The Next Food Network Star's Lisa Garza: Love Her or Hate Her?

"She is sooo interesting to look at.... Firecracker dynamo."
—Susie Fogelson, judge and VP of marketing at Food Network

20080604Lisa_Garza150.jpgSeason 4 of The Next Food Network Star premiered Sunday night, and the contestant we can't stop talking about is Lisa Garza. It's hard not to notice the Anna Wintour–esque former beauty queen who's now the co-owner of and special event planner at Suze Restaurant (her husband, Gilbert, is Suze’s executive chef). Lisa has no formal culinary training, but she has apprenticed for her chef husband for the last 15 to 16 years. Her bio gives her current age as 32, so that would make them high school sweethearts?

Lisa Garza Makes Her Entrance

Lisa Garza's 'Three C's'

Seems like there's a lot more to learn about Lisa Garza. For starters, what the heck are the "Three C's"?

In the very first challenge, the finalists must define their culinary points of view in a branding bite. Most of them are surprisingly comfortable and articulate on camera, with a couple of exceptions—Corey, the first finalist to be eliminated—and Lisa. Watch as Lisa explains the "Three C's," her culinary point of view.

"Designer dining?" Like Alton Brown, who was serving as guest judge and appears in the clip above, we were left scratching our heads.

Second Verse, Same as the First

In the second challenge, Lisa tries to explain her culinary point of view again, this time to a table full of actual Food Network stars. Alton bristles at yet the second mention of the "Three C's."

How 'Bout a Fourth C: Clarification?

Still confused? You are not alone! Thankfully, Lisa showed up as a commenter on the Food Network Addict blog to clarify the "Three C's" [emphasis added]:

COOKING EDUCATION= take the mystery out of fine dining, break it down and make it accesible [sic].

COMMUNITY OUTREACH=any one who really knows me, knows this, I overcame a very difficult and abbusive [sic] childhood to be the strong ass woman I am today. I will never forget where I came from. I will never forget what it feels like to be hopeless and in need of love. I don't throw change at the homeless, I hug them, I love them and I feed them. I am sick to death of all these beautiful celebs eating up the attention and not addressing real issues. I don't think food TV does enough to educate the public on how hard we work to feed the hoeless [sic], how many millions of dollars are raised because we donate our time, food, and service to charity events, sometimes, during the busiest time of our year.

The only reason I agreed to be on the show was because I want to use the attention and possible celeb status to promote my purpose for living, to feed the homeless, care for impoverished children and make a damn difference in this shitty ass selfish world. I give a large ammount [sic] of my personal income to an organization that feeds and cares for impoverished children. Divas have hearts too, big ones.

CULINARY CRAFTS= how to's for building a buffet table, home made gifts, arts and crafts that relate to cooking in some way. I want a Martha Stewart type show where I can show the public how to get high dollar presentation on a budget.

There's something about Lisa Garza that's going to keep us watching. From what we've seen so far, she brings a much-needed rubbernecking factor to an otherwise dull line-up. The question is, will we grow to love her, or love to hate her?


Lisa Garza's Facebook Lisa also designs couture aprons (website). The Dallas Observer describes Suze as "a bistro exquisitely cramped into romantic intimacy if you suck in your gut and squint." Serious Eater Annien's review of the Sunday's episode

Previously on Serious Eats

'The Next Food Network Star'—Are We Watching?
Amateur Gourmet the Go-To Guy for 'Next Food Network Star' Coverage
'Top Chef' or 'Food Network Star'