Food Network Star recap: Summer bites party anyone?


This week’s Food Network Star recap focuses on a festive summer party. Whose summer bites impressed the judges and who Food Network dreams faded away?

Another Food Network Star recap has some tasty summer bites. While the Food Network hopefuls were thrown by a little twist, the majority of contestants proved that they are gaining confidence. Did your favorite contestant continue on in the competition?

This week’s Food Network Star had the contestants create dishes for the ultimate summer bash. This summer themed party wasn’t your typical backyard barbecue. The contestants had to create dishes that would impress a room of foodies and tastemakers. Better not serve these guests a plain hot dog.

Of course, any Food Network show wouldn’t have such a simple challenge. After the contestants picked their ingredients and planned a menu, the challenge had a twist. As the contestants were driving to the venue, they learned that it was both a team challenge and the menu changed.

Each team of three had a particular food theme. The themes were Moroccan, Italian and Mexican. Some of the contestants were able to easily adapt their dishes and other contestants were flustered. Just like an Iron Chef challenge, these contestants need to be able to adapt.

(Left to Right) Hosts Giada De Laurentiis and Bobby Flay with Contestants Harrison Bader, Christian Petroni, Manny Washington, Amy Pottinger, Adam Gertler, Palak Patel, Rebekah Lingenfelser, Jess Tom and Katie Dixon during the Outdoor VW Summer Event, as seen on Food Network Star, Season 14. photo provided by Food Network

When the contestants arrived at the party location, they opened the trunk to find their food theme. Looking at the three themes, I thought that the food themes would be more complex, elevated or unusual. Other than Moroccan, the themes were rather pedestrian for tastemakers and foodies.

In addition to cooking a party dish, the teams had to do a live presentation for the audience. These types of presentations are often difficult for the teams. The concept of working well as a team and making sure that the individual stands out don’t often complement each other. While some teams did better than others, no presentation was absolutely perfect.

My favorite team was the Moroccan team of Adam, Amy and Palak. Palak had the best personal connection to her dish and story. Showing how a travel memory can influence the food that you eat at home is very relatable. While she didn’t execute her dish perfectly, the story and dish’s inspiration is definitely Food Network Star worthy.

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Adam struggled adapting his pre-conceived dish into this particular food theme. While he was able to adapt the initial dish, Adam needs to be more flexible. Just like when you go to the grocery store, you can’t let a recipe dictate your meal. The ingredients, preferable fresh ingredients, need to drive the dish.

While I like the dishes of this team the best, this team had the most awkward presentation. Amy’s idea to use a blindfold was just wrong. Why didn’t her team stand up and say no, don’t use a blindfold in your presentation. That mis-step was just as much Amy’s poor decision as it was her team’s mistake.

Although I understand why the judges like the three amigos, Harrison, Manny and Christian, I disliked Harrison’s presentation. This task wasn’t the Harrison show. Sure, he has great charisma, but his dish wasn’t that unique. Anyone can make a ceviche. Plus, he couldn’t even skin his own fish. To be a true Food Network Star, that person needs to know how to cook. A pretty face and a good personality doesn’t matter if he can’t really cook.
Contestant Harrison Bader during the Outdoor VW Summer Event, as seen on Food Network Star, Season 14., photo provided by Food Network
Another disappointment was Christian. While his rushed presentation was good, I wanted more from his dish. I understand the rationale of a clean, protein-free dish, but the plate needed more. Of course, it was visually stunning. Still, the plate was more of a garnish, not a composed dish. Hopefully, next week Christian can push it a little more.

The bottom group was Rebekah, Katie and Jess. Anyone who is a Food Network Star fan knew that this presentation was going to be problematic. The trio didn’t have good chemistry in the kitchen. The three ladies didn’t know how to work each other’s dishes into a cohesive theme. More importantly, the three ladies didn’t know how to communicate with each other.

Avoiding the conversation won’t win anyone any competition. The key to doing well on Food Network Star or any food competition show is preparation. No one should ever wing it. These ladies learned that lesson the hard way.

Of course, the food is key to this competition. Even though Amy was in the bottom because of her presentation, her food was quite good. She moved onto next week. If Amy doesn’t start getting her camera persona on track, she won’t be long for this competition.

Jess and Rebekah had two poor dishes. For Italian food, these dishes weren’t well conceived. Jess’s lasagna had an interesting concept with the three basils, but the dish wasn’t executed well. If a dish is poorly executed or a mess on the plate, why would anyone want to eat it or watch a show about it?

Rebekah has struggled in all the episodes. While she may be an amazing writer and home cook, her talents aren’t translating to this competition. Her nerves get the best of her and her presentations are almost cringe worthy.

In this challenge, her dish wasn’t cooked well. A tomato sauce that hasn’t been cooked down isn’t going to impress the judges. Just because a dish works at home, doesn’t mean that it will be Food Network worthy.

Rebekah was sent home this week. While her personality was vivacious, she needed a little more experience to be ready for this competition. Maybe she will get another chance someday.

Next: Easy summer dessert that anyone can make

Looking at this week’s competition, it looks like the men are still dominating. Could this season’s Food Network Star be a man? Let’s hope that the ladies step it up next week.

Until then, what summer bites are you making for the upcoming summer holiday? Who knows, maybe you could be the next Food Network Star.