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Food Network Star Review: Stories from the Road

This week on Food Network Star, the mentors continued last week’s lesson of creating mouth-watering descriptions of food, encouraging the finalists to apply that lesson to any plate of food – and when they say any plate of food, they really do mean ANY plate of food.

The Remaining 5 Finalists:

Damaris Phillips – 32, Chef instructor from Louisville, Kentucky.
Nikki Dinki – 29, Food blogger from New York City.
Rodney Henry – 47, Owner of Dangerously Delicious Pies and father of two from Baltimore.
Russell Jackson – 47, Underground supper club owner from San Francisco.
Stacey Poon-Kinney – 34, Restaurant owner and mother from San Diego.

Fodo Network Star Art

This week episode off with a real twist for the quintet: the mentors informed them that the seven eliminated finalists have been competing in a foodnetwork.com competition with Robert Irvine called Star Salvation and that the winner, Lovely, will be rejoining them in the competition, starting now.

Now help me out here, readers. If you, as one of the five finalists, had just heard this news, would your first reaction be to clap and cheer? I didn’t think so. I think Nikki’s reaction of, “I hate you, but get over here!” was as close to an authentic reaction as we were allowed to see.

Immediately after being informed that they now had an additional finalist to compete against, Giada moved on to tell the finalists that they must be able to make viewers hungry with their descriptions of any dish. And when she said “any dish," again, she sure meant it.

After creating an Italian pasta recipe, the finalists were told to describe another finalist’s food. This is definitely the one situation in which you would pray that your fellow finalists had made a good dish.

Last week’s lesson in describing food must not have sunk in for most of the finalists, as the majority of them were still unable to successfully complete the challenge of making the mentors hungry. Nikki was the only finalist who showed a “sense of discovery” with her description of Russell’s dish, which at this point makes me think she might be the new front-runner in this competition.

For the Star Challenge, the finalists were split into teams and asked to write, produce and direct a food story piece about a local restaurant, with the best team winning immunity from elimination. Nikki immediately chose her two best friends in this competition, Stacey and Damaris, to help tell the donut story, only to promptly realize that should they lose, that would mean that one of the three of them would go home.

This did not occur to you earlier?

Luckily for the ladies – and Stacey in particular – Russell, Lovely, and Rodney put on a much, much poorer performance. Russell: Yes, we get that you want to be the “culinary sins guy," but there is no need to bring it up every single time you speak on camera. No one really understands what that means, anyway. Rodney: You’ve got a great, warm personality, but no one can understand a word you say! You have to learn to enunciate, buddy. Lovely: You have the warmth and personality of a wet noodle. ‘Nough said.

Apparently the judges had similar feelings because they placed Rodney and Lovely in the bottom two. Rodney has only his genuine personality to thank for saving him this week; the judges might not have known whose show they would rather watch, but they knew they would rather not watch a show hosted by Lovely, only proving that bringing back an eliminated contestant is usually an exercise in futility rather than an opportunity for redemption.

In spite of Stacey’s shaky performance this week, I still believe that the ladies are leading this competition right now. Russell and Rodney have both been in the bottom enough times that their nine lives are starting to run out; they need to step up their game if they expect to stick around to the end of this competition.

NOTE: Remember to visit our section of Food Network recipes today!