The latest installment of the long-running reality cooking competition opened as the hopefuls faced judge Bobby Flay in the Food Star Kitchen. Bobby noted the importance of social media in establishing connections with viewers, and explained that each contestant would be creating a 60-second clip that he termed a "video selfie." He instructed them to include a cooking tip, as well as any behind-the-scenes footage that viewers would find interesting, and promised a "significant advantage" to the winner.
The contestants got to work creating their videos. Some worked to conquer the issues that dogged them throughout the season, as the fast-talking Reuben Ruiz worked to slow his tempo and the oft-bland Emma Frisch tried to add humor to her presentation. Others, including Aryen Moore-Alston, struggled with the production side of the task, while still others, including Sarah Penrod and Loreal Gavin, breezed confidently through the challenge.
After the videos were completed, the hopefuls joined Bobby to view their final products. Bobby really liked Sarah's behind-the-scenes approach, and praised Christopher Lynch for "starting to let your hair down." Aryen didn't fare quite as well, as Bobby criticized the angle of her selfie, nor did Chris Kyler, who didn't include enough of himself in his presentation.
Bobby appreciated Emma's good energy, and called her video "a great example of connecting all the dots." Chuckwagon cook Lenny McNab took heat for not better explaining his pan-cleaning tip, and Bobby praised Loreal for being funny, but dinged her for not telling viewers she's a butcher. Nicole Gaffney earned props for finally giving him a glimpse into her personality, while Reuben once again motor-mouthed his way through his presentation, prompting Bobby to tell him to "take a breath." After reviewing all of the videos, Bobby proclaimed Emma the winner of the promised advantage.
Later, the contestants made their way to YouTube Space LA, where they were greeted by Alton Brown and Bobby. The two chefs explained that the contestants would work in teams of three to "create a buzz-worthy online marketing video" starring one of three candy products. As the winner of the mentor challenge, Emma was given the right to create the teams. She selected Nicole and Reuben to be her teammates, explaining that she works well with Nicole and loves Reuben's great energy.
Emma went on to place Aryen, Lenny, and Christopher in a second group, and Loreal, Sarah, and Chris in the third. Bobby then assigned the teams their candies, with Team Emma taking Reese's Peanut Butter Cups, team two taking Pay Day, and team three working with Almond Joy and Mounds. But that wasn't all: Bobby and Alton welcomed YouTube sensation Shaycarl to join them on stage, and explained that he'd be helping the teams to create truly effective viral videos.
With the challenge fully outlined, the groups went off to create their videos with wildly varying degrees of success. Team PayDay quickly got to work taping candy bars to a bare-chested Franken-Lenny, while Team Reese's Peanut Butter Cups crafted a Spanish class creation. Team Almond Joy and Mounds struggled to come up with a good concept as Chris butted heads with Loreal and Sarah. After the teams had the chance to develop their respective concepts, Shaycarl joined each to help refine their ideas.
After the promos were complete, the contestants joined Alton, Bobby, and Giada De Laurentiis as well as YouTube execs Kevin Allocca and Kate Mason to view the efforts. The panelists enjoyed Team Reese's offering but criticized Reuben's beard, and Team Almond Joy's Loreal and Sarah took heat for not taking more active roles in their video. But Christopher of Team PayDay took the harshest criticism of all for failing to rise to his potential as the mad scientist.
Later, the finalists joined Bobby, Alton, and Giada for the week's challenge evaluation. The trio proclaimed Team Reese's the most successful of the bunch, and dismissed them from the room. Team Almond Joy edged Team PayDay for second place, leaving Aryen, Lenny, and Christopher in danger of elimination. Based on his "absolute, robust commitment" to his role as the monster, Alton saved Lenny to cook again.
With the two endangered contestants out of earshot, the judging trio deliberated. Citing a lack of camera chops, Giada voted to oust Christopher, while Alton pushed to boot the underwhelming Aryen, leaving Bobby to cast the critical deciding vote. They summoned the two contestants back into the room to deliver the verdict, and after citing Aryen's failure to deliver what the judges wanted, Bobby sent her home.
"Food Network Star" 2014 continues June 29 with another all-new episode. Visit the show's official web page for more information on all 12 finalists.