swirled about the controversial outcome.  Many allege that recent complaints about the snow white line-up of the Food Network had led them to tilt the board in favor of a person of color.  Others suggested that McCargo’s personality was so amiable that FN brass just fell in love with the big man with the even bigger heart.  One thing seems certain, the judges had decided the winner weeks before the contest actually ended.  Why else manipulate the rules to keep McCargo in the contest?

The past two seasons have proven that regardless of the show’s title it’s goal is anything but finding the Next Food Network Star.  The casting calls for this season were only done on the west coast and the east coast therefore it should not suprise anyone that all of the contestants save one are from major cities from those regions; more than half are from LA or New York.  Hmm.  So again I ask, Food Network, why should I watch?

Recap of past winners:

  1. Hearty Boys – back in Chicago running their catering business and using their six episodes of experience to teach others how to cook on TV.
  2. Guy Fieri – a bona fide star, host of four shows (and counting), and expanding his brand.
  3. Amy Finley – did her six shows and was rumored to have been offered a second season.  Now lives in France and has written for Fodor’s travel guides.
  4. Aaron McCargo Jr. – despite mediocre ratings and less than steller critical reviews of Big Daddy’s House he received a second season then was tucked away in a time slot that pits him against regular church services and the NFL.

June 7, 2009 at 9:06 am 1 comment

NFNS 4 Marathon

Well, it is News Year’s Eve and Food Network is passing the time by showing the entire fourth season of NFNS.  Now everyone who didn’t get to see how Kelsey, Lisa and Shane got screwed can watch it for themselves.  This way they can watch (SPOILER ALERT!) Aaron McCargo and wonder the same thing the rest of us did who watched the first time, “How the hell did this guy win?”

They also get to see Tuschman string Nipa along three or four episodes simply because there are 3 billion people in India, a virtually untapped market.  Granted Nipa is beautiful and very good at her cuisine but OMG!  I belive that Nipa is the Klingon word for deja vu.

You can now relish the quick exit of Kevin Roberts who referred to people who eat boxed mac and cheese as white trash in an interview in the push leading up to the beginning of the season.

Then there is Cory, the professional comedian, who wasn’t funny or even pleasurable to watch in anyway.  During her exploits in the first episode all I could think was there are thousands of qualified chefs (self included) who didn’t even get a casting call but you run over to the set of Last Comic Standing and say, “You, Cory, have you ever cooked anything before?  You have?  Cool come be on our show and make people laugh.”

Let us also not forget Mary Nolan?  What you don’t remember her from NFNS?  That’s because FN execs were so blown away by her interview that they just gave her a show without having to compete.  She was the actual winner of NFNS 4.

But my heart will always go out to Kelsey Nixon who blew away the competition every week and got let go because she was only 23 and Tuschman just didn’t think audiences would buy her as a food expert.  BTW, Mary Nolan was only 26.  During the season Food Network maintained an interactive fan poll and Nixon was far and away the big winner there.  Even today with FN rerunning the whole dog and pony show the hit to my site have been overwhelmingly from people searching the name Kelsey Nixon.  The stats?  Kelsey 21 hits, Big Daddy 5, Lisa Garza 4.

Oh and Adam Gertler who proved to be a poor cook but a great personality is getting his own show, Will Work For Food which will air in prime time as opposed to winner McCargo whose show Big Daddy’s House is buried in the no-man’s land of seldom watched Sunday morning programing.

And with NFNS 5 just around the corner I wonder ploys we will have to endure this season in the name of ratings.

December 31, 2008 at 8:24 pm

Food Network Makes Up For Snubbing Kelsey Nixon, Sort Of.

Although Kelsey Nixon officially finished fourth, FOURTH! on the Next Food Network Star, she was overwhelmingly the fan favorite blowing away all other competitors in the FN web poll. Anyone who watched the show knows that Kelsey was far and away the best chef. Well, Food Network is finally making it up to her with a web show.  Sarah East has the scoop on Nixon, Ted Allen, Rachael Ray and a handful of other FN happenings:

December 11, 2008 at 8:16 am 1 comment

Will Work for Food Finally Makes It’s Debut

The Next Food Network Star season four finalist and charismatic foodie, Adam Gertler, attempts outrageous food-related jobs on Will Work for Food, premiering Monday, January 19th at 8:30pm ET/PT.

Adam Gertler shared his humorous take on food throughout season four of The Next Food Network Star. Now, he pairs his comedic timing with an adventurous spirit in the new series, Will Work for Food. The series exposes Adam to the world of little-known food jobs as he fearlessly puts his life – and mouth – on the line to try them all! Whether taking honey from three million bees, sculpting ice with a chain saw, foraging for truffles, or digging a wine cave, Adam will do anything in the name of food.

December 10, 2008 at 8:13 am 2 comments

Lucky 13 for Big Daddy McCargo?

As predicted here earlier, the Food Network has decided to go ahead and order 13 more episodes of Big Daddy’s Kitchen despite poor reviews and less than electric ratings.  Though the number 13 may have proven lucky for host Aaron McCargo Jr. many believe that the same cannot be said for Food Network viewers.   The show is in a timeslot targeted at the 327 people not watching the NFL on Sundays.  Meanwhile, NFNS runner-up Adam Gertler’s new show Will Work For Food is set to premiere soon in primetime.

Hmm, Aaron wins despite poor fan interest and his show gets buried by the greatest television juggernaut in history and Adam comes in second and gets a show in primetime.  The spin is making me dizzy.  For more on this and other Food Network scuttlebutt I encourage you to join Internet starlet Sarah East on her webcast FN Crazy.  But be forewarned, if you are a Rachael Ray fan, you may not enjoy Sarah’s particular form of wit.

September 24, 2008 at 11:35 pm 11 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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