"Food Network Star" 2014 continued July 6 on the Food Network with a sixth week of kitchen competition. By night's end, the field of hopefuls narrowed yet again as another contestant was sent packing.
The evening's episode began as the seven remaining contestants joined show judges Bobby Flay and Giada DeLaurentiis in the Food Star Kitchens. Giada noted the importance of them standing out in the food world, and Bobby explained that they'd be responsible for demonstrating their individual points of view via preparing both packaged food products and 30-second commercials.
Alton Brown joined them remotely via a video to show off the scene-changing technology that would aid --or potentially hinder-- the creation of their spots. He gave an ominous send-off, noting that they should be able to sell products they believe in no matter what the backdrop.
With 60 minutes on the clock, the hopefuls got to work on creating their products. The concoctions ranged from individual seasoned butter pats and tomato onion jam to roasted pepper hot sauce and southwestern baby food.
After time expired, the contestants again faced Giada and Bobby to begin the next phase of the challenge. Bobby addressed each hopeful to tell them which backdrop they'd be using to sell their wares.
East coast native Nicole Gaffney was assigned the Old West; butcher Loreal Gavin was given a super-sized tomato garden; Cuban hot sauce peddler Reuben Ruiz was sent to the moon; cowboy Lenny McNab found himself bound for the Great Wall of China; farm fresh food advocate Emma Frisch was given Paris; Texan Sarah Penrod was assigned a tropical island; and caterer Chris Kyler was relegated to the desert. Giada reminded them to demonstrate a commitment to their respective brands during their commercials, and sent them off to work on their plans.
One by one, the hopefuls met with a designer to create packaging for their products. They then made their way to the world's only 360 degree green screen at Zoic Studios to shoot their commercials. Sarah was first up to record her spot, and was alarmed to realize that her pre-planned speech was too long.
Sarah was followed by Nicole, who struggled to mentally adapt to the task; Loreal, who went ultra wacky in her large tomato garden; Reuben, who struggled with the 30-second time limit; Emma, who had fun with her foray into all-things French; Chris, who sped through his presentation; and Lenny, who brought his huge personality to the table, but didn't really tie his product to his assigned scene.
Once the commercials had been completed, the hopefuls returned to the Food Network Studios to find network bigwigs Bob Tuschman and Susie Fogelson on hand to assess their growth in the competition. Each contestant's ad was screened and critiqued by Bob, Susie, Giada, and Bobby.
Emma was up first. Although Lenny appreciated her energy, Giada and Susie criticized her use of a French accent and Bob slammed her for not "being an American in Paris." Fortunately, the panelists loved her pickled beets. Lenny followed and took heat from the judges for not acknowledging his unusual location and for pushing his product too hard. Luckily, Bobby called his branding iron hot sauce "delicious" and Susie called it "fantastic" and a gutsy choice.
Chris started off well with his ad for his culinary butter coins, and Susie speculated that he got "lost in the schtick" of the desert. He too, however, turned in a great product that was well-received. Bob said he'd use the product and Susie called it "one of the best things I've seen on this show ever." Bobby criticized an apparent loss of confidence in Nicole, and Susie knocked her for not glorifying her tomato jam. However, Bob enjoyed her product, and said he'd "eat it right out of the jar."
Up next was Loreal, whose cute hot sauce and marinade spot was the first commercial to draw raves from the judges. Her sauce, however, only fared well with Bobby, who called it "impactful." Sarah followed with her tropical baby food ad, which Bobby said she "absolutely killed." Giada differed, however, and said her failure to mention her kids made the effort a big fail. The baby food itself was well-received, with Giada calling it "flavorful" and nicely textured.
Up last was Reuben, whose space-themed ad was declared "flat" by Bobby. Bob was disappointed by his lack of "swagger" and "energy." However, Bobby and Giada appreciated the flavor of his hot sauce.
With the evaluations in the books, Bob revealed that the six contestants who survived the evening's elimination would continue the competition in Las Vegas. The hopefuls were all thrilled by the idea, with Chris calling it "a dream come true."
Later, the contestants again joined Bob, Susie, Bobby, and Giada for the week's evaluation. Loreal earned props for creating the best commercial while Chris earned the nod for the best product. Both were saved to cook again. Giada also praised the efforts and Lenny and Sarah and saved them to continue on. Loreal, Chris, Lenny, and Sarah were dismissed, leaving Emma, Reuben, and Nicole in the bottom three and in danger of elimination.
After sending the bottom three out of the room, the panelists deliberated their decision. Giada and Bobby acknowledged Nicole's growth over the course of the season. Bob was concerned by Reuben's lack of camera chops, while Emma took heat for not adequately selling her product.
After the judges called the trio back into the room, the decision was handed down. Giada saved Emma to cook again, leaving Bobby to deliver the news that Reuben had been eliminated. He was undeterred by the decision, declaring "I was sidetracked today, but it's going to happen for me."
"Food Network Star" 2014 continues July 13 from Las Vegas. Tune into the Food Network to view a wide array of cooking competitions and demonstrations.