This week Anne Burrell, with Chef Wanted, showcases James Beach in Venice Beach, California. The owners, James Evan and Daniel Samakow, need a chef immediately. They also own Canal Club Grill across the street.
Anne brings in four highly qualified chefs: Khristianne Uy who has worked as a private chef for the royal family of Saudi Arabia and Charlie Sheen; Vincent Walker, formerly a chef at Bouchon; Charlie Gelb, an executive chef at an Irish Pub; and Ivan Flowers, a restaurateur in Sedona, Arizona. James Beach is a high-end comfort food restaurant. The four chefs get ready for their first challenge, to create an entrÃ©e with a modern, healthy twist.
Vincent makes seared chicken in a lemon wine vinaigrette. Charlie kicks it up a notch and creates grilled duck macaroni and cheese. But, Anne comes by and sees Charlie’s dish and comments that it’s not healthy or light. He realizes he’s taking a risk but he goes for it anyway. Ivan makes mussels in garlic, thyme chardonnay broth. Khristianne cooks up shrimp and grits, a southern flare.
James loves Khristianne’s dish. Vincent’s chicken gets a comment, “It’s a knock-out.” Charlie’s fattening dish doesn’t get the best comments. Daniel does not like the fat content of the dish and says it wasn’t executed correctly. Ivan is reprimanded for his use of cream, butter and bacon fat. Ivan gets cut.
The second challenge is to create an entrÃ©e with a smoky flavor from the mesquite grill at Canal Club. Khristianne creates a root beer glazed skirt steak. Vincent makes a smoked lamb chop with nettle puree and Charlie cooks up a seafood trio: shrimp, mahi-mahi and oysters.
Anne tells Khristianne and Vincent that they have not utilized the grill enough and they need to grill something else. The problem is they only have five minutes. Khristianne grabs a portabella mushroom and Vincent gets a handful of cherry tomatoes. They run across the street to the Grill and barely make it back in time to plate their items.
James is not certain he likes the root beer glaze on Khristianne’s dish. Daniel loves the colors on Charlie’s plate but says the fish is too dry. Vincent blows their mind with his beautiful dish. He hit a home run!
Two are going through to the final test; Vincent and Khristianne make the cut.
Vincent is up first for managing the kitchen at the restaurant. His menu consists of grilled delta asparagus salad with sunny-side up egg; baby beet salad with burrata cheese; pan seared Atlantic salmon with tabouli salad & Faro quinoa; rack of lamb with creamed nettles; and for dessert, strawberry crepes.
The night starts off on the wrong foot. Vincent is behind and he’s showing signs of high stress. The kitchen staff is clueless and he’s having to do a mini-training while trying to manage the food tickets that are flying in. Vincent looses it and needs to step out of the kitchen to regroup. Anne comes in and can’t find him. He finally pulls it together and takes charge of the kitchen. The comments from the customers are fantastic.
The next night, Khristianne takes control of the kitchen. Her menu consists of kale salad with Bulgarian feta; crispy Brussels sprouts with bacon; panko crusted salmon with corn and succotash; mesquite grilled flat iron steak with kabocha squash puree; and for dessert, apple fritters with salted caramel sauce.
Service starts off fast and furious. The tickets get mixed up and two tables are waiting too long, one of which is a VIP. Khristianne is sick to her stomach and appears to lose her cookies… She runs out of kale in 45 minutes and then doesn’t communicate to the staff that she’s substituting arugula. Food comes back into the kitchen; steak is rare instead of medium, salmon is cold…The night ends.
James and Daniel need to make a decision. They loved Khristianne’s leadership and organization. They think either one would do a fantastic job as the Executive Chef for James Beach. But, in the end they pick Vincent because of he has spirit to survive and his understanding of comfort food.
Chef Wanted with Anne Burrell can be seen on Thursday’s on Food TV 10 pm/9 C.