Food Network Star recap: Midterms send two finalists home


Halfway to stardom? This Food Network Star recap puts the finalists to the test. Who passed their midterms and who was sent home?

This week’s Food Network Star recap has the competition at its midway point. What better way for the finalists to see how they are progressing than with a mid-term? Of course, this test doesn’t just focus on what the finalists have learned. Can these contestants apply all the lessons from the first part of the competition or did they forget how far that they have come?

This week’s Food Network Star episode begins in a fairly typical way. The finalists have to create a 30 minute meal that would be a typical weeknight dinner. These types of meals are popular with food fans. No one wants to eat a frozen meal or take out every day. But, a quick, yet tasty, meal needs to be convenient for a busy weeknight.

Overall, the finalists’ meals were good. No one really had a dish with major flaws. Katie’s dish was a little weak on flavor. Truthfully, anyone would have been happy with these easy, weeknight meals.

(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

The biggest difference came in everyone’s presentations. Some people have grown over the first couple of episodes. Other finalists are still making the same mistakes. As a fan, it can be a little frustrating seeing the finalists making the same mistakes. So many people would be thrilled with this Food Network opportunity, it makes me wonder why these finalists aren’t pushing themselves more.

For this episode, the big twist wasn’t with a recipe or a presentation. The twist had the finalists becoming judges. Can these culinary hopefuls be honest, insightful and critical?

First, each finalist had to judge themselves. They had to watch their presentation and eat their dish. Being able to articulate the positives and the negatives was key to this challenge. For example, Manny is very likable but he trips on his words. This type of challenge was tailored for Jess and Christian.

As a novelist, Jess has a way with words. Luckily, she was able to convey her authority in her presentation as well as present a well-made dish. With a well-rounded effort, Jess won the first challenge.

For her advantage, Jess was able to pick her team for the elimination challenge. Jess chose a strong team, who had previous judging experience. This decision could backfire. While you usually want a strong team, this episode featured a double elimination challenge. If Jess wanted to stand out, should she have chosen a weaker opponent to ensure her position?

More from FoodSided

With the teams set, the finalists had to do live commentary for Bobby’s and Giada’s cooking demos. While the finalists had to show their culinary knowledge in their commentary, they also had to be willing to criticize the celebrity chefs. Luckily, the two celebrity chefs purposely made mistakes to challenge the finalists.

Listening to the finalists, a few people really stood out. Jess was clearly a top choice. She was able explain certain ingredients, share helpful knowledge and recognize the mistake. Also, she stated the mistake in such a way where everyone knew it was a mistake, but it wasn’t mean.

Christian has previous judging experience and it showed in this challenge. He also spotted the mistake. More importantly his demeanor was pleasant.

Jess won the challenge and was safe. Christian, Manny and Katie were safe as well. Although, I don’t agree with putting Katie through. Katie’s presence on the judging panel wasn’t the best. But, she was better than her partner, Harrison. Sometimes it is enough to be better than the person sitting next to you.

The four finalists in the bottom faced a sudden death cook-off. Each of the four bottom finalists, Adam, Palak, Harrison and Amy, had to create their version of Bobby’s and Giada’s dish. The best part of this challenge was Giada telling Harrison that he could finally create his version of her dish. All his back-talking during the judging wasn’t a smart choice for him. Sure, the finalists were supposed to find the fault, but that Giada/Harrison bickering was painful to watch.

Contestant Harrison Bader during the Outdoor VW Summer Event, as seen on Food Network Star, Season 14., photo provided by Food Network

The four sudden death dishes were ok. No one seemed to really have a superior dish. It seemed that the nerves and pressure of the challenge was a little too much. It seemed that the dishes with the least faults were safe.

With two finalists going home, I would have hoped that the finalists would have tried a little harder. I never like it when a cooking contestant has the attitude to be just better than everyone else. Why not go big or go home? Isn’t it better to try and fail then not to try at all?

In the end, the two finalists going home were Harrison and Adam. While I like Adam, it seemed a little unlikely that he would win this season of Food Network Star. Sometimes the returning contestants are there to push the newbies. Adam is a great food personality and has an amazing podcast. I think that his time on this season should give his brand a boost.

I had guessed that Harrison would have gone further. While he had great on-camera personality, his food authority was a little lacking. I didn’t like how other finalists had to help him in the kitchen. Also, his flavor profiles seemed a little off.

This week’s choice to verbally debate Giada wasn’t a smart move. Never challenge the judge who had been in his corner. After Giada got frustrated with Harrison, I guessed that he was probably going home.

Looking at the remaining contestants, I think that Christian is the front runner. He has been on several Food Network shows. Viewers enjoy watching him and he is a great cook. Plus, the Food Network doesn’t have a male, Italian chef. He could fit the right role at the right time.

Next: Ridiculous Cakes returns with even more outlandish cakes

Who do you think could be the next Food Network Star? Check back for next week’s Food Network Star recap and see if your prediction or mine is correct.