Food Network Star, Season 9: Top Moments of Episode 8

Get an inside look at the finalists' challenges and relive the most memorable moments from the eighth episode of Food Network Star, Season 9.
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©Â 2013, Television Food Network, G.P. All Rights Reserved

Photo By: Eddy Chen ©2013, Television Food Network, G.P. All Rights Reserved

Photo By: Eddy Chen ©2013, Television Food Network, G.P. All Rights Reserved

Photo By: Eddy Chen ©2013, Television Food Network, G.P. All Rights Reserved

Photo By: Eddy Chen ©2013, Television Food Network, G.P. All Rights Reserved

Photo By: Eddy Chen ©2013, Television Food Network, G.P. All Rights Reserved

Photo By: Eddy Chen ©2013, Television Food Network, G.P. All Rights Reserved

Photo By: Eddy Chen ©2013, Television Food Network, G.P. All Rights Reserved

Photo By: Eddy Chen ©2013, Television Food Network, G.P. All Rights Reserved

Photo By: Eddy Chen ©2013, Television Food Network, G.P. All Rights Reserved

Photo By: Eddy Chen ©2013, Television Food Network, G.P. All Rights Reserved

Photo By: Eddy Chen ©2013, Television Food Network, G.P. All Rights Reserved

Photo By: Eddy Chen ©2013, Television Food Network, G.P. All Rights Reserved

Photo By: Eddy Chen ©2013, Television Food Network, G.P. All Rights Reserved

Photo By: Eddy Chen ©2013, Television Food Network, G.P. All Rights Reserved

Photo By: Eddy Chen ©2013, Television Food Network, G.P. All Rights Reserved

Photo By: Eddy Chen ©2013, Television Food Network, G.P. All Rights Reserved

Photo By: Eddy Chen ©2013, Television Food Network, G.P. All Rights Reserved

Photo By: Eddy Chen ©2013, Television Food Network, G.P. All Rights Reserved

Salvaged

After outcooking six competitors on Star Salvation, Lovely, originally eliminated in Episode 4, has earned redemption and returned to the competition. "Lovely's going to bring a whole new set of skills to the game that we just may not know," Russell explains. Watch Lovely's Salvation journey by viewing the entire four-part Web series online.

Craving Carbs

The challenge for the remaining finalists this week is to put their newly learned vocabulary lessons to the test and make the mentors crave their dishes using "a mouthwatering description," according to Giada. They have only 30 seconds to prepare a plate of pasta before presenting it to the panel. "I don't even want to name the pastas in front of Giada," Stacey says, "let alone cook them for her."

Storied Linguini

Damaris admits that her pasta Bolognese isn't a quintessential Southern dish, but she embraces it nonetheless, explaining, "It conjures up memories for me of happiness and time spent with my family. If I can connect food to those feelings, then I think that I can get people to eat the food."

Spotlight On: Little Italy

Filled with fresh mussels, shrimp and oysters, Rodney's pasta celebrates the post-performance meals he'd eat in Baltimore's Little Italy. "I've re-created it many times for my friends and my family," Rodney explains, confident that the dish "should knock your socks right off."

Ode to Summer

"The meat is so far on the side it's kind of off this plate," Nikki says of her vegetarian pasta, featuring garlic-sauteed fresh tomatoes with herbs and mini mozzarella balls. For her presentation, she plans to incorporate a story that details her recollections of making the meal on Fire Island during the summer.

Surprise Swaps

The finalists' plans for their presentations are foiled by the mentors' last-minute twist to the challenge. Instead of describing their own meals, each contestant must taste then talk about a rival's pasta for 30 seconds. While Rodney finishes his talk of Stacey's chicken-and-pasta plate, Stacey is cut off at the end of her presentation — neither competitor offers a winning description.

Sin-Free

Although Nikki's pasta is decidedly sin-free, Russell attempts to work his "culinary sins" point of view into his description of her dish, which is ultimately cut short when time runs out. Nikki, too, delivers an off-the-cuff performance, talking about the flavor and consistency of Russell's sugo.

Lessons Not Learned

Since she missed Bobby's "culinary vocabulary" test last week, Lovely unknowingly uses what Damaris deems "dead-zone words," like "delicious" and "beautiful" to describe the latter's Bolognese. Damaris doesn't fare much better, using much of her presentation time telling a story instead of describing Lovely's shrimp Alfredo.

Advantage: Nikki

"It was actually like we were eating it with her," Alton tells the group of Nikki's performance. She's named the most successful finalist of the challenge and has earned her second advantage of the competition. She can choose her two teammates for the upcoming Star Challenge and relies on "girl power" when selecting Damaris and Stacey, leaving Russell, Lovely and Rodney to work together.

Destination: Doughnuts

For this Star Challenge, the two teams will each create what Alton calls "a field-based food story," created and produced by the competitors themselves. Stacey, Nikki and Damaris visit The Donut Man, a long-standing hot spot known for its strawberry-stuffed doughnuts, and meet with owner Jim. "We have to interview our subject, think about what we want to talk about and get our whole piece together," Nikki explains.

Another Kind of Pie

Russell, Lovely and Rodney explore the scene at a savory eatery, Vito's Pizza. They'll be interviewing Vito and learning how he makes his pies with one key ingredient: 500-year-old yeast. Leading the introduction to their piece, Russell says, "I should be able to nail this" and again works in his focus on "sins."

Taking Control

While Damaris sets up her teammates with a solid first part, Stacey's interview with Jim is less successful. Nikki notices that "Stacey is stepping on him," interrupting Jim as he speaks. They're forced to reimagine the scene's unfolding after Stacey runs out of time in her one-minute segment.

Forgetting the Point

On hand to view both videos is a group of critics from The Hollywood Reporter, and after watching Team Pizza's piece, the viewers were left confused by the whats and hows of Vito's special yeast — something the Selection Committee agrees should have been "the story."

Casual Chat

Rodney hopes to build a rapport with Vito during his interview and plans to let the conversation flow naturally. Sure enough, the guys trade jokes seemingly effortlessly, and Lovely notes of the pair, "They're connecting."

Conversational Misstep

While one critic believes Damaris to have had the best showing on Team Doughnut, Stacey's performance is seen as the most disappointing. They describe her as "hammy" and aren't impressed with her treatment of Jim in the interview, according to Alton, who tells Stacey at evaluation: "You clearly were not listening to [Jim]. You were thinking about what you were going to say next, and we could see it."

Too Refined

"Lovely isn't necessarily engaging," one critic remarks after watching Lovely's closing segment with two pizzeria customers. Giada tells her how she could have improved her piece after explaining that her "polish" may not be fitting with the style of the network.

"Girl Power" Prevails

Nikki's closing segment receives rave reviews from the critics, one commenting that she looked "very natural" on camera; Bobby adds later that she demonstrated "leadership and authority." She, Damaris and Nikki have left the focus group and Selection Committee both craving doughnuts, and in the end, the ladies are deemed safe from elimination.

Another Goodbye

Giada tells the members of Team Pizza, all of whom face potential elimination, "We're looking at subtle differences between you guys to see who continues in the competition." But in the end, Lovely's return to the show is short-lived. She accepts a second elimination, explaining: "It's my time. There's nothing more I can do here."

Lovely's First Interview

Hear from Lovely to learn her thoughts on the competition and Salvation, and find out what she's up to next.

Go Behind the Scenes

Browse exclusive snapshots of the finalists and judge-mentors on set, plus learn insider trivia about the show from Food Network's culinary team.

Want More Food Network Star?

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