"Food Network Star" 2014 resumed June 29 on the Food Network with the fifth installment of the reality cooking competition's 10th season. By episode's end, yet another hopeful was eliminated from contention.
The show opened as the remaining eight contestants made their way to Knotts Berry Farm for the week's challenge. They met up with judges Giada DeLaurentiis, Bobby Flay, and Alton Brown, who explained that they'd be responsible for creating classic Fourth of July food pairings. The panelists handed each contestant an envelope that contained the dishes that they'd be responsible for creating and spinning to match their individual cooking perspectives.
The random assignments were as follows. Cowboy chef Lenny NcNab scored fish tacos and chips with guacamole; Emma Frisch drew crab cakes and coleslaw; Chris Kyler selected grilled chicken and macaroni and cheese; Christopher Lynch wound up with shrimp and corn and tomato salad; butcher Loreal Gavin lucked out with steak and potato salad; Nicole Gaffney chose barbecued pork and onion rings; Sarah Penrod drew hamburgers and pasta salad; and Reuben Ruiz chose fried chicken and bean salad.
Bobby then upped the ante, explaining that they'd create their menu items and then give live three-minute dish demonstrations for 400 people in the theme park's amphitheater. With an hour on the clock to cook, the contestants scattered to gather their ingredients and get to work.
As the contestants cooked, the judging trio chatted them up to learn more about their plans and past experiences. Chris shared his own personal story of redemption and seemed well on his way to success, while the calming but often dull Emma struggled to grill her crab cakes before opting for a pan-fry approach instead.
Reuben opted for a sriracha-infused chicken and promised the judges that he'd try to slow his pace, while Nicole took a kebab approach to make her typically long-cooking ingredient more time-friendly. Christopher, who narrowly escaped elimination, was enthusiastic about working with seafood, but Giada insisted he worked on upping his performance skills.
A very confident Sarah whipped up a spicy hamburger and told the panelists that she was going to go with "the whole Texas thing" during her presentation. The always colorful Lenny crafted his grouper fish tacos while the judges noted his ability to blend in with the theme park scene. Finally, Loreal worked on her Hoosier ribeye and the judges pressed her to keep her energy up and positive.
After time expired, the contestants entered the amphitheater and the judges explained the task to the live audience. One by one, the finalists hit the stage. Reuben kicked off his presentation with a much-improved pace, but wound up running short on time. His food fared no better, as the judges called his salad flavorless and his chicken inconsistent.
Nicole followed with a solid, high energy presentation that pleased the judges, and Bobby enjoyed her dish but Alton couldn't make a connection between her perspective ad her dish. Chris opened with an impression of President Obama that drew praise from the audience, but his food didn't impress the panelists at all.
"Butcher babe" Loreal made a positive impression as she introduced her "best friend" the rib eye but drew heat for not seasoning her steak. Lenny followed and although he accidentally used all of his grouper and had none to demo, he charmed the crowd by creatively making guacamole. Although his food was good, Bobby was frustrated that he didn't detail the construction of his tacos.
Disaster struck for Christopher, who talked a lot but failed to actually demonstrate any of his dishes. Although the judges loved the dish, they lamented his inability to cook and talk at once. Emma engaged the audience with her relaxed presentation, but the judges disliked her food, universally wishing she'd not used coconut milk in her cole slaw.
Up last to present was Sarah, who fared okay with her presentation, but took a lot of criticism for her green chile cheeseburger. Giada noted that it seemed like she didn't know what she was doing and was unable to "fake it."
The next day, the contestants faced Giada, Bobby, and Alton for judgment. Lenny and Loreal were termed most successful, while Christopher and Reuben were relegated to the bottom two. All of the contestants were dismissed while the trio deliberated the week's decision. While Bobby criticized Reuben and reminded the panelists that Christopher had delivered the best dish of the day, Giada slammed Christopher, ultimately leaving Alton to cast the deciding vote.
Moments later, Reuben and Christopher joined the panel for the final verdict. Giada delivered the news Christopher's failure to demonstrate his dish had sealed his elimination.
"Food Network Star" 2014 continues July 6 with the next week of the competition. Tune in to see which hopeful is the next to go.