'The Next Food Network Star' finale: Were you happy with the winner?

next-food-network-star_lI don’t know about you guys, but after last night’s season finale of The Next Food Network Star, I’m ready to make “four-step chicken” a part of my culinary repertoire, give harissa a whirl, and ban Alton Brown from coming up with titles for any and all future Food Network programs. Most importantly, though, I’m eager to check out the new series from this year’s winner — spoilers ahead, DVR users — Ten Dollar Dinners with Melissa D’Arabian. Sure, Melissa’s a little manic — and grinned like a loon throughout last night’s telecast — but her pilot presentation (the dully dubbed Kitchen Survival Guide, which, granted, was better than Cuisine Copine) was the easiest kind of sell, with an eye on helping stressed-out home cooks shave minutes (and dollars) off their menus without sacrificing flavor. The four-step chicken — dredge and sauté; add aromatics; add liquid; finish the sauce with a pat of butter — was ingenious, especially as Melissa pointed out that you can substitute any ingredient within her parameters and cook up hundreds of tasty meals. The woman has kitchen credibility, not just because she’s a mother of four, but because week after week, she’s plated interesting, delicious-looking dishes that have impressed a wide and impressive array of critics. Plus, Bobby Flay was right: Melissa’s Rustic Lemon-Onion Chicken looked downright mouth-watering.

Of course, where Melissa succeeds in the practical, runner-up Jeffrey Saad excelled in the exotic. His hideously named pilot — Ingredient Smuggler — was based on the premise of discovering a delicious and little-known food or spice while traveling, then bringing it back home and using it in an everyday dish. I had to agree with Bob Tuschman that no one brings food to life like Jeffrey; anyone else find their mouth watering when he described that mayonnaise with mint, sun-dried tomatoes, and harissa? But given the fact that both Melissa and Jeffrey came off as excellent cooks with likable personalities and an innate ability to translate their ideas into easy-to-understand tidbits, I can’t blame the “selection committee” for choosing the finalist whose series idea had greater breakout potential. In fact, if Food Network plays its cards right, I can see Melissa becoming its next “breakout brand.” I just hope that Melissa’s success won’t stop the network from also giving a timeslot over to Jeffrey (and perhaps even second runner-up Debbie Lee). Call me a softie, but I’d be open to DVRing all of the above!

Now before we get to the comments section (and your thoughts on the season 5 conclusion) a few observations about the finale: I thought there was a decided lack of Debbie in the season’s personality highlights reel; I was slightly taken aback by the tone of Jeffrey’s quote about Melissa (“I thought she’d be gone first episode.”); and I howled when quote-machine Michael teased Melissa with “Oh my God, I would set you on fire if you were my mother.” What did you think of last night’s season finale? Did the right person win? Will you watch Melissa’s new series? And which (if any) other finalists deserve their own show on Food Network? (Also: Follow me on Twitter @EWMichaelSlezak!)

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  • Brian T.

    The right person won. Melissa was likable and you could relate to her pilot episode better than Jeffrey. Jeffery’s was so far out there that even Jeffrey looked a little lost. Where would I find harissa at my local grocey store? I can’t wait to see Melissa’s new show :)

    • Joan

      I really liked Jeffrey. I did not think he was lost or arrogant or anything else except a good fit for a new show. I also like Melissa and wish her well. Good luck to each of them.

    • Helene

      I was very disappointed that Jeffrey lost. Melissa’s chicken dish was not her invention, and it was boring. Jeffrey offered something new and exciting. I think the judges made up their minds long before the final episode.

      • Miche

        I was also disappointed. As a sahm myself, she does NOT have instant credibility with me. I thought her dish was a no brainer and felt that RR and Sandra Lee filled the slot she would have filled already. I liked Jeffrey’s show, wish he would have explained what exactly ‘harissa’ was to the casual cook. I just think Melissa is way too manic and her eyes remind me of SKRAT from the Ice Age movie. Good luck Melissa (I, for one, will be tuning out :oD )

      • Ariettty

        Thank you, Miche. I couldn’t believe the judges didn’t call Jeffrey out on not doing a better job of describing the ingredients in harissa – is it made from peppers? spices? I liked Jeffrey better but after the pilots had to admit that Melissa had it in the bag. I want a talk show with Michael though!

      • Robbin

        I agree. The judges seemed to have made up their minds early in the season. They did the same thing last season. I enjoyed Aaron Macargo, Jr. a great deal, but he was outperformed by – what is the guy’s name? Anyway,

      • Amber

        I agree too Miche. RR, Robin Miller, Sandra Lee etc already do the same thing. BORING choice. I thought for sure Jeffrey would win.

      • Gail Straight

        I watch FN almost everyday and would have loved to see Jeffrey and his new seasonings. It would have been different from the others already on and FN could sell the spices online. I love trying new recipes instead of the same things all the time. He won more challenges. I will be trying his Red Lobster recipe this week. I wish them both the best. Caring for 4 little children and doing shows will be a real challenge.

      • Peg

        I came in on the second episode this year and at the end predicted the two finalists. I was pretty sure Melissa was going to win over the judges, but hoped not. I really liked Jeffrey’s personality and loved his recipes. Find Melissa hard to watch, with her hyper personality and wild eyes, and won’t be watching her show. Also didn’t find her final offering the least original, since it’s something I’ve been doing for years. They got a blond Rachel Ray instead of a new and interesting network star. I hope we see Jeffery again!!

    • Carolyn

      Jeffrey absolutely should have won–Food Network needs a thin, sexy guy who can really cook! All of his dishes looked delicious and exciting. Melissa is way too hyper and harried and all she cooks is average American fare. BORING!

      • tara

        Thin sexy guy? Bobby Flay, Tyler Florence, Michael Chiarello is hot! Jeffrey is not Hot! The winking is gross and reminds me of the drunk guy in his 40’s at weddings trying to pick up on the 18 year old girls. The michael bolton hair went out of style in the 90’s as well.

      • kristy

        Friggin hilarious…

      • misch

        He is thin but definitely not sexy. Kind of dorky and slightly creepy. He tried too hard in my book to be likeable which is where the creepy part came in for me. To each his own though.

      • Carolyn

        LOL Tara! I see your point about the 40-year-old trying to be studly, although long hair is back in style. ;) His passion for food made him sexy to me.

    • Katherine

      Who knows if the right person won? TFN has been wrong before. Only time will tell if D’Arabian’s show will last on air. She claims that she’s “invented” many of her techniques and ideas. But fact is, she wasn’t the first to implement such techniques and ideas. All she did was “rename” them or think of an acronym for them. She’s not original at all and what she claims to be an issue that has not been addressed has been. Her ideas and tips have been done and have been used and implemented by many chefs and non-chefs way before her. D’Arabian’s style is simply mediocre–nothing special. But I tip my hat off because she does know how to advertise herself. She’s got this controlling attitude that really annoys me. Jeffrey may have been described by one of the judges as “vanilla.” But he shouldn’t feel offended by that. Vanilla is essential in many, many recipes. It may be basic but without it, countless recipes will not be the same. So sure, Jeffrey is vanilla–he should be elated. Vanilla is something some chefs, bakers, home cooks could live without.

      • Linda


      • Carol

        I think we’ll see Jeffrey on another FN show, like Adam Gertler. BTW, why isn’t Lisa’s name on the “where are they now” season 4 recap?

    • Carolyn

      That’s the whole point of why Jeffrey should have won: he could have taught us something, like where to find harissa. Those sandwiches he made on the finale made me drool! I already know how to make chicken 25 different ways, don’t you? What the Food Network didn’t need was another shrill blonde cooking cheap, boring American Food. They already have Sandra Lee doing that. I hope they decide to give Jeffrey his own show like they did with Adam when he lost!

      • Bobbie

        Jeffrey SHOULD have won!!! Melissa “conned” everybody with talking all the time about her daughters & cooking with them….hey, did anybody else assume they were a little OLDER…for heavens sake: they’re BABIES. Jeffrey REALLY COOKS WITH HIS DAUGHTER. Melissa just might have done a quick-read of an old “HELOISE” BOOK on instant kitchen hints and just constantly re-gurgitated them ad-nauseum….then Bob would smile & say how much he just LOVED her!!! Just watche her first show today…won’t be tuning in again!!! Seemed a lot like a past winner: “The Gourmet Next Store”…….BUT SHE WASN’T COOKING CHICKEN AT LEAST THIS TIME.
        Food Network HAS to give jeffrey a show……..personality, charisma,
        and enjoyable to watch.

      • Trish

        I agree. Her show was, well boring to watch. I won’t watch it again. Sorry Melissa, but to me Jeffery had my attention from the start and he made me want to try all the food he made. FN, if your smart, you will give this man his own show. I know alot of women and men who would watch him! You sure got it wrong this time. Maybe next time you will let the audience pick? I mean we are the ones who are going to watch, shouldn’t we have a say on who we want to actually watch?

      • Lori

        Sandra Lee’s food is not cheap – her recipes are NOT affordable! Jeffrey’s show might be good to watch, but the average cook wont be able to find his ingredients. Melissa’s show should be good if they do it right. She gives tips your grandma or mom might have given you, but not everyone has a grandma or mom who cooks, so there is a market for her.

    • Chasnracn715

      I am with alot of the others-I know how to cook chicken. My kids are grown and I live by myself. I like to experiment with new things-Jeffery would have been my preference.

  • Meg M.

    Melissa absolutely should have won. Jeffrey was great, too, but seemed a little uncomfortable during the pilot.

  • susan

    Yes, the right person won! I can’t wait to see her show next week. I would also like to see Jeffrey’s show. Debbie Lee was a disaster with her lack of integrity and very narrow perspective. Who would want to work with her? Her lying each episode could have been a drinking game. Thanks for covering this show!

    • Ceballos

      I’m with you, Susan.

      I can objectively see that Debbie was VERY good on camera, and I’m sure her food was up to snuff. However, her constant cheating and lying to cover it up just completely turned me off on her.

      • Barb

        I agree about Debbie. I would never watch her program after viewing her questionable ethics.

      • Micah

        While I don’t know that I’d go so far as to say Debbie was cheating, her lack of integrity was quite bothersome throughout. From the first episode (I’ll buy my ingredients while not worrying too much about the ingredients of others) to the Miami episode (I’ll worry about my dishes and leave the rest to Melissa and Jamika) to the ep where the finalists’ key ingredients were taken away (capers? what capers?) Debbie’s inability to play by the rules simply was distasteful and would have kept me far away from any show offered to her.

      • Carolyn

        Exactly! She was a whiny, lying, sore loser. “I didn’t have capers.” Yeah right!

      • Julie

        1) I thought that the right person won, but I was holding my breath right up to the announcement. I kinda thought that it would go to Jeffrey. I think Melissa was faster on her feet, and I bet she calms down; if she could rein herself in noticeably during the episodes, I am sure she can do it without so much competitive pressure.
        2) As for Debbie, I was so sick of hearing where she was from, and I thought she was so not “selfless” during her role as expeditor at the cocktail party. The reason her food seemed superior to some was that she worked on that, and that only, and did not rush one bit. I totally diagree that she should have air time, she is not honest and doesn’t seem to have the results. I’d rather see Jamika (sp?) get a chance. I think her nerves took over and she lost her verve. And while I think that Jeffrey was secretly condescening, I do believe he of all should have a shot at his own show. I think the race between the two finalists was very close.

      • Carolyn

        YES, Debbie should have been eliminated very early on with all of her deceit.
        YES, Melissa should have won! Jeffrey was interesting but where would I find “harissa” and other exotics he might talk about. I need practical ideas for me and my family.

      • Norma

        I knew I couldn’t be the only one who called Debbie Lee a liar. She lied so many times, it has to be a lifestyle with her. I would have never watched her show. For me, it was a toss-up between Melissa and Jeffrey.

    • allie

      my big problem with Debbie was the fact that the judges always said her food was bland – lying aside, the woman can’t cook!

      • Sebastian Ogden

        Her “Seoul meets Soul” concept never clicked with me. It sounds a bit like mixing Chinese and Indian…two different flavours that don’t seem to go together. I didn’t think she would make it as far as she did, but somehow she continued to duck the radar. Hooray for Melissa and Jeffrey…and the right ‘chef’ won. :o)

      • Bijal

        Actually, I’m Indian and have been to India several times in my life. Indian and Chinese flavors actually blend excellently together and there is tons of restaurants and items in Indian that are sold as “Indo-Chinese” food. Check out a recipe for “Schewan Paneer”, it’s sorta amazing :)

      • allie

        Bijal – yes, those flavors do work wonderfully together but from what the judges said, Debbie’s food was always kind of bland. “Bland” is not a word I’d use to describe Indo-Chinese or Korean cooking.

      • Q

        Actually Sebastian Ogden, “Seoul to Soul” was an homage to her Korean heritage and Southern roots (Soul Food). It had nothing to do with Chinese or Indian. Especially since she is not Chinese!

      • G. Cook

        I believe by “sounds a bit like,” Sebastian was making an analogy, Q. He wasn’t saying Seoul to Soul was Indian/Chinese cuisine, just making a comparison to make a point.

      • Jennifer

        Actually Q, It’s clear that Sebastian knew what “Seoul to Soul” meant; The Chinese and Indian reference was offered as an example of how Korean and soul foods don’t belong together (in his opinion).

      • dani

        Thank you! Debbie only took care of herself – her food came up to often as bland. I wouldn’t watch her show because I don’t believe her.

    • Renee

      Agree about Debbie….glad she got booted, so dishonest!

      • Terri

        Being Korean, I must say; her accent is terrible. For someone trying to sell her Ethnicity, I’d be ashamed.

      • Karrie

        Absolutely – the second time she lied I was done.

      • Mary

        I agree. Debbie lied so much, took credit when she didn’t do anything, well if she had won, I would never have watched FN again. Still upset bland Melissa won but oh well.

    • Jill Tropp

      The right person won,Melissa was my pick from the begining. I can’t wait to watch her show! Jeffery is a likeable guy, but a little out there for me. Debbie should not have gotten that far, as soon as her integrity was questioned, it was time for her to go. Food Network has fun, honest, and talanted host, Debbie would have crushed the networks integrity. Good luck Melissa, nice job!!!!!

    • Gemini

      I do hope they also give Jeffrey his own show just like they did with Adam Gertler last year. Debbie is officially reamed for her dishonesty by Susie F on the Food Network website…much deserved.

    • Foodieee

      Why do these people need to have “integrity”? It’s not like they’re running for Congress. Rumor has it that Martha Stewart and Rachael Ray aren’t the nicest, most honest people. Martha even went to jail! It doesn’t seem to have hurt her ability to show people how to cook. No one is all good or all bad, through they may be edited that way on reality shows.

      • alba

        Thank you Foodieee for saying this. Integrity is very important, but I agree that it’s not top on the requirement list to teach me to cook.

      • G

        Well, I like Rachael Ray, never heard anything bad about her. Martha Stewart, I kinda have a problem that she is an ex con, but she did her time and was able to rebuild things. I never really watched her though. Debbie on the other hand, from the episode with the capers, and the next one, really turned me off. She may have had personality and been a good talker in front of the camera, but to “accidentally” forget a key ingredient given to you and say you “just forgot” sounded dishonest to me. I liked the idea of Seoul to Soul, similar to Ming Tsai’s (who I adore) East meets West show. The problem, her food did not translate. I did not see the mixing of cultures that she was promoting, and her whiny, sore loser attitude when she accused the judges of “being mean to her” had me ready to see her go.

        Jeffrey’s idea of focusing on one new ingredient and how to use it was great, but I thought Melissa was more confident and more marketable to house mom’s.

    • pat

      I loved watching nelissa but,jeffrey was wonderful and made me so hungry.I would love to see him on your network also HE IS AWSOM, please find him a time slot.

  • Lulu

    I am so thrilled Melissa won, and I will definitely be DVRing her show, and Debbie’s if she gets one. However, to my taste (and all of my friends who were as addicted to this show as I) Jeffrey’s personality was repellent. he came across as smug and arrogant, and the amount of gracious and generous things Melissa said about him were never returned in kind. I am relieved that he lost. His ego would have gone sky-high.

    • angi

      I couldn’t agree more! I thought he could have at least reciprocated some of her kind comments. Instead, he just smiled like he thought he had it in the bag!!

    • Sassi

      I could not agree more. Jeff was so arrogant and smug. He sat and smiled so condescendingly as Melissa graciously complimented him.

    • Allie

      I absolutely agree that Jeff’s behavior was a turn-off. I liked him throughout the season but his refusal to say anything nice back to Melissa made me sure I’d never watch his show if he won. He seemed so sure he was going to win. I really like Melissa and will definitely watch her.

      • Mo

        I alos agree that Jeff was SURE of himself, although I did like him. But it is indeed true that Melissa was the winner and I will be watching her

      • Silvia

        I agree with you! I rooted for Jeff all up until the last episode when I saw that he didn’t even acknowledge Melissa. My friend claims it was the way the producers edited the show to make him look that way…Who knows!

      • angie

        I thought Melissa was gracious and a great cook. I know that I will watch her show. I was appalled at Jeffery’s attitude. His comment that he thought she would be gone the first show was insulting. I kept waitng on him to compliment Melissa at some point on the finale episode, did not happen! I thought her growth on the show was amazing for the season and a joy to watch. The guys that disrespected her were surprised to see her win, I am sure of that. I was also surprised that Debbie made it as far as she did. She has no integrity and I was glad to see her go. I think it was a great season and the best woman won. I cannot wait until next week to watch!

      • Katherine

        He didn’t acknowledge Melissa because she was so fake. She has control issues that sometimes comes out when she gets frustrated and frazzled. She does a better job in hiding her frantic behavior than Jamika. Jamika’s problem was that when she’s frustrated, it immediately shows in her facial expression and actions. Melissa is the exact same way, but she has more control of what makes her anxious and frantic. what she has to offer is mediocre and have been done. She claims to make the home cook’s life easier in the kitchen. That’s been addressed. Her acronyms are not “hidden depth of knowledge” (as one comment states). Sorry, but they’re not. Her pilot’s four step technique with cooking chicken–that’s been done by chefs and cooks way before her! Tyler Florence, Emeril, Flay, Martha Stewart, Ina Garten, Sara Moulton, and many others have shown those techniques in their own shows. Oh sure, she gave it a name and these other people have not. Oh, is that why she won? Because she can give cooking techniques cute names?

      • Linda

        Maybe he just didn’t like her. She was a bit over the top

      • Carolyn

        Agreed! He could have made some very lovely comments about Melissa but didn’t have the courtesy to do so.

      • Mary

        Stop all your whinning that Jeffery didn’t say back to her he hoped they both win. Why should he say that because she did? If you all forget, Melissa got to where she was by the help Jeffery had given to her in the past. Even the judges said this. I remember when Brett and another contestant helped her in one episode and when she took all the credit one had the balls to speak up. And then everyone turned on him for doing so. That is not one person I want to watch to teach me to cook something I already know how to cook.

    • Mary

      I do think Jeffrey gave us all we had, plus a confident attitude, where Melissa has these hidden depths of knowledge and tips(EZ POT, for example) I hope she realizes how great she is:)

      • Karrie

        My big complaint at the end about Jeffrey: What IS Harrissa? I know it’s a paste – but a paste of WHAT?
        I needed more info – and he didn’t offer it. Melissa made me want to cook her chicken!

      • Hudson

        I agree. Jeffrey never told us what harissa is made from and I’m not sure that he knew much about it other than the flavor. I’ve used it before, so I know — its a hot sauce or paste made from chiles (sometimes smoked), garlic, tomatoes, olive oil, and spices like cumin and coriander. It’s used a lot in North African cooking. It’s a very good ingredient to keep in the pantry to add a bit of zip to dishes.

        Aside from the lack of information he offered, I did like the idea of a show incorporating some exotic ingredient into standard dishes. But I also think that using it in a steak sandwich was not enough. And I think that harissa is not a supermarket item … though you can often find it in gourmet markets and natural food stores.

        Melissa’s program clearly is more marketable. Her demo provided viewers with a recipe that they could make from their pantry or from items easily found at the supermarket. Her personality is a little too buoyant, but should settle down once she starts shooting her show. I wish her lots of luck.

    • Rhonda

      I completely agree! I despised Jeffrey’s smug attitude. I had supported Debbie thru most of the show, but Melissa definitely was my choice over Jeffrey. He looked CRUSHED when he lost–I’m willing to bet he had already checked out real estate for his “new” job. I will watch Melissa’s show–and would love to see Debbie get one as well!!

    • samy chabbi

      I did not think that Jeffrey was Smug. I think he was a bit more reserved or was not as out there as Melissa was. I think they just had 2 different personalities.

    • Carol

      You folks are right on. He was an absolute jerk at the end. His arrogance drove me craazy. He was very rude to Melissa at the end. When she said she would be happy to share first place, he never said a word. WOW! So full of himself.

      • G. Cook

        Editing, folks. Editing. I guarantee you that not even 10% of all the things Melissa and Jeffrey said TO each other or ABOUT each other got to be in the final cuts of the episodes. You’re presuming he never said anything nice back to her or about her…. because of noticing the lack of it. I noticed the lack, too, but instead of leaping to the conclusion that it was him not saying those things, maybe give him the benefit of the doubt that maybe the editors clipped it? Or, possibly, since she was always saying those things, and he didn’t want to seem insincere, he just accepted the compliments without forcing a reply in kind? Nothing wrong with that, either.

      • Katherine

        Hey G. Cook: that’s something to think about. You’re absolutely right. There’s a lot of politics in these shows nowadays, you don’t know which ones are fixed and which ones aren’t. Here’s another thought: Why are D’Arabian’s family sitting in the front while Jeffrey’s were not? Was that a cue that They already know who won? The Food Network used to be a channel that I enjoy watching. But now, they’re shows are getting farther away from what the channel needs to be — one that teaches about food and cooking. There are many shows that are just ridiculous! Remember Sara Moulton? One of the original “teachers” of the home cooks? Another good one is Ina Garten. No pretense, she’s just so real, I enjoy watching her. TFN’s already filled with people who claim to make a home cook’s life easy. Do they really need another one, who keeps on saying “I invented this, I invented that?” How can she say that when those ideas she’s talking about have been done before–not just in this channel but in others?

      • G. Cook

        Yeah, someone here or over in the Food Network blogs mentioned noticing that about the two finalists’ families’ seating arrangements (personally, I didn’t until I read the comment about it). If Jeffrey himself noticed it, he sure didn’t let on (that we saw… they showed a scene in a clip online of him taking Teddy or Eddie back to meet his wife, so he definitely knew how far back they were). Anyway… I just hope they both get a fair shake at a show, and the network doesn’t pull the plug too quickly on them.

        I don’t cook very often, personally, but I love shows on the network such as Guy’s shows (mostly D,D,&D) and Alton Brown’s show. I like both sides of the instruction/entertainment coin: finding out about great hidden restaurants around the country from Guy while he jokes around with staff and customers…. and about the science of cooking and equipment and ingredients from Alton. I see a Jeffrey “ingredient-based” show as being along the Good Eats line, really educational and just… interesting. We’ll see.

      • LadySharantyr

        I’d guess the reason Melissa’s family was sitting up front was more due to the fact that they wanted to be able to get those small kids on and off set quickly if they needed too. From where they were sitting, they could have just whisked them off to the side rather than taking them through the audience and down the stairs if they started crying or fidgeting. Jeffrey’s kids were older and more able to sit quietly for the whole time. Doesn’t really have to be an ulterior motive, just a practical one.

      • G

        G Cook is right, they were friends from the beginning, both being parents and all. He must have been nice to her and acknowledged her at some point that we didn’t see for them to have grown close. He did say he was surprised she was there, which in itself can be looked at as a compliment or an insult! Ha! I think he is more reserved and was anxious during the finale to find out who won, and thus, just didn’t speak as much. He clams up when he’s nervous; she starts babbling. Just difference in personality. But he did seem a bit overconfident at times. What was he thinking with making a risotto? He doesn’t even specialize in Italian cooking. Meanwhile, Melissa’s backstory, and her delicious pastry dishes won everyone over!

    • dawn

      I was waiting for someone to bring up Jeffery’s lack of “right back at you, Mellissa” with her kind words of encouragement and compliments. We love Melissa!

  • Todd

    Between Melissa and Jeffery, I’m glad Melissa won because I do not ge the appeal of Jeffery at all. I feel creeped out by him everytime he’s talking or talking about crepes. And his show title, Ingredient Smuggler sounded too porno-ish for a family network(I don’t know why it does to me, my dirty mind I suppose). I was also bothered by the lack of Debbie – perhaps because they are already developing her show and didn’t want to show too much favor and possibly overshadow the winner?

    • G. Cook

      You do realise that Alton Brown kinda came up with that show title for him, right? Watch those scenes again, he talked both Melissa and Jeffrey out of their original ideas.

  • Tab

    Dlisted.com is reporting that her show was cancelled after only three eps!!!! Yeah!!!!!

    • Barb

      I saw that too but I think he was just being sarcastic and making fun of previous winners.

    • ramona

      yeah, just what we need another boring show with pantry food on hand.I was hoping they would have picked Jeffery. At least he would have brought something different to the table.

  • Ceballos

    I hate ties. I usually think they’re a copout. Some people look at them as “both people win!” while I tend to look at them as “nobody won!”

    That being said, I actually found myself rooting for a tie last night. I thought Melissa had the slight upper hand coming into the finale (more growth throughout the season/ the underdog factor), but I felt like Jeffrey slightly outperformed her during his pilot presentation. To me, it was a dead heat, but I can certainly agree that the right person won.

    My girlfriend asked last night, “Am I the only one who think she’s another Rachael Ray?” I told her, that’s probably PRECISELY what they wanted. Ray seems to be branching out into other things, and Melissa seems like a great successor to the “cooking on a budget/ within time constraints” mantle.

    Slezak, great call on the fairly hideous titles Brown came up with (“Ingredient Smuggler”? Really?!). Still, I wasn’t really taken aback by Jeffrey’s comment about Melissa going home during the first episode…she was kind of a disaster during that first ep. Last night really showed how far she’s come.

    • G. Allen

      I don’t see Rachel Ray. Her show, her personality and even her appearance seem like carbon copies Sara Moulton’s show but taped rather than live. (The original show was “Cooking Live with Sara Moulton” which I believe has been off the air for several years.)

      • Gemini

        Please do not compare Rachael Ray with Sara Moulton. Sara has more culinary knowledge and personal ease in her right thumb than the woman who talks out of the side of her mouth and creates ear worm catch-phrases.

      • Katherine

        OMG! Please don’t compare D’Arabian with Sara Moulton. She’s a chef with great integrity. Her teachings have been proven reliable and her personality is one that you want to see in a TV personality. D’Arabian is frantic, controlling, and annoying. TFN was usually on at our home from morning on, but since last night’s announcement that she won, I haven’t tuned in to this channel. She’s nothing like Sara Moulton.

  • Stephanie T.

    I am not sure. The other guy had something more original to add. Melissa show just looked like a clone of Rachel Ray’s 30 Minute Meals. In fact I swore that during the delberation, one of the judges accidently called Melissa Rachel.

    • RBlues

      Actually, I think they said she could be the “next” Rachel. I knew she was going to win when I heard that.

      • Linda

        oh my god!!!!! The next Rachel!!!!
        One of those in the world is enough for me

      • Renee

        The next Rachel….ugh, I change the channel when she comes on.

    • Leo

      I agree 100%. Who needs yet another show about how to make cooking cheap and easy? It’s been done 7 times over. I don’t even cook that much but Jeffrey’s view was more interesting than the same old stay-at-home mom blah blah blah…

      • Sarah

        I agree. Her cooking is mediocre to say the least. I’m not a pro chef, but I do like to broaded my culinary perspective. Unfortunately, in my opinion, most of the Food Network programs don’t (Barefoot Contessa, excluded). Back to Top Chef!

      • Vicki

        If they were looking for someone who is almost as annoying as Rachel Ray (threw up in my mouth a little just from typing her name) they succeeded brilliantly. If they were looking for someone mellower, more interesting and intelligent, they failed miserably. Hated the name of Jeffrey’s pilot, though. Chalk up another win for pathetic, relatable mediocrity . . . Kris Allen, anyone?

      • Linda

        SO, SO, SO TRUE!!!!!!!!!

    • Nancy

      I am so glad Melissa won and can’t wait to watch her show. If she replaces Rachael that would make me even happier!I turn the show off when she appears.
      As for the finale show it was kind of boring.

  • Bella

    I’m glad Melissa won and I will watch her show. While I like too, Jeffrey I think Meliisa is more personable and has more overall audience appeal. I didn’t like Debbie from the very beginning, she was a one-trick pony reminding everyone every week that she’s Korean. Ok, we get it. And she was caught in so many lies and just really not being a very good team player. I was shocked she made it as far as she did frankly.

  • Andy

    Yes, Melissa deserved to win. Jeffrey was good, but appeared smug sometimes. Debbie is a lying hack and never deserves to be on TV again….and not that great to look at either!

    • Ceballos

      Andy – I wish you’d tell us how you REALLY feel about Debbie.

    • Mary

      Funny how people don’t ever comment on a guy’s look in reagrd to his capabilities!

      • Susan

        that was a low blow, not fair to comment on someone’s look especially since people in the media are trying to over this type of stereotyping.

  • tgmee

    I though Jeffrey was arrogant and too monotone. I liked Melissa but feel like she has nothing new to offer the network. There are lots of home cooks on Food Network. Despite Debbie’s issues, I think Food Network could benefit from a little more color. I’d love to learn more about cooking Asian food.

    • Gemini

      There are plenty of great asian chefs out there and Debbie Lee is not one of them.

  • Preston

    I liked Melissa’s presentation of her meal dyring her pilot. She was upbeat and exciting. She understands what families have to do to cook up something for dinner. Jeffrey’s pilot was good, but he didn’t keep you interested enough.

    • Cindy

      I disagree — cooks like Melissa are a dime a dozen on FN, at least during Jeff’s pilot, I actually looked up and watched it. Melissa’s could have been done by a monkey. FN missed out on an opportunity to broaden its viewer’s horizons. More Rachel Ray is NOT what I want

  • RBlues

    Last night, they mentioned this was season 5. I’m addicted to watching Food Network and can only remember Guy and the Neely’s. Who were the other two winners?

    • RBlues

      Oops! I don’t know what made me think The Neely’s were from “The Next Food Network Star”. Just kinda proves my point of “where are the previous winners”?

      • AngieLam

        Guy Fieri was a winner. Now he has a couple shows and is the spokes person for TGIFridays.

      • Amanda

        I agree. I think the winners are given a one-season contract. The duo who one the first season wasn’t renewed. The winner of the third season, Amy Finley, decided not to renew her contract. We have yet to see if the winner of the fourth season, Aaron McCargo, will have staying power.

        The Neely’s were first featured on Road Tasted with Jamie and Bobby Deen and again on Rachel Ray’s 40 Dollars A Day. The Neelys took over Road Tasted when the Deen brothers decided not to continue. I always felt that was a shame because I like the Deens so much more than the Neelys.

      • I Like Aaron

        Aaron is on Saturday afternoons, I think he needs a nite slot to see if he has staying power. I like his show and him, think they should give him a better time slot

      • Sheri B.

        Right… Previous winners (other than Guy) have disappeared. I believe Melissa has a chance of commanding a presence and should be around for a long, long time.

      • Gemini

        The first winners were the Hearty Boys, right? Their series was cancelled after the first season. I believe FN fired 2nd season winner Amy Finley since her recipes were getting panned on their website and her show had low ratings.

    • Jen from South Jersey

      Dan & Steve from season 1 actually got renewed once, so they had 2 seasons. Guy you know about. Amy from season 3 couldn’t deal with negative blog posts online and chose not to renew but it was offered. Last, Aaron from season 4 just started his third season (it premiered last week, or maybe it’s this week).

    • barbara

      the neelys were not past winners.

  • Mark

    Seriously, Mellisa should have won by a landslide. Jeffery’s idea is seriously out there and interesting but Mellisa has the approch for the working and stay at home mom. Mellisa had the presence of a TV personality and her meal looked AWESOME and easy to do. And while Jeffery’s harissa idea was definitely different and unique, his presentation wasn’t that great. Mellisa hit a home run and definitely deserved to win her own show. I know I’ll tuning in along with my wife who’s a stay at home mom.

  • Helen Krump

    Melissa is so FN; manic, and maddeningly upbeat. She comes off as a more sophisticated Robin Miller/Sandra Lee hybrid. Jeffrey’s flavor profile fits my taste better, but the sort of generic french blandness of Melissa’s cookery will appeal to a wider section of Americans I’ll admit. I was also turned off by that footage of Melissa’s obsession with her breast milk, like the disclosure of her mother’s suicide, TMI.

    • Mary

      So sorry you were turned off – can you imagine living through yoru mother’s suicide?

      • Javabooknut

        Yes but I’m still upset that Amy won and then backed out. I really liked Rory and I would have loved watching her. I don’t think it’s fair to all those from her season who wanted it so bad, that Amy who almost quit at least once won. Also I’m glad that Adam G. got a show cause he was my fave.

      • Rai Freels

        Well, I’ve lived thru the suicide of a parent- all be it my husband’s- and I can tell you that it’s not something you talk about on National TV – she was just playing her underdog card – and the breast milk thing , ugh !!!
        I’m not tuning in her show – shouldn’t be on long anyway – and who’s going to be taking care of the SAHM’s children ?

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