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'Next Food Network Star' recap: I know why the amber woodpecker shooshes

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Quick question for the producers of The Next Food Network Star: Why is Ina Garten missing from your introductory montage showcasing your roster of MVPs? Failure to pay proper homage to the Barefoot Contessa could result in a call to the flavor police and a subsequent three-week ban on butter in your lives. You have been warned.

Now that we’ve aired our grievance of the season, let’s move on to this week’s elimination: Yep, it’s time to chop off and discard Dzintra, who was randomly/accurately described last week by a commenter named “Stormy” as looking like “an old TWA stewardess.” Right at the top of the episode, the spastic chef declared that her appearance in the bottom three during the last elimination challenge was the worst situation of her whole life, which instantly negated any sympathy I might have felt in watching her get the boot. I mean, let’s get real: If a near-miss exit from a basic cable reality show is as bad as it’s gotten in her 44 years, then the woman is due for some heartache, no?

Of course, from a culinary standpoint, there were probably worse contestants than Dzizzie, but as Susie noted, her “raw freneticism” made her a terrible fit for television. So did her penchant for using the most unappetizing words imaginable to tout her own concoctions. “These are not poisonous!” she intensely declared while presenting her beef with mushroom gravy to a terrified group of partygoers. “Sometimes it’s like a hairball!” she blurted to the judges while explaining her reasons for fine-chopping the frisée they were about to put into their mouths. And her performance on the “red carpet” veered toward low-budget remake of Whatever Happened to Baby Jane? “Dzintra likes to dance! Dzintra loves to twirl!” she cooed, before stopping in front of a TV reporter and sharing “in Latvian, my name means ‘amber woodpecker’!” I do have to say, however, that I understood why Dzintra shooshed Aria while presenting their food to the selection committee; granted, an aggressive “shhh!” wasn’t going to play well with Bob, Susie, and Guy, but there was a definite smugness to the way Aria was dominating the presentation, an attitude that read “I’m the only one behind this table with a chance at taking home the top prize, so I might as well do all the talking.” Frankly, I’m surprised no one behind the judges’ table called her on it.

Lucky for Dzintra, she wasn’t the only one to make a fool of herself in front of “fans” and “the paparazzi” during the red-carpet event. Brianna strutted and swayed like she was in a runway class with Miss Jay on America’s Next Top Model, while Paul screamed and flailed in an aggressive effort to “pump up” the crowd. Seriously, dude was one NoDoz away from punching someone (probably a woman) in the face. Okay, okay, maybe Paul’s not quite that much of a misogynist, but there’s something slimy and uncomfortable about the way he interacts with the lay-dees. Take his treatment of Serena — in front of the judges, no less — as they presented their food: “You can start explaining, dear,” he sneered. Good thing we had Susie on hand to give him a verbal spanking during panel after he dismissed his teammate as a “home cook.” I just wished the cameras had captured the exact moment he tried to suavely remove the top of the soy-sauce bottle with a knife and wound up spraying its broken remnants into the coleslaw.

That said, I think if she were given the choice, Susie might choose shards of glass over a repeat encounter with Tom and Das’s tempura banana with jerk cabbage. The look on her face (scree-grabbed above for posterity’s sake) as she tried to swallow the bite-sized “treat” was proof that a picture really is worth 1,000 words. Guest judge Colbie Caillat, meanwhile, wondered if she was allowed to simply spit it out. And then there was the unidientified party guest, who summed it up like this: “My least favorite was Tom and Das’s tempura dish. It really tasted, for lack of a better word, disgusting.”

What did you think of this week’s episode? How about Dzintra’s parting shot of “No, you’re not” after one of her competitors (off camera) said they were sad to see her go. And how about Giada introducing Guy Fieri with an aggressive inflection she usually reserves for rare varieties of pasta? All together now: “Fee-Ehh-Deee!” Sound off on all that and more in the comments below. And for all my reality TV chatter, follow me on Twitter @EWMichaelSlezak.

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