Am trying not to be negative about the recent announcement that Food Network Star wunderkind Justin Warner will finally surface on the television at 10 p.m. March 30 in his own road-glutton one-off called “Rebel Eats.”
Food Network sez: “Armed with $300 in his pocket, a beat-up car and a passion for unconventional food and eccentric people, Justin will travel the back roads of the South to try everything from moonshine and bacon beer to barbecue in a jar and jellyfish pasta. Along the way, Justin will meet the cooks and proprietors who, like him, march to their own beat through the world of food.”
I am buoyed by the weird accompanying photograph of Warner apparently emerging from tufts of smoke, donning goggles and holding a lit flare triumphantly above his head. But, I don’t know, Food Network, isn’t the road-glutton genre usually reserved as either the consolation prize or as a second act for an already hot property who has made a name with an established instructional cooking show? Alton Brown didn’t do Feasting on Asphalt until he was halfway through his Good Eats run, and I can’t help but think that he had a reason to resist the road-glutton premise for so long.
I’m just concerned is all. I mean, it’s okay to relegate mediocre FNS finalists like Artie and Sammich Man to 2 p.m. Sundays and hope they pull an Amy Finley. But Justin Warner was not your average FNS winner. He didn’t just have viewers and voters; the kid inspired an uprising, a following. And this tidal wave occurred because viewers really enjoyed watching the man cook. So your first venture out is to do one of those shows where he has a few bucks in his pocket and goes out to find the weirdest hush puppy?
This is on top of the fact that a cherished premise of the Season 9 FNS viewer—that Warner’s show would be produced by Alton Brown—has just been tossed out with the punch bowl?
We were told that the show we were waiting for was that this mischievous genius would carve out the Son of Good Eats, guided by the steady and strangely copacetic hand of Alton Brown, and now it turns out that The Man won’t be involved in the project at all because—gulp—AB has to be available for the NEXT edition of Food Network Star?
I have a feeling that viewership for Season 10 is going to fall off a bit.