Monday, July 28, 2008

the next food network star + an awesome recipe.

did you guys watch the next food network star? i didn’t get into it until the third or fourth episode, but then i started to find myself curled up on my couch every sunday at 10 p.m., waiting to see who would be eliminated. the cast of characters – at least, after the initial eliminations/weeding-out process – was interesting, and unlike last season’s top chef, i really wasn’t sure who the winner would be. in fact, i truly thought that little kelsey was going to be a finalist or take the whole thing – until she got eliminated, that is.

still, the top three represented a broad range of personalities and cooking styles. lisa was by far my favorite – maybe because she was the only woman, maybe because i thought she had great personal style (cute haircut, cool clothes) – and she was the one i was hoping would win it all. i certainly would have watched her show; i think she’s an awesome cook. the sabayon she prepared for her pilot looked delish.

aaron (the winner – sorry if i’ve spoiled it for anyone!), the hospital catering chef from camden, n.j., was my next-favorite contestant, and i liked him a lot, too. his vegas commercial certainly turned the tables in his favor, and i think his show, big daddy's house, will be fun to watch. plus, his huge smile is infectious and his reaction to his victory was super-heartwarming. i’m more than ok with his win – in fact, i’m very happy for him.

and as for adam, the third finalist, i was pretty much hoping he wouldn’t win. he didn’t seem all that different from some of the current food network personalities, and his antics (tripping when he was giving his presentation to the coast guard, serenading martha stewart, etc.) really grated on my nerves. cookingwise, i thought he was all right—and to give him some credit, his pilot wasn’t bad. but i’m glad he didn’t take it, although i know a lot of people probably wish he had. and to that i say, to each their own. a lot of people hated lisa, too, but i thought she was great.

what did you guys think of the finale? did the right person win? and did you happen to notice that rachael ray seems to have a lot of clout over at good ol’ food network? from her big cameo in the nfns opening credits (it was much larger than any of the other food network stars’) to the fact that the contestants did segments on her talk show and filmed their pilots on her studio set, she certainly seems to be the golden child – even more so than bobby flay, who hosted the whole thing. i like her, but wow.

and now, to change the subject a bit, i have to mention that my lovely friend s.’s 29th birthday fete on saturday was fantastic. i got to see some of my best college friends, who i miss dearly, and the party was relaxed but lively – perfect. s. and his sister put together a great spread of food to nibble on – vegetarian sushi, hummus, tabbouleh, dumplings – and i whipped up a carrot cake that was really good. i mean, not to toot my own horn or anything, but i was pretty proud of that thing. it wasn’t overly sweet or overpowered by carrots, and the ingredients were ones you’d have in your pantry already. i got the recipe from (see? there’s the connection to the rest of this post!) – it’s one of emeril lagasse’s and i highly recommend it. click here to check it out. oh, and the photo above is of shun getting ready to make his wish. clearly, he was thinking very hard. (that’s me holding the cake – it had trick candles/sparklers and there were a few moments when i thought my face was going to catch fire. yikes.)

hope you all had lovely weekends, too.

(photo of contestants above via; photoshopped by moi.)

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