12 Doe-Eyed Hopefuls — Justin's Rebel Recap

Related To:

Justin's Rebel Remix, Food Network Star Episode 1

Photo by: Eddy Chen ©2014, Television Food Network, G.P. All Rights Reserved.

Eddy Chen, 2014, Television Food Network, G.P. All Rights Reserved.

Welcome to the Rebel Recap. I'll give you so many juicy details of what went down in Star Town you will think you are eating an alphabet steak covered with speculation sauce — all washed down with a glass of refreshing bubbly humor. I'd sure love to hear what you think about the plate of prose before you, so make use of that nifty comment button.

Thirty-second pitch tapes: Most of America would do unthinkable things to get 30 seconds of face time with Giada, Alton and Bobby. With their firstborns sold (kidding, you just have to fill out an application or two), our hopefuls have this exact opportunity.

Read on for some highlights ...

  • Sarah (who tried out in my season) feels that going first is like "the whole universe crashing down" on her at once, which is a great astro-simile, given that she wants to be a Star. She's nervous with all her new "friends" watching, and she blows kisses and strikes poses. She says to the viewers that she is "much more deeper" than the stereotype of pageant participants. I don't know what could be much more unbelievable after that pitch.
  • I think I saw Chris whoop it up on Cutthroat Kitchen a while back. His swagger, much like milk and gasoline, is measurable by the gallon. Slicker than cooking spray on an icy sidewalk made of Teflon.
  • Loreal's badass-grandma synopsis is a real one-two punch to the mentors. Butchering is a skill most home cooks don't know about (badass), and her pleasant Southern charm makes it seem quite learnable (grandma).
  • Fast-casual Kenny's pitch is so fast and so casual that it is a rambling speed metal guitar solo of his work history. Bobby is able to catch all those notes and put them into one beautifully orchestrated chord of "fast-casual at home," which has a nice ring to it.
  • Aryen has more passport stamps than I have Pokémon cards.
Luca Della Casa

Photo by: Eddy Chen ©2014, Television Food Network, G.P. All Rights Reserved.

Eddy Chen, 2014, Television Food Network, G.P. All Rights Reserved.

  • If this doesn't work out for Luca, he can at least be a poster boy for al dente pasta with that al dente smile of his.
  • Cuban Reuben (that sounds like the best sandwich ever) is all over the POV map, which isn't a bad spot to be in.

Though most of the contestants stumbled in their preliminary pitches, we begin to see glimmers of Stardust in the kitchen and on the red carpet.

  • Cooking-spray-slick Chris strolls out of the Buick and looks the part on the red carpet. While his charisma is perfectly salted and suit perfectly starched, his lamb medallions with sour cherry are underseasoned.
  • Pretty pretty princess Sarah promises to be our "date-night buddy" (ew) and guides us to creating romantic food.
  • Our suddenly seafaring Nicole brings her "Star de la mar" POV to the front and center, and her sesame-crusted tuna is bangin' as well. We have a contender in this one. Fish is tricky, though, and I'll wait another episode before I place my bet.
Donna Sonkin Shaw

Photo by: Eddy Chen ©2014, Television Food Network, G.P. All Rights Reserved.

Eddy Chen, 2014, Television Food Network, G.P. All Rights Reserved.

  • Back from her sweat lodge retreat with an arugula, avocado and endive BLT is Donna. Bobby thinks it's very forced, and I'm inclined to agree. It feels like juicing sweet potatoes with your hands.
  • Now sequined, Lenny seeks to wrangle the judges with his chicken-fried lobster over French toast with sweet corn gravy. The gourmet cowboy nails it, although there is some question of his authenticity. I want to see what that guy looks like when he wakes up in the morning. Does he sleep with that hat on? Also, for the record, that dish is insane and easily gets my vote for best idea on Food Network Star since my stroganoff purse.

Cue the Scary Music: Emma, Donna and Sarah end up on the bottom. The battle of boring, bizarre and blech. Of all of those maladies, the judges feel that Donna's bizarre presentation and prickly POV are the boils to be lanced.

The Moral of the Story: You have to be a smooth operator to be a Star. You have to be controlled in your uncontrolledness. Food has one real purpose: to keep us alive. When we start making food utilitarian and forcing it to do something other than that, it gets pretty icky pretty quickly. Sadly, Donna's food wasn't very thoughtful and her presentation was not reined in.

But Wait, There's More: Martie is back, Martie is back, Martie is back! I cannot wait to watch my favorite foodie friend rejoin the fray on Star Salvation. I'm still very much in touch with her, and I cannot wait to watch her kick butt on the Salvation videos. Oh, yeah, Chad is back too.