Thursday, July 26, 2012

The Next Food Network Star, Season 8 Finale, Justin Takes it Home!

It's been an amazing season and after much cooking, and more than a few uncomfortable on camera moments, America voted and tonight's episode revealed who The Next Food Network Star would be!

But not before a little re-capping and never before seen moments featuring our would be stars and their coaches.

The episode began with the "final four" - Martie, Michelle, Justin, and Yvan and it was interesting to learn from the coaches that all four of the finalists had been first choice picks.

It was also enlightening to learn of the rivalry that existed between the teams and the animosity between Bobby Flay's group toward the other cooks. It became apparent from the get go that Flay's people thought they were somehow better because of their previous culinary experience and it was nice to see that the other teams remained un-intimidated.

In particular, Team Alton.

As an aside, have I mentioned that I adore Alton Brown?

Here's what he had to say:

"I mentored my team to be individuals and to not fit any molds... In reality, what I realized is that the winning was secondary. I want to make sure that all five of them have a different life, and a better life because they did this."

I caught my breath because that was exactly it.

I know first hand the importance of informing a life by experience as opposed to always looking toward an outcome. Life is a moveable feast and the only real "outcome" is when we're no longer around to keep icing that cake.

I digress.

Because an outcome was about to be given to one of the finalists and the person with the lowest number of votes, who would therefore not be going any further, would be revealed.

And that person was Martie.

As much as I didn't love her throughout the season, I have to admit to being a little heart broken on her behalf because its a tough pill to make it that far into a race and not quite cross the finish line. 

But again, I would say to Martie that, perhaps this race wasn't hers to finish - the horizon beckons, and I'm excited that she has the courage and the moxie to take this journey because life is about so much more than just getting older.

Hey, I'm middle aged.

I can say stuff like that. 

The next part of the show featured the finalists and their answers to a series of anonymous poll questions that were sent to them via email starting with: "Who is the most competitive?"

The answer, Nikki.

Um, big surprise - not. It was always my belief that Nikki's overly competitive nature was the thing that led to her undoing because it made her far less likeable. Instead of just being herself (whoever that is, I'm still not sure) she adopted a series of grrrrrl personas throughout the season that just weren't relateable.

Was she a tough chick? A pageant alumni? The girl next door?

We'll never know....  

The next question, "Who was the cockiest competitor?" also came with an unsurprising answer:  Malcolm. And true to form, even though his lack of a Point of View is what ultimately sent him home, he still had the stupidity arrogance to stare down Suzie Fogelson and say "My lack of a POV is my POV.

To which I say: "Good luck with your Food Network Career Malcolm."

 Moving on. 

The oddest couple vote went to Justin and Martie followed by a montage featuring the so called rivalry between judges and, again, it was really fun to see Alton, Bobby, and Giada as themselves. I was also so happy to see Bobby Flay acknowledge Eric as he was one of my absolute favourites from the get go and I still say, I would watch a show with him as the host over people with "better personas" - why? Because I am a home cook who is invested in learning and growing and getting better.

Food Network, I beg of you, groom Eric - I want to learn how to make artisan bread, and soups, and sauces, and pastas.... and.... and...

Next we heard from Bob and Suzie and it's always interesting to hear how invested the Network becomes in its would be stars - but TV is a tough business, and for those known as  "the talent" it's important to  understand that nothing, and I mean nothing, is personal. This is a business where personality and the ability to generate ad dollars and viewership is the commodity. People embarking on such a venture will be traded up or down in much the same way as copper or silver and it isn't a personal reflection if things don't go their way.

Further, as Oprah Winfrey says, "You can't create a phenomenon," people either have stardust or they don't and no amount of fighting or competitive spirit is ever going to change that.  

In the end, after four and half million votes, the person I called out from Day 1 as the one to watch; the person who, along with Emily and Eric, who I also always believed had stardust - Justin Warner - won!

And I am so incredibly excited because, I know, with Justin and Alton on the project this is gonna be some Good Times!

And so ends season 8.

I look forward to revisiting its outcomes as time goes on...

 How about an amazing soft taco??

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