The Next Food Network Star show has boiled down to four finalists. These four got a chance to make a (very short) pilot, more of a pitch reel than anything, that shows off their intent with a show. One of these will basically become an actual Food Network show, or the host will be shuffled off into another area of the channel, or off the channel completely.
Hey, not everyone can pull a Guy Fieri level of success out of nowhere.
Food Network Star (as the series has been called since shortening the title in recent years) has been a popular piece of entertainment, and successful enough on Food Network that they’ve run it for the better part of a decade, having made shows out of most of the winners and finalists.
It’s preceded by drama, conflict, and such.
I have no interest in that.
The four finalists of this season have produced short pilots, posted online. Fans are able to vote for who they like, and help shape the face of Food Network’s future. Undoubtedly, people will be voting for the personality they have liked over the course of the season.
What happens when you watch the pilots purely on the capability of the pilot? Who has the truly better pilot? Which is the better show?
My New England from Michele focuses heavily on New England, as the title suggests. After a short trip to Ed’s Lobster Bar, she produced what she called “New England in a Bowl”, an oyster-heavy dish with corn and, thankfully, chorizo (a nice smokey sausage that needs to be in more dishes). While Michele is interesting, her concept of a show (checking out how others made a dish, and then making one herself) seems to work, but her personality and, honestly, appearance, seem very reminiscent of Guy Fieri. One Guy Fieri at times is too much for the network, so two might be overkill. Additionally, the concept is self-limiting; by focusing purely on New England, there has to eventually be a point where nothing new can come about.
Family Style features Yvan in a purely cooking setting. He focuses on cooking dishes for (and with) the family, and produces a sweet corn macaroni and cheese dish… which sounds particularly horrifying. While the macaroni and cheese portion of the dish looks amazing, especially with bread crumbs on top and baked in the oven, the inclusion of canned sweet corn is slightly scary. He suggests it as part of his budget background, and it’s a neat bit of character, but it’s a personal choice; you’ll never see sweet canned corn in a dish in my house, let alone a cabinet. While Yvan has a great personality, his brother that assists with the cooking is obviously not ready for TV, and the family remains at the end are little more than set decorating.
Martie With The Party brings the incredibly-southern Martie to the forefront, focusing on her crafting dishes that are great for parties; they’re easy to make in bulk, they’re great finger food or small dishes, and most people will like them. She makes a pickled citrus shrimp, which could either be amazing or horrible; if you’re not meant to eat the lemon slices in the dishes, and they’re just there for flavor and appearance, then all the better. Martie seemed a little forced in her storytelling, and I’d be surprised to find out that any of the people shown in the party segments were actually her friends.
Rebel With A Culinary Cause is the dual-sided beast at the end of the stream. Justin is easily the spiritual successor to Alton Brown for the network; where Alton looks generally into the hardware involved with cooking (and the science of cooking things), Justin looks into updating the flavors and presentation for a new age, something he repeatedly points out. The weakest moment of this pilot is where Justin literally sits and watches an episode of Good Eats to explain the origin of the Caesar salad; while it’s an interesting trick, it screams laziness of the host. Still, Justin’s personality shines throughout the pilot, and it’s the most unique of the four.
While something like My New England could run for one season, Marite with the Party wouldn’t survive even that long. Family Style plays it safe but solid, but the real highlight is Rebel With A Culinary Cause.