"Dom Dust," Coolers Full of Capers and Holidays with the Stars — Jeff's Star Report

Hear from Food Network Star, Season 7 winner Jeff Mauro as he breaks down the eighth episode in hilarious fashion.
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Finalists Dom Tesoriero, Arnold Myint, Alex McCoy, Eddie Jackson, and Jay Ducote during evaluations for the Mentor Challenge, Delicious on Demand, as seen on Food Network Star, Season 11.

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

Eddy Chen, 2015, Television Food Network, G.P. All Rights Reserved

After Michelle's intentional exit last week, we are left with a complete and all-American five-man sausage fest. Mmmmmm.

We quickly learn about the ever-growing importance of culinary membership clubs from Bobby and Giada. The boys each have 30 minutes to prepare a dish that a home cook can prepare from a package of fresh ingredients, and each rival's dish must be indicative of his personal brand. Per usual, Dom doesn’t know squat from Shinola about his brand.

Jay is making blackened fish and grits; Dom is sticking to his Staten Island roots by making chicken Milanese. And Arnold wants to literally put himself (Arnold Myint) inside the box and jump out of it, surprising the recipient with champagne towers and Mylar balloons. Alex just re-quoted my four-year-old quotes about sandwiches. That being said, he is bringing a very intriguing kofte burger. It’s amateur hour by Eddie’s station, as he is overcrowding his pan with shrimp.

Time to present. Alex is up first and he needs a good day. Even with that pressure, my fellow sandwich man preformed beautifully. His burger, tasty. Jay’s cadence is off at first, but he finds his zydeco rhythm once he starts talking about his food, which Bobby and Giada loved. Arnold’s brand is still not clear to the judges, nor is his food. Dom is calm for a change and he clearly didn’t overthink his presentation this time. He had a fluid and charming on-camera portion and wowed the judges with his signature breadcrumb mixture. May I suggest marketing this product as “Dom Dust”? You’re welcome, Dom; I just want 25 percent off the top. An agreement is in the mail.

Behind the scenes shot of Selection Committee Giada de Laurentiis and Bobby Flay, and finalist Eddie Jackson during evaluations for the Mentor Challenge, Delicious on Demand, as seen on Food Network Star, Season 11.

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

Eddy Chen, 2015, Television Food Network, G.P. All Rights Reserved

Eddie is flipping out on account of his bunk shrimp. His presentation is uncharacteristically awkward. The judges critiqued the bejesus out of this presentation and food.

It’s time for the big challenge and the boyz are charged with a two-minute presentation based on a particular popular holiday. Alex gets first pick and chooses Fourth of July, Dom picks Christmas and blows our minds with some clever usage of the word "repertoire." Jay picks turkey day, Arnold picks Valentine's Day, and Eddie gets stuck with Halloween.

The cooking begins and immediately we learn Alex grew up making fried-fish sandwiches on the Fourth of July — ON THE DAMN BEACH! Personally, I can’t even stomach eating pretzels on the beach let alone frying up some fish while making creamy schmears. Does he do all the cooking on a beach blanket? Is his beach cooler filled with mayo and capers, not Corona Light? I find this odd, buts that’s just me. Don’t get me wrong: This guy is making one hell of a sandwich, and I respect his style. These stories are just the best. I know it seems like I’ve been picking on Alex, but I truly respect him as a cook and an on-camera talent. But his stories are just too easy to riff on.

Eddie is sulking a bit, but he seems to man up and pull it together with a bloody-good dish. Jay grew up killing his own Thanksgiving dinner with what I want to believe were his bare hands. Eddie also enlightened us with a tidbit about Jay’s giant fingers not being able to fit in the butt of a tiny quail. I don’t want to be friends with any man whose fingers can comfortably fit inside a quail. That’s just un-American.

Finalist Arnold Myint during evaluation of the Star Challenge, Food Stars at Home for the Holidays, as seen on Food Network Star, Season 11.

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

Eddy Chen, 2015, Television Food Network, G.P. All Rights Reserved

Arnold is in the zone with lots of sexy talk!

Dom is doing a spin of the Feast of the Seven Fishes and Eddie is making a giant pork chop. Damaris Phillips (a fellow Food Network Star winner) walks into the room and announces that she is there to help with the presentation portion. Jay goes first and is advised not to bring the audience down with the mention of a family member’s unfortunate death. Alex is next and reminds me of motorbike-riding Cobra Kai villain from Karate Kid. You're the best around, Alex? Apparently not, because once again he is recipe-reading and this time, there is no shortage of ingredients.

Eddie is ready for redemption and decided the best way to get back on top is to do a solid two minutes on candy-induced gastritis.

Guest judge Damaris Phillips and finalist Dom Tesoriero during evaluation of the Star Challenge, Food Stars at Home for the Holidays, as seen on Food Network Star, Season 11.

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

Eddy Chen, 2015, Television Food Network, G.P. All Rights Reserved

Dom’s sweater is on point, but unfortunately he flubbed his first presentation. Luckily he has another try.

It’s time for their videos in front of Bobby and Giada, as well as Susie Fogelson and Bob Tuschman.

I loved Jay’s presentation because his story is unique and authentic. He unfortunately used too many superlatives and not enough descriptive words.

Finalist Alex McCoy during evaluation of the Star Challenge, Food Stars at Home for the Holidays, as seen on Food Network Star, Season 11.

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

Eddy Chen, 2015, Television Food Network, G.P. All Rights Reserved

Alex goes next and comes out swinging with a wonderful story about him, Gus, Lang, Devine and of course that bastard Mazook bumming around the beach in a topless yellow Jeep Wrangler. Alex obviously picked up some tips from Damaris, because his presentation was much better, but it also lacked specific descriptive language about the food.

Eddie did better on his second take, but there is some disconnect between him and his food. Arnold, that fancy French-speaking romantic, neglected to tell the audience what those big fancy French words mean! Come on, Myint!

It’s now time for that yearly tradition of gathering around the living room, lighting a fire and watching Christmas with Dom Tesoriero. His sweater was a hit, but unfortunately he was a nervous wreck for the beginning of his presentation. He regained some footing when he talked about his food, which he did better than anyone today.

Nobody did perfect in the eyes of the judges. This will be a tough choice.

Guest judge Damaris Phillips and finalist Jay Ducote during evaluation of the Star Challenge, Food Stars at Home for the Holidays, as seen on Food Network Star, Season 11.

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

Eddy Chen, 2015, Television Food Network, G.P. All Rights Reserved

Jay engaged the judges with the tales of his yearly Thanksgiving Day massacre in which no wild creature is safe. Alex inspired Tuschman to possible buy a Jeep and hit the beach. Giada loved Eddie’s story, but not his food. Arnold should have just talked more about frambroise — it was that simple. Dom succeeded on his descriptions, but not his presentation. Again. Who’s going home? My guess is Dom.

Alex and Jay are safe. But Eddie, Arnold and Dom are at the bottom. Going home is ... Dom.

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