Food Network Star: Beauty and the Beast episode is a double downfall


A tale as old as time transformed the Food Network. On this week’s Food Network Star Beauty and the Beast episode, the Disney live action film served as food and party inspiration.

Before the final petal falls, two Food Network Star finalists will exit the kitchen. The episode’s theme was the Disney live action movie, Beauty and the Beast. The finalists had to create delicious dishes and a beautiful tablescape that represented a location from the movie. A few finalists excelled, but the disappointments were plentiful.

The finalists had to create three teams. Team challenges are always a drama-filled experience. Clashing personalities, slacking teammates and various distractions make reality television but are a frustration for finalists.

In this team challenge, the finalists chose their own teams. Quick thinking and strategy created one super team. The group with party planners and an award winning chef would be tough to beat. The Comeback Kitchen winner, Matthew, named his group the misfits. Clearly, teamwork is key to a successful challenge.

The task was to create a French dining experience. Teams sourced French ingredients for a French inspired dish. Even with this specific theme, each finalist had to tie his dish to his culinary point of view.

Each team was assigned a castle location and food event. First, the party planner extraordinary team focused on afternoon tea in the library. The second team, let’s call it Southern lord honey, Jason and Rusty’s team, worked on hors d’oeuvres in the dining room. The team of misfits, Matthew’s team, had to serve brunch in the dining room.

Food Network Star Beauty and the Beast episode, photo provided by Food Network

After menu planning (and bickering, it’s a team challenge), the finalists headed off to shop. With a budget of $750 for food, thoughtful shopping became key. But, the budget was substantial. Cory was able to buy caviar. Unfortunately team Southern lord honey left a bag of ingredients at the store.

Time to cook.

The kitchen chaos was high in this episode. Rusty finally realized that he was missing a key ingredient for his dish, Dijon mustard. With some quick thinking, Rusty was able to recover well. Cajun spices made for great substitute.

Unfortunately, Cao went into a tailspin when she didn’t have cornstarch. She wandered the kitchen and wasted time. Luckily Jason, who was on another team, gave her cornstarch to complete the Vietnamese crepes. However, the disruption hurt her dish.

The kitchen scenes separate the confident from the not-so-confident. For example, Cory, Jason, Matthew and Addie went to work on their dishes. They had a plan. They adapted to change. Finally, they didn’t complain because a kitchen only has smaller potatoes. Really, Nana Nancy, peeling potatoes isn’t a tough job. If you went to culinary school, I’m guessing you peeled, cut and diced thousands of pounds of potatoes. Stop making excuses.

Food Network Star Beauty and the Beast episode, photo provided by Food Network

Still, everyone completed their dishes. Some dishes were clearly better than others. Cao’s Vietnamese crepe was questionable, Nancy’s vichyssoise was poor and Trace’s bananas foster bread pudding was the worst color ever (please, no dark brown sauces).

After cooking, the finalists decorated their tablescapes. Again, team party planners had an advantage. Addie, the Martha Stewart protégé, was queen of the décor. Her team’s library inspired table was a stunning interpretation of the Beauty and the Beast library. The table told the story of the fairy tale.

Jason took the lead for team Southern lord honey. While he has experience as a florist, the flowers weren’t the best representation of a French ballroom. Red roses are wonderful, but the lilies didn’t hit the mark. Jason is a fan favorite, but this table wasn’t the best.

Team misfit created a garden table. Led by Cao, the table was pretty. Unfortunately, the table paled in comparison to the library table.

Presentations — practice, practice, and wing it?

The next Food Network Star has to be a good host. In front of the camera, these people have talk, have to be personal and have to be likable. While some people have natural charisma, talking in front of the camera takes practice. A team presentation shouldn’t be off the cuff. Come on finalists — it is season 13. Haven’t you watched this show before?

Like last week, a few finalists are strong presenters and personalities. Addie’s presentation transported guests to France and made a personal connection to the challenge. Matthew’s presentation got guests excited to eat his food. Jason charmed guests with his vivacious personality.

Food Network Star Beauty and the Beast episode, photo provided by Food Network

Unfortunately, lack of practice was a big downfall for team misfits. Nancy, as the lead off presenter, was dull. Sorry, nana, your calm demeanor may have worked at NASA, but people want a bigger presence on food shows. Rusty needed a hook to stop talking when he exceeded his time limit. Practice would have helped both teams.

The biggest complaint with the presentations was a clear tie in to the movie. Very few presentations stated how the dishes and the finalists’ culinary point of views related to the challenge. If these finalists can’t explain the how and why, are viewers really going to see them as a culinary authority?

The door closes on two chefs

Since it is still early in season 13 of Food Network Star, the line between safe and eliminated is pretty clear. The biggest twist of this episode was a double elimination. Before the finalists entered the elimination segment, viewers could have guessed a handful of finalists who would be safe.

The winning team was team party planners. Based on all the judges’ commentary, this team was clearly the best, even though Trace’s dessert had a very poor color choice (just a reminder, no dark brown sauces ever).

Team Southern lord honey was also safe. While their effort had several flaws, no one would see these fan favorites eliminated so early. Fan outrage would be high if Jason, and his catch phrases, were gone in the second episode.

Team misfits was on the chopping block. The lack of teamwork was evident. It was a given that Matthew, winner of Comeback Kitchen, would be safe. Also, it was pretty clear that Nancy was going home. In both last week’s and this week’s episode, she was definitely on the bottom. Sorry, Nana Nancy, but your second career won’t be as a Food Network Star.

The second finalist eliminated was Toya. While her food and story improved in episode two, her dish had no relation to the challenge. Her shrimp and grits tasted better than Cao’s crepes. However, Cao has a better, more watchable television personality. So, Toya was sent back to New Orleans.

Next: Summer fresh strawberry cocktail

This week’s Food Network star episode was entertaining to watch. I might not be recreating these dishes for my next dinner party, but it served as good inspiration. My biggest takeaway was to be a better host. From décor to food, a welcoming and warm experience can make my guests feel special at any event.