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'Food Network Star' 2014 week 3 recap: A front-runner stumbles

Alton Brown serves as a judge on 'Food Network Star' 2014.
Photo by Moses Robinson/Getty Images

"Food Network Star" 2014 resumed June 15 on the Food Network as the 10 remaining finalists engaged in a third week of culinary challenges. By night's end, a third hopeful was sent packing after yet another brutal challenge resulted in a surprising bottom four.

After the hopefuls nearly unanimously cited chuckwagon cook Lenny as the guy to take down, the episode began as the contestants met hosts Bobby Flay and Alton Brown in the Food Star Kitchen. Bobby revealed that they'd be showing off their ability to cope with the unexpected by playing a challenging game of cutthroat kitchen. Although several of the hopefuls worried over the implications of the challenge, Chris Kyler, who won an episode of the "Cutthroat Kitchen" TV show, felt extra pressure to defend his title.

Alton explained that they'd each begin with $2,500 in their respective kitties and 30 minutes to cook, and then reminded them that he'd be offering up a handful of sabotages for purchase. Bobby sweetened the otherwise soul deal by revealing that the winners would be allowed to keep any cash in their pots by the end of the challenge.

As judge Bobby headed off into sequester in order to remain unaware of the sabotages faced by each contestant, Alton divided the hopefuls into two groups of five. While Emma Frisch, Kenny Lao, Lenny McNab, Sarah Penrod, and Reuben Ruiz were dismissed, Nicole Gaffney, Christopher Lynch, Loreal Gavin, Aryen Moore-Alston, and Chris were given two minutes to shop for ingredients to prepare the dish of the moment: spaghetti and meatballs.

After time expired, Alton began the auction process. The first item up for purchase was a pasta spoon, which Alton vowed to tape to the hand of the competitor of the winning bidder's choosing. A bidding war commenced, and for $400, Loreal emerged victorious and saddled Chris with the spoon.

The next auction featured a snow cone machine, a hand grinder, and a coffee grinder, and allowed the winning bidder to replace the meat grinders of three competitors with one of them. A determined Chris won with a whopping $2,000 bid, and immediately retaliated against Loreal, giving her the snow cone machine. Christopher was pleased to be assigned the coffee grinder, while Nicole was less than pleased to be given the hand grinder.

With two sabotages in play, the 30 minutes of cook time commenced and the contestants got to work. While Chris struggled to work with a single hand, Loreal took her snow cone machine grinder assignment in stride. But all wasn't golden in the kitchen as just 15 minutes into the challenge, Alton placed a third sabotage on the auction block. He revealed that the winning bidder would be allowed to force a contestant to stop cooking and stomp enough grapes to fill half a carafe. With a $1,200 bid, Loreal was the winner, and she chose Nicole.

While Nicole stomped grapes, Aryen, the only chef without a sabotage in play, worked hard to infuse flavor into her penne pasta. Time expired, and Bobby re-emerged with "Cutthroat Kitchen" star Jet Tila to pass judgment on the dishes. Christopher was up first with his bloody Mary spaghetti, which was well-received by the panelists for its flavor and expression of his culinary point of view. Chris stumbled through is presentation of elk tenderloin and pork shoulder meatballs with angel hair pasta, and Bobby complained about his timing and delivery issues.

Nicole followed with her meatballs and gnocchi, which received a lukewarm reception, and Aryen's great meatballs of fire drew criticism from heat-loving Jet for being too hot. Up last was Loreal with her dish, which Bobby criticized for its "weird texture" and lack of balance of flavor.

After a break, the other five contestants hit the kitchen and learned that they're be preparing breakfast plates for judge Bobby. Following the two minutes of shopping time, the auction process began with three bacon products. The winning bidder was allowed to replace the bacon of three different cooks. With a $1,000 bid, Kenny emerged the victor, and Sarah was given a club sandwich, Lenny received a Cobb salad, and Emma was gifted with chocolate covered bacon.

With one sabotage in play, the second auction item, the mini kitchen, was placed on the block. After a fierce bidding war, Lenny, who was the target of the other contestants thanks to his previous challenge wins, paid his entire $2,500 bank and saddled Reuben with the tiny cooking space.

Fifteen minutes into the challenge, the third auction item, a smoothie bike, appeared on the scene. The winning bidder was given the right to force one of his or her fellow contestants to stop cooking and ride the bike. With a winning $1,300 bid, Emma assigned Lenny to the bike.

After time expired, Bobby and Jet re-emerged to judge the dishes. Emma was up first with her chocolate, egg, and cheese breakfast sandwich. Jet appreciated her "inviting" delivery, and Bobby proclaimed himself "totally in" with her creative dish. Reuben followed with his mashed potatoes and andouille sausage, which Jet criticized as being "pretty small."

Sarah came next with her quinoa dish, and drew criticism from Bobby for making the southwestern-inspired dish more about him that her. Neither Kenny's berry trifle nor his disjointed presentation worked for Jet. Finally, Lenny's egg pie was well-received, but his sopapilla was so bad that Bobby actually spit it into his napkin. The other hopefuls reacted gleefully to his failure.

Later, the finalists faced Alton and Bobby for the week's elimination. Alton named Christopher the winner of the first round while Emma took the second. As promised, each took home their winnings, with Christopher bagging $2,500 and Emma, $1,200. Both were, of course, saved to cook again.

With the winners named, Bobby and Alton moved to the unpleasant take of naming the bottom two finishers from each round. Earning the unwanted distinction were Chris, Loreal, Lenny, and Kenny. They were then dismissed to allow the judges time to choose the week's big loser.

After deliberating their decision, Bobby and Alton called the four hopefuls back into the room for the final verdict. Lenny was saved to cook again, but Kenny wasn't so fortunate. After citing his failure to rise to the challenge despite being dealt no sabotages, he was eliminated from contention.

"Food Network Star" 2014 resumes June 22 on the Food Network with a fourth week of culinary competition. To see if Kenny earns a second chance in the kitchen, check out Star Salvation online.

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