On Chef Wanted, when top restaurateurs like Todd English are in need of an executive chef, they turn to Anne Burrell. To find the right fit, Anne puts chef candidates through the toughest job interview of their lives.
This week Anne travels to Olives, at Union Square, in New York City. Owner, Todd English, needs an executive chef ASAP. Olives is a high-end Mediterranean inspired restaurant. Anne finds four executive chef hopefuls for the position.
The first candidate is Ben Kacmarcik. He’s 25 years old and a graduate of the Culinary Institute of America. Second up is Taylor Erickson, a personal chef. Paul Viggiano is a culinary consultant. He a musician too and has played sax with the Spin Doctors. Tully Wilson is from Nashville, TN. He owns his own restaurant but he wants to play in the big leagues and is ready to leave Nashville for a shot as an executive chef in New York City.
The interview process begins. Todd asks the four chefs to create a dish from three ingredients: chicken, zucchini and potatoes. The chefs must create a tasty and visually beautiful dish without using too fat, like butter. They need to create one entrÃ©e using a combination of spices and complete it in 45 minutes.
Ben decides to make Chicken L’Orange with black sesame, paprika and orange zest. Taylor makes Lemon Thyme Chicken with black coriander, cumin, anise, and smoked salt. She also makes a tomato-flavored couscous with a Moroccan twist. Paul creates a Roasted Chicken Breast with chives, rosemary, basil and mint. He uses butter to sautÃ© the chicken and Anne gets after him. She wants to know why he didn’t use olive oil. All he can say is, “I understand.” Oh dear…he may be going home.
Tully makes a Moroccan Chicken with Harissa Sauce. He uses coriander and cumin seasoning.
Taylor falls behind on the clock and her couscous is not done. Anne reminds her that if the dish is not plated or not cooked all the way she is going home. She answers, “Yes, chef.”
Tully’s dish is the first to be reviewed. Todd says the chicken is dry but he likes the presentation and the Harissa Sauce. Next is Ben’s dish. Todd comments, “Overall it’s nice, delicious.” Taylor’s dish is reviewed. Todd and Anne are disappointed that the couscous was not done. However, they do both like the chicken. And lastly Paul’s dish is tried. Anne reprimands Paul, “We asked you not to use a lot of butter and you did. We asked you to use spices and you only used herbs.” Ouch!
Only three are going through to the next test. Taylor is cut because she didn’t finish the couscous.
Test number two is using homemade pasta. The remaining three chefs must use seasonal ingredients from the Farmers Market. Tully gets Swiss chard and garlic to make Beet Ravioli with Swiss chard. Ben is making Pappardelle with Caramelized Mushrooms and a fondue sauce from Fontina. Anne pushes him hard and asks him to add lamb into the dish. Paul is doing a Vegetarian Pappardelle with Morels and Asparagus sautÃ©ed in brandy with shallots. Anne hates his pasta and says they look like pasta steaks. She tells him he needs to run the pasta through the machine again to thin them out.
Todd is not impressed with Tully’s pasta pockets. Ben’s dish is good but Todd and Anne wish he had ground the lamb, rather than placing large chunks of it on the plate. Todd was not impressed with Paul’s pasta. He tells Paul that they do lots and lots of pasta at his restaurant. Paul is cut, no surprise.
Final test, Tully takes control of the kitchen and creates a Moroccan Chicken Wing with Tzatziki and Harissa Sauce, Lamb Flatbread, Spring Pasta with Spicy Marinara and Goat Cheese, Squid Ink Linguine with Octopus, Grilled Pork with Parmesan Polenta and SautÃ©ed Spinach, Pan Seared Branzio with Israeli couscous, and Cumin Custard for dessert.
Dinner service starts out rough with an undercooked chicken dish. But everything comes up roses after the slow start. At the end of the night Todd compliments Tully and tells him he did a great job.
Ben now needs to knock his service out of the park but his tasting for the staff is 30-minutes behind schedule. His menu selections include Pan Seared Sea Scallops with Arugula Salad and Fennel Puree, Flatbread Pizzette, Fettuccini with Pesto & Garlic, Andouille Pappardelle with Cumin Roasted Carrots, Pan Seared Salomon with Couscous & Olive Puree, Cardamom Crusted Flank Steak with Potatoes & Salad, and Lemon Panna Cotta for dessert.
Service is slow, tickets are falling on the floor, scallops are undercooked, and the plates are looking sloppy. Anne says he is way over his head. Todd comes into the kitchen to assist Ben and he gets the kitchen back on track. Anne literally pulls Todd out of the kitchen. A customer complains and Ben tries to make it right. Todd becomes agitated and throws a plate of pasta yelling the pasta was cold. Ugh, things are not going well for BenÂ—is this Chef Wanted?
Todd English needs to choose one chef to run his kitchen at Olives. He tells Ben that he is not the executive chef. He asks Tully to be the Executive Chef at Olives and Tully gladly accepts. His dreams of running a New York restaurant have come true!
Chef Wanted with Anne Burrell airs on Thursday’s on FoodTV 10 pm/9 C