On Chef Wanted with Anne Burrell, top restaurateur Kathy Sidell needs an executive chef ASAP. Met Back Bay, located in Boston, just lost their chef and is in desperate need of a fast paced, high quality chef.
Anne Burrell takes us to the 200-seat Met Back Bay restaurant. Kathy Sidell owns a total of five restaurants and has a reputation to uphold. Anne Burrell is called in to fix the problem. She finds four executive chef hopefuls that are about to be put through the toughest interview of their lives.
David Quintana is a single father. Previously he was an executive chef but he quit after he gained sole custody of his child. He's now ready to get back into the game.
Lisa Odem was an ad sales executive but decided it wasn't for her. She went to culinary school and has found her true passion. She currently works at a high-end catering company in the Hamptons.
Josh Breene is from Boston. He currently is working at a small establishment with only 40 seats. He says he had leukemia when he was a young boy and couldn't move his legs for three years, which made him strong. He says he won't give up on his dream of winning the James Beard Award and this would be a move towards that dream.
Won Kim currently runs the corporate catering department at Whole Foods in Chicago. He takes care of his parents and is finally ready to begin his own life as an executive chef.
The first challenge for the chefs is to create a signature burger, and side dish, that represents a metropolitan city of their choosing. It needs to represent the flavors and style of that city. Met Back Bay serves over 500,000 burgers a year. They have 45 minutes to complete the first challenge.
David makes a Barcelona Burger with Chorizo spices made with Wagyu beef. He wants to put a farm fresh egg on the top. His buns burn and he waits too long to start the eggs and doesn't get the egg plated in time. Anne yells, "Do you want this job, really?"
Lisa makes a London Burger with homemade Potato Chips. London likes BLT's so she's going with a bacon, lettuce, cheddar, tomato, and pickled onions burger.
Won's burger is the Seoul Express Burger with Napa Cabbage Slaw. It's an ode to his Korean mother. He also makes tempura fried avocado. Won has trouble with the meat grinder and it puts him behind.
Josh is making an Athens Burger with Chips and a Fried Egg. He says life is better when you have Feta. He uses lamb for his burger.
Kathy likes the Seoul burger but says the avocado was a little mushy. David's Barcelona burger is dry without the egg. Anne tells David, "It's a little on the dry side," Kathy adds, "It's a lot on the dry side." They decide to add the egg to see what it's supposed to taste like and it's much better. Too bad it didn't get plated.
Lisa's London Burger is delicious. The dip for the chips is sour cream and onion and Anne loves it. She caramelized onions and pureed them. Ann adds, "That's the best French Onion Dip I've ever had!"
Josh's Athens burger is good. One chef has to go and it's David.
The second challenge is make a flavorful dish, but the twist is they must create as many as possible in 45 minutes. Kathy tells Anne that they should be able to make at least eight plates.
Lisa creates a Herb Crusted Trout with Salad and Pea Puree. Won makes Pan Seared Salmon with Vanilla Parsnip Puree. And Josh creates Grilled Swordfish with Clam Chowder.
Lisa plates 20 trout but some of the fish isn't cooked all the way through. Won only makes five fish plates but some are rare. Kathy likes the flavors. Josh's swordfish wasn't cut properly and it's tough. The consistency on Josh's plates is all over the place. Some plates have a lot of clam chowder and others hardly have any. Kathy comments, "That's what the test was about." Not good for Josh. He's gone.
The final test is a night in the kitchen at Met Back Bay.
Lisa's is up first. She makes Crab Cakes with Crushed Pea and mint Spring Salad, Steak Tartare, London Burger, Marin Turkey Burger, Seared Duck Breast with Fava Bean Succotash, and a New York Strip Steak with Bernaise Sauce.
She only prepares 15 Tartares and 30 Crab Cakes. She runs out almost immediately. Lisa 86's the Tartare. Anne yells, "Do something sister because that's not okay!" The Duck and Bernaise sauce are over cooked. Anne brings is back to the kitchen and comments, "Are you kidding me, this looks like scrambled eggs."
Won hopes to do better. His menu includes Lobster Croquette with Romesco Sauce, Korean BBQ Wings, Gazpacho Soup with Dill and CrÃ¨me Fraiche, Seoul Express Burger with Rutabaga Fries, All American Burger, Salmon Fillet with Shitake Mushroom Polenta, and Duck Breast and Leek Pesto with Roast Potatoes. He doesn't have lobster so he cabs it over to James Hook & Co. to get 25 lobsters. This puts him an hour behind on prep.
He pre-cooks some of the burgers to get ahead of the game. Kathy comes into the kitchen and says, "I see a cardinal rule being broken. Not acceptable for me." Won falls further behind; he has to throw out 15 burgers. Service starts and he quickly runs out of Lobster Croquettes and the Gazpacho. He 86's the menu items.
It's time to choose a chef. Kathy is worried that Won doesn't have the experience but she thinks he's trainable. Lisa was organized but her ticket times were slow. She chooses Lisa as her next Executive Chef for Met Back Bay.
Chef Wanted airs on Thursday's on Food TV 10 pm/9 C