The original plan was for finalists Amy and Jag to cook for the Food Network Stars participating in the South Beach Wine and Food Festival as part of the finale. The Festival was held the last weekend in February, and the Food Network held two major events. However it is unclear whether the segment was ever shot, and it would have to have been scrapped following the Jag's removal from the competition.
Season Three of The Next Food Network Star concluded filming in late February, 2007 with Jag and Rory as the finalists. On June 1, Jag gave an interview to the magazine Army Times, where he discussed his background, including his culinary training and military service. Inconsistencies in his story lead the magazine to investigate his military service. Following their investigation, it was determined Jag had not served in the infantry nor had he deployed to Afghanistan with the Marines, as claimed, but rather was asked to leave the Corps eight months early due to his involvement in a hazing scandal. Upon further investigaion, the AT also learned Jag attended, but did not graduate from culinary school as claimed. Given an opportunity to address these revelations in a June 11 follow-up interview, Jag failed to provide any explanation, and offered to reveal the second finalist, in violation of his confidentiality agreement, if the magazine withheld what it knew.
Upon publication of the story later in June, Jag was recalled to New York, where he explained his remarks and was allowed to withdraw from the competition. That same day, Rory, who had also been brought to New York as well, learned she would be competing against Amy in the US vote. Although Jag appeared to withdraw that day, Amy and Rory's presence in New York the same day indicates Jag's fate was determined in advance.
The three remaining finalists' five-minute cooking demonstrations were broadcast on the Rachael Ray Show on Friday, July 13, 2007. They appeared in a different order than this episode presented the edited versions of their demos: first Rory, then Jag, and finally Amy.
Among the crucial moments edited from the show was an incident where a kettle Amy expected to be full of water was empty, forcing her to quickly pretend it had water in it. Also edited were two incidents where Rory was thrown off her presentation by Ray's interruptions, which she handled smoothly, and Jag's repeatedly calling Ray "honey" or "baby."
Most telling was Susie's signaling Jag with a big smile, then as he started, two thumbs up. None of the judges provided any such signals or encouragement to Amy or Rory.
During Battle Chicken with Amy and Jag, the burning fat from Jag's chicken set off the smoke alarms. Alton Brown noted that during Iron Chef America they often use theatrical smoke to add atmosphere, but this was the first time they'd had real smoke on the set.
The Iron Chef battles take place at the Institute of Culinary Education, a notable school of culinary arts in New York City.
This episode was also known as "Alton's Classroom."
As regular Food Network viewers know, Alton Brown had a ten-year career as a cinematographer/video editor before giving it up to attend the New England Culinary Institute. Additionally, Brown was chosen the Bon Appetit Magazine Cooking Teacher of the Year in 2004, and brings extensive background as a culinary and television expert to the challenges this week.
Culinary Tip: Dried herbs de provence, or any dried herbs, can be tossed on the coals, perfuming the smoke and any food on the grill with their scent and flavor. (From Michael)
1. To peel a large amount of garlic quickly, put the cloves in one bowl, invert a second over it so the two seal tightly, and shake vigorously.
2. To crack a large amount of pepper neatly, gather the peppercorns in a napkin and pound with a mallet or heavy pan.
(From Chef Robert Irvine)
The wedding cake and wedding reception challenges took place at New York's Roosevelt Hotel on Madison Ave. Named for President Theodore Roosevelt, the hotel opened in 1924. The Roosevelt was recently restored, marrying modern hotel amenities with traditional Greek revival architecture.
This is Rory Schepisi's second appearance on a reality television program. She previously appeared on Country Music Television's Popularity Contest. In the program, 10 city-dwellers were relocated to the small town of Vega, TX. Although Rory came in second in the contest, she became engaged to a local resident and moved from New Jersey to Vega permanently.
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