In this week's episode of The Next Food Network Star, the remaining contestants faced two dinner party challenges. The first was to shop for a party of twelve on a $60 budget. The second was to get into groups of two and serve Ina Garten and eleven others dinner made with those ingredients. In true reality show fashion, there were more than a few meltdowns.
[Warning, spoilers ahead]
Stew Leonard's Shopping Challenge
The finalist were deposited at a Stew Leonard's grocery store and were given a budget of $60. In addition, each contestant had to record a 30 second clip on how to save on grocery shopping, with Tyler Florence judging the performances. Katie advised saving on proteins by focusing on inexpensive grains. Michael completely fumbled his clip by having no preparation, and Jamika suggested reusing a marinade the next day—a surefire way to poison your guests. Jeff impressed Florence with his story of making crepes with his daughter, and won the challenge.
Ina Garten's Dinner Party
The next day, the contestants were off to East Hampton, New York, and taken to Ina Garten's house and instructed to make a dinner (appetizer, entree, and dessert) for Ina and her friends. As the winner of the first challenge, Jeff was able to pick his parter. He chose Michael. The other teams were Teddy and Debbie, Jamika and Katie, and Melissa and Eddie. In the pairing, each contestant does one of the courses and they collaborate on the third course.
Eddie and Melissa served their meal first. Eddie made a sweet onion, watermelon and feta salad, Melissa made lemon-thyme chicken and they collaborated on the dessert of bananas foster Nutella quesadillas. In the kitchen, Eddie's disdain for Melissa was very clear. Ina and the judges also thought that Eddie's salad was inedible.
Next, Debbie and Teddy serve their meal. Debbie made an vegetable linguine with an Asian marinara sauce, they collaborated on an Asian-style meatloaf, and Teddy was supposed to make a strawberry shortcake for dessert. Unfortunately, Teddy waited until the last five minutes to make the dessert. As a result, the dessert was an absolute failure.
The next team was Jeff and Michael. They collaborated on the appetizer of a roasted tomato and chile soup. Michael's entree was grilled chicken, sausage, and broccoli rabe on a crostini. Jeff made the dessert, reusing his idea from the earlier challenge of Nutella crepes. The dinner guests felt that the dinner didn't taste "budget," but thought that Michael seemed a bit lost in his presentation.
The last pairing was Katie and Jamika. They had no overlap in their groceries, so they decided to go for an "international" theme. Jamika spiced up a store-bought marinade and made salmon with seaweed and pepper slaw for the appetizer. Katie made a chicken sausage and mushroom ragout with whole wheat pasta and goat cheese. The collaborated on the dessert of a grilled pineapple ring with marinated fruit. The Judges criticized the lack of cohesion and thought that Katie's emphasis on the health benefits of her dish missed the point of the challenge.
The Judging Panel
At the evaluation, the judges listed the strengths and weaknesses of each pairing. Most interestingly, when Teddy's dessert was heavily critiqued, he claimed that the dessert was the collaboration and that his dish was the meatloaf. Debbie was taken aback and the judges immediately called him out on the lie. Eddie's behavior towards Melissa was also criticized, as well as his admittance that his salad recipe was taken from Paula Deen. Jeff and Michael's meal won the competition and Melissa, Debbie, Jamika, and Katie were all put through to the next round. Both Teddy and Eddie were up for elimination.
Despite Teddy's crazy switch-a-roo at judging, Eddie was sent home for not being a gentleman and not showing improvement. What do you think? Was this the right decision?