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Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Rory, JAG-off, and Amy: the Surprise 'Next Food Network Star, Season Three' Ending

Posted By on Tue, Aug 21, 2007 at 4:25 AM


Reality show junky Rory, two-time loser

A Fake Degree and Job in Afghanistan? That's Good TV!

By ASD Food Editor Meredith Brody

The most interesting aspect of the season for me was the unexpectedly dramatic finale. After dutifully watching a season in which I never felt I had a dog in the hunt, the revelation that one of the two supposed finalists, Joshua Adam Garcia, an ex-Marine, had lied about both his culinary training – he claimed to be a graduate of The New York Restaurant School -- and his service overseas (apparently not in Afghanistan, as he’d said), and that he’d "resigned" from the competition, made things interesting.

The unexpected exit of JAG, as he styled himself ("Let’s jag it up!" being his Emeril-like mantra, and I was always surprised that he’d let him be open to, say, being called a JAG-off) changed everything. Uncertain, somewhat mousy San Diego mom Amy Finley was allowed back into the competition against cleavage-flaunting, blonde Rory Schepisi, with her big gum-baring, horsey-teethed smile.

But I didn’t dislike Rory! Really! (I was even somewhat enthralled by the unbelievably rich and fatty steak dish she prepared on a Rachael Ray talk show staged for The Next Food Network Star.) Well, not until the final videos showed that she was a reality-show junkie.Then I felt a twinge of distaste. She’d moved from New Jersey to Vega, Texas because of her participation in another reality show, the 2005 show Popularity Contest on the CMT network, wherein people "moved" to a small town and competed to be the most popular inhabitant in their new environment. She lost the $100,000 prize – oddly, she was again the runner-up -- but fell in love with a Vega cowboy and stayed in town.

(Idea for a bumper sticker: IT’S A REALITY SHOW WORLD, AND WE’RE JUST WATCHING IT.) (Country Music Television? I wonder how it was that I never knew it was on.)

And just how burnt must Rory have felt by the decision not to allow her to win by default, but to be trounced by Amy, who’d nearly quit the show. On the finale, there was never a shot, after Amy was announced as the winner, that revealed Rory’s face.

But I’m still amazed that, in this day of Google and multiple websites devoted to exposing even the semiest of semi-celebrities, a guy would go on network television and not anticipate that his claims might be questioned by, say, colleagues in the Marines or at cooking school.

I bet the next group of Next Food Network Star contestants will be more carefully vetted than the last.

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Meredith Brody


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