Episode 7 Food Network Star
Blog 7 – Bittersweet
I’m feeling a bit bittersweet writing about episode 7, so let’s just get right into the episode.
In our first challenge, we had to create a recipe that would be easy to share on a Facebook live stream. Of course, nothing is ever that simple on Food Network Star. There is ALWAYS a twist. In this case - before we could begin cooking we had to each choose from one of the four different themes. It wouldn’t be Food Network Star if we all agreed. I really wanted to do "Salty Desserts" and Christian was happy to do "Sweet Soup". Check, check. But both Amy and Manny wanted to cook a "Crunchy Meat" dish. To resolve it, they resorted to a quick game of Rock, Paper, Scissors. Luck favored Manny this time, so he set off to make chip-crusted chicken, while Amy made a quick-fix Bahn Mi for the "Sour Sandwich" theme.
I have really wanted to do desserts since ooey gooey showed up as a theme a few episodes ago. Making a molten cake with salty caramel was the way to go. I’ve made this dish hundreds of times, but never with the stress of cameras and a time limit. I underestimated how long it takes to bake and make caramel because you can’t take your eyes off of it. In the end, the cakes looked beautiful but didn’t have enough time to rest and unmold. Cue disaster when I tried to unmold them onto the plate. Luckily, I had made extra and decided to serve them right in the ramekins.
The second part of the challenge, which was designed to be difficult: produce Anne Burrell live for a five-minute segment. Doing a live demo isn’t easy, but conveying those thoughts to someone else through an earpiece seemed impossible. My production was a little side railed when I asked Anne to crack eight eggs on air. That’s a lot of dead air in TV speak. She was a champ for keeping up with the energy and showing enthusiasm while tasting my dish.
Since Amy won the mentor challenge with her pork Bahn mi sandwiches, she got an advantage to pick and assign the topics for the star challenge. Amy assigned herself brunch, potluck to Christian, easy entertaining to Manny and breakfast-on-the-go to me. These assignments were supposed to push us outside of our comfort zone. In addition, we each had to host a 10-minute live episode with special guest Ree Drummond. Hosting a live cooking segment is much harder than it looks. We not only had to cook, but also interact with a guest, and engage an audience.
I decided to make Indian bread with scrambled eggs and lamb merguez - my take on burritos on the go, except the wrap, is made from scratch. While problems during the live segment are always a given, it was interesting to see how we all fared at this challenge. The mentors said I was supposed to host my segment. But instead of taking the lead and directing the conversation and movements, I let Ree take the lead, becoming resigned to her every suggestion, question, and comment. I had a great rapport with her, but the judges felt she was doing more of the leading in the segment. It’s hard to tell with the editing of a ten-minute segment down to less than 30 seconds, but we actually had a good time cooking together! Amy had a tough cook in the kitchen. First, she couldn’t find the right pans. Then, she was missing a particular ingredient. Lastly, she forgot to poach an egg for a benedict recipe. It showed in her demo and landed both of us at the bottom.
In the end, I was eliminated. Devasting news for me.
So, what did I learn about myself from these experiences? Luckily, I have a good memory and a lengthy journal, so I can recall vivid details of my experience.
From the first episode when I turned my signature dish into park-friendly bites to last night with breakfast burritos wrapped in Indian bread with Ree Drummond, I cooked my heart out. My cuisine is a direct reflection of my culture, my family, and my experiences as a citizen of the world. With every dish, I try to infuse a bit of my culture and my family. I’m proud to be Indian and happy that I got a platform to share that with the world.
This experience also brought me so much closer to my family. The support and unconditional love that I continue to get from each of them is beyond words.
I led with my confidence in cooking. That's what Food Network Star is all about, personality and cooking. My culinary knowledge and versatility with ingredients really helped me in this competition.
I learned to conquer one of the most challenging aspects of food TV during this competition: smiling while presenting and allowing my genuine personality to come out on camera. Basically, having fun. I’m proud to be an Indian woman and to have had an opportunity to tell real, authentic, and incredibly personal stories, and to share my culture with millions of people.
Love hearing from you all; please keep the comments coming. Thank you so much for following my journey.
1 stick unsalted butter, plus melted butter for brushing
Preheat the oven to 425°. Brush four 6-ounce ramekins with melted butter. In a small bowl, whisk the cocoa powder with 1 tablespoon of the flour; dust the ramekins with the cocoa mixture, tapping out the excess. Transfer the ramekins to a sturdy baking sheet.
In a medium saucepan, melt 1 stick of butter with the chocolate over very low heat, stirring occasionally. Let cool slightly.
In a bowl, using an electric mixer beat the granulated sugar with the eggs and salt at medium-high speed until thick and pale yellow, 3 minutes. Using a rubber spatula, fold in the melted chocolate until no streaks remain. Fold in the 1/4 cup of flour.
Spoon two-thirds of the batter into the prepared ramekins, then spoon 1 heaping teaspoon of caramel into each ramekin. Sprinkle with sea salt and cover with the remaining chocolate batter. Bake in the center of the oven for 16 minutes, until the tops, are cracked, but the centers are still slightly jiggly. Transfer the ramekins to a rack and let cool for 5 to 8 minutes.
Run the tip of a small knife around each cake to loosen. Invert a small plate over each cake and, using pot holders, invert again. Carefully lift off the ramekins. Dust the warm cakes with confectioners’ sugar and serve immediately.