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'Food Network Star' recap: The claws are out

June 13, 2011 | 12:11 pm

This is how I like my villains. Completely, absolutely unapologetic.

Heck yeah, Penny Davidi of Los Angeles is here to win "Food Network Star." Let's give her points for clarity, sense of purpose -- and a "get outta my way" attitude. Or, as Chris puts it: "Wake up and smell the coffee: Penny's coming to get you."

The L.A. entrepreneur went right at it this week, painting a bull's eye on the front-runner -- Orchid -- and staging the subsequent challenge so that she could rest assured she would be at least one step ahead of the person she perceived as the weakest link, Katy Clark of Long Beach.

I have to say, that was some impressive, on-the-fly strategic maneuvering. Even Penny was proud of her bad self: "Mission accomplished, girl has zero culinary skills, you're out" she said of Katy, and later Penny had no problem owning and defending her jockeying: "When we picked out teams, I knew that Katy would be the weak link. She is."

Here's the big question, though: Can Penny follow through on the judges' advice to "show us your attitude in a friendly way"? Does she have it in her?

And what about Katy's elimination itself? Really? Katy leaves and Alicia and Justin B. get to stay? C'mon! Justin B. seems barely one step ahead of Juba, who was sent packing just minutes into the episode. He just couldn't deal in front of the camera. Katy, it seemed, had the opposite problem in front of the camera -- she went overboard with the upbeat chatter and perfect smile and left the judges "exhausted."

But if "Food Network Star" is about trying to groom talent, isn't it easier to rein in someone like Katy than try to do a personality transplant on the likes of a Justin B.? And Alicia, although I like her and think she has promise ... she is just a big crying mess. Worse, "she makes me so uncomfortable," Anne Burrell commented during the inspiration challenge. I'm pretty sure Anne considered leaping over the counter to put Alicia out of her misery. (And putting an end to the misery of everyone else who had to watch Alicia.) At least Justin B. and Juba keep it stoic under pressure. Sheesh.

What did you think? Did the right folks go home?

Priceless moment of the week: The pained look on The Flayman's face when Orchid admitted using canned oyster. I thought for a moment that his appendix burst.

Priceless moment of the week, Take 2: Chris, fresh off judging notes that he needed to act more maturely, brags in his heart-to-heart with Vic that "I think I can win this." Maybe Chris thinks "maturity" is a fancy French cooking term for "give your competitors even more reason to want to beat the tar out of you."

Speaking of Vic: Why does he hold his arms out like he's a tatted-out Gumby. Is he really that muscular? Does he want to appear that muscular? Maybe his ink is still drying?


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-- Rene Lynch