When it comes to their styles, these chefs are at the opposite ends of the spectrum. Stephanie from The Girl and The Goat is very rustic, very simple, very delicious. Kristen is super refined and detail oriented -- you saw it with the tweezers! So this was a really interesting match up for me because both styles play into the way I cook. I'm refined at my restaurant Maude, but the way I cook at home for my family and friends is super rustic and undone.
We started off with Steph's street-food challenge and she just destroyed it! It was such a delicious dish and something you would find off the street in Thailand -- she knew all of the intricacies to make her dish just right with layer upon layer of flavor and texture. I really loved it! Kristen tried to do something a little more refined, which didn't feel like street-food to me. I don't think she embraced the challenge, though that steak soaked up those Thai flavors, which was super juicy and yummy.
Kristen's challenge was right up my alley because I always serve a different pasta course on my restaurant's monthly tasting menu. From a raviolo to a agnolotti, you can expect to eat homemade pasta at some stage during the night -- but homemade pasta dough in 30 mins --- now that's a stretch (pardon the pun!) I was amazed that they even tried this because for me, a pasta dough takes 5 minutes to make and an hour to rest, maaaybe 30 minutes, but not 20 or 25 minutes to rest because that is not long enough. Somehow they both managed to whip up a dough, get it rolled and ready for action within the allocated time slot. Steph's right, you do really need a good understanding and experience with dough to make it all happen within 30 minutes and Kristen's pasta paired with those lovely, earthy Moroccan flavors was just slightly more delicious. Playing to her strengths paid off -- literally. Hello $10,000 for you, Kristen.
When it came to the Duel, we had a really great table. Michelle Bernstein, Suzanne Goin and David Lentz, Quinn and Karen Hatfield, and Hugh Acheson, whose name I can never pronounce so from now on, I am just going to call him Atcheston and he better just deal with it! Ha ha. That's just me being an Aussie. Anyway, to have these guys from AOC and Hatfield's with us meant there was some real firepower in the room with some of LA's very best chefs. And our special guests weren't disappointed with the food put up by these Top Chef winners.
I'm not going to lie or pull any punches here, but I totally disagree with the final decision. I love Stephanie's food and I really enjoyed eating it, but I think she was out-cooked by Kristen. I thought Kristen's food was slightly more refined and slightly more delicious. Stephanie's halibut reached real high highs, but I still don't think that it equated to a better meal. I think overall that Kristen was a little unlucky here. However, I am not worried about her because she is an incredible chef and she will carry on doing unbelievable things. I know she will do well in The Knockout (CLICK HERE TO SEE KRISTEN COMPETE) it because it is hard to match her talent and her skills. I am looking forward to seeing more from her.
Awesome work chefs. You gave us a night of delicious food and showcased your varying styles. Kristen is all about the tweezers and Steph just gets in there with her hands and goes for it! Neither style is wrong or right, in fact both are great; the bottom line for any style is that the food tastes delicious.