The Food Network has introduced us to a myriad of dishes and experts (sometimes one in the same- I would consider Bobby Flay quite the dish and most men would say the same about Giada), all the while creating a handful of television stars. One of their formats in finding the next big food thing is a competition called “The Next Food Network Star,” which has introduced us to some colorful characters.
Like Top Chef, contestants compete in challenges deemed relevant to having a successful show. Unlike Top Chef, the judges are looking more at camera readiness and likability in addition to knowing how to share a dish. Hung’s TC victory shows this is not the case with the Bravo competition (even though this wouldn't be out of the question with Stephanie's more recent win.)
Wonky behaviors on The Next Food Network Star like Jennifer creating a Mashed Potato Pizza as a kid-friendly healthy choice for dinner (to me, nothing about that was okay) and Nipa announcing that she “can’t do this anymore” and walking out of the judging were some of the standout moments for me.
But in the end, what happened was we were introduced to 2 Food Network stars in training, even though only one was deemed the actual winner.
The 3 finalists were Lisa, the multi-faceted fashionista from Dallas, Aaron, the hospital chef from New Jersey and Adam, the server from Philly.
Nine weeks in, the second to last challenge proved super successful for all but Aaron. Interesting to see the judges comment along the lines of “someone does very well for the past 7 weeks, you don’t just send him home if he’s off one day…” Really? I thought that’s what the competition was about? (Richard Blaise would have been named Top Chef if this were an industry truth).
With the onset of season two of his Food Network show, Big Daddy's House, Aaron McCargo, Jr. is proving to be a winning candidate for the network. His shtick is “big bold flavors and fun family cooking” and honestly, his enthusiasm is infectious and I do think it will be fun to hang out with Aaron for 30 minutes while learning some new recipes. He’s definitely upbeat, knowledgeable and I’m slow to admit that he is downright funny. With recipes like his Rip Roarin’ Pork Sandwich with Broccoli Rabe and Provolone and Everything But the Kitchen Sink Chicken Tenders Salad, it may inspire the kids to pack a spatula and head on over to foodieville.
I must admit that during the show, I was more a fan of Aaron's competitor, Adam Gertler, and I'm thrilled to see that this super-goofball was also given HIS own show. So while you're checking back in with Big Daddy, hang in there for Adam and his new show, Will Work for Food, which premieres Monday, January, 19 at 8:30pm/7:30c. His penchant for comedy and aforementioned goofiness will no doubt take center stage as he travels around learning about various odd food jobs- all of which he tries his hand at himself. The first episode is titled Lobsterman and Beekeeper, so you may want to tune in to see how he handles taking honey from several milion bees.
Also watch season two of Aaron McCargo, Jr.’s new series, Big Daddy’s Kitchen Sundays at 1:30PM ET/PT on the Food Network.