Tonight’s Food Network episode of “Chef Wanted with Anne Burrell” was titled, “Boston Bay Battle.” Anne Burrell is a master chef and knows what she is looking for in an executive chef. She came to Salvatore’s, a famous restaurant with five locations in and around Boston. In this episode they are looking for an executive chef to oversee operations at multiple locations.
Ann has found four chefs to try out for the job: Gustavo Romero from Hidalgo, Mexico, Robert Lia from Los Angeles, Calif. Michael Ceraldi from Nyack, N.Y. and Jonathan Lemon from Queens, N.Y.
For the first challenge, they had to use ingredients straight from the Boston pier and create an Italian coastal dish to show off their culinary skills. Gustavo chose mussels and made a standard dish with spaghetti; Jonathan chose a large monkfish; Robert chose mussels and clams to make pizza with fresh Fresno chilies and Michael used the lobster to make gnocchi with pesto for its accompaniment, but Anne told him it was a sure ticket home because gnocchi required too much time. The chef whose interview ended was Robert, because his use of the Fresno peppers overwhelmed the clam and mussels.
For the next test, they had to create a new Italian dish from a standard Italian-American menu and give it a new spin. Gustavo made duck braciole using orange zest in his creation and a change from the standard beef braciole. Jonathan made pork saltimbocca using pancetta and a side of wild mushroom ragout. Michael made chicken scarpariello using sweet sausage. As time was running out, it was pandemonium in the kitchen. Finally, they presented their dishes to Salvatore. Michael’s chicken was a hit with both Anne and Salvatore, but just missed the mark with the punch of cherry pepper vinegar. Jonathan’s saltimbocca was a bit dry, but Salvatore agreed that adding sauce it up would have helped it. Gustavo’s duck was a hit and a bit too heavy-handed on the orange. The chef who was eliminated was Jonathan.
Gustavo will cook tomorrow night and Michael the following night. His menu included; appetizer of mozzarella stuffed with prosciutto and roasted bell pepper, pasta dishes of pappardelle with roasted porcini mushroom ragout and pici pasta with wild boar sugo and dehydrated oranges. His entrées were halibut with seasonal vegetables, and pork chop Milanese with arugula, heirloom tomato, and cannellini bean salad. The dessert was ricotta cheesecake finished with marinated cherries.
As the service commenced, the customers were delighted with the food, but they ran out of the pasta, and Gustavo refused to use boxed pasta. Pici is a difficult pasta to make, and Anne felt that he did not make a wise choice with this item. Soon complaints started coming to Anne. The vegetables were nearly raw, but the fish was good. As Anne observed, he was doing everything himself and not utilizing his line chefs; a recipe for disaster. Not having enough pasta and using a cook to do this task, put him at a disadvantage. Salvatore was alarmed that his customers were getting less of an experience. Finally, he used the boxed pasta, and the rest went on swimmingly. Salvatore came back to compliment Gustavo and boosted his confidence.
Michael’s menu consisted of; appetizer of sweet and sour calamari and oysters on half shell with pickled onion and olive oil. His pasta was; gnocchi with chanterelles and walnut porcini cream with crispy leeks, and entrees were veal chop with truffle fondue and scallops wrapped in speck with onion saffron sauce and asparagus. Dessert was semifreddo with amaretto cookie pieces and espresso syrup. As the service was about to begin, he called to say goodnight to his wife and kids, who gave him extra encouragement.
The first things Anne reminded him to do after the pre-shift were still a struggle. He wanted to redeem himself with the gnocchi, but things were coming apart rapidly. Salvatore came into the kitchen to let him know that customers were sitting without food. Anne came to rescue him, with the gnocchi disaster. She gave him a different way to salvage his service and boosted his confidence at the same time. Finally, the food started flowing to the hungry masses. Salvatore again came to greet and hug his chef after the service, and win or lose, one of these guys will have one awesome boss in Salvatore.
The next day, the two chefs appeared and again were complimented by Salvatore, who regretfully could only hire one. Gustavo was given the job and executive chef jacket and soon be bringing his family here, thanks to this episode of “Chef Wanted with Anne Burrell.”
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