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Frame: A Matter of Taste on Next Food Network Star

June 27, 2011

One of my favorite kitchen rules is that one should always taste the food they are cooking – I heartily endorse this practice. I taste my dishes in their rawest form, picking at ingredients from the very beginning of the cooking process. I taste during preliminary cooking stages- softened mirepoix, butter and sugar mixtures, steps that don’t really need to be tasted. I taste during long periods of simmering, when the food should probably just be left alone. And I taste at the end, right before plating, just to make sure the food is good. I am frequently full by the time the actual meal hits the table.

Because I savor all of this tasting, I was understandably enraged last night while watching the latest installment of Next Food Network Star. Contestant Penny Davidi was granted more time, despite her failure to taste her burnt, unappetizing macaroni and cheese. What?

It’s not that I think that Justin Balmes, the no- personality fishmonger with excellent culinary skills shouldn’t have been tossed off last night. Food Network did him a disservice by even putting him on – one look at his stretched ear lobes told me he was, as Paula Deen would say, “over before he started.”  The edgiest that Food Network gets is Guy Fieri’s frosted tips, and even those are a bit risque for Bob Tuschman.

No, my problem is that Penny is clearly being kept on the show for ratings and drama. She can’t cook, she looks ridiculous, and everytime she opens her mouth I want to shove a kitchen stilleto down her gullet. Food Network has completely given up on actually finding someone with talent, and the show has devolved into The Real Housewives of Chelsea Market. But then, that’s the point, right? Penny makes people angry, so people tune in, ratings go up, and we all keep eating Cheez Its.

Will I keep watching? Yes. But only in the hopes that Jyll Everman (of Jyllicious) doesn’t win. The thought of her with a professional television career is jyllarming.

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