Baton Rouge’s Jay Ducote will be on the Aug. 16 finale of “Food Network Star.” Whether he’ll be cooking for the win or watching from the front row will be decided during Sunday night’s episode.
After a shaky start on the competition series Aug. 2, radio host and food blogger Ducote redeemed himself and made the final three, as Washington, D.C. chef Alex McCoy was eliminated. However, McCoy could return to the competition via the show’s “Salvation” web series. All eliminated contestants were sent to “Star Salvation,” with the winner getting a second chance on “FNS.” Viewers will learn who won “Salvation” — McCoy; Brooklyn, New York private chef Rue Rusike; or Staten Island, New York, food truck owner Dom Tesoriero — Sunday night.
Then, the finalists will be trimmed back down to three heading into next week’s finale.
Ducote, bringing a Louisiana flair to his dishes and his jovial personality to his presentations, has finished at or near the top each week, and has never really been in danger of elimination. This week, Ducote and the other finalists, including Nashville, Tennessee, caterer Arnold Myint and former NFL player and Houston chef Eddie Jackson, will each make a pilot episode for their potential Food Network series.
As tension mounts for this all-important episode, Ducote “took five” to answer five questions from The Advocate:
1. In the first challenge last week, you were to create chef quality, satisfying after-school snacks. You made “pigs in a blanket” and “ants on a log”? Jay, what were you thinking?
“At no point did they say anything about “chef quality” to the best of my memory. They asked for after-school snacks for a two-minute live cooking demo. I delivered that. We were supposed to be judged on our two-minute cooking demo, not on the food. That was clearly communicated in the rules of the challenge. So, I went with a simple dish that could be easily demonstrated and that fit the category of an after-school snack. For the ‘ants on a log,’ I demonstrated a technique that the average home cook may not know: I used almond butter and peanut butter, as well as regular and golden raisins. For the ‘pigs in a blanket,’ I was hoping to find some andouille, tasso or smoked sausage, but my choices in the fridge were hot dogs and Italian sausage. I went with what I had access to.”
2. If you could have a “do-over” on those kids’ snacks, what do you think you’d whip up?
“I’d probably go with some sort of really good grilled cheese with a more inspired dipping sauce. That being said, I stand by my decisions. I’d try to make everything have a little more of my style and flavor, but aside from that, those are the after-school snacks that I remember most from my childhood or from summer camp.”
3. In the second challenge of the episode, you worked on a live ensemble show with the other three finalists. Is it easier working solo or with others when it comes to cooking live?
“I think it is easier to work with other people when you have chemistry.
“Just like doing my radio show, I like to feed off of other people and create energy by bouncing a conversation back and forth. As far as my part goes, I’m comfortable either way with something as short as five minutes.”
4. In the next episode, with just one more week to the finale, Dom (Tesoriero), Alex (McCoy) or Rue (Rusike) will be returning via the “Star Salvation” online episodes. Who would you least want to return and why?
“I would least want Dom to return, because if he does then that means he’s probably much improved in front of the camera and that could be trouble. I’d love to see Rue return. She got a raw deal when she was eliminated and I’d be very proud of her for fighting her way all the way back.”
5. You had a crowd at your watch party last week. What’s the plan for this week at City Pork and are any special guests expected? Do you actually get to watch the show at all during the party, or are you too busy talking to fans?
“We had around 300 people at the viewing party at The Londoner last week, and I’m expecting a similar crowd this week at City Pork Brasserie and Bar. We’re going to have a projection screen, food, specials on Tin Roof beer and more.
“There aren’t any special guests planned, though. And, for the most part I do get to watch the show. … I try to keep the talking to before or after the show or during commercial breaks.”