‘Next Food Network Star’: Saying goodbye to Primetime


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Let this be a lesson to you: Berries do not belong on steak.

A mucked-up tri-berry sauce served over steak was one of the reasons that Darrell ‘DAS’ Smith of Beverly Hills was sent packing. That, and because Smith didn’t (really) seem to know his ‘prime’ cuts of beef, thus earning him a new nickname, Primetime. But really, he was sent home because even though he was so charming, warm and handsome, he turned awkward, flustered and confused when the cameras were pointed at his face. Not a good thing when you are trying to become ‘The Next Food Network Star.’ DAS, you will be missed.

This week started with a chili challenge that was won by ‘Please Tell Me I’m Sexy’ Brianna. (The dish will appear on Bobby Flay’s Mesa Grill menu.) Her victory was a surprise to me. Clearly, she earned the win. But until now I have written her off as someone who is trying SO HARD to convince everyone that she is sexy that it’s hard to take her seriously. Finally, she is showing us a more personal side that may explain why she is the way she is (Daddy issues!), and let’s hope that she will continue to let her guard down and relax. Audiences would flock to her. However, we’re also getting a sense of personal drama between her and ‘Please Tell Me I’m Pretty’ Serena, and a catfight won’t do anything to help either of them win over fans. (Although if there is an out-and-out battle, I think I will have to side with Brianna. At least Brianna wears her chip on her shoulder. Serena strikes me as a bit backstabbish. What do you think? Am I judging my fellow women too critically?)


The more critical challenge revolved around L.A. celebrity chefs including Susan Feniger of Street and Eric Greenspan of the Foundry on Melrose. They recalled their favorite childhood dishes, and the cheftestants had to remake them. Or reinvent them. Or reimagine them. I couldn’t quite get a grip on that, because some chefs seemed to be dinged for totally reinventing them, while others seemed to be rewarded for nailing the childhood memory with a perfect recreation. Brianna shined again, with a fried chicken dish so good that Flay praised it as ‘ridiculous.’

Our Aarti shined once more, and Food Network honcho Bob Tuschman labeled her a ‘fierce contender’ for the title. Yikes! We hope that does not trigger confidence issues. It was great to see Tom present well, but his cooking needs to come along.

Even though I was hoping for DAS to turn it around, I have to say I was glad that Herb did not get sent home. I know this is not rehab, but Herb needs the ability to rebound. He seems so fragile, and he said he still feels like the fat kid who could never measure up. Kudos to Flay for using the moment to boost Herb’s self-confidence and tell him that he could be a great role model if he could rise above. (Maybe I am just biased: I, personally, would love a food-fitness show.)

-- Rene Lynch

Photo credit: Food Network