Food Network Star Power Rankings: Week 3, ‘Trendy Dinner’

The race for the next Food Network Star continued this week, without last week‘s eliminated contestant, Matthew, the Obnoxious Twink Who Loved #Hashtags. Which must’ve been a real bummer for him, since this week’s opening challenge would’ve fit right into his #FoodForMilennials POV. This week’s theme was “food trends,” and for the first challenge, the contestants had to make a dish and take a picture of it, and the judges would decide which dishes to eat (and judge) based on the picture.

The contestants all gushed about how much they love to take pictures of their food, and not a single joke was made about the kind of A-holes who love taking pictures of their food. Which was downright shocking to anyone who spends a decent amount of time at comedy open mics like me, where “what’s up wit people takin’ pictures of their food?” is right up there with “have you ever noticed Whole Foods is expensive?” in terms of popular joke premises (both subcategories of “Doncha hate hipsters?!”, incidentally).

Meanwhile, I think I may start each week’s Power Ranking with Thing That Makes Me Ashamed To Be Watching The Food Network. As I said last week, this is a compulsion, not an endorsement. This week’s Thing: constant promos for Cutthroat Kitchen. A new episode immediately followed Food Network Star this week, and pne promo featured Alton Brown talking directly to the camera, saying: “This week on Cutthroat Kitchen, someone will have to make a dish using this!” At which point he held up, I kid you not, A SAXOPHONE.

Can we talk about how this is one of the most idiotic premises for a food program ever conceived? Imagine the HGTV version of Cutthroat Kitchen. “Today, someone will have to grout these kitchen tiles with this!” (*host holds up two snow tires and an old ukelele*). I hope that someday Alton Brown goes in for major surgery and someone has replaced the surgeon’s tools with a shrimp fork and some typewriter ribbon. Basically, the only way to like Cutthroat Kitchen is if you hate food and your idea of entertainment is a medieval court jester. “Haha, make the dwarf joust with a pie!”

Anyway, to the rankings!

1. Arnold (even)
The Mary Poppins of drag queen chefs had a terrible week this week and still came out okay, which only served to highlight that he’s all but a lock to win this. He toned down the flamboyance to keep from freaking out Middle America, and may have overcorrected a bit, coming out flat and bored for both challenges. The elimination challenge this week was “trendy dinner.” “One hot new trend is the opposite of comfort foods,” Giada described it, probably in post. The contestants were tasked with making a dish to represent “Burnt, slimy, stinky, incendiary, and raw,” respectively.

Arnold made scorched bananas (his “incendiary” dessert) and gave two of the roughly eight confessional shots where a contestant hilariously couldn’t remember/pronounce the word “incendiary.” This is how you know TV people are all unfathomably stupid, by the way, that not being able to say “incendiary” is held up as a plot point to make the contestants seem relatable. “Eh oh, I’m just a regulah guy ovah heah. I can’t be pronouncin’ no polysyllabic woids!”

Nonetheless, even in a lackluster effort, Arnold’s dish was still called “beautiful, classy, food” by the judges, and he seems like the odds-on favorite. The kind of guy Ina Garten would call to cater one of her Hamptons dinner parties so she could concentrate on pre-chewing Jeffrey’s food. Have we ever seen Jeffrey, by the way? I picture him alternately as the Wizard of Oz and Norman Bates’ mother.