When the "Next Food Network Star" contestants arrived in Las Vegas, they were told that they would sit with Bobby Flay
and Paula Deen at Bobby's restaurant Mesa Grill in Caesars Palace. Paula gave them advice: do what you know. The contestants found out that they would be pitting their signature dish one-on-one against someone else's signature dish in a Bobby Flay inspired Throwdown. Each one-on-one pair would make their signature dish along with the signature dish of their competitor. All the while, they would be interviewed by Dana Devon from "Extra."
The first pair to have a Throwdown was Adam with mac and cheese and Lisa with cassoulet (a type of baked beans). During the interview while they were cooking, Adam didn't look at Dana at all and even walked away at one point. Lisa was all over the place in her kitchen, and she couldn't stop talking. Adam and Lisa did well on their own dishes but terribly on the other's. Lisa's interpretation of Adam's mac and cheese wasn't a favorite of Paula Deen. In fact, Paula went as far as saying she "hated it."
Next up was Aaron's stuffed pork and Kelsey's chicken parmesan, and immediately Aaron was struggling between cooking and talking at the same time when Dana came by for the interview. Kelsey, unfortunately, talked again about her knowledge from culinary school after being told several times that she makes herself look like less of an authority doing that.
Aaron, on the other hand, was running out of time to finish his chicken parmesan, so he deep fried it. This was probably the best move he could have made because Paula Deen loves fried food. If there was a way to deep fry butter, Paula would do it. When it came to tasting, the judges liked Aaron's versions of both dishes, but were miffed that Aaron didn't know what a chipotle pepper was (a smoked jalepeno) and that he couldn't talk and cook at the same time. The judges had a problem with Kelsey's portioning because it was too small for their liking.
At final judgement, they explained that Vegas is the perfect place for the final competitions is because it's a huge culinary Mecca, and it's a gamble so anyone has a chance. Bobby loved Adam's dish and the rest of the judges felt it was his best dish ever. Lisa's energy in the kitchen was incredible, but they couldn't understand why she didn't bring out her guns for both dishes. They did, however, think that her cassoulet was the best they've ever had, even though Lisa's performance was more intense than welcoming. They liked hearing Adam talk about his passion and his "home-made" perspective.
When the judges deliberated, they felt that Lisa had two sides to her and is having trouble finding the middle. They liked Aaron's personality, but he struggled being able to multi-task in front of a camera. They liked Kelsey in front of the camera, but she doesn't seem to be an authority yet. They liked Adam's personality, but don't trust his passion yet.
First to stay was Aaron, followed by Lisa. The judges said that it was a hard decision to make because they generally liked both Kelsey and Adam, but in the end they choose Adam. Kelsey believed that she is lucky to have this huge experience at the beginning of her career, and she knows that one day she will be on television cooking. As for the rest of them, their toughest challenge is still ahead of them. We are down to the final three, and they will be using super-star sous chefs to help them cook. See ya next Sunday, food fans!
Story by Kristin M. Koltz
Starpulse contributing writer