By Kaci Yoder
The battle continues on Food Network Star, where local radio host and foodie Jay Ducote has advanced again to join the top eight finalists vying for their own show on Food Network. This week Ducote faced a three-team, 4th of July cookout challenge where contestants were forced to adapt after having their chosen ingredients swapped at the last minute. Ducote’s stewed okra and steak paired with a charismatic presentation carried him past another round of eliminations.
DIG sat down for another post-episode chat with Jay Ducote this week to get his take on this week.
DIG: A cookout should be right up your alley. What was your strategy going into this challenge?
Jay Ducote: It’s a challenge I was looking forward to, knowing it’s going to fall during the 4th of July timeframe. Pretty much every season they do some sort of cookout or something. So I was hoping we’d be outside with the grills and do another grilling challenge along those lines. I was excited about it.
I wanted showcase my grilling technique and go out there and cook like it was a tailgate party again like I did in the first episode. I was excited about it on multiple levels. I figured it would be the first time we presented to a big crowd of people on a stage, and I was right about that.
This challenge is one that I really was comfortable with and confident in my abilities to do well and ready to get after it.
DIG: Out of all the competitors, you were one of the few who actually made an American dish for a 4th of July cookout. Do you think that helped you with audience approval?
JD: I certainly think it helped to get up there and follow a theme of American, barbeque, 4th of July, grill, cookout kind of a situation.
Basically what Eddie cooked with was the groceries I bought when they pulled that switcheroo on us. I was going to be doing a creole mustard potato salad with a homemade barbeque sauce modeled after my own and grilled pork tenderloin. Eddie ended up taking those ingredients and doing something pretty American as well, he just tried to work some of his Caribbean flavors into it.
But, yeah, I certainly think it helped that I was able to get up there and talk about steak and just get the crowd excited and get their mouth watering. “Who wants some steak?” Compared to a lot of the other dishes and personalities that were there, I think I did a pretty good job of getting people into our line.
DIG: Last week you had your only disappointing dish of the competition with your okra gumbo. What were you thinking when you looked at the ingredients you ended up with and saw okra?
JD: Even while we were running around Whole Foods doing the shopping, I had no idea Rue had gotten that okra. It turns out that when I got the okra to make the gumbo, she actually wanted it for a dish in that previous episode, so this time she bought okra so she could use it. And then we had that grocery switcheroo. I didn’t know it was in there… When we started opening up our groceries, I knew [Dom’s steaks] would be in there. My team perfectly happy letting me cook those steaks. And then Michelle pulled the okra out of the bag and basically just assigned it to me. Pretty much right away I was like, “Actually, that’s cool. I get a chance to redeem myself for that one mediocre dish that I had and get a chance at redemption on okra right away, which is not the most common ingredient by any means.”
Visit DigBatonRouge.com to finish reading our Q&A and find out how Jay felt about being the only member of his cookout team to escape the bottom three. Tune in again next week!