Those of us dutifully waiting to see who would become "The Next Food Network Star" received a much-unwanted clue over the weekend when the Westside cooking school Chef's Inc. had a sign out front announcing that one of the two finalists, Jeffrey Saad, would be on hand this Saturday for a hands-on "Mexican Feast." It wasn't quite a spoiler, but Jeffrey doing a cooking school gig a week after the final episode should have been a pretty strong indicator that the other finalist, Melissa d'Arabian, was getting the nod (the show was done in advance). Anyway, here's the menu Jeffrey and his students will be preparing (for $95): Spicy roasted pumpkin Seeds, seared scallops with spicy green chile chutney, tostada with sweet achiote onions, mushrooms, grilled zucchini and goat cheese and crab enchiladas in tomatillo salsa. Saad lives in the L.A. area. Meanwhile, EW.com's Michael Slezak offers his take on the final episode:
Sure, Melissa's a little manic -- and grinned like a loon throughout last night's telecast -- but her pilot presentation (the dully dubbed Kitchen Survival Guide, which, granted, was better than Cuisine Copine) was the easiest kind of sell, with an eye on helping stressed-out home cooks shave minutes (and dollars) off their menus without sacrificing flavor. The four-step chicken -- dredge and sauté; add aromatics; add liquid; finish the sauce with a pat of butter -- was ingenious, especially as Melissa pointed out that you can substitute any ingredient within her parameters and cook up hundreds of tasty meals. The woman has kitchen credibility, not just because she's a mother of four, but because week after week, she's plated interesting, delicious-looking dishes that have impressed a wide and impressive array of critics.