Food Network Star - Episode #8

Another Day Another Donut

This week I had the opportunity to spend Sunday night at 9 o'clock with my family watching FNS together. And one of their first questions was..."You really didn't know someone was coming back?!"

The response? NO!!! The production team can be smooth and we really didn't know that when we got down to 5 people we were quickly about to make it 6 again. They just LOVE to surprise you...

I didn't know who was coming through those doors nor did I have a second to think about it. Seeing Lovely come back I was glad for her- I knew how badly she wanted this...

But this is not week 4! We were down to 5 people and now there was another person to beat to get to the end. As nice as it was to see her I would have rather caught up over drinks after the show was done. 

For the mentor challenge we were told to make a signature pasta dish. I LOVE pasta and when I spot the grape tomatoes I know I'm making a version of my Burst Tomato Pasta. I can make it in 30 minutes- it's simple and delicious.

Version from Food Network Star: Click HERE  -  My Original Video Recipe: Click HERE

I end up with a little extra time at the end so I take some goat cheese, add lemon zest and some of the herbs I have in the pasta and place them on top. The cheese will slowly melt into the dish and add a nice tangy brightness to the sweet tomatoes.

Russell and I are told we are up first (it was shown out of order) and I am gathering a story in my head about my father-in-law Bob and my favorite place on Earth, Fire Island, along with a ton of descriptive words about these tomatoes. 

Now, I could have thought it was weird that they kept Russell and I together and sent the rest away... I could have thought it strange that I only had to make a single plate, but I didn't see it coming. And as they tell us to switch plates I suddenly couldn't be looking at a more different dish. Oh geez.

I've seen this on MULTIPLE seasons of Food Network Star! I should have known! But apparently in the moment all thoughts go out of your head and are replaced with "ummmmmmmm"...

I am first up and as they ask me if I'm ready, I remember saying "yes" and screaming in my head "NO". I didn't have a clue where to begin. A blur of 30 seconds later and the judges say that I made their mouths water. Since they have nothing too nice to say about Russell's description I'm hoping that I have a chance at winning this. 

But we didn't see the other contestants so I didn't know how the cards might fall. it wasn't until they said, "only one person made our mouths water" I realized they are talking about me. Very cool. 

My advantage is to choose my team for the next challenge. I don't know what direction to go in and as I realize I am taking far too long to choose teammates in this schoolyard scenario, I blurt out, "Damaris and Stacey". My thoughts are that they are my friends so we'll work well together and have a good chance at winning.

What I didn't think about... If we lose I have a very real chance of going home. And as excited as we are to be on a team together, that fact hangs over our heads. We just repeat our mantra "we are going to win"... "don't worry, we are going to win"... "we HAVE to win" :/

The day couldn't have gone better, we are working great together, the sun is shining and we are eating donuts. 

Stacey definitely had to pare down what she was saying and we all help and make that happen. But when our focus is taken away from the actual delivery none of us notice that she is interrupting Jim, the Donut Man.

I get the pleasure of talking to a ridiculously cute little girl and an older gentleman. I discuss what I am going to ask them and in 30 seconds I fill the requirements of taking a bite, talking to two customers and wrapping up the piece.

We all feel good, the only problem is we have no idea what the other team is doing. What if they nailed it? Were we good enough?

In the end our Donut Man Piece is awesome and we win the challenge. A great group and good team work pays off.

Though this was not aired Giada announced that she felt like Damaris was the winner of the day while Bobby Flay disagreed saying he felt like I was the strongest. Either way I am feeling good!

As we see Lovely come through the door saying she is done, I'm surprised. She didn't really get too much of a chance to redeem herself but that's the challenge, to adjust and adjust FAST.

And though FNS didn't see her potential, knowing her personally I KNOW she will have a lot of success in her life. She won't take "NO" for an answer!

Watch the full episode: Click HERE

Get a sneak peak of next weeks episode: Click HERE

Make my Burst Tomato Pasta: Click HERE

Watch the Field Piece from Team Donuts: Click HERE

See behind the scene pics: Click HERE