Next Food Network Star' recap: A 'bizarre and confusing exercise'

Last night's episode of The Next Food Network Star reminded me a little of that old Avril Lavigne lyric: Why'd ya have to go and make things so complicated? From Noreen's baffling culinary viewpoint to Dzintra's schizophrenic party plate to adorable Brad's peanut-roasted debacle, it seemed like contestants were tripping over their own self-erected obstacles at every turn. Except for Das, of course, who realized sometimes a lemon-pepper chicken wing is all a crowd of 100 partygoers really wants to eat. And Aarti (picured), whose ricotta pancake and winning personality scored a last-minute triumph over her irritating self-doubt. Let's hope she leaves the latter trait behind, like Aria did with the extra tray of meatballs that got abandoned in the oven. (Was anyone else obsessed with finding out whether those bite-sized treats caught fire and found new lives as charcoal briquettes?)

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