Mark Peel

The eliminated chef reveals what surprised him most about the competition. The Quickfire: How hard was it to cook with one hand tied behind your back?
Working with one hand behind my back was not hard. My father was born with just one arm and I saw him do everything he wanted including paint our whole house several times.  It was, however, more cumbersome and slower. That's where I ran into trouble. Do you agree that cooking an egg is the true sign of a chef’s ability?
Cooking an egg is not the true test of a chef's ability in that it doesn't show leadership, breadth, of knowledge or a sense of balance. It can be a microcosm of speed, timing, sensitivity, and taste. That is what Escoffier meant. What was the inspiration for your egg dish?
The inspiration for my egg dish was a dish I did many years ago in New York in the winter when all the produce was lousy.  But the Italian delis were great. It was, and is, fresh pasta, fresh egg yolks, fresh mascarpone and sweet extra virgin olive oil, properly seasoned. I wish I had been able to complete it, but the clock rules. Onto Elimination, do you like magic?
I love magic. As a confirmed agnostic-borderline atheist I love harmless talented frauds. I love trying to figure out how they do it, though I never can. How did you interpret the card you pulled into the dish?
It didn't matter what word we picked out. With this challenge the judges, and the show, were looking for the unexpected. That is what we tried to do. Are you an NPH fan?
I like Neil Patrick Harris. I have met him a number of times as a client at Campanile, my restaurant. He is enthusiastic about food and wine and has a discerning palate. I have not seen much of his work as an actor. I love the premise of How I Met Your Mother and I'm sure he does a great job.

What did you think of the judges’ reactions?
The judges' reactions were honest and well thought out. They did not pull punches because they knew us or go after us for the same reason. The truth is that when we try new things in our own places the odds of a home run the first time are poor. Did you get to taste your competitors’ food? What did you think?
I did not get to taste anyone else's food. The time was too tight and we only made the amount necessary. I saw the others' food and was very impressed. What surprised you most about competing on the show?
What surprised me most about the show was the seriousness with which they take food. It has to be entertaining but there was no tweaking of results or phony trauma. Everything you see is real. Were you worried at all that they would open the paper and the food wouldn’t be cooked correctly?
I was very worried that the envelopes would be opened and the fish would be overcooked.  When it was done I was told that I had to wait. Silverware was being reset. I think it was about four minutes. With fish that is a long time, the only thing more delicate is eggs.



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