We started in LA, then conquered Vegas, and now it’s on to the Big Apple. This competition has taken me to a lot of places, but it’s great to finally be back on the east coast.
When we arrived in New York, I stepped off the plane and took a deep breath of the brisk, humid air. I immediately felt like I was home, and boy did it feel good.
First order of business: Eat more ice cream.
I’m noticing a trend in this competition lately, and I like it. I am totally cool with starting each day with ice cream.
The ice cream at Ronnybrook Milk Bar is a bargain compared to the last sundae I ate. But to tell ya the truth, this stuff actually tasted a little better. Maybe it’s because of the locally sourced dairy and fresh ingredients. But the fact is, the flavor of a creamsicle will beat out the flavor of edible gold leaf any day.
To my surprise, both Bobby and Giada had never heard of Philadelphia style ice cream before (Alton, of course, had). How cool to be able to teach these cats something new! I actually hadn’t heard the term until I got really into ice cream making a few years ago.
See, I do this thing when I get obsessed with a certain ingredient or food. I’ll go through a period where I become completely consumed with learning about, creating and eating it. It’s happened with pizza, tomatoes, waffles, pad Thai, blts, browines, gnocchi, clafoutis, ravioli, chocolate chip cookies, pies, gratins, kale, seriously, the list goes on and on…
When I was going through my ice cream phase (which, lets face it, I’m still in), I learned that the two main types of ice cream were custard style and Philadelphia style. Philly style means there’s just cream, milk, sugar and flavorings. That’s it. Custard style includes all of the same stuff, plus the addition of egg yolks. Because, you know, custard has eggs. Gelato, in case you were wondering, is usually made with even more yolks, and has a higher ratio of milk to cream.
Luckily, my goofy food obsession actually helped me win this challenge, giving me an “advantage” in the next one. And that next one, was something I never saw coming: The Rachael freaking Ray show!!
Rachael Ray, like her or not, is an inspiration to anyone wanting to become the next Food Network Star. I always love hearing about people who come from nothing, make themselves into something, and continue to be kind-hearted and generous people. That’s what I always hear about Rachael. She is an absolute pro at what she does, and her poise and humility are something I try to emulate in my life.
I watched Rachael on the Food Network with my mom back when I was in high school. She taught me so many unique little tricks and tips. My grandfather was a big fan of her’s too, and one year he gave me a 30 Minute Meals cook book for Christmas.
Actually, I’m pretty sure it was a regift. As much as he liked her, he just wasn’t the type to ever use a cookbook.
Anyway, he wanted me to have it because he saw my excitement for food, and wanted to encourage me to cook as much as possible. I remember him telling me one day that I could grow up to be the next Rachael Ray.
So to be here, in the final four on Food Network Star, is just…
Man, it’s just really crazy.
But lately I seem to be on this roll where I have a pretty decent performance and the judges like my food, but then I make some boneheaded move to mess it all up.
When I found out we would be making dishes to help out families, my first thought was, “Oh, we’re cooking for kids? Perfect. I can poison the little ones with a fiery hot sauce. Maybe, just maybe, one will even spit it out!!”
No! Come on, that wasn’t what I was really thinking!
What I was thinking, was about how Bethann is exactly like all the moms that come to me for help. They want easy, fun, healthy meals, that will be something both parents and kids can enjoy. Which is exactly why my lettuce wraps have become my most popular dish!
Now, I know better than to serve sriracha to a two year old. The sauce is actually meant to be served on the side, which I mention in the full video on Rachael’s site.
Yet as a result, the dish had a little kick, and both Rachel and Giada said it wasn’t right for the Flagg family.
But, after stumbling upon this comment, from Mama Flagg herself, on the Food Network Star Blog (umm, yep. I totally read that), I’m not so sure I agree.
My was the Mom of the Flaggs. I want to just say to Nicole, the spicyness for my 2yr old of course didn’t work well, but if they moved the camera over to my 5yr old. He REALLY LIKED it. He likes when I put spicy mustard on his cheese sandwiches and hamburgers. My husband and I loved the dish and I will try it at home, I’ll just keep the spicy stuff out for my yongest.
I was so happy to read this, because I honestly thought I had not only given them a crap solution to their problem, but also killed their poor baby’s taste buds. And while the latter may have been true, I’m really stoked to hear they actually liked the dish enough to want to recreate it at home.
All in all, I’m happy with my performance and the dish I made. It was an absolute honor to be able to cook for such a sweet family on such a highly acclaimed show, and with such a big Food Network Star!
But once again, someone had to be sent home this week, and as usual, it was emotional.
What can I say, except, dang?!
Loreal is a force to be reckoned with. She’s chock full of personality, and is an artist both in and out of the kitchen. Loreal is an old soul with a child’s spirit, and even though she puts on a “tough girl” act, she is really just a sweet, vulnerable little lady inside. Loreal is always going to be who Loreal wants to be, whether you like it or not. And that has inspired me to try to ease up a little and try to show more of my true self to the world.
Be sure to tune in to next week’s episode, when 3 contestants move on to create a PILOT for their own show!
And then YOU, the viewer, will get a chance to VOTE for who you want to be THE NEXT FOOD NETWORK STAR!
You don’t want to miss it!