Code Blue

By: Grant Dudley
Paula and Eliminated Finalist Justin B.

FNS7 Episode 4 Star Challenge

FNS7 Episode 4 Guest Judge Paula Deen admiring Finalist Justin Balmes tattoos at the "Cougar Town" Star Challenge.

Photo by: Edward Chen/Creel Films ©2011, Television Food Network, G.P.

Edward Chen/Creel Films, 2011, Television Food Network, G.P.

Let me begin by stating the obvious: Paula is the absolute best. Any time I see her I just get the best feeling. Maybe it’s because I’m from the South and she reminds me of home, or maybe it’s simply because she is an amazing cook and I have enjoyed every buttery recipe she has created. Whatever the reason, she is a SUPERSTAR (far beyond just a “star”) and the finalists were completely justified in their awe of her. The kind of warmth and engaging personality Paula exudes is what they should be aspiring to.

When Melissa d’Arabian introduced the Kellogg’s Camera Challenge, I was intrigued. I live off most of those treats that the finalists had to use as ingredients. Rice Krispies? Um, I have a bowl every Saturday morning. A Pop-Tart is my go-to Monday through Friday breakfast choice. And Cheez-Its? I enjoy them regularly with little scoops of French-onion dip – so tasty! How though would the finalists use these snacks in serious dishes? Well, I was impressed to see what they did.

Chris’s chicken nuggets made with Corn Flakes sound delicious. I can just imagine the crunchiness of those flakes on little nuggets — I want to taste them. Bob was definitely impressed. Whitney’s use of the crushed Pop-Tarts on Parmesan crackers wasn’t a big hit, but come on — that’s a toughie. What could you make with a Pop-Tart? I eat them all the time and I’m completely clueless. I admire Whit’s effort. Justin B.’s Cheez-It crust on top of mac and cheese? That’s mad genius! Can’t you just taste it?

The Cougar Town Challenge was interesting. The Penny/ Mary Beth teaming made me nervous. I kept expecting to see Penny be short-tempered with MB, but she wasn’t. Instead, I was surprised to watch Penny be so friendly to MB while working with her, yet in her video interviews talk so hatefully about her. The characteristic that I respected previously (and took heat for) about Penny was that she owns who she is and doesn’t seem to change herself no matter the circumstance she finds herself in. Sorry, Penny — I’m now questioning your authenticity. As for Mary Beth, this lady continues to shine.

Justin D. needs to wake up. Is he sleepy? It’s like Giada should snap her fingers in front of his face and snap him out of his “slumber.” He’s really beginning to stumble and I’m not sure he’s going to gain his footing. When Busy Phillips said of Jyll, “she’s very polished, but I don’t want to watch that show,” I smiled. That summarized beautifully what I’ve been trying to articulate for weeks now.

And now, back to Justin B. I enjoy the guy and was sad to see him go. I really feel with time, he would have been able to bring his personality out on camera. But, I guess that’s just the problem: There isn’t any time.

Finally, before I close, I want to give props to Orchid. She seemed to have had a calming effect on Jeff with her “Code Blue” signal. Chris’s frenetic energy is exhausting to watch and would irritate me greatly if I was there in person. I thought it funny that little Orchid could settle this big guy down.

That’s it for me — now let me hear from you.

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