Today's episode began with an introduction to this week's challenge: the finalists would no longer be working as teams and would, instead, be competing on their own and judged as individuals.
And for today's Star Challenge, they would be meeting the press in the form of Jess Cagle, and Jill Bernstein from Entertainment Weekly, Christina Mclarty from Entertainment Tonight, and Ed Levine from Serious Eats.
The task: to serve one bite that would perfectly encapsulate who each contestant is as a cook along with a 90 second live EPK (electronic press kit) where they were expected to get personal and talk about who they are and why the media should take interest in them.
As the challenge got underway, Alton in his excellent manner worked hard to help his team understand the importance of sharing a story that would connect with an audience; and under his guidance, Marty decided to tell what Alton referred to as "a Genesis story" to explain how she became the party queen. Justin decided to focus on a point of view that featured memories of his father, and Emily, who the judges had begun to question in previous challenges - is Retro Rad Emily, or an act she created for the show - decided to put Thanksgiving into one bite.
And even though Emily was hesitant to share from a personal place, I was okay with that. One of my favourite food stars is Nadia G and somehow I doubt she walks around Montreal yelling "Yo!" to everyone she meets. From the get go I was excited about Emily's point of view and would absolutely watch a show that featured her updated retro rad classics.
Giada and Bobby gave their teams similar advice and as I watched, I was struck once again by how beautiful Martita is but in the challenge all of that great personality and energy just kind of fizzled. I know she can cook and I feel terrible that the pressure of the cameras seemed to be throwing her off for another week.
Ippy was, once again, too laid back for the judges, and Nikki made me laugh out loud when she tried to tone down her original girl on grill on air persona, with her lighter, breezier "grill next door" version complete with lovely flowers adorning her plate.
To the good, Justin made this wildly rebellious bite featuring figs, peanut butter, duck, and nori, which, weird as it sounds, received rave reviews. Ditto for Yvan who really impressed me with his arepas and touched my heart with his story of searching in dumpsters for food as a child so his family would not to go hungry.
I often say this, but with so much money in the world it is unconscionable to me that anyone would go hungry. I am all for people being rich and having everything they could ever want but at some point, say after making 20 million dollars for a movie, does that not become enough?
Michelle and Josh from Team Bobby were good, and I'm sure their food was amazing, but they are both going to have to rev it up a notch to really ignite some interest.
In the end, it pains me to say this, but Martie's story of being left out as a teenager completely connected with me and I understood her a little better and though I still haven't gotten over her stealing the spotlight from Emily an episode or two ago, I am willing to call a truce. No matter the outcome of the show, I doubt she will ever be my favourite but I do respect her for what she has done so far.
So with everything said and done, in the Producer's Challenge it came down to Nikki and her flowered plates and Emily who lost her mojo during the EPK and, to my shock and surprise, Emily was sent home.
Frankly, I don't get it. As a self confessed Food Network Junkie, verily, I say Emily should have stayed. But I'm not a producer and this is how it played out so to Emily I would like to say: Hats off to ham! Most often our biggest disappointments pave the way to our brightest opportunities.
And that's the blog.
Now for the perfect bite... in honour of Emily, I'm putting Christmas in a bite with my Tourtiere Bundles. I love Christmas, I love traditional recipes, and, like Emily, I love the magic of modernizing them! So, without further ado, here they are!
For the printable recipe click HERE.
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