It is down to 10 finalists on Food Network Star!
This week while Giada was shooting segments in New York, Alton and Bobby were joined by Chopped judge and the reigning winner of Next Iron Chef: Alex Guarnaschelli.
But before Chef Guarnaschelli met the 10 contenders, Alton and Bobby introduced this week’s Mentor Challenge: the contestants must prepare a dish with a mystery ingredient as their centerpiece. In addition, they had to have authority on that ingredient even if they have not seen it before.
Most of the finalists stuck to their culinary points of view throughout this challenge. Rodney Henry took his pie guy approach to a new level as he created a bitter melon salad while Damaris Phillips turned mango pickles into rustic southern food. Food blogger Nikki Dinki and private chef Danushka Lysek threw their respective ingredients (cuttlefish and dragon fruit into their dishes.
However, some of the early favorites received some harsh feedback from either Alton or Bobby this round.The Throwdown King stated that BBQ Guy Chad Rosenthal’s salsify fritters were too dense and wanted Russell “Deadly Sins” Jackson to have incorporated his arrowhead root into his dish. Meanwhile, Alton gave his most “Simon Cowell-esque” critiques in the show as four contenders received several of his zesty zingers.
Alton and Bobby declared Rodney and Damaris the winners of Round One and they had an edge in their Chopped Star Challenge. The edge was that they were not only safe from elimination this week, but they joined Alton, Bobby and Alex on the Judges’ Desk for the two heats.
In the first heat, Jackson, Chad, Danushka and Viet Pham had to use a basket involving foods that you would find at sporting events (Hot dogs, beer, peanuts and cotton candy). While the men were at home with this challenge, Danushka’s snippy attitude really turned off Alex.
During heat one’s presentation; Damaris proved to be a great judge as she had great comments for both Russell and Viet’s dishes but finally told Danushka to change the attitude (which Alton seconded that and snipped “everything happens on camera to her”).
Heat two (Lovely, Nikki, Stacey Poon-Kinney and Chris Hodgson)’s Chopped basket was filled with kid-friendly items including chicken nuggets, fruit leathers, cheddar crackers and apple juice. One of the highlights of the presentation was Chris’ eye-opening reveal of how food saved him from alcohol and how he used cooking to heal other people.
This week, the Bottom Four consisted of Lovely, Stacey, Jackson and (for the third week in the row) Danushka. After weeks of failing the Mentors, Danushka was sent packing.
Stay tuned as next week Food Network Star will be headed to the movies!