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'Food Network Star' recap: A bad Penny turns up

August 8, 2011 | 11:31 am

The only surprise this week on "Food Network Star"? That restaurateur Penny Davidi of Los Angeles hasn't learned a darn thing.

It was all but certain that Mary Beth would be sent packing. She can talk food but she can't -- how to put this nicely -- she can't cook as well as she talks. And that's kinda important for the Food Network. Lamb chops that are too overdone or underdone just won't cut it. And it's not good when Giada De Laurentiis tells you: "The secret ingredient was lamb, and the lamb is the worst thing on the plate." Ouch!

It was an Iron Chef-like battle as the four finalists squared off before the judges, including Iron Chefs Michael Symon and the Flayman.

Jeff, who had the advantage heading into this round, stupidly chose to square off with Susie, whose confidence has skyrocketed. She's looking more and more like a Food Network star, with the confidence to match her outstanding cooking. (All her lobster dishes looked a-m-a-z-i-n-g.)

Meanwhile, Mary Beth and Vic went toe-to-toe. (Please tell me what it is about Vic's arms... Why does he hold them like they are magnetically repelled from his torso? He looks like he's holding two bricks beneath his underarms. Is he doing that on purpose? Does he think it makes him look tough? If this is some kind of medical thing, I hereby apologize.)

No surprise, Mary Beth ended in the bottom half, and so did Jeff, even though he turned out some great sandwiches and knocked it out of the park when he was doing play-by-play for Iron Chef host and a real tough guy, Alton Brown.

Mary Beth was no doubt undone in part by the returning Penny. Was that bag of names magically rigged? How is it possible that mortal enemies Mary Beth and Penny ended up ... together ... again! Now, if Penny had her head on straight, she would have kicked butt on Mary Beth's behalf, and maybe shored up some chits with Food Network. And maybe could have started the crawl back to persuade them to give her another chance. (A long shot perhaps, but worth the try.)

But, nooooooooo. Penny had to prove that they were right to bounce her in the first place. She is not a team player. And that is putting it nicely. Finally, A.B. called her out on her molasses-like demeanor in the kitchen. Penny should have been embarrassed to be caught dogging it in an attempt to undermine Mary Beth. But then again, that's what makes Penny Penny.

So, what do you think? While I thought Jeff was the sure bet, this is feeling more and more like Susie's to lose.


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--Rene Lynch

Photo: Penny Davidi. Credit: Food Network