Family Road Trip was the theme of Sunday night's elimination challenge on Food Network Star. For Chef Jernard Wells, former Chattanooga restaurateur and dad of nine children, cooking for that theme was a no-brainer and he scored his first challenge win on just the third episode of Season 12.
Sunday night's contest opened with a twist on the "Name this Dish" feature that appears in Food Network magazine. Instead of readers suggesting names for a beautifully photographed dish in the magazine, the contestants were given a name and asked to cook a dish to match, which would be professionally photographed.
Magazine editor Maile Carpenter would then try to match the photographed dishes with the titles. Each dish she succeeded in matching, judges would taste. If she couldn't figure it out, that dish went unsampled. Wells was assigned "Sea and Be Seen." He created beautifully presented blackened sea scallops in a martini glass. Although he was told it was a "beautiful image," the scallops were not easily visible and Carpenter couldn't guess it.So his dish was seen but untasted.
The second challenge was tailor-made for Wells. Contestants were paired in twos, given a family road trip theme, asked to cook dishes to fit that theme and shoot a promo as if this was their actual Food Network TV show.
Wells was paired with North Carolinian Joy Thompson for "Family Road Trip to the Lake." Between the two chefs they have 14 children. They played that fact up in their promo, to the delight of the judges, and suggested that cooking for such a crowd is easiest in a big pot such as they chose for their low-country boil. Wells also made garlic toast grilled cheese sandwiches as a side.
Judge Bobby Flay praised their video and told them the promo "felt really natural. I kind of felt like you guys already had a show." He also said the two did a good job presenting food that backed up their theme and presentation.
"You guys really delivered that family feel -- maybe it was the kids, I don't know," said Judge Giada DeLaurentiis as she declared them the winners.