Sunday, June 2, 2013

Food Network Star Season 9 - Episode 1 Recap

Food Network Star Season 9
Photo - Food Network
Season nine of Food Network Star has begun, and in the first episode we got to see all of this season's contestants make a 30-second pitch tape for Bob Tuschman and Susie Fogelson.  They were mentored by Bobby Flay, Alton Brown, and Giada De Laurentiis while filming it.  Let's take a look at the contestants and how they did:

  • Nikki Dinki - Food blogger who did very well in her pitch.  Going with the vegetarian theme that we see year after year.
  • Andres Guillama - The token contestant who has lost weight and will have Alton Brown on his side because of that.
  • Rodney Henry - Has been on Chopped, Throwdown, Paula Deen, and Down Home with The Neely's.  We will have to deal with his hat all season and countless references to Pies.
  • Chris Hodgson - Was on Great Food Truck Race and fared well in his pitch.
  • Connie "Lovely" Jackson - Was on Hell's Kitchen, and we will hearing about "Glam" all season long.
  • Russell Jackson - Recently competed on Iron Chef, and reminded me of a wrestler while talking to the camera.
  • Danushka Lysek - Chef/Model who has been on Chopped and was definitely picked to be on the show to be the villain and stir up trouble.
  • Daniela Perez-Reyes - Fills the token foreign contestant with an accent.  She is Peruvian and bombed her 30-second pitch and cried throughout.
  • Viet Pham - Has been on Extreme Chef and Throwdown, in which he beat Bobby Flay.  Didn't seem comfortable on the camera in the first challenge.
  • Damaris Phillips - Southern Belle who fills the token Southern contestant.  Seems way out there and a bit crazy.
  • Stacey Poon-Kinney - Was on Restaurant Impossible, and is going with a Vintage theme. Similar to Emily Ellyn last year.
  • Chad Rosenthal - BBQ guy from Philly who did very well in his pitch and was very comfortable.

The contestants then had to make a dish using potatoes, and had to present this dish to the judges. The judges and Bob and Susie watched the 30-second pitch they made earlier and tried the potato dishes.  They commented more on the pitches than on the quality of the potato dish.  Also, this season focus groups will be used, so there was a focus group judging the 30-second pitches at the same time as the judges.

After everyone was done, the contestants came to the elimination room.  The top 3 were then announced, which were Chad Rosenthal, Nikki Dinki, and Stacy Poon-Kinney.  The bottom three contestants that were up for elimination were Danushka Lysek, Daniela Perez-Reyes, and Russell Jackson.

Daniela Food Network Star
Photo - Food Network
The judges decided that Daniela would be the person going home after just one episode.  Daniela is technically still alive with them being able to bring someone back this season.  However, I doubt they will bring back someone eliminated in the first week or within the first few weeks.

Who do you think has what it takes to win this season?

Here is the preview of the season with episode by episode descriptions of the entire season if you have not seen that yet.


  1. I actually think this will be an interesting season after all... because many have been on tv before or competed on other shows, and because of the different personalities and different styles of cooking, this is the first season in a while where i cant really predict a winner or who will be the final few. I mean the last few seasons were pretty obvious who would be the finalists/who would end up winning... but this one im having a hard time really predicting who may win..

    Although there are no teams it was still easy to group them:
    - Chris, Russell, and Viet are the culinary experts but with unclear culinary POV. Although Id say Russell has more of a POV than the other 2, he just needs to work on a more inviting personality on camera. Chris can be endeering but if he doesnt deliver something memorable he may be in trouble. Viet I find really boring, he may be the most coveted there but honestly I dont sense a star out of him...
    - Danushka, Nikki, and Damaris are the blondes with personalities. Different for that matter too. I know many hate Danushka already but I actually found her to be comedic relief! She is so candid in her confessions its quite hilarious. My favorite line ,"I take a bite into the potato pop and its just perfectly.. raw." Her take was dreadful but hilarious because it was so bad. Nikki is interesting she has a clear pov and presenting skills, but she also seems like she can fall flat at some point. And Damaris is more hilarious than the southern belles were used to.
    - Andres, Chad, and Rodney are the alternative POV guys. All three have an interesting story. Andres is rather timid tho so I think that may bring him down if he doesnt find a way to shine. Chad was a surprise of how fluid he is on camera. Rodney wasnt over the top this time but will the Pie Guy make it to the end?
    - Daniela, Lovely, and Stacy also have unique POVs. It sucks Daniela was such a train wreck because I was rather intrigued by Peruvian food. But it seemed predictable she was an early out she didnt have much air time in previews. Lovely needs to never say 'glam' again otherwise we will make a drinking game out of it! However her and Danushka's diva rivalry is quite hilarious to me. I knew i would be a little biased for Stacy because i really liked her episode of Resteraunt Impossible and she herself does have a great personality. Her dish was cool and Im looking forward to seeing what she can do. It was also interesting how she struggled at first but switched it completely after Alton talked to her.

  2. I knew that either Danushka or Daniela was going to go; if you're lousy on camera *and* your food isn't very good, you've got a target in the middle of your forehead. I was pretty sure they weren't sending home Mohawk Guy, he has a quirky look so they were going to give him another chance.

    Unless a miracle happens, I think that danushka will be the next to go.

    Unless something very bad happened, I think that Chad might be the one to beat. My god can that man smile.

    And the "Pie Man" is this season's Vic, lol.

    So I'm wondering, are these folks invited to participate now or do they all apply on their own?

  3. Interesting how they cross-market between shows. Trying to get fans of chopped,RI, and food truck,etc. into this show.

    Seems like the top-3 from this week wil be the ones to beat. I personally like the BBQ guy-- his demeanor reminds me of the runner-up a few years ago (Jeff? The guy who came in second to Melissa d'arabian).

  4. I'm pulling for BBQ Jew! Also, I now hate Bob even more for comparing Russell's crappy camera presentation to being "a librarian."

  5. D***, I was hoping Danushka would go first! She's easily the most annoying. Agreed, I never want to hear the word "glam" cross Lovely's lips again.

  6. Danushka will be sticking around for awhile unless she makes some GRAVE mistake. The antagonistic personality is just what FN wants to keep the viewers hooked (to see if she kills someone in the house).

  7. Watched the first episode and enjoyed it. I'm glad they're not doing the teams this year; I think the competition is better when the contestants are all pitted against each other. I wanted to see Danushka to be the first to go, as she's has too high of an opinion of herself; keeping track of how many times Lovely says 'glam' is like keeping track of how many times Paula Deen says "y'all". Overall, it was an entertainment episode.

  8. I remember Chad said hes tried out for the show 3 seasons in a row.. does anyone remember (or have it recorded) if he was a part of last season's producer's auditions in the first episode?(its possible he didnt get that far) I wouldnt know whos team he would have tried out for since he seems like he could have been with either Bobby, Giada, or Alton. But it would be interesting if he was one of the rejected and maybe previewed last year because he is so natural now.

  9. My early prediction to win is Nikki because she has camera experience hosting her own cooking demonstrations on her blog in addition to the necessary culinary chops. Who's my favorite? Not sure yet. I need to see more. What baffles me is how any contestant makes it onto the show without a clear POV.

  10. Why have they not booted Danuska? I can't bear her!!