Food Network Star is a very special show, as far as I am concerned. I got hooked during the 2012 season, and it was something that punctuated what I will probably always consider to be the most amazing and magical Summer of my life.
Every Sunday I look forward excitedly to sitting down on the couch with Zelda and any of the other Kittensharks who happen to be around, turning on Food Network, and then throwing out all kinds of reactionary tweets for one intense hour. The tweeting about it is crucial to the experience. I’ve annoyed my real life friends (sucks to be you, @e_of_pi!), Made some new friends (shout out especially to @Rachaven, who is awesome), and gotten myself blocked by Giada (a Kittenshark rite of passage).
Anyhow, FNS isn’t over for the year yet but in some ways, it feels like it might as well be. I guess any reality or game show where your loyalty to one contestant or another shifts is one that is at the very least edited properly, but more likely because there are many incredible people on it and you want more than one to win.
Last year it didn’t take too long for me to choose a favorite. At first it was Justin Warner, who ultimately won in the end. It didn’t stay that way, though. Nikki Martin really started stealing the show and for a whole year I’ve felt that the biggest mistake Food Network has ever made was passing up on such a talented and fun personality. On July 15th of last year, Zelda posted an article, Nikki Martin is Amazing and Should Have a Show on Food Network. Well, this year, here I am writing the followup, and I only had to change the contestant’s last name.
At first I thought Chad Rosenthal was probably the most exciting personality, especially when he absolutely nailed it with a vegetable challenge– something that one would have thought was way outside of his comfort zone. I was sorry to see Chad get eliminated, and even though I have been a vegetarian for more than half my life, I would watch the hell out of a barbecue show if he were the one hosting it.
But even before Chad got eliminated I felt that same massive shift in my loyalty as I did last year. Nikki Dinki really appeared to come out of her shell, and became my number one favorite. Her “Meat on the Side” point of view, of course spoke to me a little bit more easily than others but I don’t watch television like I eat. Once again, I feel that the Food Network blew it by passing up on their strongest contestant. Nikki Dinki has in abundance the talent, charm, and look to have a great show on the Food Network.
I suppose there is some solace to be taken in the fact that Nikki has a pretty solid online presence already. The quickest of glances at her website will make you hungry and ready to try a new recipe. Those Broccoli Tacos and the Kabocha Squash + Tomato Pasta that I see on the front page as of this moment are lookin’ right.
The Kittensharks paid tribute to Nikki Martin last year in the form of one of our traditional “Half-Assed recipes.” A drink- The Nikki Martini was born, and Mz. Martin responded in kind with her spicier, sexier, whole-assed Official Nikki Martini. I guess this means I have two tasks before me, now. First, create and post a new half-assed recipe for a cocktail called the “Nikki Drinki” and to pray that next year’s wrongfully eliminated Nikki will also have a last name we can cleverly turn into a reference to booze.
Going forward, I’m not a hundred percent sure who to root for. I’m thinking Russell: the “Culinary Sins” thing works to an extent, and could make for interesting television. Maybe Damaris, she’s kind of growing on me. As much as Rodney seems like a nice guy, I’m all set on “Guy Fieri’s younger brother makes pies all the time” as a show. Nor do I think that anyone whose claim to fame was “had a bad restaurant until Food Network saved it” should get their own show. Sorry, Stacey.
I’d rather see a show where both Nikkis somehow collaborated as a culinary odd couple. Their personalities and perspectives could play off each other in the most fantastic way to make for genuinely entertaining television. Last year we got Alex Guarnaschelli as the new Iron Chef, which she so rightfully deserved. This year, Food Network should right the error by doing this. I could die happy, and much likelier in my kitchen.