Last week Gilbert Gottfried became the first "contestant" to hit the bricks. While he brought humor the show, he brought nothing in the way of culinary skills. While it would have been funny to see him continue to make PB&J sandwiches it would have been robbing another real contestants of a shot at winning.
After the 1st episode, I think Dean McDermott is the favorite. He seems to have a lot of knowledge and confidence in the kitchen. I took his idea of pairing steak with polenta and made some creamy herb polenta to balance out the gamy notes of a seared venison tenderloin I had for dinner tonight (and it was a winner!).
Here is this week's breakdown of each celebrity (I updated this post in real time)
Breakdown of the Celebrities
Carnie Wilson, She didn't want to do pork chops. So got pork chops. Rachel encouraged her to go BBQ. She turned into a mess of nerves at the grill. That usually means disaster for the end result. Her potatoes for her salad were not fully cooked yet she managed to cook the pork chops to perfection which kept her alive in the competition.
Hines Ward, He did a great job in the first challenge cooking something he had mastered. And again the same thing this week with the steak. I want to see him do something completely outside of his comfort zone as I question his range of culinary skills. If he can then he may be the new favorite as you have to give him credit for making the best dish of the day.
Kathy Najimy, While she had being a vegetarian in a farm as an advantage facing the clock was a huge challenge. Her snail like speed almost costed her. She just started to cook her main dish with only 15 minutes left. But by some miracle she pulled out a fennel salad that people liked. My hopes for her to win this thing are not very high.
Dean McDermott, The favorite in my opinion after week 1. He seems confident with his dish for this week. He really took advantage of the fresh ingredients he had - fresh strawberries and fingerlings picked right from the field. Unfortunately he had some trouble bringing those fresh fingerlings to a boil so he had to change course and grill some Russets. Kudos to him for being able to adjust midstream. But I was stunned when he ended up in the bottom two mainly because of a a lack of salt and pepper on potatoes. He just barely was able to survive. I still think he can win it just had some simple things go wrong.
Chilli, Right off the bat I was concerned about her. She was really preoccupied with having to get dirty. She managed to find herself some great ingredients - raw honey and apricots to make a winning glaze.
Cornelia Guest, Unlike Chilli she feels right at home on the farm - she is beaming with confidence this week. Her dish didn't quite match up to that and she found herself in the bottom 2 and out the door. She has the passion she just needed more work.
Johnny Weir, Once again Johnny goes with the chicken. It was good enough to keep him going. He may still be a dark horse candidate to win this thing.
1. Carnie's BBQ Pork Chops while cooked well where missing that last flavorful component to put it over the time. Guy wanted some heat or tang. This is where tasting your food before serving is so important. Tonight when I made my creamy herb polenta I tasted it and felt it needed a bit of sweetness to make it perfect. It's those last little editions that can put a dish over the top. So taste, taste and taste some more whenever you cook.
2. The winner dish of the night was Hines Ward's Grilled Flank Steak with Ying Yang Vegetables. The ingredient list for this dish includes: 1 flank steak, minced garlic, extra-virgin olive oil, salt, freshly ground black pepper, Teriyaki sauce, butter, bell peppers, zucchini, and onion. Food Network posts the top recipe of the week on their site sometime after the show, so check it out at their site.