'Next Food Network Star' Recap: Red herring on the menu? Season 6, Episode 6

Maybe I shouldn't have watched PBS Marple: The Blue Geranium on my DVR immediately before last night's episode of The Next Food Network Star, but I can't help but feel as though the show's producers were engaged in a poorly disguised game of subterfuge. How else to explain the absence of Serena from the bottom three, despite her weak, semi-homemade attempt to rethink the pineapple upside-down cake? Or the suggestion that Aria's reinvention of the pig in a blanket as a piece of fried shrimp with caviar and creme fraiche was anything other than ridiculous? (As Bobby Flay so succinctly put it: You threw the pig out the window.)

Oh wait. But without those unexplained phenomena, how else would the producers convince us that the show's sixth season is anything more than a formal procession that will end with the coronation of bubbly Indian-food expert Aarti? Granted, her rice was a little dry last night. And maybe her bottom-three placement is the judges way of reminding her that she can't get complacent, that the stakes are too high to aim for a midpack finish on even a single dish. But all that aside, I'm hoping The Brief and Not Entirely Believable Setback of the Aarti Party Express will only have a one-week run before the curtains come down. The only potential snafu might be if Aarti's brush with elimination adds another tablespoon of self-doubt to her dish; honestly, why was she so worried about matching the glamor of the Frank Sinatra estate when she's in a competition dowdily dressed folks like Tom, Herb, and Aria?

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