Last night was the airing of the first episode of the third season of the Next Food Network Star. Wow, that's a lot of "of the". Anyway, Food Network seems to have decided upon a different method for finding this year's star. The first couple of seasons were based on training the candidates on how to host a cooking show, and those who didn't listen well enough to the training didn't make it.
Season One found us watching a few very competent personalities, and a few that would have needed some help had they made it. As luck would have it, a couple of caterers destined to serve their time demonstrating Sunday brunch would make the cut past a few far more talented cooks. Season Two introduced a variety of incompetents, led by the highly talented Guy Fieri. You could tell almost from Day 1 that this man had the perfect personality, and sure enough, he's already hosted a special on gadgets and in addtion to Guy's Big Bit (the show that he won), he is well into his second series, Diners, Drive-ins and Dives.
Season Three feels extremely familiar after watching Shear Genius with my wife. In Shear Genius, several hair stylists are made to live with each other, with almost no contact with the outside world, competing in a manner which causes scores of friction between the contestants. The two stylists which were obviously the most talented fell apart when teamed together, and were shunned from the show before they had a chance to win.
Food Network has decided to house eleven contestants together, divided into guys' and girls' quarters. The first episode was two hours long, rather than the one hour that we should expect for the remainder of the season. Rather than putting these cooks through televised training as before, they are given challenges with seemingly hidden objectives.
Okay, you and I know that the judges are watching their every move, so it should be no surprise that feedback is promptly provided. But several of the people have already expressed surprise the the first challenge, a potluck demonstrating the cook's personality, would result in such brutal reviews from the judges.
The second and third challenges were both wedding-related. They were brought into a room with The Great Duff Goldman, given some cake rounds, and asked to decorate them as wedding cakes. One whole person actually attempted something that actually looked like a wedding cake, while the others went at their cakes like kids with a new box of crayons. I can't say I'm the most talented wedding cake decorator in the world, but I would have at least tried to do something weddingish.
The winner of that challenge and the winner of the potluck challenge each became team captains, and were asked to pick teams. Amy (the wedding cake winner) headed up the green team, and made an effort to pick all of the caterers. Colombe (the potluck winner) headed up the orange team. Early on it was clear that the orange team had no chance, and while the green team ran like a well-oiled machine, the orange team was a broken down Ford barely held together by duct tape and false hope.
Two contestants were chosed to leave the show at the end of the episode. While I would like to have known Patrick better, Vivian was ditsy and seemed to expect to get by on her looks. The big surprise to everybody (including, it would seem, the rest of the challengers) was that Colombe was not sent home to her yoga studio, as a broken pile of poor team management.
I also would not have minded seeing Jag hit the road. Every time he opens his mouth or glares at the camera, my dislike of his grows like a field of weeds. He's out for blood, and it shows. I don't know about you, but that's not the type of person that I'm going to waste my evenings watching.
Tommy needs to show some backbone. His skills seem to be lacking, but he sticks in there anyway. I like him, if mostly for surviving Colombe. I'm really starting to like Salmon, he seems like a great guy. I'd invite him to my weekend BBQ in a heartbeat. Rory seems to have something that she wants to prove, and has yet to do so. It remains to be seen how much talent she has, but I can see the judges shutting her down early.
Nikki actually seemed to be pouting at certain points, and I doubt whether she'll be able to handle the pressure for long. I'm starting to like Paul, Adrien and Amy, but I haven't seen a whole lot of them yet. Time will tell how this competition shapes up. Hopefully we don't have another Sandra Lee or Barefoot Contessa on our hands.