This week’s episode gave new meaning to the quickie Vegas wedding. In our case it wasn’t the happy couple who was rushing to the altar, but our chefs, who had just 24 hours to cater a wedding—complete with a multiple-tiered wedding cake!
I’ve catered a wedding before and, let me tell you, it takes months—not hours—to pull it off. And even with that kind of cushion, it’s a mad dash to get the food done. Our chefs didn’t have that kind of time. Jay and Christine were getting married the next day and they wanted the traditional spread, from cocktail reception with passed apps to a sit-down meal, dessert and cake. If there was ever a couple that deserved a dream wedding it was Jay and Christine. The tragic death of Christine’s maid of honor and the loss of their deposit had left them seriously rattled.
We’ve all been to those weddings where the food is pretty terrible. With our 10 talented chefs, it wasn’t going to be that kind of wedding. The only question I had was whether their creative visions could come to life in the short time they had to prepare. For most of the chefs, it worked out. Using elements of traditional Asian and Filipino cuisine was a winning idea for Thierry, who took a huge chance making Blood Soup. It was rich and flavorful with just enough chili and vinegar to keep the dish playful. Takashi’s Braised Pork Belly with Pickled Daikon and Steamed Bun was a nod to the whole roasted pig that is customary at Filipino weddings. It was spectacular. The pork belly was so juicy and the daikon added the right balance of acidity. But it was Patricia’s Pickled Mackerel with Young Coconut and Chiles, a creamy Asian ceviche, that blew everyone away.
Our bottom three weren’t so inspired. The problem with Art’s cake wasn’t just the obvious leaning. The cake itself didn’t have the luscious flavors of caramelized fruit you expect from a pineapple upside-down cake. Mark goofed up on the salmon, so some pieces were raw while others were cooked correctly. Mark knows how to cook for 200 covers, but all at once is a whole different challenge. Debbie’s Grilled Green Napa Cabbage Salad was largely seen as just plain strange. I actually liked it—at least far more than Ruth, James, and Krista. In Europe, it’s much more common to serve greens that have been braised then caramelized. Here, the delicate crisp cabbage took on a smoky char, which gave it a bit of Kansas City grill flavor and a burst of acidity.
Best of luck, Debbie. I look forward to eating more of your food at The American Restaurant next time I’m in Kansas City.