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'Food Network Star' recap: 'No pretenders, just contenders'

July 25, 2011 | 11:51 am

Jyll Everman of Food Network Star And then there were five. And in a week when the judges began wondering who among the final contestants can be an "authority," I think there's only one real answer: Jeff.

This week was a no-brainer. Unless something miraculous happened, Jyll Everman of Glendora was going home because she just couldn't deliver "real" in front of the camera. Although she had a great concept for a show -- Jyllicious Bites: big food made small -- she could only deliver a pageant smile and a nervous "Everything's great here, folks!" demeanor, and her food was shaky at times.

Worse, it was "exposed" that her P.O.V. is still shaky. Is she all about entertaining on a budget? Hearty Midwestern flair with a California twist? Or big food made small? It was all over when Food Network honcho Susie Fogelson said of Jyll: "She has an artificiality that I can't get past."

NEXT!

That leaves us with five finalists, but when you look closer, only one seems to be a real expert.

I get the idea that the other four are making it up a bit as they go along. Even Susie. Yes, she may technically have the cooking background, but she didn't come into Season 7 with plans for a show revolving around Mexican food and her culture, and at times it seems like she is trying to apologize for it. Jeff, meanwhile, knows sandwiches. And his is a sharply focused concept that will bring in a desirable male demo for Food Network.

What do you think? Is the "Sandwich King" destined to be the Season 7 king?

Other observations about the five finalists as we get down to the "no pretenders, just contenders" dash to the finale:

--Whitney killed it during the Rachael Ray segment, but still seems shaky. And kinda angry. Like when she was making her chili and seemingly did not realize that the camera was on her. The question remains, say the judges: "Does she have the star power to make people want to listen to her?" I still don't know what she brings to the table. Everyday elegance? First off, I don't buy that. And second, that's what I go to Ina Garten for -- I don't need or want a newer model.

--Susie earned high praise from Garten for her corn muffin, although not so much for all the duck slaw and stuff that Susie added at the end to, in her words, "give it some elegancy." Garten said of the corn muffin: "I'd download the recipe." Whoa! But then with Rachael Ray, Susie acted like she was leaving Mexican food in the dust.

--Jeff can just be so ... weird. He can be so friendly and charming in one venue (like on Ray's show, where he nailed it) and be downright "aggressive" in another (like the Garten cupcake demo.) And his food continues to be mixed. The judges said of his meat cupcake: "Not one part of it is really delicious." But let's face it. Sandwich King is a great concept for a show, and when he's focused on that, and not monkeying around in front of the camera, he's outstanding. I want that pork chop sandwich recipe.

--Easy there, Momma's boy. Vic can turn it on, but sometimes he does so with the force of a fire engine hose at full blast. Witness, "La Changa": a way to use up your leftover lasagna -- by frying it inside a burrito. Now, normally I am not opposed to frying anything. But this just seems like overkill. And it was a risky move that ultimately did not pay off in front of Ray's audience. He's lucky he escaped this week. I just feel like he's a Guy Fieri wannabe. And just like I'm not ready to replace Garten, I'm not ready to replace Fieri in my DVR lineup either.

--Mary Beth: I am torn on her. I like her, she's pretty, her twist on shepherd's pie was creative and colorful ... but I just don't think she's an authority. I'm not sure what I would be hoping to gain by tuning in to her show. Now, if they had her do some kind of travelogue meets food programming ...

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-- Rene Lynch
Twitter.com/renelynch

Photo: Jyll Everman. Credit: Food Network

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