Food Network Star recap: Which finalists made a pilot?

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In this Food Network Star recap, three finalists made a pilot. Did someone unexpected make the final three and could eventually earn the title?

With only one more Food Network Star recap till the Season 14 ends, the finalists’ dreams of becoming the new Food Network personality are within their grasp. From the beginning of the season till now, the finalists have tackled many challenges. But, have these finalists grown throughout the season and proven themselves?

Like any Food Network competition show, each show always has some type of twist, unexpected moment or surprise. This episode was no different. One previously eliminated finalist returned after winning Star Salvation.

(Left to Right) Guest Judges Jason Smith and Tregaye Fraser with Hosts Bobby Flay and Giada De Laurentiis during the One Minute Demo for the Final Challenge, as seen on Food Network Star, Season 14. photo provided by Food Network

After watching the online Food Network series, it was pretty clear that Jess was going to be the returning finalist. She blossomed on this limited series. Everyone knew that she could describe food, but she found her confidence. Pair that situation with some delicious food and it was clear that she would be returning to the competition.

The four finalists then had to cook for their lives in single challenge that would determine which three people would make a pilot. With help from an eliminated contestant, Amy, Christian, Manny and Jess had to create a dish that shows their culinary personality. What should be an easy challenge isn’t what it seems.

In this Food Network Star recap, the four finalists should have been able to cook a good dish, especially with the help of a sous chef. Unfortunately, nerves got the best of them. Christian forgot to put eggs in his meatballs. How could an accomplished chef make such an amateur mistake?

Looking at all the dishes, Jess’ dish that used gochujang was the most innovative. The choice a bold flavor, even a food trend, was smart. It seems that she learned a lot from Star Salvation.

But, the dish was just one aspect of earning their spot for a pilot. The true test was the presentation. All four finalists have had problems with presentations. From not tasting food to lack of confidence, the presentation would determine who went home.

Manny and Jess did quite well in their presentations. Manny showed culinary authority yet a lot of like-ability. When he can turn on the charm, Manny lights up the screen. Jess did a great job balancing her knowledge and her approachability. Everyone knows that she has a vast amount of knowledge. In this presentation, she found the winning combination. Manny and Jess made a pilot.

The bottom two finalists in this Food Network Star recap were Christian and Amy. Truthfully, it was surprising to see Christian in the bottom. It seemed like the occasion got to his nerves. How else would have he made a simple mistake with this meatballs?

Food Network Star returns with new Food Network hopefuls, photo provided by Food Network

During all his presentations, Christian has forgotten to taste his food. It was his Achilles heel. Unfortunately, he tasted his food in this presentation and spent a lot of dead air chewing. It was a big mistake. Still, he quite likeable.

Amy has lacked confidence all season. Even though it is her second time on the cooking competition, she doesn’t have the swagger that she needed. The stumble and blank stare in her presentation was hard to watch. Even though her food is on point, she doesn’t command that watchable factor.

Unfortunately, Amy fell just short of making a pilot. Her lack of confidence was her big downfall. Maybe she should do some YouTube cooking videos or make a podcast. Her food is spot on and deserves a venue.

For the three pilots, Jess, Christian and Manny all had three different mentors. It was surprising the Food Network stars for each finalist. Robert Irvine and Jess, Sunny Anderson and Christian and Duff Goldman and Manny weren’t the obvious choices from my perspective. But, each combination really worked well. The finalists were able to deliver good snippets (at least from what was shown).

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Looking at the three finalists, I think that the Food Network is looking to fill a personality that it is missing. While Manny is delightful, he has a persona/culinary point of view like other Food Network personalities. I don’t see how he is setting himself apart from others. Of course, he is a firehouse chef and loves comfort food, but there are a lot of those shows on the network.
Contestant Manny Washington during the One Minute Demo for the Final Challenge, as seen on Food Network Star, Season 14. photo provided by Food Network
Christian has been on a lot of Food Network shows. It was surprising that he didn’t have more confidence throughout the season. Still, he fills a niche on the network. If he can master eating and talking, I think that he is the most likely winner.

Although Jess has made a strong comeback, she can be a little too polished. She does the best job of making a viewer want to eat the food. She can describe food better than anyone else and that aspect has huge value. If she can find that approachable/likeable factor, she could top Christian.

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Unfortunately, this week’s Food Network Star recap came to a close with no answer. Next week, the winner will be revealed. Who do you think will win?