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TV Mon May 21 2012

Chicago's Shaky on "Food Network Star"

karasigle_foodnetworkstar.jpg"Food Network Star" has two contestants from Chicago -- and both of them ended up in jeopardy at the end of the second episode.

This week's challenge involved a New York neighborhood food tour by bus. Each team explored the restaurants and markets of a different neighborhood, and used them as inspiration for dishes that they then presented on a moving bus to 20 tourists as well as the judges. Team Alton went to the Jewish Lower East Side, Team Bobby went to Harlem, and Team Giada went to Arthur Avenue, the original Little Italy.

As a member of Team Alton, Judson Todd Allen ended up getting The Pickle Guys pickle store as his inspiration. He decided to do two types of cole slaw, one emphasizing the sweet pickle and the other evoking the shop's best-selling sour pickles. Unfortunately, he didn't really feel a connection with pickles, and ended up overselling his inspiration.

Later, on Team Bobby, Kara Sigle ended up with Melba's, a Harlem soul food joint. She went with egg nog waffles and fried chicken. She learned the history of chicken and waffles, and we learned that Sigle doesn't like chicken on the bone and prefers pancakes over waffles. In the cooking montage, she had some trouble finding the right balance of spices in the waffles. Her presentation was also rough -- she stumbled over calling Melba "black," then "African-American," and lost her composure, forgetting to tell the story of chicken and waffles.

Team Giada won the challenge with their riffs on Little Italy, and Allen and Sigle got called into the last-chance elimination challenge. The chefs were asked to make a dish that makes potato the centerpiece. Sigle, whose angle is nostalgic recipes with a twist, made her mom's twice-baked potatoes. Allen made a potato crusted salmon dish with the New Orleans creole inflection that is his angle.

The judges felt Sigle's twice-baked potatoes weren't very memorable, but saw a bit of a spark from her for the first time. With Allen, they were still looking for the real person behind the very smooth presentation skills -- and were disappointed that his dish didn't put potato at center stage.

In the end, Kara Sigle was sent home. In her parting statement, she said "I don't know that being on camera and having something be not authentic is who I am. So I have no regrets."

We'll see if Allen can turn things around and show the judges his own authentic side -- though next week the contestants take a run through the "Chopped!" TV concept, so that may not be the venue. Stay tuned.

UPDATE: Melba Wilson of Melba's Restaurant issued the following statement on May 23, regarding Sigle's stumble over black vs. African-American: "For the record I woke up this morning Black and then at noon I become African American. Kara seemed like a really nice young lady when we met. A lot of blogs are speculating that she is racist -- I honestly did not get that from her at all. She was very kind and warm spirited. I think perhaps 2 cups of nerves mixed with 1 tablespoon of cameras got the best of her and caused her to over-think what she wanted to say and I forgive her for that. I don't forgive her for the exclusion of the history of chicken and waffles and screwing up my dish!"

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Feature Thu Dec 31 2015

The State of Food Writing

By Brandy Gonsoulin

In 2009, food blogging, social media and Yelp were gaining popularity, and America's revered gastronomic magazine Gourmet shuttered after 68 years in business. Former Cook's Illustrated editor-in-chief Chris Kimball followed with an editorial, stating that "The shuttering of Gourmet reminds...
Read this feature »

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