"I Don't Know If I'll Be Back for a Fourth Date ... " — Justin's Rebel Recap
Last week the camera shy Luca was sent to battle it out in Star Salvation. Kenny and Chris were up the creek without a plated dish — and they were assuredly nervous about the next challenge. Will Lenny hold tight to his reins or ride off in to the sunset? Read on, Star fans.
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I'm so glad CTK wasn't invented during my season of Star. The concept is terrifying to me. Not only am I a bad gambler, but I'm also a bit OCD. Sure, I can make some creative dishes, but not having the right tool, protein or appendage for the job would irk the heck out of me. The claws will come out, but when the claws come out, they sometimes get stuck on curtains or shag carpet.
Chris: As I mentioned before, Chris was on CTK and won. His confidence is apparent from the start, so he gets saddled by Loreal with the classic "appendage remover" sabotage of having a pasta fork taped to his hand. His elk and pork shoulder meatballs do nicely, but the script for his presentation is apparently written on the roof of his eye sockets. The judges find it to be discrediting.
Nicole: The mermaid of Season 10 gets filleted, both by herself and her competitors. Not only does she space when it comes to the pasta on her shopping list, but she also must grind her meat by hand. If you haven't used a hand-cranked meat grinder, I can tell you that the experience is as fun as pull-starting a lawn mower or moving an upright piano. Worse, she must (that's a grape pun) stomp grapes while her competitors cook circles around her. Her "gnocchi" is acceptable and her pitch is elegant, given the givens.
Loreal: The butcher babe is tasked with grinding her meat in a snow-cone machine, which is a sabotage fit for a butcher. This leaves her meatballs akin to tennis balls. Seemingly overcompensating, her dish is an unfocused jumble of flavors.
Christopher: The chef of chefs must mince his meat in a spice grinder. He channels his restaurant's Bloody Mary bar through the dish, which wins the praise of the judges.
Aryen: Globetrotting Aryen has been dinged for bland, beige food in the previous challenges, so this time she thinks her penne arrabbiata will fan the flames of her success. While her pitch is warm and welcoming, her meatballs are blistering and off-putting, even to Bobby and Jet, who both know their way around the chile patch.
Lenny: Our culinary cowboy who crushed the competition last week gets completely clobbered by sabotages. His bacon bomb of a breakfast plate detonates in his hands as his gorgeous slab bacon is swapped for bacon bits. Worse, he must bike-pedal a breakfast smoothie in a classic CTK time-suck sabotage. Cheating death, he plates the dish with a UMO (unidentifiable masa object), which he calls a sopaipilla. Clearly not meant for human consumption, the UMO exits Bobby's mouth quicker than California Chrome.
Kenny: Easily the worst sabotage I've ever seen on CTK, fast-casual Kenny must plate his entire breakfast in a parfait glass and call it a trifle. Just kidding — Kenny did that to himself.
Reuben: Last week Reuben raced through his pitches and delivered them in Spanglish to the chagrin of the judges. This week, he gets assigned the poquito kitchen, in which he makes a tiny breakfast hodgepodge. His speech is much more controlled and has shown a lot of growth since last week.
Emma: Saddled with chocolate-covered bacon, our yogi aligns her chocolate chakras and embraces the sweet. She piles this onto a Burrata sandwich and Monte Cristos the whole thing. This was easily the most dayummm I've seen yet this season. Her story of spending time in the Alps melts the judges' hearts like that warm chocolate bacon. Please, Emma, make the world this sandwich and end suffering for all.
Sarah: Cooking for date night, which still confuses me, is tough when your date is breakfast. Sarah must also remove her bacon from what must have been the sound guy's smashed lunch. Because her date is with Bobby, she makes a Southwestern-inspired quinoa "breakfast in bed" and all of America simultaneously blushes. I smell a POV shift soon, because this is getting weird fast. She does make a good-looking sunny-side egg, but I don't know if I'll be back for a fourth date.
Cue the Scary Music: Christopher pulls a win this week with his finely tuned Bloody Mary pasta, and he is safe with a chunk of change. Emma's sandwich and story gets her a safety and $1,200. Loreal, Chris, Kenny and Lenny are up to be put out with the recycling, but Kenny's lack of authority or actual cooking ability gets him the boot.
The Moral of the Story: Comparing this week's elimination with the last, we are reminded again why there is no other culinary competition like Food Network Star. Unlike Luca, who couldn't connect with the camera, Kenny couldn't kick it in the kitchen. Cooking isn't the most-glamorous job. Being polished, energetic and slick doesn't matter much when the gravy is lumpy, the burners won't light, or you put a hotel breakfast buffet in a cup and shake it up.
Threat of the Week: We've seen her Warrior pose. Emma's path-of-least-resistance approach to the chocolate bacon was brilliant. Her story was perfect. It's tough to strike a balance between interesting and comforting, and she was doing a handstand on that line. If she can hold this pose long enough, we could see her sitting on the throne in the Lotus position in a few weeks.
But Wait, There's More: Heartbreakingly, over in Star Salvation, my best foodie friend, Martie Duncan, was eliminated because of the lack of scoring of a tomato. I promise you, Geoffrey Zakarian and Damaris Phillips, that I will not forget this. If I'm ever appointed to judge you, I will be biased and unfair. In other news, Chad and Luca are still standing, to now be joined by Kenny.