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Who is the Food Network Addict? He's the guy serving up the latest news and gossip on your favorite celebrity chefs. From Rachael Ray to Ina Garten, Paula Deen to Giada, he's got you covered. Stop by daily and feed your addiction.

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Friday, May 30

Food Network Addict Review: The Next Food Network Star

While executives at the CW barely have time to shout a quick see yah to the winner of America’s Next Top Model mere minutes after her crowning, Food Network has placed itself in the somewhat difficult position of actually needing the person who wins its own competition show, The Next Food Network Star, to really fulfill what's bestowed upon them--the chance to become a star.

More Rachaels and Giadas and Emerils and Tylers are needed to assure the long-term success of Food Network. Rachael won’t be getting any less busy anytime soon, so they can’t rely on her for the next 15-20 years.

For other competition shows, though, it honestly makes no difference to networks if the winner of Survivor, The Bachelor, The Amazing Race, Big Brother, or even Top Chef is ever heard from again. In fact, execs would probably prefer you forget all about what's-her-name last year who won and instead just focus on watching the current season. Just sit down and be entertained.

But to Food Network (and other networks that have similar competition shows), this winner represents more than just the end-result of a ratings bonanza, but in fact the beginning of what could be a very profitable and long-lasting endeavor.

So it must come with some grief that after three seasons of TNFNS, the only winner who has truly taken hold is that of season two winner Guy Fieri. When asked about why Dan & Steve or Amy Finley didn’t become major players on the network, Mr. Tuschman kindly dismissed my questions, referencing initial success periods that naturally played themselves out or, in the case of Amy Finley, personal decisions to leave the network.

Still, you know FN must prefer the success of a Guy Fieri over the spark and fizzle of an Amy Finley. Now there probably will never be any Amy Finley cookware, Amy Finley DVDs, or Amy Finley cookbooks--all of which Food Network would have gotten a cut of the profits.

So here we go again. This Sunday is the premiere of season 4 of TNFNS. Back again as judges are Bob Tuschman and Susie Fogelson (TUSCHELSON), along with now full-time judge Bobby Flay who had previously served as a semi-regular guest judge. With what appears to be a greater focus on food this season (and finalists with greater skill than in seasons past), Flay is an obvious choice to add a little culinary legitimacy to the judging panel.

After the ten finalists arrive at Food Network studios, Tuschman reminds them that to win this particular competition, the finalist needs to have first-rate “cooking chops” (a phrase I’m quickly growing tired of), a unique culinary point of view, and a personality that can excite millions of viewers. I don’t think it’s much of a spoiler to reveal that in the first episode the finalists complete one challenge that tests their star potential and another that tests their cooking ability.

I’ll let the first one be a surprise and focus solely on the cooking challenge.

Finalists draw cards to form teams of two and must prepare three dishes within 30 minutes. Invariably, dishes aren’t completed on time, drama ensues, and tempers flare.

It’s strangely ironic to me that what is set up as a very intense, high stakes, drama-filled challenge is basically just a take on 30 Minute Meals—the vanguard of Food Network’s easy, accessible, care-free lineup of programs.

The fact that producers went to such great lengths to make cooking three dishes in 30 minutes (by two people!) look incredibly difficult was actually laughable at times, especially after so many other shows on Food Network enforce the “It's easy! Anyone can do this!” mantra.

I could be giving them a bit of a hard time here. They do have to plate more than Rachael does, and their food is served to a room of Food Network stars--all a bit more intimidating.

The best moments of the episode are in this room and come from the Food Network stars themselves, seen in a rare exchange interacting and--shock--disagreeing with each other! Morimoto has the best line of the entire episode--perhaps the whole season.

In the end, the finalists line up (in the same house as last season!) and feel the wrath of TUSCHELSON and the Flayster. Someone goes home.

Unnecessarily heightened drama aside, it's an enjoyable first episode filled with star cameos and a slightly higher culinary level than we've seen before. I probably shouldn't be getting that bent out of shape over the challenges. It's supposed to be entertainment, right?

Well, it's entertainment and it's business. Food Network can't just give the winner a Covergirl contract and say goodbye. They gotta find someone who can deliver. So, who will it be?

Season four of The Next Food Network Star premieres this Sunday, June 1 at 10pm/9c.

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At 5/30/2008 11:59 AM , Anonymous Jeff said...

If Amy split to France, maybe she'll be discovered like George Duran was. (Alas, he didn't last as long here as I would have liked.)

At 5/30/2008 1:12 PM , Blogger Alex Lopez said...

I want to be a Food Network Star! I have what it takes.
Hey, Jake can you please send my stats to Mr. Tuschman? And yes I am using this blog as my soapbox...who knows who reads it, producers, execs, hosts. You gotta take chances in life, you never know what happens. I am an optimist and always wish for the best.
And, Alec, thanks again for getting my name out there. Hope you are enjoying your tunes while working.

At 5/30/2008 1:52 PM , Anonymous csb said...


At 5/30/2008 1:59 PM , Anonymous oatmeal cookie guy said...

I think the contestants did their shopping in the grocery store--Westside Market--in my building. It's only 3 blocks away from the FN studios.

At 5/30/2008 2:15 PM , Blogger jacob said...

jeff: I think she'd be good in another TV role, but the article on foodnetwork.com made it sound like TV just isn't her thing.

alex: if you were already a semi-finalist for season 3, he already has them. please try and keep comments relevant to blog postings.

csb: i try.

oatmeal cookie: they did indeed. nice area!

At 5/30/2008 5:21 PM , Anonymous Alec Smart said...

Tuschelson uh . Cute.
How about Bob Tuschman : Mother : Margaret Hamilton, Father : Rene Auberjunois

That looks about right don't you think ?.

At 5/30/2008 5:35 PM , Blogger Alex Lopez said...

Sorry about that Jake. Just FYI, the people that cast the show are not the same people on the selection commitee, so no Tuschman does not have my details. However, I will try out again for next season..sorry for being a PITA, I just have so much passion for this, and I really want to share my style of cooking with FN viewers. I will watch NFNS4 and try to get some details from this crew of hopefuls.

At 5/31/2008 10:51 AM , Blogger Judith Kreindel said...

I am happy to see the Alton Brown is supposed to be on the first episode. I have the DVR set to record in case I fall asleep or get side-tracked.

At 6/01/2008 9:00 PM , Blogger Tiffany said...

Even Guy Fieri failed at what this show is supposedly searching for--a cooking show star. He's a good tv personality/host but his cooking show was painful.

Given that FN doesn't do much to market the shows (The Hearty Boys was on at 8:30 am on a Sunday), I strongly suspect that the FN is much more interested in this show being a rating winner than actually finding TNFNS from it.

At 6/01/2008 11:15 PM , Blogger John said...

He was. I just saw it and (shameless plug) did a play-by-play of it on my own blog. Very funny show (much more so than Top Chef)! I won't give any spoilers until Jacob posts about it but it's - how to describe it? - a unique bunch of people. This much I can say - TWO comedians/performers. Because really, what else is a Food Network star but a performer?

At 6/01/2008 11:38 PM , Anonymous Roseanne said...

I just watched the show. Sorry to say but it sucked! What a joke. Look I love FN. I'm an original watcher. My culinary palate has grown with FN. But casting the NFNS is a joke. Cory sucked as a comedian when she was on the 1st season of Last comic standing on NBC. She was terrible then and sucked tonight. Then there is Lisa, Fine dining with a community outreach. Get out of here. She is a uppity snob. Whose husband is a real chef. Rides his coat tails. May know some kitchen, culinary lingo from co-owning the restaurant with him. but she doesn't cook the meals in their restaurant. All she wanted to do was get on the FN to boost her profile up. She doesn't have anything to offer that I would be interested in watching. None of them do. Like previous winners. The hearty boys whatever... Don't even get me started on 30 mins to make 2 dishes. Bottom line is the show sucks. I'll continue to watch a real cooks show. TOP CHEF. Suck on that Tushman!

At 6/02/2008 12:26 AM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

I just watched the first episode for this show and it seems a step up from Hell's Kitchen. In terms of talent and content, I don't think it compares with other TV cooking competitions like PBS Cooking Under Fire and Bravo's Top Chef. Personally, I only watch Food Network for Alton Brown, Iron Chef episodes of Mario Batali and Morimoto. It will be sad to see Batali leave network.

I don't know about everyone else, but I think it is extremely monotonous to watch the Food Network as many of the cooking shows Rachael Ray, Emeril, Bobby Flay, Sandra, and Paula seem to be cooking very similar items. Does the Food Network really think that America wants to see another Paula Deen, Bobby Flay, or Rachael Ray? I think it's quite sad that the Food Network does not have more ethnic and informative cooking shows. Diary of a Foodie, Food Trip with Todd English, and Made In Spain with Jose Andreas on PBS are better than almost any show on the Food Network, with the exception of Good Eats.

At 6/02/2008 12:46 AM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

I watched the first show it SUCKED!!!! I don't blame Tushman I blame the casting director what are you smoking crack?? What happen to the old FN?? Come on FN are telling me this was the best 10 contestants you could find in the whole USA. The quality of the shows are getting worse with every passing season. I miss real Chefs enough of these at home cooks. To bad FN couldnt send more than one person home tonight. I would have sent about 4 other contestants packing.

At 6/02/2008 3:49 AM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

A big disaster!! What is going on ?? How did this group of clowns get cast? Not one person has the culinary chops to cook their way out of a paper bag. Not one person is humble..too many cocky attitudes. Knife skills? seasoning?
nothing was innovative? informative or inviting...no appeal for me and I'm sure lots of other people feel the same way. Giada..thank you for telling Miss goody goody to tone it down, she annoys me..what's with all the young kids on here? they don't have any life experiences to share with viewers..not impressed AT ALL!! when does season 5 start casting?? Gonna start tuning out FN..flip the switch to PBS

At 6/02/2008 7:51 AM , Blogger Judith Kreindel said...

I am sure you will make a post regarding episode one of NFNS, but... wow! Wow! At this point I don't have a real desire to see any of these people in a show of their own. Were the other entrants this abysmal? Holy geeze. And Lisa...Lisa...she is rude and quite unpleasant. Giada...is her NFNS personality her "real" personality or is her "other" FN personality the real one? She is a witch on NFNS, she isn't blunt, she's rude, ice-cold and hurtful. Personally I didn't find that exuberant chic to be anything other than that. I didn't sense it was false and who is Giada to tell people they're over the top? She is like Tuschenator's little right-hand demon and I have a feeling she's cast to be that way, at least I hope that's not the real Giada. Geesh.

At 6/02/2008 8:07 AM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

Why is it on so late? Wasn't it on at 9pm last year?

At 6/02/2008 8:52 AM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

I watched it last night. Awful. Terrible. I hated it. I am not watching the rest of the season. Top Chef!!

At 6/02/2008 5:06 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hello Bloggers,

It's Lisa Garza. The woman you don't even know but LOVE to hate.

First I will address the very ugly ugly attacks by your bloggers about my actual skills.
I have worked in the restaurant industry since the age of 16, in every single position.
Yes, I do own and opperate the restaurant with my husband, who is the executive chef, and I run our catering business. I have apprenticed under him in the kitchen since the age of 17. I have paid my dues.
What you don't get to see is that I made 4 recipes in 20 minutes and plated 10 plates without much help.
Second, my designer diva status-My niche in Dallas has become catering for detail oriented fashion clients such as Oscar de la Renta, Carolina Hererra, Barneys and so on. It is important for me to represent a certain style and maintain the utmost attention to every detail in order to get such accounts.I studied fine arts all through school and find that these skills are the same as food styling which is what fashion clients want most, that doesn't make me a snob, just a good business woman trying to hustle a buck in an industry that was killed after 911.
WARDROBE FYI- Most of my clothes are vintage, bought at Barneys 75% off sale, or thank you gifts from my clients. I'm just as happy in a gap t-shirt and jeans, which is what I wear in my interviews.
"The 3 C's"-
COOKING EDUCATION= take the mystery out of fine dining, break it down and make it accesible.
COMMUNITY OUTREACH=any one who really knows me, knows this, I overcame a very difficult and abbusive childhood to be the strong ass woman I am today. I will never forget where I came from. I will never forget what it feels like to be hopeless and in need of love. I don't throw change at the homeless, I hug them, I love them and I feed them.I am sick to death of all these beautiful celebs eating up the attention and not addressing real issues. I don't think food TV does enough to educate the public on how hard we work to feed the hoeless, how many millions of dollars are raised because we donate our time, food, and service to charity events, sometimes, during the busiest time of our year.
The only reason I agreed to be on the show was because I want to use the attention and possible celeb status to promote my purpose for living, to feed the homeless, care for impoverished children and make a damn difference in this shitty ass selfish world. I give a large ammount of my personal income to an organization that feeds and cares for impoverished children. Divas have hearts too, big ones.
CULINARY CRAFTS= how to's for building a buffet table, home made gifts, arts and crafts that relate to cooking in some way. I want a Martha Stewart type show where I can show the public how to get high dollar presentation on a budget.
A lot of this is edited to look the way it does. You are not getting the whole story yet. If you want to see who I am then go to facebook, I am an open book.

At 6/02/2008 6:32 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

Interesting comments and brave and mature of Ms. Garza to respond to her detractors - kudos - but I have to say Jacob, it's really sad that the network, has IMHO deteriorated so badly, I didn't even know this show was scheduled to be on this Sunday (went to a faboo Sex In The City party instead replete with Cosmos) and don't feel much like watching it. I TiVO the Batali's in the AM, and am prefer the cooking shows on PBS and TOP CHEF - the NFNS just doesn't cut the mustard for this viewer (or the other members of my household) anymore - a sad loss for the FN - they need something drastically different. Roberto desde la playa

At 6/03/2008 7:49 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

In addition to all the things Lisa listed , which by the way are all true. I feel its important to point out that she has an exceptional palate, a tireless work ethic and is more well versed and skilled than most cooks in restaurant kitchens. Her attention to detail is the reason her restaurant is so sucessful. I think it much to easy to misjudge her based on appearance and demeanor. I mean come on ! I think any of you who really think your up for a real FoodNetwork challenge come get a good close up look at the real deal . I'll open up the kitchen and laugh while you get whipped by a girl ( much less a Diva!) the reason I can say this is because Im the chef/owner of Suze , Gilbert. Keep the comments coming and dont be afraid to put your name less you cant handle being judged!!!!

At 6/24/2008 10:23 AM , Blogger Andrea said...

For Lisa Garza:

As a fellow lover of all things associated with fine living, including fine food, I sincerely hope that you become the next Food Network Star. From what I have seen, you are the only one who exemplifies good taste, elegance, and attention to detail.

The cream rises to the top, and the intimidated often criticize.

Kudo's to you!!!

Andrea H.

At 7/22/2008 8:36 AM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

I hope Liza Garza will win NFNS because she is more talented than Adam or Aaron.

At 7/22/2008 8:40 AM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

Kelsey or Shane deserved to win more than any other contestant

At 7/22/2008 8:40 AM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

Kelsey or Shane deserved to win more than any other contestant

At 6/08/2009 6:43 PM , Blogger Lynn said...

How is it that Debbie Lee is still there? She not only can't cook, did you not notice she deliberately sabotoged two of her team members Jeffery and Katie? How can this bad behavior be tollerated by the FN? Could it be that the FN is like Donald Trump and only after rarings? Her conduct is unacceptable. This happened last season when the Indian girl bought all the paprika in the store and left none for anyone else. She was also allowed to stay. I don't care if they are the best cooks in the world....what about how they got there? Do you really want someone so decietfull on the FN?



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