Delivering consistently strong presentations throughout his 11-week journey, Jay, a radio host of Louisiana was often thought of as the rival to beat from one challenge to another. Though Jay ultimately didn't clinch the title, Bob Tuschman declared Jay to be "the most camera-ready contestant we've ever had on Food Network Star."
It was up to Jay to deliver a solid first impression during the Day One's spotlight challenge, and indeed he delivered, telling the mentors about his passion for Louisiana cuisine and outdoor cooking. "I got excited just listening to you. That is a big part of a TV personality," Giada commended him.
"I really feel like this challenge went well for me, but I guess we'll find out for sure tomorrow," Jay said of his presentation at the Week 2 baking challenge. He delivered savory beignets, and while that bite was indeed a success, his too-rehearsed pitch wasn't as well-received.
In what was his first of only a few missteps in the competition, Jay delivered a gumbo with okra to Bobby and Giada, as well as guest judges Geoffrey Zakarian and Sunny Anderson, who were attending the dinner party. And he admitted that the gumbo "might be borderline atrocious." Indeed his slimy soup turned out to be "murky," according to Bobby, though Jay's presentation was strong.
Working together at Patina Restaurant, Jay and Emilia delivered a fusion of Cajun and Italian cuisines on their plate in the form of polenta with pork. The duo's meat was "really inconsistently cooked," according to Bobby. But their presentation was far more successful, as guest judge Anne Burrell said, "It did seem like they were having a good time."
Ever the strong presenter, Jay shined during the four-minute live demonstration at the comedy club in Week 6; he took the unexpected talking points in stride. After Jay's performance, Bobby said simply, "The guy has got presence." As for Jay's fried calamari, Bob said simply, "I can't stop eating it." Jay's showing that week was so strong that he was named one of the winners of the challenge.
Jay's andouille-studded breakfast taco wowed Bobby and Giada so much so that he earned an advantage come the Episode 7 food truck cook-off in the Star Challenge. "I had the advantage and got to choose burgers for our team," Jay recounted in his journal. "I made a Cajun/Louisiana inspired burger and Arnold made an Asian burger with a ramen bun."
The name of the game in Week 8 was culinary brands, and surely Jay pitched himself as the keeper of Louisiana cuisine. When it came time to celebrate Thanksgiving Jay style, he spoke of spending the holiday hunting with his family while demoing a stuffed quail. "I am the most-unhunting guy I know, and he still brought me into his world," Bob said.
In what seemed like an odd choice for Jay, he selected to make a duo of elementary dishes — pigs in blankets and ants on a log — for his live segment with Catherine McCord focusing on after-school snacks. "Pigs in a blanket doesn't give me any of the Jay flavor that we're used to," Bobby told him. Jay conceded, "I made a boneheaded mistake."
After his disappointing offering in that Mentor Challenge, Jay admitted, "I got stumped today with a cooking challenge for the first time since I got here." He added, "I really was thinking too hard about keeping it simple and easy to demo, and I didn't make a worthy version of the dish."
Jay, Alex, Arnold and Eddie came together for an ensemble production of Summer Live for the first foray into live production — with mixed results. During the brainstorming session with the guys, Jay took these notes on each person's plans for their segments. While Arnold's presentation overwhelmed, and Alex's ramen mystified, Eddie's and Jay's deliveries wowed.
With Dom's return following a Star Salvation victory, there were four finalists in the running for three available finale spots, and to prove their worthiness, the finalists had to prepare what Bobby deemed "the dish of your lives." Jay chose Emilia to be his sous chef after their successful showing together last time, at Patina Restaurant.
After executing a solid fried catfish and, once again, shining in his video presentation, Jay said confidently: "I'm a hundred percent certain that I will be one of the people making a pilot. I'm on top of the world." And indeed he was correct, as he was the first person asked to make a pilot of his would-be show.
With the help of director Rachael Ray, Jay filmed Deep-Fried America with Jay Ducote at Sweet Chick, a chicken-and-waffles hot spot in New York City, to celebrate his love of all things fried. "I've put together a great pilot that's my dream and my vision and the show that I want to have on Food Network," he said afterward.