So um, wow. Did you guys see this coming? If you haven't watched the latest episode of the Next Food Network Star and are afraid of spoilers, then move right along, because something interesting actually happened this time.
I knew there had been a bunch of controversy over Jag's background - and thought it was a bit weird that Food Network has made no official comment about it - however I didn't think he would actually make it to the final two, so I assumed it wouldn't be a problem. Guess I was wrong. Jag made it to the final two only, you can't vote for him. To find out what happened, and why Jag was eliminated,
Okay, I've jumped ahead of myself, so let's back up a minute and start at the beginning of the episode. It starts off with Jag, Rory and Amy mixing up breakfast and what looks like mimosas, only to be joined by guest judge Bobby Flay and several folks from Food Network's PR team. They're told that they're doing a mini-media junket and are then whisked off to the XM Radio Stations to join the Ron & Fez show. Amy does wonderfully, Jag ends up talking trash about Food Network and Rory falls into every trap possible.
After the radio interview, the contestants are whisked back to the studios where they are interviewed and photographed by Star magazine. Jag keeps it positive and avoids questions about his past, Rory talks about how Food Network needs a bolder female personality (really? RR isn't bold enough?), and Amy keeps it real.
Once the interviews are over, they then head over to the Rachael Ray studios where they will each present their signature dish in front of a live studio audience. Amy is up first and does a good job of presenting, but accidentally comes across as snobby. Rory gets some funny looks from Bobby Flay (who seems bored out of his mind to be here) and pushes Rachael out of the way. While Jag wows the audience with jokes and charm, despite the fact that his recipe seemed more difficult. Oh and I wanted to take a second to note, despite what you think of RR, she's really good at her job. I noticed that whenever the contestants started to falter, she asked just the right question to get them back on track. Too bad she couldn't have come in and coached them earlier...
When the press junket is finally over, the judges decide that Rory is staying (my theory: RR is getting bigger than Food Network and Rachael lite is better than no RR at all) as is Jag (the guy is unstable and ridiculous, but he can sure entertain a crowd). I was absolutely stunned when they sent Amy home. She wasn't my favorite (I stopped having one of those weeks ago), but I thought she had the largest chance of staying in.
Now's where the interesting part comes in. We cut to commercial break, and when we return there is some white text on a black background describing the fact that Jag lied about both his service in Afghanistan, as well as his culinary education. They then show Jag telling the judges that he doesn't want to tarnish the FN name and is therefore resigning. I don't know about you guys, but I thought it felt more than just a little rehearsed. It's as if they said, you broke the rules, you're out of here, but so that we don't look dumb and you look like a good guy, you have a chance to resign on film. I mean, Jag's speech seemed like acting, don't you think? Oh and don't they do background checks on these folks? Shouldn't they have found this out before the public did???
So with Jag eliminated, who are you going to vote for? Amy or Rory? You've got until tomorrow - Tuesday, July 17 - at 9am/8c to get your decision in.
Does the fact that Amy is a "side-talker" (as in usually talks out of the side of her mouth) drive anyone else crazy? I think I'd vote for her over Rory, but it still drives me insane.