Food Network Star recap: kitchen hacks and budget grocery shopping


Food cooking shows can inspire the home cook with tips and shortcuts. On this week’s episode of Food Network Star, kitchen hacks and budget grocery shopping separate the winners and the losers.

Food television shows are popular for many reasons. One big reason is for the home cook to find cooking inspiration. From creative ways to use ordinary ingredients to budget-friendly choices, the home cook looks to food stars for guidance. This week’s episode shows that these Food Network Star finalists need to be approachable for the home audience, but keep their food authority.

Grocery shopping can be a dreaded task. While going to the store hungry is a definite don’t, grocery shopping without a plan is worse. This Food Network Star finalists’ first challenge is to create an Instagram story about budget grocery shopping. Divided in teams of two, each team had a specific budget and cooking scenario.

Food Network Star Kitchen Hacks, photo from Food Network

The key to success in this challenge was balancing the Instagram story with a tasty dish. Only one team managed to do well in both portions. Matthew and Addie had to create a budget-friendly family dinner. Matthew is an expert with these short, social media posts. His comfort level was apparent and the Instagram story was the best.

Also, their pasta dish got points for being flavorful. Pasta was a good budget-friendly choice. Plus, the team’s tips were clear and easy to replicate.

Unfortunately, the other teams couldn’t put together a good Instagram story and a tasty dish. Jason and David had a huge misstep in their social media video. Everyone was expecting more from that team. But at least their dish seemed to be quite tasty.

Other teams had the same mixed scenario. Cory and Rusty didn’t relate their tips or dinner back to date night. Still, their dish was well-received. Cao and Amy were middle of the road.

Food Network Star Kitchen Hacks episode, winning dish, photo from Food Network

Luckily the first challenge didn’t eliminate any finalists. The winners, Matthew and Addie, received extra mentoring time with Bobby and Giada. While these two received helpful insight, it remains to be seen if they will implement the suggestions.

For this week’s elimination challenge, the teammates from the first challenge must battle each other in a kitchen hack battle. With guest judge Sunny Anderson from Food Network’s The Kitchen, each finalist pair must create a solution for the same cooking dilemma. Additionally, the finalists present the solution and dish during a four minute live demo.

These challenges presented scenarios that are realistic for the home cook. From one-pot wonders to ramping up the flavors, the viewer wants these tips for real life. Plus, the demo needs to be fun, engaging, and informative.

Food Network Star Kitchen Hacks, photo from Food Network

As expected, the fan favorite, Jason, wowed everyone with his live demo. Jason was personable, engaging and informative. His okra cooking tip was genius (no one like slimy okra).
Plus, tasting the dish with the giant spoon was a great television moment. I can see a country bling/Food Network spoon meme being made.

While Jason has the personality and television flare, he needs to ensure that his food is on point. His one-pot wonder sounded good, but the texture was slightly off. If Jason can combine his on-camera dominance with great cooking, he will be hard to beat.

Food Network Star Kitchen Hacks episode, leftover makeover, photo from Food Network

Other successful demos included Matthew and Rusty’s. Cory and Addie did acceptable, but the demos had a few too many faults.

The biggest disasters came from Cao, Amy, and David. Amy had one of the biggest food television don’ts – appliance malfunction. Of course, everyone can struggle with an appliance working. But, no viewer wants to see a television personality unable to work a food processor. Add that fiasco to Amy’s comments about her kids and everyone was beyond uncomfortable. Fortunately for her, her dish was deemed delicious and she won her head-to-head against Cao.

Cao and David were up for elimination. David faltered in this challenge on two points. First, his demo lacked engagement and personality. No one wants to watch a chef list ingredients. A demo isn’t reading from a recipe. His lack of engagement with his co-hosts was a big downfall.

Second, his dish lacked the big, bold flavors expected from Jamaican food. Even though David never explained the rub’s ingredients, the flavors turned out muted. The judges expected more from him.

Food Network Star Kitchen Hacks episode, Cao eliminated photo from Food Network

Cao suffered on both the demo and her dish. First, her demo didn’t involve any cooking. While she tried to explain her point of view and dish, the demo suffered from lots of dead (i.e. no talking) air. Her only attempt at making something failed with the immersion blender.

Additionally, her dish, a flavor-bomb beef taco, wasn’t a taco. While her tip to use fish sauce was a great idea, her dish was a salad. The flavors were interesting, but her dish didn’t really answer the challenge.

Cao was eliminated from this week’s episode of Food Network Star. Still, she has a chance to come back to the competition through Star Salvation.

Next: Food Network Star Star Salvation episode 1 recap

What’s next for the finalists? Tune in next week to see which finalist has what it takes to become a Food Network Star.