Did Atlanta's Rusty Hamlin win 'Food Network Star' season 13?

This was posted on Sunday, August 13, 2017 by RODNEY HO/rho@ajc.com on his AJC Radio & TV Talk blog

Zac Brown Band's enthusiastic personal chef Rusty Hamlin came in as runner up on the latest season of "Food Network Star" Sunday night.

He was beaten by the far more consistent Jason Smith, a cafeteria cook from Kentucky who could whip out a funny Southern-ism at the drop of a bucket.

Last year, both finalists were from Atlanta. This year, the final three were all Southerners.

Jason was a favorite almost from day one. Rusty started out strong as well but his performances over the weeks were not always spot on. He'd get overly aggressive or become nervous and start sputtering. And his food didn't always excite Bobby Flay and Giada de Laurentiis, the primary judges.

So it would have taken Jason falling apart during his pilot for Rusty to beat him. Rusty actually did a great job in his pilot, spending time learning how the roast beef and French dip was made at a farmer's market restaurant Magee's in Los Angeles.

"You did a great job being fun and informative," Giada said. "It's a great balance."

"It was better than a dog with no fleas on it," Smith drawled.

The only downside is Rusty  has a little bit of Guy Fieri over-exuberance in him and the Food Network already has Guy Fieri. (That similarity was accentuated by the fact Fieri directed the pilot.)

Jason? He's fresh and he's different and he could very well do well on the Food Network long term if given the right vehicle. His video featuring a French fondue restaurant went great and he did a wonderful job tying in his own catering knowledge regarding fondue.

Some of Smith's aphorisms highlighted during the finale:

"It will make your tongue slap your brains out wanting some more."

"Butter my butt and make it a biscuit."

"That is slap your mama good!"

"I am as happy as a possum with sharp teeth!"

"I'm as excited as a dog with a long tail!"



About the Author

Rodney Ho
Rodney Ho
Rodney Ho covers radio and television for the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.