"Food Network Star" 2014 resumed July 27 on the Food Network as the five remaining contestants continued their quest for the season 10 title in New York City. By evening's end, the roster dropped to just four as another hopeful was sent packing just weeks before the finale.
The episode opened as the finalists made their way to the Food Network headquarters at Chelsea Market. Once inside the kitchen, they faced judges Alton Brown, Bobby Flay, and Giada DeLaurentiis. Giada explained that they'd be responsible for choosing a summer-staple food item from a Chelsea Market vendor, and Alton shared that they would then each be responsible for presenting a live field report from the market explaining what makes their item so great.
The finalists chose envelopes from a basket to determine their vendor destinations. Sarah Penrod drew the Manhattan Fruit Exchange; Luca Della Casa selected the Lobster Place; Lenny McNab drew Sohha Savory Yogurt; Nicole Gaffney picked Ronnybrook Milk Bar; and Loreal Gavin chose Dickson's Farmstand Meats. The self-proclaimed Butcher Babe was delighted with her randomly selected envelope, but others, including cowboy Lenny, weren't quite as enthused. Before sending them off to interview their shopkeepers and prepare their presentations, Bobby wished them luck and reminded them that they'd be presenting live so edits wouldn't be an option.
Luca was first to present to the judging panel and seemed to charm them with his big smile. All three were impressed with his attention to the camera and his presentation. Sarah followed and badly screwed up her intro, struggling with her earpiece, but made up for the gaffe with humor as she took a big bite from a melon after the judges asked her what it tasted like.
Nicole drew Bobby's praise and Giada appreciated her ice cream tip, but Lenny's lack of knowledge about yogurt hurt his presentation, leaving a disappointed Bobby declaring "he didn't give us anything." Loreal brought up the rear and despite her experience with meat, she struggled to give any kind of insight and her presentation fell flat.
Later, the top five joined the trio back in the kitchen for a quick review. Luca and Nicole took praise for their efforts, while Loreal and Lenny took heat for theirs. Sarah earned a split decision. Nicole was declared the winner of an advantage in the week's Star Challenge.
The trio immediately introduced said challenge. A video featuring Rachael Ray played. She explained that they'd be tackling a "real life dinner dilemma" for a family that would be assigned to them, and then they'd present their solutions live during three and a half minute segments on "The Rachael Ray Show." As the advantage winner, Nicole was given the right to choose the family with whom she'd like to work and then assign the remaining families to her competitors.
She assigned the "big family, small budget" group to Lenny. The "delicious leftover/frozen foods" family went to Sarah, while Luca was given the veggie-hating picky eaters. Nicole opted to keep the health-seekers for herself, leaving the "on the go" family for Loreal. With 30 minutes on the clock, the hopefuls got to work creating their dishes. Sarah offered up plenty of snarky commentary criticizing her opponents' dishes, deeming Loreal's stuffed chicken too complicated for an on the go family and Nicole's food too spicy for kids.
Later, the top five arrived at Rachael Ray's studio and the star herself greeted them in the Green Room, encouraging them to tell their stories and make connections. The sometimes-nervous Luca took to the stage first as the selection committee looked on. Although the little boys refused to taste his cauliflower risotto with bolognese sauce, the judges were still impressed with the food. Nicole followed with her shrimp and vegetable wraps and Alton noted that she looked comfortable, but disaster struck as the little boy ejected the sriracha-doused dish after tasting it.
Sarah followed with her taco soup presentation. As the mentors looked on, Giada noted that she didn't look like she was having any fun as she cooked, but fortunately, the mom called the dish "delicious." Loreal was up next with her complicated chicken dish and immediately irritated Giada by not telling anyone what she was cooking. As the process went on and on, the judges noted that the dish wasn't the cheap, fast, and easy one the family had requested, but also noted that she was, at least, having fun.
Finally, Lenny finished up the presentations. Although he too failed to tell the family what he was making, he offered up several good tips that impressed Giada and made the audience applaud. Afterward, Rachael joined the judges in the Green Room to give her impressions. She wasn't pleased with Sarah's presentation or Nicole's dish, but loved both Lenny's personality and his food.
The next day, the top five joined the panelists for judgment. Luca and Lenny were declared safe to cook again, leaving Sarah, Loreal, and Nicole in danger of elimination. After privately deliberating, Giada, Bobby, and Alton called the trio back into the room for the week's elimination. Nicole was saved to cook again and dismissed. Moments later, Loreal, who was criticized for an inability to teach, was dismissed from the competition.
"Food Network Star" 2014 continues Aug. 3. Tune in to see which three hopefuls are given the chance to film their own pilot shows.