Monday, July 28, 2008

The Next Food Network Star -- Oy


If you've been watching this mini-exposition on The Food Network and missed the finale, please be advised that you should be somewhere else until you've seen it. It's actually entertaining up until the very end until ***** wins, in which case you, like most viewers, will be alternatively shocked, disappointed and left shaking your head.

Last night's finale, like that of the last three years, produced a "winner." But the truth is I think this blatant Top Chef rip-off is a sham. The first year went to a couple of guys (they were a cooking tandem) called "The Hardy Boys" -- the name referred to the type of food (hardy) they produce for entertaining and home-cooking. Of course you've probably never heard about these guys -- because their show was awful and no one watches The Food Network at 5AM on a Wednesday.

The next season went to Guy Fieri, the freaky-looking tattoo-fest that's concurrently on TGI Friday's commercials (the guy who slips into a booth while a woman on a date -- at a Friday's -- sneaks off to the bathroom). Guy seems like a good guy, but it's painful watching him because he's freakshow first and cook second. On a side note, it sort of disturbs me that he's raising kids because of the various tattoos he's sporting all over the place. It doesn't make him a bad father or a bad guy, of course, but I just think he looks like a complete douchebag, and it always bothers me when I see an apparent douchebag reproducing and passing along those douchebag genes to little people.

Nevermind that last year's NFNS winner, Amy Finley, filmed six episodes and then split -- or so she claims in her Food Network blog (she claims that because of family issues she couldn't remain an on-air personality). So over the three seasons of NFNS, two of the three chosen "stars" are no longer on the network, or if they are, it's a toss-up between their shows and mattress infomercials (guess which is more exciting and produces more revenue for the network).

So last night, the three finalists for this year's NFNS were Lisa Garza, a restaurant owner/caterer from Dallas, Adam Gertler, a cook/former restaurant owner from Philly, and Aaron McCargo Jr., a hospital cook from Camden, NJ. Each of them was talented but, frankly, I thought Lisa Garza had it in the bag. When you watch each of these three people on-screen, you like each of them. However, in terms of authority and who I'd actually watch, I'd probably watch Adam Gertler's and Lisa Garza's shows. Adam is entertaining without being over the top and Lisa seems like she knows what she's doing and, more often than not, makes things/dishes I'd actually want to learn how to make. Aaron, conversely, makes basic foods -- pork loin, chicken, steak -- and shakes red pepper flakes and brown sugar on them. Yawn.

The problem, of course, is that *** SPOILER ALERT *** Aaron won. What bothers me about this is not that they gave him a shot. He's a really nice guy and this is something that will really make a difference in his life and his family's lives. I'm completely happy for him and if he were a personal friend of mine I'd be the first one congratulating him.

However, he's the wrong choice. In fact, he's the last choice I would have picked. Lisa knows her stuff and makes dishes that I'd be interested in eating and, therefore, preparing. Adam is completely familiar with dishes I've tried and things I would probably want to learn to do in the future (ie barbecue, grilling, smoking and adding new facets to dishes I've made in the past). To wit: last night had Lisa preparing Black Cod, Adam preparing Beer Can chicken and Aaron prepared a steak with plaintains and collard greens. I'm not sure if I would ever do a beer can chicken -- the recipe has been in my virtual recipe box for a number of years -- but seeing him prepare it was a reminder that one of these days I should do it. As for Lisa's prep of Black Cod with a zabaillone sauce, that's something I could see preparing at home. Aaron, however, made a steak, plaintains, and collard greens. I'm sure they're good, but that's pretty much what I do right now in my 3x2 mini-kitchen. I don't need 12 people with cameras, clipboards and 500-watt highway-lights filming me to make a steak and greens.

As per usual, they got it wrong. Not because Aaron is not a good guy -- he seems to be a great guy. But unless their aim is to get a "star" to film a dozen episodes and then disappear -- which has occurred two out of the last three seasons -- they seem to have really screwed the pooch on this one yet again.

Oh well. Better luck next year, folks.


Anonymous said...

What was troubling to my wife and I was that it was very apparent 2 to 3 weeks ago that the FN judges were angling this "competition?" to be won by Aaron. We both called it then. He would win it no matter what. Sure enough, last week he bombs and the judges do something they have "Never done before". Invite all three to the final. Simply because, the contestant they wanted to win bombed in Vegas despite being given the easiest promo of the three. He served 3 different pasta dishes and crab cakes for his buffet. No variety, no thought at all. And, he just isnt comfortable in front of the camera. I'm not saying the other two didnt have their flaws. But, in my opinion Lisa was infinitely the best candidate to win. She's forgotten things about food that the other two will never know. Of the three, I would most want to watch what Lisa has to offer. Her food and knowledge would be the most interesting to me. Adam had a great demeanor and was entertaining. If he had a producer that could reign him in and keep him grounded with his ideas, he could have a great show. Aaron? Each week it was nothing but dumping a bunch of spices on a piece of meat. His signature dish in Vegas on the throwdown challenge??? He puts ingredients in it and doesnt even know what they are? How is that a signature dish? There is no way I will ever be convinced that he was able to make chicken parm in roughly 20 minutes that is "The best I have ever tasted." or "That is hearty" as some of the jduges claimed. Paula Dean? Oh yeah, her telling Lisa "I hate it".. As I read on another site, someone mentioned Paula Dean wouldnt know the difference between goat cheese and government cheese. Last nights outcome left me wondering if there was anyway I could get back the 8 weeks I wasted watching this farce. If they wanted Aaron to have a show, give him a%$&* show, dont make a mockery of the contest and the other chefs'ability and dreams.

Boogie said...

One word: Bingo.

I prepped my entry on emotion rather than logic -- which is against the grain for me -- but I forgot to mention the "pasta trifecta." And I also omitted his incredibly atrocious Vegas intro (ie the eating disorder thing that freaked out the entire room -- of crossdressers(!) -- and left me wondering where Aaron's judgment went).

I am glad you contributed this -- I was wondering if it was just me.

A few notes, incidentally: as much as Aaron seems like a nice guy, he needs more food knowledge (as you said, he doesn't know what a "chipoltay" is and he never heard of "Coke De Van").

I genuinely think the Food Network cares less about cooking ability and the ability to impart knowledge along with entertainment and more about satisfying demographics.

And incidentally, I too was amazed when Kelsey put together two pretty impressive-looking offerings, Aaron threw two big piles of food on plates and she was criticized. I can't remember the last time quantity trumped quality, but this was a prime -- and disturbing example.

Also, as much as I like Paula Dean, I don't think she's that unfamiliar -- I think she's more about simplicity than high-brow stuff. Either way, I agree 1000% with you that Lisa should have won. I think she's a bit plastic, but overall I'd watch her show. Adam -- maybe. But Aaron was definitely the wrong choice.

One final note: I assumed they were doing something "they never did before" by bringing the three back to NYC because neither Aaron nor Adam could compete with Lisa. Aside from the fact that she is far more talented a cook than both of them -- without a doubt -- I think she's got more knowledge to pass along, meaning that the bulk of what Aaron has done and what he will tell you to do is to dump cayenne, paprika, pepper flakes and "chipoltays" -- and like I indicated in the entry, that's a one-paragraph citation on the home page, not a show on the Food Network.

Thanks for the commentary, 'twas much appreciated. And if you're looking to get back some of your wasted time, give Amy Finley (last year's winner) a call in Burgundy, France to see how she manages to recoup some wasted time ;-)


Anonymous said...

I've been wandering around the internet this morning trying to come to terms with the farce I witnessed last night. I've been losing faith in the Food Network as a mecca of cooking knowledge and last night's The Next Food Network Star just confirmed to me what a waste of time watching that channel is for any sense of substance. Top Chef is about cooking...the fact that these "contestants" come on TNFNS and think that their ability to cook matters at all is hilarious. Come on, this is the network that has inflicted Rachael Ray on the country in unending forms for years. In my opinion, Lisa was the true winner. I looked forward to seeing her everytime she was on the screen. I always wanted to try and make her food, and I actually learned something when she put on demonstrations. I'm sad and, frankly, pretty annoyed that Aaron won. My husband and I will never get that time back. At least I still have No Reservations on the Travel Channel and PBS to fulfill my culinary needs. As for Aaron McCargo, Jr. (who's very name is obnoxious to hear over and over again), I've seen you before. Now I'm just ready to change the channel.

Boogie said...

And I quote: "The network that has inflicted Rachael Ray on the country."

I want to have a sign printed up and glue it to the front door of the Food Network for shits n' giggles. Either that, or have it tattooed on Susie Fogelson's forehead :-D

Several more points, to add to your observations: I first developed my sincere and complete admiration for Tony Bourdain when his show, "A Cook's Tour," appeared on The Food Network. The show is now being rebroadcast (sadly, there are no DVD's available thereof) and in Hi-Def, so my DVR is loaded with a combination of No Reservations and A Cook's Tour (as I advised my girlfriend, the Cook's Tour episode where he and some friends visit French Laundry in Napa is one of the best hours of TV in my recent, if flawed, memory).

I met Tony B and had far too many questions rolling around in my head to ask him but if I had had my wits together at the time (it was impromptu, not some lame-ass Borders book-signing) I would have simply advised him that his criticism of Rachel Ray's $40-A-Day ("Yeah? Try tipping") and his description of Kobe cows as "Jailhouse fatboys getting sake rubdowns and handjobs" were among my favorite of his many pearls of wisdom.

Incidentally, there's a show on Discovery called "A Lyon in The Kitchen" with a former contestant on NFNS (I believe his first name is Michael) and I wasn't very impressed. However, he showed he has some expertise with more than just a plastic container of cayenne and a spatula.

Before last night's finale, I told my girlfriend that I believed this whole NFNS thing is a sham, and based on the e-mails and comments I've received in connection with this morning's entry, I am far from alone.

Thanks for the feedback -- sorry you, like me, were tweaked and felt cheated...


Anonymous said...

Well I sure felt like an idiot after they called Aaron's name and realized I had been duped by the Food Network. I then realized the reason they brought the three back was because they had already known the winner was supposed to be Aaron but since he boomed so bad in Vegas they had to bring all three back. They should have the audience call in and vote as they do with Design Star on HGTV if all they are looking for is talent and not real cooking ability. Aaron seems like a nice guy, good family man. Wonderful and I hope he does well. Lisa and Adam should be glad they will not be associated with FN, they deserve better.

Roberta said...

I don't watch the show. I'll stick with Top Chef, TYVM.

But don't dis the Beer Can Chicken, bud! ;) It's surprisingly good! Ok, maybe not the best way for someone to show off their culinary skills on TV, but have YOU ever shoved a tall can of beer up a chicken's ass? LOL

If you have a grill, I recommend BCC be made there. :)


Boogie said...

In response to your suggestion that people call in, I think that -- in part -- that's a good idea if you have a nationally-treasured competition like (yech) American Idol or something akin thereto. Thing is, I think it's pretty clear that the network picks its choices and then sort of rolls the dice. Let's face it -- Kevin with his "romantic crustinis" isn't in the same league as most people I know personally, let alone the TV chefs competing for this position. This "competition" isn't just about cooking ability or who's going to be getting a six-episode deal; it's also about getting ratings well above what some Guy Fieri Diner-Fest in Shit Stain, Mississippi (sorry to the people who live there, but yikes) would achieve.

In other words, they get to explode their typical ratings and hire a new guy who appeals to national demographics -- and that's fine. Top Chef (and most reality shows, in fact) have producer-influenced decisions that sometimes mystify we, the viewers.

It's just a question of the Food Network seemingly going backward and to the side rather than forward. It was a great twist -- except for the fact that they faked themselves out and, in the process, completely lost credibility (though they did gain the entire Food Network Viewership in Camden and in South Philly).

It's the kind of joke where you're left wondering "Why is everyone else laughing when I clearly don't get it?"

Boogie said...


I'm not dissin' the Beer Can Chicken at fact I'm a big proponent of it. As I indicated, I've got it in my virtual recipe box, but I've just never gotten around to making it. I could definitely see having three or four beer can chickens on a grill with some roasted corn on the cob and some baked potatoes for a BBQ with a bunch of friends. However, while I like Adam, I've had that receipe -- albeit with a few fewer spices/herbs -- in my recipe book for YEARS.

I understand his gig was doing old, reliable dishes in his own way, but jeez...had he come up with something new, he would have impressed people, rather than just showing he can tweak someone else's recipe (which most of us can do).

*Shrugs* ;-)

Boogie said...

Due to a half-dozen requests via e-mail and counting, I need to clarify I DO NOT have Adam Gertler's recipe for Beer Can Chicken. However, here's mine: and no, I won't make my chicken dance, even if he is, in fact, a chicken:

Beer Can Chicken

Difficulty: Easy
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Inactive Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 1 hour 15 minutes
Yield: 4 servings

1 (4-pound) whole chicken
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
2 tablespoons salt
1 teaspoon black pepper
3 tablespoons of your favorite dry spice rub
1 can beer

Remove neck and giblets from chicken and discard. Rinse chicken inside and out, and pat dry with paper towels. Rub chicken lightly with oil then rub inside and out with salt, pepper and dry rub. Set aside.

Open beer can and drink a third or a half of the can.

Place beer can on a solid surface.

Grabbing a chicken leg in each hand, plunk the bird cavity over the beer can. Transfer the bird-on-a-can to your grill and place in the center of the grate, balancing the bird on its 2 legs and the can like a tripod.
Cook the chicken over medium-high, indirect heat (i.e. no coals or burners on directly under the bird), with the grill cover on, for approximately 1 1/4 hours or until the internal temperature registers 165 degrees F in the breast area and 180 degrees F in the thigh, or until the thigh juice runs clear when stabbed with a sharp knife. Remove from grill and let rest for 10 minutes under aluminum foil before carving.

Note: It's recommended using a dry rub because of the steam (from the beer). A wet rub gets drippy and you may wind up with more flavoring on the bottom of the grill than on the chicken. Also, dried spices/herbs are stronger than fresh, especially in this particular application (beer, grill heat, summer, etc.)

Some good choices for flavorings: cayenne, paprika, garlic, sage, rosemary and thyme (not necessarily all at once). If you're new to these spices, take a stroll in a local market and sniff the fresh versions of each of these and guesstimate which you think would taste good with chicken and one another. And if you're not sure, experiment.

Happy grilling!

Kaia said...

Aaron!!??!! Beyond disappointing. How they chose him baffles. I don't understand it and am so blown away they would choose, frankly, a hack as their new 'star'. I'm sure he's a nice guy - but that's not a show I would ever tune in for. Lisa, on the other hand, is a skilled and knowledgable chef. "Beautiful Basic's" is something I would have tuned in weekly for. "Big Daddy's Kitchen" - erhmmm - not so much.

Just his 'presentation' alone in Vegas should have given that panel enough to toss him - let alone his unremarkable and tired buffet. It was akin to what you would present at some low end rec hall wedding reception in TN. Zucchinni rosettes on orzo pasta - really?? That's your DREAM BUFFET?? Where is the taste level! ARGGG!

Boogie said...

Kaia..."where is the taste level?"

It's somewhere in Camden or South Philly, and it's getting cold :-)

No question about it, they really screwed up. And despite my belief they brought Adam and Aaron to NYC so it wouldn't be such an obvious win for Lisa, I can't help but believe that they wanted Aaron to win from Day 1 (in theory), even if he was a "deer in the headlights" or if he's "not a camera guy."

Honestly, if I was one of the Food Network people that perpetrated this bullshit, I'd be embarrassed. And getting my resume in order.


Anonymous said...

I was the first "anonymous" poster and thought I would add a little more. I dont mind Rachael Ray so much. I think her style is needed and would appeal to a lot of people who just want something easy to cook. She's not really my cup of tea, but I know some people who want that. The thing with this proposed Aaron show is, that's all TFN is becoming. Nothing but the same old thing from show to show. I like Alton Brown's show because he gets into the technical details about things. I think Bobby Flay would be a lot better if he had a show like that instead of the "Throwdown" thing. I think Lisa would have a good show about how to prepare really avant garde type stuff but in a way that it wouldnt be over everyone's head. What I want to see is the why along with the what. Luckily, I live not far from her restaurant and will definitely go there at some point. As for Aaron's show? I'm sure he is a great, nice guy, but I really have no desire to learn how to dump spices on a piece of meat and call it dinner. I want to learn about sauces, how to marry ingredients together. Details. Not some doofus hooping and hollering like he's cooking hot dogs at a NASCAR race.

Boogie said...

In response to Anonymous #1 ;-)

Why I initially liked watching Rachel Ray's show was the reasons you mentioned, ie showing people how to make simple, easy meals. She's not -- nor does she purport to be -- a chef. But the quick, easy, weeknight meals (as opposed to reservations/take-out) is a definite plus. The problem is the high-energy hand-waving, jumping around, the ymm-oh, the EVOO and the high-energy hand-waving (listed twice intentionally). They kept nagging Kelsey to dial it down, I wish they succeeded in getting Rachel Ray to do so as well.

For my money (time is money, after all) Good Eats is by far the best show on the network. The pomp and circumstance of Iron Chef America is getting increasingly irritating, but watching (and hearing) Alton Brown identify foods from all over is worth the price of admission. I'd much rather have intellectual humor (as with AB) than the other dummy-up fare on the network.

Once they pushed Emeril out (and while I like Emeril I think it was time -- the "cheap seats" and the other regurgitated one-liners were getting old), it was clear this was/is Bobby Flay's network. The throwdown thing isn't awful because he does deconstruct dishes and compares two methodologies, but personally, I think he's a bit too arrogant to be self-deprecating like AB.

The network is definitely changing. Lisa showed she has her shit together and knows which direction in which she wants to go, and Aaron didn't even know the name of his show. She had three plans/presentations of ideas, and Aaron said his show was about using spices.

Really, really pathetic -- and that refers not to Aaron but to the "Selection Committee" and the network in general.

Basically, any moron can follow a recipe. It's about teaching people how and why so they not only learn a dish but a methodology. I think most of us are disappointed because we know that we lost a great opportunity to learn a lot from Lisa and that opportunity would have not only been educational but fun.

O well. Maybe for their next trick the food network can try and duplicate "Good Eats" by creating some shit-bird show called "Food Detectives."


Charles Chen said...

The reality is that Lisa does not come across as a likable personality, regardless of her skill level. In the end, in television, it's not about being the best at what you do, it's about being good at what you do and being a likable personality.

Lisa is lacking in that department and people can't connect with her. She also tends to talk down to people. For example, "If I could do this at 13, you can do it today!" As if to insult the viewer by implying that if they cannot make the dish, they are no better than a 13 year old.

In my opinion, Aaron won because the judges felt that the people can connect to him as a personality and to his dishes. It doesn't matter if the dishes he makes are dishes you make every day. Even Alton Brown did an episode of Good Eats on mayonnaise and meatballs. It's not what's on the menu, it's not about exotic ingredients or fancy dishes: it's about motivating, guiding, and adding insight.

I believe that's what Aaron brings not only in his dishes which use simple and common ingredients, but also in his personality and his success. His success against the odds stacked against him (far more "mainstream" contestants, more skill contestants, and even some more polished presenters) is motivation in its purest form.

This is not to take away from the other contestants. Garza is incredibly knowledgeable and skilled in her craft, but she doesn't inspire in any way. Adam, while a great presenter and showman, lacks the motivational insight (and I think a big part of any how-to type of edu-tainment is motivation).

Ultimately, McCargo brought a different human quality to the show. He is not infallible and he knows his insecurities, like you and I. He has prevailed not because he is polished, perfect, and the most skilled chef; he has prevailed because he is none of those and knows that he is none of those. It is because of this that he is able to connect to the audience and inspire us to get in the kitchen.

Boogie said...


Unfortunately, I’m going to have to disagree with you on a number of points.

First, while I do agree Lisa is not as approachable as Aaron, I wasn’t put off by her personality or by her promo. Behind the scenes she was a type-A pain in the ass at times, but all of the finalists had moments. Aaron’s reaction to Adam and Kelsey on the train comes to mind.

The other aspect of this is the sense of authority: if you were to have one of the three people to your house and cook something, how much would you really learn from Aaron or Adam? The point being that Aaron's a nice guy, but why would I watch a guy do something on television that I can do? Is he an authority of anything? Based on the past eight or so weeks, he's an authority on being a nice guy and shaking spices onto pork and steak.

Your suggestion that Lisa was suggesting that if you couldn’t do it you were no better than a 13 year old is incorrect. She was encouraging the viewer to try something that seems daunting by suggesting a 13 year old could do it so the viewer should be able to do it. And frankly, if you saw the preparation that she made, you would see she nailed the goal of showing something that sounds really fancy but is really simple. That you thought the 13-year-old comment was condescending reveals your bias.

There’s nothing wrong with cooking everyday foods – but doing it well and educating the viewer is the key. Did Aaron’s demo teach you how to prepare plaintains or steak or collard greens? Did Adam’s demo teach you anything about preparing a chicken in a new way? Did Lisa’s demo teach you anything? Based on the overwhelming majority of responses, Aaron’s demo was underwhelming and didn’t really show anyone much of anything except how to make a basic steak, plaintains and collard greens. Judging by the responses to my original post, most people are more interested in Lisa’s black cod and Adam’s Beer Can Chicken (go to google and count the hits for each of the three searches if you want to bother).

And incidentally, Alton Brown’s show about mayonnaise is reinforced by him showing you how to do it properly. If his show “about mayo” was just taking it out of a jar he would have been off the network awhile ago. He takes the everyday and shows you the methodology behind it, which was similar to Lisa’s thing, ie showing you how to take high-falutin’ foods and de-mystify them. Aaron shows you how to shake spices onto meats, chickens and dishes. It’s not educational and it’s not very entertaining.

“Motivation in its purest form” is an overstatement on your part. Aaron showed up for his demo not knowing the name of his own show. When Gordon asked him what he does, he says he puts spices on foods.

Lisa showed up with a game plan, three presentational boxes and several choices for a show title.

Adam – “Kid Chaos” – showed up having had the forethought to incorporate having a live webcam setup to allow different users to interact with him live.

The point is it wasn’t motivation, it wasn’t foresight or planning. It was demographic.

Personally, I don’t find Aaron an inspiration to get in the kitchen. I did find myself thinking “I’d like to try making that sauce” that Lisa prepared, and as I indicated earlier, I would definitely like to try making Beer Can chicken as did Adam.

Contrary to your “connect with the viewer" suggestion, I’d be shocked if Aaron’s show runs past October, if that long. It's not that he's a bad guy, but the "Hardy Boys" connect with the viewer too. They do so at 5AM every Thursday.

The fact that most people were so irritated and angry by last night's finale is that it seemed ludicrous for the person who seemingly is least qualified to be a TV personality to be a TV personality. Nice guy -- give him his own talk show on UPN or the WB.

My $0.02.

Charles Chen said...

In re-reading your original post, I'd also like to comment on a few points which you make which are purely conjecture and used without factual basis:

Paula Dean? Oh yeah, her telling Lisa "I hate it".. As I read on another site, someone mentioned Paula Dean wouldnt know the difference between goat cheese and government cheese.

Would you or anyone have criticized Dean's sense of taste if she had made them to Aaron? I don't think so. It's not a reasonable point to make considering that Dean is quite accomplished as a self made success.

If they wanted Aaron to have a show, give him a%$&* show, dont make a mockery of the contest and the other chefs' ability and dreams.

On the contrary, each and every contestant is tremendously more recognizable now. Regardless of whether they won the top prize, millions of people now know who Adam Gertler and Lisa Garza are. Millions of people now know about Suze. It's huge street cred to say you even made it to the top 4. Kelsey has great cred now as does Shane. Each contestant has gained incomparable fame from this that they never could have accomplished without this show.

Your comment reveals that perhaps you have not analyzed the entirety of the show and the outcome with a reasoned mind. It's abundantly clear that each of these contestants will only utilize their appearances on this show to their benefit.

As for Aaron's show, even if it failed, it would not necessarily be a failure on Aaron's behalf. The long term success of these shows and the presenters is always hard to predict as mentioned, but you can believe that folks who have far more experience producing successful shows and building successful brands know more about what it takes than you and I.

Boogie said...


With respect to your second comment, keep in mind that both of the quotes you attribute to me were made by other people, not me. I'll answer each of them but God is in the details, so to speak.

When Paula Dean said "I hate it" to Lisa it struck me as a bit odd, not because goat cheese is the most incredible thing in the world. Personally, I could do without goat cheese and try to avoid it whenever possible. However, it seemed a bit over the top. If it were me, I would have politely said "I didn't care for your dish only because I felt the goat cheese overpowered the rest of the flavors" or something akin thereto. Saying "I hated it" was really blunt, and I remember being a bit surprised when I heard her say that. I personally would have been equally surprised if she had made them to Aaron because of the extreme nature of the comment.

It also kind of struck me as odd that Bobby, Paula and Susie and Bob all gushed about Adam adding lobster to macaroni and cheese. That's not Vegas, that's the seafood restaurant down the street. I would have expected more than a rehashed dish -- want to impress me? Put some finely minced jalapeno and shitakes in the mac and cheese along with the lobster. Do something unique, creative and different. That would have deserved universal praise.

What's interesting about your point, unfortunately, is that Paula Dean's success is built on butter. It's not high-falutin' cuisine and -- based on my girlfriend's trip to The Lady and Sons in Savannah -- it's not very good cuisine. She's a southern cook who does everything -- especially butter -- to excess (eg does crab butter sound appetizing to you? It doesn't to me). Having said that, I respect her but whomever that comment was directed to, it was over the top.

As far as the issue of whether they made a mockery of the entire process, it seems to me that most people believe this was rigged in Aaron's favor -- which is fine. The problem is that when you purport to have a contest and then it's clear that said contest is not actually a contest but a pre-determined presentation that is masqueraded as a contest -- like a pro wrestling match -- people feel cheated. The word "sham" is being tossed around in connection with last night's finale for good reason: most people who saw it were shocked that Aaron won based on the facts, not just over a one- or two-week period but the entire "contest."

True, now lots of people know the names Adam Gertler and Lisa Garza, but your statement suggesting whoever won the top prize is insignificant is flawed. The reason being that if a "contest" -- whether a reality show, a game or a Presidential Election -- appears fixed, people are going to feel cheated and then will, subsequently, give less credibility to the contest itself. No question, the participants gained a lot of notoriety and it's likely most, if not all, of them will be better off having been a part of this process, it's clear that this was not quite an even playing field.

That's why most people feel like it was a sham -- because the facts and the outcome are incongruous and incompatible.

To your suggestion that the commenter -- again, not me -- didn't analyze the entirety of the show and the outcome with a reasoned mind reveals another flaw: obviously, all of the participants will (attempt to) use this appearance to their benefit. But if I was a viewer and I believed this was rigged, I would be pretty disappointed. As for the entirety of the show, once people believe it's fixed and a complete waste of time, how long do you think the process -- and the show -- will retain its credibility? And further, how much "street cred" do you think people will give to the participants if it's suggested they were part of the process? Or worse, won a title or prize they didn't deserve?

I think the notion of seeing the entirety of the show and the outcome means first and foremost protecting the integrity of the process; without integrity, it's just another hour of television that's soon to be cancelled.

And finally, regarding the possible failure of Aaron's show, the people you anoint as having "far more experience producing successful shows and building successful brands know more about what it takes than you and I" have managed to put two past winners in the toilet (The Hardy Boys and Amy Finley) and another sitting on it (Guy Fieri). They have shown they're not interested -- really -- in technique or knowledge but extreme personalities and/or demographics -- which is fine. But the hypocritical nature of this process -- and the history behind it -- is what I think irritates most people the most.

I'll put it this way -- as much as I like Aaron and hope the show does well, I believe he'll have spent more air time on The Next Food Network Star than on the show that he "won."

Kaia said...

"Your comment reveals that perhaps you have not analyzed the entirety of the show and the outcome with a reasoned mind."

I have - and there is no way - given the entirety of the show -that Aaron should have won. Absolutely no way was he the most qualified, knowledgeable, creative, inspiring or camera friendly/ready.

Back to Boogie's point of having them cook at your house - Lisa or Adam - in that order - no point in having Aaron over - I already know how to spice my food.

Boogie said...

Kaiamama, I agree -- in fact, if we analyze the factors that make up an ideal TV cook (not chef -- cook), they are charisma, a sense of humor, inspiration, cooking ability, and the ability to impart technique or other knowledge. If we follow those criteria, I can't honestly pick any where Aaron would surpass either Lisa or Adam.

As they say in the rodeo business, this was some big load o' bullshit.

Roberta said...

The only thing I'd add, Boog, is to find the 16 oz. "tall" cans of'll make it easier to balance on the grill. :)

Boogie said...

Good call, Berta...unless the chicken is one o' them-thar mini's, a tall can will keep the chicken up whilst getting moist, juicy and extra-crispy :-D

Kaia said...

Ug. You know how i feel about the "M" word...

Shake it off...just shake it off

Boogie said...

LOL...the 'm' word... :-D

Roberta said...

Kel, my sister hates the 'M' word, too. She actually shudders when she hears it.

Sometimes, we (the parents and I) say it around her just to watch her squirm.

Yeah. We're mean. ;)

Boogie said...

What word, 'Berta? Moist? :-D

I know, I'm gonna pay for that tonight and for the next week ;-)

But it's so, sooo worth it ;-)

Roberta said...

Yes, B...MOIST. Hear that, sis? MOIST!!!!!

LOL ;)

Boogie said...


I've known for some time I'm going to hell in a handbasket (what a handbasket is, I have no idea). Glad you too are making the trip, 'Berta ;-)


Kaia said...

Stop saying the M word!

My parents/sister does the same thing - except they combine it with another word I hate which makes me squirm even more. And no - I'm not letting you know what the other word is :)

Boogs - STOP or else! xx

Roberta said...

Making the trip? Hell, man, I'm driving! ;)

Boogie said...

LOL :)

Patti's Parlor said...

Great blog, great comments. I'm glad I stumbled upon it this morning. I was a Lisa Garza fan from day one and was totally disappointed she didn't win. As far as who I'd want in my kitchen, my door is open to Lisa anytime!

Boogie said...

Thanks, Patti...I had no idea so many people had a similar reaction to the NFNS farce as me, but the bottom line is that we're all a bit tweaked over the outcome.

There's a lot of great commentary and observation at the Sidedish blog out of Dallas -- and lots of other places. I'm just glad I got irritated enough to blog it out :-)

Thanks for the props :-)


Patti's Parlor said...

I actually found you on Sidedish. I enjoyed reading your point of view since it was so similar to mine ;-)
I finally added my 3 cents worth this morning.

Boogie said...


Wellums I must thank you again...and if your opinion is similar to mine, it's worth far more than three cents -- we're prolly talking a quarter or fifty cents, at least ;-)

glo said...

whoa whoa and whoa again!

Roberta said...

Not to stir the pot or anything ::evil grin::, but look what I saw posted on another blog (which shall remain anonymous, so Boog doesn't start cyber-slapping her...)

What’d you think of The Next Food Network Star winner? I think the judges made a good choice.

From what I read here, the woman who asserted this opinion--who fancies herself a foodie and has a 2nd food-related blog--should have her KitchenAid mixer revoked (and sent straight to me!).

Boogie said...

Glo -- agreed and agreed and agreed again ;-)

Berta -- yeah, tell her to give up her mixer or shove it up her bundt pan ;-)