As with the end of every season of Food Network Star, tonight’s finale forces us to contemplate many of life’s key questions. Would you actually watch a show starring Damaris, Russell, or Rodney? More to the point, would you actually eat any of the food that they’ve created on this long, underseasoned stretch of a competition? Damaris knows that she’s totally ripping off Elizabeth Gilbert, right? Doesn’t “Pie Style” seem like some sort of unspeakably terrible novelty dance conceived in the midst of a cocaine psychosis?
This season has been a lackluster one, but it’s not really any of the contestants’ fault. No, none of them has the bristly wit of Alton Brown or the frat house-meets-fry cook charm of the perma-frosted Guy Fieri. I guess Bob Tuschman and Susan Fogelson have a network to run and Paula Deen crisis to deal with, but their absence on the show was palpable. With the new format of the show rendering them far less powerful than in seasons past—after all it’s the viewers who chose this season’s winner—it seemed like Giada, Bobby, and Alton just checked out for mojitos around episode three.
The first part of tonight’s finale was mostly a half-hearted highlights reel, interrupted occasionally with unhelpful input from fans. Embarrassing moments were looped, chef hopefuls were trotted out for awkward interviews. Mostly, the montages reminded me why I’d like to watch a Food Network version of The Three Stooges featuring Alton, Giada, and Bobby. Otherwise, it was the sad, reheated leftovers of the past season, glommed together in a sticky, horrible mess.
Of the three proposed shows from the last episodes, Russell’s scored the lowest with his “Guilty Pleasures” concept. This is unsurprising, considering that his concept was basically copied wholesale from an episode of Top Chef, but it means that now the competition is between dreaded pie guy Rodney and Southern charmer Damaris.
Rodney likes fedoras, and he likes pies. That might be kind of charming, if he wasn’t so demonstrably awful at cooking, and if he didn’t drop lines like “I’m a rocker man and I’m a pie man.” His idea from last week was to turn every meal into, yes, a pie.
Damaris, a Louisville native with an infectious smile and a love of all things buttery, seems poised to take over the Paula Deen throne for unhealthful Southern cuisine. Her idea from last week was “Eat, Date, Love,” in which she would teach men how to charm their debutante sweethearts through heaping servings of fried chicken and biscuits. As every gentleman knows, the way to a woman’s affections is through clogging her aorta.
After much hemming and hawing and otherwise lollygagging, the judges finally revealed the winner of the show. Justice prevailed, and Damaris took the contract for a Food Network deal. Rodney was left empty handed, shuffling off stage with nary a pie show to his name. Never fear, dear Rodney. You were irritating enough that no doubt network executives will soon instate you as a judge on Chopped.