Today, on the Food Network at 9pm Et, catch the sixth episode of Food Network Star, Season 11.
The competition includes two chefs from the DC area — restaurant owner Alex McCoy and blogger Emilia Cirker. The two survived last week’s episode, “The Perfect Match,” and they both did particularly well in that episode’s challenges. Here at ParklifeDC, we’ve been behind Alex this season, so we are going to recap his progress last episode to bring you up to speed before tonight’s challenges.
In the opening challenge last week, Alex and seven other remaining contestants faced a cook and critique challenge. Each contestant chose their favorite ingredient, and Alex chose Asian five spice powder (Sichuan pepper, fennel seeds, cloves, star anise and Chinese cinnamon). But instead of cooking with that ingredient, each chef swapped ingredients with a partner after a surprise announcement by Food Network Star hosts Bobby Flay and Giada De Laurentiis.
Alex swapped ingredients with contestant Dominick Tesoriero of Staten Island, who chose ricotta as his favorite ingredient. With Dom’s ricotta, Alex chose to make a Smoked Salmon and Ricotta Sandwich. But after the contestants prepared their dishes, Bobby and Giada surprised them again and asked them to switch back so that the original selector of the ingredient would critique the meal made from it.
Dom called Alex’s sandwich “classic” and said he would enjoy eating it at a brunch. Alex hailed Dom’s Beef Noodles with Five Spice Broth as good — an Italian chef’s take on an Asian dish. Both men performed well in the challenge, but neither won it.
For the second and bigger challenge of the episode, the eight contestants traveled to the Walt Disney Concert Hall to cook for a gathering at the hall’s Patina Restaurant. (This entire season of Food Network Star was filmed in Los Angeles.) There, each contestant was paired up with a partner and the two were challenged to bring their culinary point of views together seamlessly in a dish to be presented to 40 people attending a gathering hosted by online dating service Match.com.
Alex teamed up Eddie Jackson of Houston. As Eddie has favored Jamaican cuisine in the competition, Alex pitched the concept of a Jerk Chicken Banh Mi Sandwich, which also would encompass Alex’s love of Asian cuisine and of sandwiches.
Alex noted that Jamaican and Southeast Asian cooking both include a similar Escovitch Pickle Sauce, and Eddie agreed as Jamaica is home to a large Asian population.
The resulting banh mi was a hit. Guest judge Anne Burrell, host of Food Network’s Worst Cooks in America, hailed it as a “bromance banh mi.” The hosts universally applauded the flavors and presentation of the dish.
In after-competition notes, Bobby said Alex and Eddie worked as “one,” and they were engaging and approachable. Anne said, “Clearly, you guys were having a great time and it showed on your plate.”
In acing the challenge, Alex and Eddie were both spared from elimination.
Tune in tonight to see how Alex and Emilia Cirker fare in a group of seven remaining contestants overall. As the group gets smaller, the stakes, of course, will get higher.
Watch Food Network Star, Season 11, Episode 5: