Fieri-Style 4th of July Celebration on Food Network Star

Guy Fieri gives some pointers to Orchid and fellow contestant, Mary Beth Albright. Photo credit: Food Network.

Food Network Star Episode 5 began with Guy Fieri at Mel’s, continued with a July 4th themed Star Challenge and ended with Justin D.’s departure. Hilton Head Islander Orchid survived the challenges to cook another week.

The first challenge featured Season Two winner and host of the popular show Diners, Drive-ins and Dives, Guy Fieri, welcoming the contestants at venerable Mel’s Drive-In located in Hollywood. As Guy said, “It’s time to mix it up with real folks at diners, dive-ins and dives.” The mission was to tape a 2-minute interview featuring a show intro, chef interview, owner interview, server interview, or closing interview. Orchid was tasked with interviewing Mel’s Drive-In owner, Steven Weiss. Orchid did not keep it a secret she was nervous, but soon her gregarious nature took over and she had no problem talking. To the contrary, trying to put a family spin on her interview, she talked too much and ran out of time. Two minutes goes by fast on camera!

Not surprising to me, no one really aced this portion of the show so it was on to the Star Challenge that Guy introduced at Mel’s. The contestants were to cook for 150 “hungry” Food Network fans. The goal was to take classic picnic fare to the next level at a July 4th celebration. Guy awarded the dishes to each contestant and Orchid’s dish was beef brisket with macaroni & cheese.

At the show kitchen, Orchid loads dry rub on the brisket and prays for a tenderizing miracle

Orchid mixes macaroni and cheese for her entry in the Star Challenge. Photo credit: Food Network.

since brisket is a slow cooked meat preparation that usually take at least 12 hours of low temperature roasting or smoking. After the allotted 2 hours or so she wraps up her briskets and stores them in the cooler.

At the contestant house that evening we see more “drama-rama” centering on whom else but Penny.

Next up they head to the ranch for the July 4th party. There are grape vines, Guy Fieri, a huge stage and a twist. Guy informs the contestants that there will also be a 3-minute cooking demonstration as part of this challenge. They all swarm for props and a flood of fans (and the judges minus Giada and plus Susie Fogelsong) head toward the contestants. After less than stellar performances by Chris, Alicia, and several others, Orchid completes her demonstration with a cheers to Independence Day.

Later during the food tastings, it is noted that Orchid’s station is rocking with literally a line across the property waiting to sample her brisket. Vic Vegas also scores with his lobster roll which we find out later was voted the crowd favorite. Mary Beth could not get her bbq chicken to brown properly. Jeff scored with his pretzel coated chicken sandwich of which Bobby Flay noted, “I want another one.”

Susie gets high marks on her food and presentation, as did Vic, and Jeff. Mary Beth did well on her presentation but not her gooey barbeque chicken and for Penny the opposite was true – her food was good but her presentation and attitude are well, rough around the edges.

Bobby Flay commented that Orchid’s brisket was on the dry side and that while her mac and cheese was rich, he likes texture so it was missing something. On his “Re-Flay” video Bobby gives us an interesting fix for Orchid’s mac and cheese. He suggests preparing homemade “barbeque potato chips” and using this as a crunchy topping for the macaroni. He also suggests that Orchid should have added coleslaw to her brisket slider. Personally I think our Orchid was handed the hardest dish to recreate on this challenge, given the time allotment. The nature of this dish depends entirely on a slow cooking method over many hours and nothing else, even Bobby Flay-prepared coleslaw, can substitute!

In the end, Susie was judged the winner with Vic and Jeff rounding out the top three. Our Orchid sweated it out with Jyll and apparently multiple personality Justin D., but was given a pass and will move on to week 6 that appears to include a food truck face-off, even more contestant bickering and Tyler Florence! Be sure to show Orchid some good ‘ole Lowcountry love and vote for her on her fan page!