Before anything else: I have made more cracks about Bobby Flay than about any other Food Network star, and why? Because he was pretty darn obnoxious when he first started out.
If he had been the heir apparent of a mafia empire, you might have called the man "hot-headed". I'm not entirely sure Mario didn't call him that anyway.
Everything was about him, him, him and those darn spice rubs. Not everything needs to be rubbed with a spice rub. And he was also very rude to Morimoto-Sama.
But marriage, fatherhood and boatloads of money have settled Bobby. You could look at all his Iron Chef America performances for the past year, and he hasn't rubbed anything with anything spicier than paprika. He's a better cook, a much more gracious performer, and last night he seemed so thrilled when Gabrielle Hamilton won their ICA competition, he hugged her and beamed with delight.
So when Bob showed up in a gondola in Las Vegas with Guy Fieri, whose name, mysteriously, is pronounced "Fee-Eddie", I welcomed him and turned up the sound to hear what he was going to tell our contestants.
It it was like so: They each had to make a thirty-second promo for themselves.
Now, I no longer have strong negative feelings about Ms. Lisa Garza; she still has her bad moments, but for the most part I consider her an interesting character, a beautiful woman and a worthy competitor. That isn't to say I'm exactly on her side, either; she has fierce skills, but she also spends too much time boasting about them.
Still, her challenge--to suit up and give her spiel whilst dangling from cables as she rapeled her way up the Wine Mountain at Aureole--just seemed like too damn much. No wonder the poor girl started traveling back to her worst school memories; I too began having ropes-and-rings flashbacks, not to mention visualizing my old gym suit, which featured bloomers (I are not making this up) and a terrible sort of polyester camp shirt. It was a dreadful moment for all concerned, and I think it really was too much to ask, although La Garza managed to smiled entrancingly as she was whisked through thin air to her meeting with a bottle of Vueve Cliquot '86.
All Aaron had to do was walk across a room and shoot craps. All Adam had to do was walk across a stage with two long-stemmed showgirls!
Anyway, Adam aced the challenge and Aaron was darn good. Then it was time to prepare a buffet for various Las Vegas denizens, and figure out a clever way of presenting same.
Aaron tried a wacky comedy routine which was tough for everyone--and, surprisingly, his food wasn't that good.
Adam's food was great, although his intro was a little weak.
But Lisa served a "Beautiful Basics" buffet which everyone liked, and belted out a song, a capella, in a husky, Reba-McIntyreish voice which was really lovely. How the heck did that happen? you may ask. I don't know, except that it takes a very serious competitor to hide a skill like that until the next-to-last inning.
If you're the sort of person who tunes in for the human pain and suffering of the "judgement" portion of these shows, you must have been disappointed in the past few weeks; everyone's been playing up so nicely, the judges have had to say lamely, "You were great, but just not as good as the others" when letting someone go. (Of course, they don't have great material like fish-frightened Nipa anymore). This week, the niceness was so intense that they couldn't send anyone home.
Someone said that if they had Adam to introduce, Aaron to pick the menu and Lisa to cook it, they'd have a great show, and I've got to say, it sounds like a plan.
But now everyone's going to the finals--and, amazingly, it seems to be anybody's game.
SPOILER ALERT: By now you might have heard that The Food Network, by dint of leaving a trained chimp in charge of the website, uploaded several videos and bits of copy which will tell you who won TNFNS.
People have been writing this news in my COMMENTS, and I decided to leave them as is. So, if you don't want to know, don't read the comments.