The 13th Season of Food Network Star crowns its next winner this Sunday night but it ended the journey early for one particular contestant last night. Matthew Grunwald, AKA the ever persistent and highly divisive 20 something that haunts the Food Network studio, was cut right near the end. The prospect of filming a TV pilot was ripped right out of his fingers.
But to fully understand how and why this elimination was one that shocked me like few reality TV eliminations have before we have to go back to the summer of 2015 when Matthew Grunwald made his first appearance on Food Network Star season 11. As an abrasive and rude early 20 something who frequently belittled the competition, Matthew seemed like he was going torment the rest of the competitors all season long. However his first elimination was just as a shock when regular judge Giada decided at last minute to switch her vote and kick Matthew off after noticing how smug and in delight he was to see another contestant to go.
Since then Matthew spent the last 2 years trying to crawl his way back through the spin off Comeback Kitchen, in which past contestant fight it out to continue the bigger fight to get their own TV show. In his first appearance of the show he lost to eventual season 12 loser Martita Jara. He managed to come out victorious in his second go around on Comeback Kitchen, honing in his presentation skills and trying to appear as likeable as he can to America. For the majority of the current season of Food Network Star Matthew has been consistently been providing quality food and delivering high energy in his presentations. At times his high octane energy made him look forced and even desperate, but his passion and ambition were undeniable. Ultimately judges Bobby and Giada sent him home for lacking storytelling abilities and not having the life experiences to have his meals mean something. So just like that Matthew’s dreams of having his own show on Food Network were set aflame.
It felt very odd and a little sad seeing a clearly heartbroken Matthew give his tearful goodbyes after seeing him spend years attempting to get his own show. As a viewer of the Food Network, growth was clearly seen from this end and a win for Matthew seemed all but assured throughout the season. It seemed like the years and endless effort Matthew put into Food Network didn’t pan out the way many thought it would.
In ways I can relate to Matthew for being someone very young, very ambitious, and a bit entitled here and there. Someone blindsided so much by their failure, a failure that he didn’t believe his work was deserving of, that it left him more emotional than one would normally like to get. While Matthew wasn’t the most likable person all the time, he felt sincere with his intentions and was never afraid to voice his opinions. These are aspects that I can relate to and so it was disappointing to see someone I personally relate to lose so close to the finish line. Either way Matthew’s 2 year Food Network arc has come to end and while it’s not the ending I would have wanted, it was certainly something to witness.