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'Next Food Network Star': Haven't you seen this show before?

June 14, 2010 | 10:03 am

Doreen
This is Season 6 of the Food Network's talent search. And if you'd ever seen even one episode from a past season, you know that having a razor sharp "culinary POV" is what it's all about. In other words: Doreen, haven't you seen this show before?

If you have the raw talent, "The Next Food Network Star" can probably teach you all the camera tricks that you need to know -- such as how to talk and cook at the same time. But they can't supply you with a point of view. Doreen had to know this, yet she struggled again and again -- and seemed a bit hostile -- when the selection committee tried to get her to narrow her focus.

It's what ultimately did her in. The poorly done pulled-pork didn't help, either. Which is a shame because Doreen held some promise, and I'm not just saying that because she's a hometown girl: She had a streetwise edge to her and worldliness about food. Why she couldn't find a way to play up that angle is beyond me. How about "The World on Your Plate"?

All that said, how could the same selection committee choose to keep loony-tunes Dzintra over Doreen after the pair fell to the bottom this week?!! Do they really think more viewers would tune in for "I talk to myself, and about myself in the third person" Dzintra over Doreen? Doreen's scattered approach could have been dealt with in a blunt, 20-minute session with mentor Giada de Laurentiis, who, by the way, is doing a great job, delivering sound, constructive criticism. Dzintra, though, is another case entirely. She is just unwatchable: She makes my stomach seize up.

Even if you stack Doreen against Dzintra on the food front, I think Doreen would win out, too, which makes the selection committee's decision all the more perplexing. This week's challenge was a sweet one: Set on the Santa Monica Pier, the contest required the cheftestants to take a sugarly carnival treat and transform it into a savory bite for Duff "Ace of Cakes" Goldman and his friends.

Doreen's inspiration was a root beer float, and her root beer pulled pork was a clever retort. Unfortunately, she didn't have enough time to cook the pork until it became buttery soft, so it was just too tough. But Dzintra, whose inspiration was cotton candy, brought the crazy with a three-part dish that had some of the judges talking to themselves, too. I cringed when Food Network honcho Bob Tuschman had to tell  Dzintra -- repeatedly -- to get plating because the clock was ticking. I do think it was nice that the selection committee cut her some slack last week when she suffered an eye injury and went to the hospital, and they allowed her to stick around for another week even though she didn't cook much.

But enough. It was a bad call to let Dzintra slide a second week in a row.

What did you think? Am I being too tough on Dzintra? Did Doreen really deserve to go home before Dzintra?

A few random thoughts: So glad to see DAS bounce from bottom to top. He has a soft charm about him. Aarti needs to stop with the second-guessing. So unattractive. Fake it til you make it, Aarti. Tuschman hit it right on the head with Paul: He could be a dynamo if he could bring the funny, without the meanspiritedness. I like Herb's fitness foodie approach -- that could be a winning show on Food Network. I'm still undecided about Serena. I go from loving her to . . . not loving her. And I hope that Aria doesn't become this season's Jeffrey -- so good from the beginning that the committee dings her for not improving enough. And, boy, does Brianna hate to be criticized. Maybe she's never seen the show, either. 

--Rene Lynch
Twitter / renelynch

Photo: Doreen during the lasagna challenge. Credit: Food Network

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Photo credit: Doreen during the lasagna challenge. Food Network

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