Star Scrapbook: Rue Rusike

Rue was the fifth finalist eliminated on Food Network Star, Season 11. Relive the memorable moments from her time on the show.

Photo By: Eddy Chen ©2015, Television Food Network, G.P. All Rights Reserved

Photo By: Eddy Chen ©2015, Television Food Network, G.P. All Rights Reserved

Photo By: Eddy Chen ©2015, Television Food Network, G.P. All Rights Reserved

Photo By: Eddy Chen ©2015, Television Food Network, G.P. All Rights Reserved

Photo By: Eddy Chen ©2015, Television Food Network, G.P. All Rights Reserved

Photo By: Eddy Chen ©2015, Television Food Network, G.P. All Rights Reserved

Photo By: Eddy Chen ©2015, Television Food Network, G.P. All Rights Reserved

Photo By: Eddy Chen ©2015, Television Food Network, G.P. All Rights Reserved

Photo By: Eddy Chen ©2015, Television Food Network, G.P. All Rights Reserved

Photo By: Eddy Chen ©2015, Television Food Network, G.P. All Rights Reserved

Photo By: Eddy Chen ©2015, Television Food Network, G.P. All Rights Reserved

Photo By: Eddy Chen ©2015, Television Food Network, G.P. All Rights Reserved

Photo By: Eddy Chen ©2015, Television Food Network, G.P. All Rights Reserved

Rue's Journey

The fifth finalist sent home from the competition, Rue's was the first finalist to introduce the Selection Committee to a southern African culinary point of view, but ultimately that's what sent her home; she was unable to fully communicate that perspective and what it meant in terms of her food.

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"Life Is Good"

There was no mistaking Rue's passion for the competition, as the Committee regularly remarked on her smile and warmth. In her journal, she penned, "La vie est belle," which translates simply to "Life is good."

Early Reflections 

"Am I as happy as I could be after the first challenge? No. It was tough!" she wrote after the premiere episode's food festival. Though Bob Tuschman found it odd that Rue used the phrase "aggressively charming" to describe herself in her pitch video, Giada said that the taste of her shrimp "actually makes you want more" as you're eating it. 

Defining Rue

Though she was spared from elimination the first week, Rue realized that the person she portrayed in the video wasn't her true self. "I just want to win so badly that I mistook the natural strength I have as negative and brought out a side of me I don't even know," she admitted here. "I have the cooking fundamentals down. Now I just have to show the world who Rue really is."

Selfless Thoughts

"Forget self," Rue wrote in her journal. "Think of others and do as you would be done by."

Southern African Fare

"Bring us into your home!" Bobby urged Rue after she presented her dish of sadza to the mentors and special guest Melissa d'Arabian during the Episode 2 leftovers challenge. He explained that if she doesn't share the whys and hows of her African cooking, it's "just another dish."

Focus On: Baking

It was all about baking in the Episode 2 Mentor Challenge, when the finalists were challenged to transform sweet baked goods into savory treats. Rue opted for a duo of offerings — Bobotie Meat Pie & Samosa — and while Alex found her to be "so vibrant" in person, she explained, "The custard alone was maybe enough."

Bright Inspiration

In keeping with her theme of meaningful quotes, Rue wrote, "Fill your life with love, scatter sunshine."

A Trendy Letdown

"It absolutely crushed me," Rue wrote after learning that her Zambian-inspired eggplant wasn't selected for tasting. "The dish I cooked today was as much a part of me as it is my mother and my family."

Raw Meets Heat

In the boys-versus-girls dinner party challenge, Rue was tasked with creating a raw appetizer, so she set out to create a steak tartare. Geoffrey Zakarian, a guest judge for the challenge, wasn't pleased that she plated the beef atop warm bone marrow, which ended up slightly cooking the meat, but Bobby noted that when it comes to her presentation, "she seems more comfortable in her pacing."

Temporary Ingredients

Dom, Emilia and Rue were teammates for the 4th of July cookout challenge, and while Rue penned a detailed shopping list for their would-be plates, they'd never actually get to work with these goods, as the mentors revealed an unexpected product swap.

Missing the POV

Just as in challenges past, Rue struggled to convey her southern African culinary point of view while onstage at the patriotic cookout, this time forgetting to mention the culture altogether. "You have an amazing opportunity here," Bobby F. told Rue at evaluation. "We haven't seen somebody who's an authority on south African cuisine on Food Star ever. I don't know a lot about it, and I want you to tell me."

Solid Flavor

Despite Rue's hiccups in presentation, her offering of shrimp with mango wowed the Committee. "The shrimp and the mango together are wonderful," guest judge Bobby Deen said after tasting it.

Meaningful Feedback

In what would ultimately be her final episode of the competition, Rue won the Week 5 Mentor Challenge, which saw the finalists cooking their rivals' favorite ingredients, then tasting and critiquing their rivals' plates for the judges. "Your description was very eloquent," Bobby praised her after she spoke of Jay's undercooked branzino. Giada added, "She did a good job at saying what the fish should be: flaky."

Working Together

Rue's advantage from the Mentor Challenge allowed her to select her teammate for the mash-up dinner at Patina Restaurant in Downtown Los Angeles. She exercised her right to forgo as a partner Dom, with whom she was originally paired, and select Arnold instead. "I know that we can really blend well together with our flavors," she said of Arnold. 

Lacking the Essentials

"The plate is beautiful and then it has no flavor. It's just almost unreal," Bobby admitted after trying Rue's and Arnold's surf and turf. "She didn't really talk about her south African flavors and what she was bringing to the table." he added of Rue.

Rue's Goodbye

"She doesn't give us what we want, which is to really define what she's cooking and who she is," Bobby said of Rue at evaluation before the Committee ultimately sent her home after a five-week journey. "This experience will change my life, because a lot more people will know who I am and what I do and what I love to cook," she reflected after.

Photos: Star Scrapbook: Rue Rusike

One-on-One with Rue

Hear from Rue in her first exclusive exit interview to learn her thoughts on the contest and what's next.

Go Behind the Scenes

Get an insider's look at the making of the show, and see how the cast spends its time between takes.

Photos: Behind the Scenes of Food Network Star, Season 11

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