Ruth Reichl

Despite their similar age, Ruth sees radical differences in what Kerry and Chris believe a restaurant owes its patrons.

on Sep 26, 2012

If we’d scripted this, we couldn’t have come up with a better finale. This isn’t just two chefs battling it out, this is two world views, two entirely different notions of what it means to be a chef. And despite the relative closeness in their ages, as you watch this you sense that you are watching two entirely different generations debating the question of what a restaurant owes its patrons.

The lines are drawn right from the beginning. Kerry, classically trained and French-focused, hones in on technique, sacrificing the quality of ingredients for the time to transform them. Chris, on the other hand, is a twenty-first century chef who believes the quality of ingredients trumps everything. As we watch Chris running from shop to shop, gathering great ingredients, Kerry’s already in the kitchen, meticulously taking them apart.

The contrast becomes even more pronounced as they begin preparing their dishes. Kerry goes for luxurious richness, for amiable food that will seduce and comfort his patrons. Meanwhile Chris is pouring out buckets of blood, intent on challenging his diners with dishes designed to jolt them right out of their comfort zones. The love letters the chefs created as a first course were both wonderful, but it’s worth noting that Kerry’s jjigae is toned down, muted, as if he’s afraid of offending his diners with true Korean heat, while Chris takes the opposite tack. Love me or leave me. Here’s my heart on a plate; it’s topped with puffed tendon. Now eat it raw!