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food network star. episode 4. justin d's recipe.

Before really getting into the episode, I want to first thank everyone for all of the love you have given me. This has been a pretty crazy ride from the moment it started (almost a year ago). Thanks for the continued support.

On to the show! Finally I got to see myself in a camera challenge. For some reason this is the first time they showed my camera challenge, the sad part is.. that food was the worst food I had made to date. Everything else had been fairly successful. To make it even worse, in walks Chef Michael Symon. Shit. Out of all of the Iron Chefs, I connect with his style of cooking the most. It's rustic and similar to my background and training. That dude will throw down on a pig face, which is admirable. So I got to feed Chef Symon something I was pretty ashamed of - I think I used the word "pedestrian" to describe it. I called my dish, Crispix fried ham and black bean puree with a quick pickled jalapeno. I actually thought it tasted good, but it was so uninspired and if there is anything we preach at the Gastronomic Duo, you have to make food with love. Uninspired food is unloved food. I don't think I had ever missed something as much as I missed Lo and Eva at that moment. 


Moving on to the second portion of the show, the Star Challenge. We all know by now what the challenge was, cooking for Cougar Town. I'm on a team with Whitney and Susie and we are the only team of three. Why can't anything ever be normal? Oh that's right, I'm on TV. Our team is to cook for the cast and that means we've gotta keep it light. I decide I'm going to make one of our favorite salads. This is the first time I am going to make something I have made before, everything up to this point has been total on-the-spot first attempts. I need some pretty basic ingredients: Fennel, endive, radicchio, smoked trout and a few greens. "There is no way Courtney Cox and Busy Philipps won't love this," I thought.

We arrive at the store and there is nothing for me. I remember standing in front of the basket that had previously been filled with radicchio and staring at the wilted lone red leaf in the bottom of it. There was also no fennel. How the hell does that happen? We live in Minnesota and I can get fresh fennel bulbs in mid February at any store... but not in LA. So that leaves me with nothing. I have to make a new dish that fits the criteria while shopping for Whitney and Susie as well. That's when the whole quinoa drama began. I challenge anyone to be in that situation and try understanding an excited Susie Jimenez on the phone. Had I used my brain, I would have grabbed tons of quinoa but my brain was filled with other things like, "what the hell am I doing here" and "what am I going to make?"

On the flip side, Susie and Whitney were rock stars and grabbed tons of everything at their store. I really wish I had returned the favor.

I made a dish out of whatever they had grabbed and the few things I had found. It was a terrible salad. It could have been much better, but I haven't done a lot of large party catering.. especially for like 200 people. I dressed my salad early and it just didn't stay on the ingredients like I thought it would. They weren't wrong. It wasn't tasty.

I did think the episode was funny and also honest. That's what happened. From the quinoa to me talking about dropping out, it was all very honest. In those moments I was so filled with doubt and lacked any desire to still be in the competition, that it's amazing I didn't walk out those doors instead of Justin B.

I can't do this post without speaking about Justin Balmes. I didn't know what to think of the other Justin when we first arrived, but after getting to know him.. I can honestly say is a badass. I am proud to call him a friend and excited to work with him in the future.

Lingering on the negative isn't gonna get anyone anywhere.. So I want to also talk about the positive in the show. Being called a sexy Harry Potter chef is pretty hilarious and I've been called much worse. I wonder who I'll be compared to next week? There's only one way to find out. Next week, I need to bring the energy. Let the Harry Potter magic flow.

Below is a link to the recipe for my intended dish. It truly is a tasty salad and one that I am sure everyone would have loved.

Fennel, Endive, Radicchio smoked trout salad with a toasted fennel vinaigrette.


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Reader Comments (4)

You've been one of my favorites from the beginning - still rooting for you! (I don't know if it's just my computer, but your blog entry font is a little difficult to read.)

Good luck!

June 27, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterLydia

Your salad recipe look wonderful-can't wait to try it. I loved both Justins. You guys are great. So sad JB was booted instead of Penny. But they always need one like her to make for "good TV". I would rather see the best cook win, but that's just me!

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Well; this is very true; having these recipes adds extra flavors; well; I do love your salad recipes as like anything; delicious share.
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