In a change of pace, this week's episode of The Next Food Network Star had just one big challenge instead of the usual two challenges. And what a challenge it was. Judge Bob Tuschman described it as the toughest ever.
Each contestant was paired with a Girl Scout and given 10 minutes to decide on a dish that was innovative and nutritious. Then alone the aspiring stars would have 75 minutes to work in the kitchen and then finally 4 minutes live with Rachael Ray on her day-time talk show (with the Girl Scouts). Kids and food is a tough challenge and the live audience makes it even tougher.
Aaron's kid wanted chocolate cake but they settled on broccoli-cheeseburger pizza. Lisa talked way over her kid's head - and mine. She mentioned things that I had never heard of before. Lisa bullied the little girl into a couscous dish. Adam said that many people may think that Aaron and Lisa have an advantage in this challenge because they have kids but Adam said his advantage is that he still is a child. Adam made a BBQ chicken pita sandwich with spinach. Shane didn't seem to work well with kids. His Girl Scout said the only thing she liked was ham (pork fat rules, Bam!). He made a version of chicken cordon bleu with shredded ham and cheese and breaded with puffed rice cereal. Kelsey made a breakfast banana boat with meatball sandwich.
Cook the food yo
The toughest part was the 4 minutes on The Rachael Ray Show. Aaron started weak but ended strong. He initially turned his back to the camera to wash his hands but then really did a good job playing off the food, the girl scout and Rachael. Lisa started strong but lost it half way through. Judge Bobby Flay said it was like she was intimidated by Rachael. Adam was worried about time management but sailed right through. He was funny and he engaged Rachael and the Girl Scout throughout the segment. Shane bombed. He totally ignored his poor little girl and gave a technical presentation while Rachael tended to the Girl Scout. Kelsey took forever to start cooking which prompted Bobby Flay to say "cook the food yo." When she did start to cook, Kelsey had Rachael do the brunt of it - not good. In general the judges seemed to like the food of Aaron, Adam and Shane.
Vegas Baby, Vegas!
At the end of the segment on The Rachael Ray Show Rachael brought all the contestants out for a final bow and then announced that the four who made it through this week will go to Las Vegas for the next episode! All that was left now was the Judges evaluation and decision. Aaron and Adam were given a brief grilling before being declared safe and excused. Aaron was told he handled the challenge like a pro and Bobby Flay called Adam a skilled entertainer.
Kelsey, Lisa and Shane got a more thorough grilling and one last chance to state their case for staying. Kelsey was told again that she needs to be more authoritative. Bobby Flay told Lisa that there was "not a lot of whimsy" in her presentation. Shane was told his presentation is too technical and joyless (ouch!). The three of them were dismissed while the three judges discussed amongst themselves who should be eliminated.
The three returned and Shane was eliminated. What did him in was a failure to show a passion for food, not just in this episode but throughout the series. Kelsey and Lisa have shown that passion at least a few times so far but we never really got to know Shane. Not wanting to dwell on the loss, Shane said it was an honor and pleasure to participate on the show. He packed his bags and left the contestant house. I'm sure Shane has a bright future in the food industry, but I doubt much of it will be in front of TV cameras.