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'Food Network Star' recap, a rough week for Baltimore's Rodney Henry

Welcome to the fourth episode, in which Baltimore's own Rodney "Pie Guy" Henry had his first off-week. But was it off enough to send Rodney home, or just off enough to advance the story line.

For the most part, there was relatively little movement up and down the success ladder, except for Rodney.

The judges still love his personality, which they see as being highly marketable. But they're concerned about his technique, both at the microphone and in the kitchen.

All that in a minute, but first:

Roll call!

Present: Bobby Flay, Alton Brown and Giada De Laurentiis, who had no filming conflict this week. Also back, the focus group, and the sinister "dials of doom," which they use to deliver real-time impressions on (but not mild electric shocks to) the contestants.

Absent: The show's basic mentor (immunity) challenge/star (elimination) challenge format. This week's episode was another all-in-one mega-challenge.

Also absent:  Danushka Lysek, who thought she could make a go of it with a wry persona. I love wry! But wry is like cilantro; some people think it tastes like soap.

In this week's all-in-one mega challenge, the remaining nine contestants were divided up into three groups of three.

Each team had to create a menu, and an accompanying movie trailer, for one of those trendy new movie theaters where you can have dinner, too. The theater audience was this week's focus group. They'd be choosing their dinner based on how much they liked the movie trailer.

The team with the most dinner orders would all pass through to the next episode. The remaining six contestants would all be in danger of elimination.

Each team was given a movie genres to build their menus around.

The Western team was Stacey Poon-Kinney, Russell Jackson and Nikki Dinki.

It was another good week for Nikki, who showed the judges she can hold the camera's attention. They also loved her vegetarian chili. The judges thought Russell did a great job on the movie trailer, but they had problems with his "spaghetti western" entree. Stacey impressed everyone with her campfire s'mores dessert, but stumbled over some of her lines in the trailer.

The Romance team was: Viet  Pham,  Damaris  Phillips and Chad Rosenthal

The judges generally liked the "Dating Game" concept this team came up with for its movie trailer. But they thought that Chad crossed a line between cute sexual innuendo and creepiness.  They liked Chad's Korean Chicken wings, though. They again thought Viet was dull on camera and thought his dessert was uninspired. And they complemented Damaris for finally finding the perfect sweet-sexy balance. They thought her shrimp and grits were under seasoned, though.

The Musical team was: Rodney, Chris Hodgson and “Lovely” Jackson

The judges loved that this group actually sung on their trailer, but everyone, judges and focus group included, had trouble with Rodney's enunciation. As in, no one could understand what he was saying. That's not the first time Rodney was taken to task for his elocution. It's something he's going to have to work on. No one in this group did well with their food this episode. Chris made a lobster mac-and-cheese with too many competing flavors. Rodney, who should be making memorably good pies in this competition, made another pie that the judges found lacking. But Lovely's doughnuts, which she made from pizza dough (?!), were just plain bad – dense and all but inedible.

The Western team of Stacey, Russell and Nikki won the competition and were safe, and Chad, Damaris and Chris did well enough not to land in the bottom three.

That left Viet, Rodney and Lovely in the bottom three.

Viet was the first to reach safety. The judges believe in him but they're still looking for charisma. They're concerned he may not get there.

That left Rodney and Lovely. Rodney was safe and Lovely was sent home. The judges acknowledged her poise but they never warmed to her style, which they thought was fakey. But ultimately she was done in by making gimmicky and unsatisfying food.

To stay in the competition, Rodney's going to have to make a pie that knocks people dead, in a good way.

 

Copyright © 2014, The Baltimore Sun
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