Saturday, June 1, 2013

Next Food Network Star Season 9, Lava Flow Cocktails and Gossip!

With Next Food Network Star slated to begin this Sunday, I would be remiss if I didn't include my thoughts on Season 9 in today's Cocktails and Gossip blog. Why? Because I'm still disappointed that last season's winner, Justin Warner, wasn't given what was promised by Food Network - his own show produced by Alton Brown.

Whatever Happened to Baby Justin?

Instead, we got a Food Network Special called Rebel Eats, which to me was more like a re-heated version of Alton Brown's Feasting on Asphalt than something new and exciting.

And, quite frankly, as cooking travel shows go, I'll stick with Anthony Bourdain who reminds us that people routinely create ambitious and interesting food in countries other than the US or, in this case, the deep south, and travels like a true rebel to parts of the world most of us will ever really get to see on our TV screens.

That being said, I don't get why the network didn't develop a show for Justin that would have better reflected his point of view as a cooking rebel who takes chances with ingredients.

After several seasons of winners that I haven't found all that exciting, last season featured people I would actually tune in to watch - which is saying something  because with the glut of Diner's Drive Ins and Dives and Canada's latest embarrassment, Donut Showdown, flooding the Food Network, the liklihood of me lingering on what was once my favourite channel is now slim to none.

However, had they developed Emily Ellyn's POV from last season into a show, or my other favourite Eric Lee, who's food I still dream about - I would be in there like sea salt on lobster! Ditto for the show I was expecting from Justin where he would actually be cooking.

But then, who are we kidding? Next Food Network Star stands alone whether the chef hopefuls go on to make the big time or not and even though Justin seemed to have that certain something that might make him the next big thing on the network, the only real breakout has been Guy Fieri - and maybe Aarti, who has proven time and again that she can really cook. 

Re-Heated Leftovers Anyone?

According to one of my favourite blogs Food Network Gossip,  season 9 is going to bring a new set of rules and do away with the coach/mentor aspect of last season. As well, there are apparently several recycled chefs showing up this season who have appeared on other cooking shows.

I noticed this phenomenon when I watched The Taste on NBC last winter - several of the cast were familiar faces who I had seen previously on shows like CHOPPED or the latest Ann Burrell vehicle.

On that topic, I recognized a contestant on Worst Cooks in America last season as having been the villain on NBC's "The Glass House" reality show last summer, telling us what we probably already suspected:
  1.  I watch far too much reality TV
  2.  Anyone can act like a bad cook/stressed chef/culinary genius/yadda yadda for their fifteen minutes of culinary fame.
But when I think about these people "packing up their knives" and going from show to show it makes me kind of sad - like when I go to a karaoke bar and realize the hard core singers migrate in the same way just to get their time on the mic.

Reason #2987 why I will never go on a reality cooking show again.


(Don't quote me on that.)

As I've always done, though, I will be watching and providing recaps throughout the season. The show will air Sunday nights and I'll be publishing my pithy insights and observations on Tuesdays throughout the summer, so get your subscriptions on!

Until then, I think we could all use a drink - shall we?

Today's Lava Flow Cocktail is just what the Witch Doctor ordered!

Learn how to make it with my easy to follow step by step video and enjoy!

Lava Flow


    1/2 cup light rum
    1/2 cup fresh or frozen strawberries
    1 small banana
    1/2 cup unsweetened pineapple juice
    1/2 cup coconut milk


Blend the rum and strawberries in a blender until smooth. Pour this mixture into a tall glass. Rinse the blender. Combine banana, coconut milk, and pineapple juice in blender with crushed ice and blend until smooth.

Pour this mixture very slowly into the glass holding the strawberry and rum and watch. The mixture will swirl together to create a beautiful lava effect.

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