Food Network Star Shark Week recap left one finalist out to sea


Ready to take a bite out of this week’s Food Network Star Shark Week recap? Did a Shark Week inspired challenge cause the finalists to sink or swim?

In this week’s Food Network Star Shark Week recap, one finalist was shark bait. No, this scenario didn’t happen, but who doesn’t like a good Shark Week reference. In another cross-promotion episode, these finalists had to take on another theme challenge.

For the first challenge, the five remaining finalists had to bring a new spin to a favorite family recipe. While everyone has a traditional, favorite family recipe, those recipes can occasionally need a little update. In this challenge, the twist was a little non-traditional. From a very different flavor profile to a new way to serve the dish, a few of the finalists were quite stumped.

This type of challenge is great for the Food Network and food fan. Everyone has a family favorite recipe that has been passed down for generations. Even though that recipe is loved, the occasional twist or update can be a good thing. The key is to find a way to keep the sentiment yet adding a unique flair.

In this first challenge, a couple of the finalists’ updates were a little confusing. First, Christian had to give his Italian dish a Thai twist. I find it hard to believe that a professional chef is totally unfamiliar with Thai ingredients and cuisine. Shouldn’t anyone who is on Food Network Star have at least some familiarity with all type of cuisine?

Also, Christian could have easily done more to his Thai inspired pasta dish. There were many types of options. Sure, his presentation was good, but I think that his dish lacked creativity.

Palak’s dish was quite creative and excelled on taste but her Instagram story was a complete miss. Again, it seems like a preparation issue with some of these finalists. Sure, not everyone does Instagram stories every day but didn’t these finalists guess that this type of challenge was coming? A basic understanding of timing and hashtags isn’t too much to ask.

Contestants (Left to Right) Christian Petroni, Amy Pottinger, Katie Dixon, Manny Washington and Palak Patel, as seen on Food Network Star, Season 14. photo provided by Food Network

Winning the first challenge was Manny. His appetizer twist on mac n’ cheese was really smart. Overall, it was executed well, although the judges would have liked a dipping sauce. Equally impressive was his Instagram story. While the “Oh Yeah” was a little over the top, it was fun to watch. Did anyone else get a Kool-Aid vibe from the Oh Yeah!

For his win, Manny got an advantage in the main challenge. That advantage was that he could switch the main ingredient for his dish in the main challenge with another finalist. While this seemed like a great advantage, it will be curious to see if Manny capitalizes on that scenario.

In this week’s main challenge, the theme was pretty obvious from the title, Shark Week. The rest of this Food Network Star Shark Week recap focuses on a five course themed dinner, which was based on shark food. While the finalists weren’t cooking shark, they were cooking fish that are part of a shark’s diet.

With each finalist getting a course and a particular ingredient, it was interesting that no one looked to see how the course progression would work. All the finalists seemed content to decide on their own dish versus seeing how the dishes would work with each other. I wonder if no one even considered this issue. Shouldn’t a plated course dinner have a progression? At least there wasn’t a fish dessert. ‘

Each course featured a fish that is part of a particular shark’s diet. From crab to clams, the ingredients were diverse yet approachable. All of the fish options could work in the various courses. What was surprising was the safe approaches that the finalists took.

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In this Shark Week themed dinner, the finalists seemed to struggle with making the fish ingredient the star of the dish. Several of the dishes had technical issues. While in theory the dish made sense, the execution was lacking.

Even though Manny had an advantage, he didn’t use that advantage wisely. Sure, he switched to get crab, but a fried crab fritter wasn’t a smart choice. The fritters were soggy. While frying to order is technically a better idea, the food wasn’t executed well.

Truthfully, Manny had so many other better dishes that he could have made. Beautiful, fresh crab could have been highlighted in a more creative way. Personally, I found this dish a little disappointing.

The top two dishes were clearly Christian’s and Amy’s. First, Amy cooked the squid quite well. That ingredient was probably the most challenging. While the rest of her dish didn’t make a lot of sense, her main ingredient was good. Plus, her story helped to put her in the top.

Christian was clearly the top choice in both food and presentation. His salted cod over pasta was elevated yet still approachable. The plate presentation was visually stunning, too. For his presentation, Christian’s personality came across well.

Hosts (Left to Right) Giada De Laurentiis and Bobby Flay introduce the “Shark Night Challenge”, as seen on Food Network Star, Season 14. Food Network

Based on this week’s two challenges, it is clear that Christian is the finalist to beat. When Christian is on, he quite watchable. Food fans would definitely tune in to one of this programs to both see him and his food. It would be interesting to see his approach to his own show. Overall, Christian looks like a good fit for the Food Network.

Even though he was up for elimination, Manny survived for another week. Manny is my choice for this season’s favorite finalist. His personality works well on camera and people enjoy him. He is like that friend you don’t see every day, but can’t wait to enjoy an afternoon with.

Manny needs to get his food on point. While I understand that he cooks more comfort food, too many of his dishes are fried or heavy. There can be comfort foods that aren’t super high calories. I’m not saying that he needs to make a kale salad, but he doesn’t always have to cook burgers and mac n’ cheese.

Both Palak and Katie struggled this week. Palak really confused me this week. In the Shark Week challenge, she had difficulty breaking down her fish. Again, shouldn’t these finalists be prepared for this type of potential food prep? Sure breaking down a yellowtail isn’t easy, but it shouldn’t take half of the time.

Palak does bring some bold, yet intriguing flavors to her dishes. The problems occur when she doesn’t find the balance. In this week’s dish, balance was clearly lacking. Too much acid in a dish can be very off-putting. It is unfortunate that her balance was off in this soup.

Katie struggled in both challenges in this Food Network Star Shark Week recap. While she is the healthy chef, she can’t just cook healthy food. She needs range in her point of view. Unfortunately, Katie seems to struggle to find this balance.

More importantly, her on camera presence was often a little lacking. While sometimes she was engaging and bubbly, occasionally she was flat. As a viewer, I never seemed to truly connect with her.

Katie was this week’s finalist sent home on this Food Network Star Shark Week recap. It was basically time for her to go home. She couldn’t keep up with Christian and Manny. I think that she is a talented chef, but this avenue might not be the best choice for her.

Which of the four remaining chefs has your vote to be the next Food Network Star? Check back next week for another recap and see who remains in the competition.

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Until then, who’s excited for Shark Week? This week’s Food Network Star Shark Week recap got me excited for all that shark fun.