‘Food Network Star’ recap: Who was worse? Penny or Wolfgang Puck?


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Whose bad behavior on ‘Food Network Star’ should we start with? Penny, Wolfgang Puck or Bobby Flay? OK, Penny it is.

Ding, Dong the Witch Is Dead. Or at least eliminated. Did you hear that cheer last night? That was the blogosphere bidding a fond farewell to Penny Davidi of Los Angeles, at left, who goes down in ‘Food Network Star’ history as its most despised villain ever. (Seven seasons in, that’s sayin’ something.) Worse, she could have won -- arguably should have won -- were it not for such an ugly, aggressive demeanor that made people want to go out and do this. Her food was, by and large, loved by the judges. She offered a window onto Middle Eastern culture and a demographic Food Network could only dream of penetrating.


And she was pretty to look at when she lightened up on the harsh makeup and stopped furrowing her brow. (Let’s face it, that’s a Food Network qualification for its female hosts.)

But EGAD. That ‘aggressive’ personality.

If she could only hear -- really hear and listen -- to what the judges were telling her, and tone it down, and stop being the stereotypical woman-who-hates-women-but-gets-along-with-the-guys, she might have had a chance. I just don’t know how she thought that kind of demeanor would translate into her own show. And for the two or three of you out there defending Penny, don’t tell me it was crafty editing. Cause it wasn’t. The judges have been dinging her for this week after week, and she just would not stop. Exhibit Z: When the Flayman told her: ‘One of the things we need to really make sure, is that you can be likable on television.’

Penny translated that as needing to be ‘more relatable, and warmer, on camera.’ No Penny, it means you need to be more ‘likeable.’ As in, people do not like you. And that’s a problem.

Personally, I’m disappointed because I would have loved to have tuned in for those Middle Eastern recipes. Especially that Greek salad steak wrap. Darn it.

Okay, on to Wolfgang Puck. Seriously? That was not cool. If you didn’t watch the show, you no doubt saw this moment hyped endless on Food Network commercials, and for good reason. The godfather of celebrity chefdom, Wolfgang Puck himself, took Jyll to the woodshed for her awful risotto.

Now, granted, the risotto was so dry it more resembled a whole-grain salad(!). But still. Couldn’t Wolfgang have just smiled and nodded and let Jyll go on her way? Instead, he narrowed his eyes a la Clint Eastwood. And then let loose:

‘This is not really a risotto. Can I come and show you how to make a risotto? Come with me, in the kitchen. It has to be liquid, and it has to be on a hot plate.’

And with that he got up, and escorted a shocked and mortified Jyll to the kitchen and did just that.

Granted, I loved the cringe-worthy moment, and it goes down in ‘Food Network Star’ history. But wasn’t it akin to plunging the butcher knife in Jyll’s back and turning it?

Which brings us to the Flayman. You know he’s going to get heat for putting his hands on his head and uttering, ‘Oh Jesus Christ’ as the showdown unfolded. I’m actually kind of surprised they aired it.

Somehow, Jyll managed to survive. And I wish I could get the message to her: STOP WITH THE PAGEANT SMILE.

In other developments: Chris finally ran out of his nine lives, Whitney is rising like a Phoenix from the ashes, Jeff seems to be stalling out, Vic and Susie seem to have catapulted themselves to front-runner status.

And then there’s Mary Beth, who may have suffered the single worst insult ever in ‘Food Network Star’ history, courtesy Giada: ‘You kinda cook like someone who needs the tips that Food Network Stars give.’ Of the six remaining contestants, who has ‘Food Network Star’ potential in your mind?


Care to tell me your thoughts? Which of these six will be the last man or woman standing?


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--Rene Lynch
Twitter / renelynch

Photo: Penny Davidi. Credit: Food Network