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Ashley Parker Angel the second 'Celebrity Cooking Showdown' finalist


By Tim Andrews, 04/19/2006 

Pop singer and MTV Making the Band alumni Ashley Parker Angel added to his reality TV credentials by securing the second spot the in NBC's Celebrity Cooking Showdown Thursday finals, joining Monday night finalist Cindy Margolis.

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Following the same format as Monday night's episode, NBC's Tuesday night broadcast of Celebrity Cooking Showdown's second episode featured three new celebrities teamed with the show's three master chefs. Ashley was teamed with restaurateur Wolfgang Puck, whose previous protégé was Monday night winner Cindy. R&B legend Patti LaBelle, whose resume also includes a cookbook, was teamed with Food Network star Cat Cora. Professional volleyball player and model Gabrielle Reece was teamed with celebrity chef Govind Armstrong.

After the introductions were out of the way, the show featured behind-the-scenes video clips showing the master chefs training their three new stars. Along the way, we learned that Ashley's previous cooking endeavors included "making ice," and Patti preferred to crack her lobsters by jumping on them with her spike heel boots.

Once the real-time cooking competition started, Gabrielle appeared to be out of her element almost from the beginning. Meanwhile, Patti and Ashley both appeared to work well, even having time to pump up the lively crowd as they worked on their dishes.

During the "chef pass" portion of the event, Gabrielle appeared to fall even further behind when both Patti and Ashley jumped ahead of her in getting their master chef helpers to assist them (only one master chef helper at a time is allowed on the cooking stage until the final five minutes). While Patti appeared to get more stressed as the event proceeded, Ashley appeared to become more and more comfortable to the point where (in true wannabe performer fashion) he appeared more interested in playing to the crowd than in paying attention to his food dishes.

By the final five minutes in which all the master chefs were allowed to come help their celebrities finish off their dishes, Govind was barely able to help Gabrielle finish her dishes at all. Meanwhile, Cat appeared to be able to calm Patti and she was able to get all of her dishes presented to the judges with time to spare. Taking the opposite approach, Wolfgang appeared to opt for a flare of the dramatic, holding Ashley's final dish until the last possible second before finally allowing him to present his dish with no time to spare.

After the dishes were done, the judges, celebrity event planner Colin Cowie and New York Magazine restaurant critic Gael Greene, rated the presentation and the taste of the dishes. Both commented on the rushed look of Gabrielle's dishes, and while they commended her for her effort it was clear she would not be moving on to the finals. Ashley's dishes got rave reviews from both judges and even when critical, their criticism was not overly harsh. Patti's dishes started out with raves as well, but a bad lobster appeared to do her in as Gael disagreed with Colin on the quality of her second dish. Given the comments it was no surprise when the judges awarded Ashley the victory and sent him on to Thursday's finals.

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