Food Park: Alex McCoy @ Food Network Star — 8/2/15 (S. 11, Ep. 9)

Chef Alex McCoy prepares ramen on the latest Food Network Star. (Photo courtesy Food Network)

Well, live television was the death of our hero.

DC Chef Alex McCoy was competing in this season of Food Network Star, and he did reasonably well, but he finally was eliminated from the competition in the ninth episode! So close!

Let’s recap.

At the beginning of the episode, contestants were given a small challenge and then later they competed in a bigger challenge — a typical setup for Food Network Star.

This week, both challenges revolved around participating in a live television segment. In the first, the remaining four contestants prepared a dish and appeared individually in two-minute segments with blogger and model Catherine McCord. Each contestant had 30 minutes to prepare a meal to fit a theme. Alex received the theme of preparing a one pot meal “for a hot date.”

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Food Park: Alex McCoy @ Food Network Star — 7/26/15 (S. 11, Ep.8)

Alex McCoy presents a 4th of July meal on the latest Food Network Star. (Photo courtesy Food Network)

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.

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Food Park: Alex McCoy @ Food Network Star — 7/19/15 (S. 11, Ep. 7)

Just One Row of Food Trucks
A row of food trucks at the 2012 DC Curbside Cookoff (Photo by Alex Levine)

Hot Slap Tacos!

If you’ve been watching Food Network Star this season, you have encountered the phenomenon sparked by the team of Chefs Alex McCoy and Dom Tesoriero. In the last episode Sunday, the two paired together for a food truck challenge, and things got heated! But more on Hot Slap Tacos in a minute.

First, let’s recap the beginning of the episode. Food Network Star, Season 11, has featured Chef Alex from DC, and we’ve been cheering him on to win the competition. The last episode (#7) on Sunday, July 19, featured a challenge where contestants operated food trucks.

Prior to that, the six remaining contestants engaged in a smaller challenge, where Food Network Star host Bobby Flay directed the chefs to make a version of their favorite brunch, but to make it portable. The winner of this mini-challenge would get an advantage in the bigger challenge — a typical scenario in Food Network Star.
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Food Park: Alex McCoy @ Food Network Star — 7/12/15 (S. 11, Ep. 6)

Kerry Washington, Craig Robinson, and David Alan Grier, right, sit down for a meal in PEEPLES. David Alan Grier hosted the last episode of Food Network Star. (Photo by Nicole Rivelli)

Man, last week was a rough week for DC contestants participating in Food Network Star!

Chefs Alex McCoy and Emilia Cirker gave us little to feel good about, despite laughs from bona fide movie star David Alan Grier, who showed up to serve as guest host for a reality show challenge.

The latest episode of Food Network Star, “Improv,” saw the worst performance by Alex to date, although he continued to make some really tasty food. And Emilia finally got bumped from the program. Although there were still a few weaker contestants overall, she delivered a terrible second-act performance that sealed her exit.

We’ll recap that later. First, the remaining seven contestants faced off in an opening pizza challenge last Sunday. Under the guidance of guest judge Pastry Chef Duff Goldman, the contestants competed to impress Darin Harris, CEO of CiCi’s Pizza, with a pizza featuring “kicked up flavors.”

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Food Park: Alex McCoy @ Food Network Star — 7/5/15 (S. 11, Ep. 5)

Former Miami Dolphins football player Eddie Jackson (above) teamed up with DC Chef Alex McCoy last week. (Photo courtesy Food Network)

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.

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Food Park: Alex McCoy @ Food Network Star (S. 11, Ep. 4) — 6/28/15

Chef Alex McCoy (Photo courtesy Food Network)

Tomorrow is the Fourth of July! And the Fourth of July is all about getting together with family and friends for food and fun (and fireworks, of course).

So what better way to mark the occasion than to discuss the food in last week’s Food Network Star, which saw the remaining nine contestants in the 11th season compete in teams against each other for a July 4 picnic battle?

As you know, we’ve been cheering for DC Chef Alex McCoy in our blog, so we are going to recap how well Alex performed in this past episode, Episode 4. This will bring you up to speed so that you can watch him cook in Episode 5, set to air this Sunday, July 5, at 9pm ET on the Food Network.

Last week, Alex joined up with two other contestants in one of three teams. Each team was named after the colors of the U.S. flag –- red, white and blue — and Alex was on team blue with Arnold Myint of Nashville and Eddie Jackson of Houston. (Eddie is a former NFL football player for the Miami Dolphins, by the way, and his performances on this show have generally been pretty entertaining.)

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Food Park: Alex McCoy @ Food Network Star (S. 11, Ep. 3) — 6/21/15

Alex McCoy in Food Network Star, our DC choice to win this thing! (Photo courtesy Food Network)

We’re back with an update on the third installment of Season 11 of Food Network Star, where we’ve been cheering on DC hometown Chef Alex McCoy, one of 10 contestants to compete in this episode.

Alex again survived to fight another day, avoiding elimination in this reality show contest, where chefs must demonstrate some cooking chops as well as camera skills. In avoiding elimination, Alex kinda slipped up in one challenge and then bounced back in a second challenge, which has been a bit of a pattern for him recently!

This third episode of the 11th season was called “Trendy Dinner,” and Food Network Star hosts Bobby Flay and Giada De Laurentiis explained that their television network sometimes focuses on trendy or flashy food. So for the first challenge, the chef contestants faced the task of making photo-worthy food that would compel them to taste it from the picture, following the trend of young diners posting picture of their meals on social media.

Alex answered the challenge with crabcakes, giving some love to our area state of Maryland. But to remind folks he’s “the sandwich guy” in the competition, Alex made crabcake sliders — specifically, crabcake sliders with sambal remoulade and rocket radishes.

And the crabcakes looked terrific! Until Alex capped them with the buns, obscuring the yummy crabcake from view.

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Food Park: Alex McCoy @ Food Network Star (S. 11, Ep. 2) — 6/14/15

Chef Alex McCoy (Photo courtesy Food Network)

Well, a personally busy week last week kept me from chatting about the latest episode of Food Network Star until now, but now I’ve got a bit of time to update the progress of Chef Alex McCoy on the second episode of the show’s 11th season shortly before the third episode airs tonight.

Alex avoided elimination quite handily in the second episode with a terrific display as a “Comeback Kid.” He and the other 10 contestants faced two challenges — making a quick dinner from leftovers and then baking a sweet and savory dish for assessment by top patry chefs.

The chef did pretty well in the first challenge but blew everyone away in the second, in part by carefully listening to the feedback from Food Network Star hosts Bobby Flay and Giada De Laurentiis.

In the first challenge, Alex prepared a fried rice with the ingredients found in the refrigerator offered to contestants. Each contestant, including Alex, presented their meal in a 30-second video. Although Alex did well, Bobby and Giada dogged him a bit for going off theme, as Alex has presented himself as a “sandwich guy.” Alex explained that sometimes he wants something different when he comes home from a day of making sandwiches, and Bobby Flay suggested Alex could simply explain that.

However, the judges actually enjoyed late night fried rice. Bobby said, “I thought it was flavorful; I thought it had spice to it.”

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Food Park: Alex McCoy @ Food Network Star (S. 11, Ep. 1) — 6/7/15

alex-mccoy-food-network-1DC’s Alex McCoy did well on the first episode of Food Network Star. (Photo courtesy of Food Network)

The new season of the Food Network Star debuted Sunday night, featuring two DC contestants — Alex McCoy and Emilia Cirka.

Our little DC blog is unabashedly in support of Alex, who performed rather well in the first episode! At the beginning of the show, he and the other 11 contestants gave a bit of a personal introduction in 30 seconds to Food Network hosts Bobby Flay and Giada De Laurentiis.

The hosts liked what Alex had to say, but they wanted more charisma from him. Like a few other contestants, he didn’t smile enough during his introduction. Thankfully, the contestants got a chance to re-do their introductions in 30-second video presentations. The next day, the contestants presented their 30-second videos to 100 Food Network fans who gathered for a food festival catered by the contestants.

Alex and the other contestants were given an hour to cater food for the 100 guests, and Alex chose to make Choripan sandwiches with pork belly. This fit with Alex’s focus, as he introduced himself as a sandwich expert who travels the globe for inspiration. The concept is very much similar to what Alex did at Duke’s Grocery, where he cooked tasty sandwiches and other fare until leaving in January.

Everyone was wowed by Alex’s video, in which he was succinct and charming. Bobby Flay and Giada De Laurentiis cheered Alex for taking their feedback to heart (mostly by using his winning smile during his introduction). Appearing on the show as a guest judge, J.D. Heyman, deputy entertainment editor of People magazine, called Alex “a budding celebrity.”

The reaction to his sandwiches, however, was a bit mixed. Guests seemed to like them but they found them a bit overdone perhaps. Alex didn’t get a lot of screen time compared to some of the others, particularly the “problem children” of the competition. But he was smooth and built up to a fine performance. We expect him to surprise folks more as the season progress with both his personality and his food.

In the end, Alex made the cut and avoided first-round elimination quite handily. Catch up with him (and Emilia) along with the other remaining contestants in the second episode of this edition of Food Network Star on Sunday, June 14, at 9pm ET.

Watch the full episode on YouTube:


Food Park: Alex McCoy @ Food Network Star, 6/7/15

Alex McCoy is ready for the world in competition as the next Food Network Star. (Photo courtesy Food Network)

On Sunday, the Food Network debuts the new season of an 11-week series, Food Network Star, which will feature 12 chefs competing to become the next host at the Food Network. (Catch it on Sunday, June 7, at 9pm ET.)

Normally, we might not get too excited about such a thing, but one of the 12 chefs in the competition is DC’s own Alex McCoy, who started up Duke’s Grocery (1513 17th St. NW, DC) in Dupont Circle and recently left it to open new ventures in the city.

Chefs participating in the program are required to demonstrate great skills in the kitchen but also to dazzle on camera under the guidance of Food Network hosts Bobby Flay and Giada De Laurentiis.

Alex appeared on Good Morning Washington on Tuesday morning to discuss the show and to share secrets of using leftover BBQ meat to make a quick Thai meal. Watch him in action:


Regardless of the outcome of Food Network Star, Alex plans to open two DC restaurants in the near future with his business partner Hunter Campbell, who has been establishing nightlife venues like the Mason Inn in Glover Park and the Chinese Disco in Georgetown in recent years. Last month, Tim Carman of the Washington Post broke the news of the new restaurants, revealing one would feature Asian food from Indonesia, Laos, Cambodia, and Thailand, and the other would likely be more of a gastropub, similar to Duke’s Grocery.

In an interview with Tim, Alex said he hoped his Asian place would be similar to expat bars he encountered in Thailand while on a journey there earlier this year.

Tim Carman wrote, “[E]xpat pubs are spaces where cultures intersect and collide with neither conflict nor ceremony…. It is this atmosphere that McCoy wants to recreate with his own, still-unnamed Southeast Asian restaurant.”

I interviewed Alex last year for a feature on his background for We Love DC, where the chef discussed how he likes to see places up close and personal to get his hands dirty with making cuisine associated with certain cultures.

“In many cases, unless you’ve seen someone making that dish in its element and in the place it was created, it’s really hard to respect food the way food should be respected,” Alex told me.

So regardless of how well he does in the Food Network competition, we are looking forward to some delicious food from our globetrotting friend here in DC in the very near future.

But meanwhile: Go, Alex! My money is on you as the next Food Network Star.