Once again, this season’s Food Network Star Comeback Kid rose to the occasion.
And so DC Chef Alex McCoy delivered one of his best episodes yet in the reality show competition last week after nearly facing elimination from the contest in the previous week.
“Last week, I was on the bottom but it wasn’t like I edged anybody out. Someone walked off! I’ve got a lot to earn from the judges this week, and I’m going balls to the wall with the food,” Alex said.
Among five finalists last week, all were men, and the contestants faced a small challenge followed by a bigger one, as usual, this episode.
Building around the themes of “lifestyle brands,” Food Network Star hosts Bobby Flay and Giada De Laurentiis tasked the chefs with coming up with a concept for home food delivery as with through a culinary membership club, where members order a box of ingredients to prepare at home themselves.
Contestants received 30 minutes to plan and prepare a tasty dish that a home cook could make in 30-40 minutes. They had to package it and brand themselves along with the offering. Then each contestant had to create a one-minute video presentation to get people excited about their brand and “culinary lifestyle.”
Alex hit the ball out of the park here.
“My brand is a world of flavor between two slices of bread,” Alex told the camera in a side interview. “Everyone loves a sandwich. The most quintessential sandwich in America is the burger. And this is an opportunity to change the dynamic of what a burger can be.”
Alex’s prepackage culinary lifestyle meal was a Kofta Burger, a take on an American classic with ground beef, diced onion, fresh herb, Middle Eastern spices, including Harissa, a North African hot chili pepper paste, instead of ketchup.
When presented with the resulting burger and video presentation, Bobby and Giada gave Alex high marks. Bobby, known for his burgers of course (Visit a Bobby’s Burger Palace, eh?), liked the burger, and Giada congratulated Alex on a good job.
Alex was ranked first in performance for the challenge, so he was empowered to pick his theme for the next challenge, which consisted of making meals and presentations for a holiday meal. Of the available holidays, Alex picked the 4th of July.
“When I think of 4th of July, I think about going to Dewey Beach, Delaware, with my friends and some of the great sandwiches I’ve made there,” Alex said in a shout-out to one of DC’s favorite beach getaway destinations.
And so Alex whipped up a Cornmeal-Crusted Catfish Po’Boy with Celeriac Remoulade. Celeriac is celery root with a mild flavor and remoulade is a Creole condiment sauce, Alex explained.
— Food Network (@FoodNetwork) July 27, 2015
In his video presentation, Alex got into the mindset of being at a 4th of July celebration, and he described going to the beach with his friends and eating his catfish po’boy. The resulting 4th of July with Alex McCoy won accolades from Bobby and Giada, as well as Food Network executives Susie Fogelman and Bob Tuschman. Bob was particularly enthusiastic, saying Alex was vibrant and sold him on his holiday outing. He wanted to be a part of it from Alex’s description.
Last week’s five remaining contestants were all men. (Photo courtesy Food Network)
With such a strong performance across the board, Alex easily avoided elimination this round and entered into the final four. He’s got some tough competition now, but I know he can beat at least two of these other guys. Louisiana native Jay Ducote, who has demonstrated amazing cooking and presentation chops from the first episode, may be the only guy who can really outgun our man from DC.
Find out how Alex does in the ninth episode of Food Network Star this Sunday, August 2, at 9pm ET on Food Network. Meanwhile, you can watch Food Network Star, Season 11, Episode 8, on YouTube: