Bravotv.com: What did you think of the Restaurant Wars theme and how each team approached it?
Gail Simmons: I thought the concept was perfect. Los Angeles is such a diverse city. Its easy to think of it as a superficial city where everyone is just dieting and doing yoga and juicing, and certainly there is a piece of Los Angeles like that, but there’s also a piece of Los Angeles that arguably has the best produce in the world. The farmers’ market, the farms, the fruits and vegetables – it’s really one of the best places in the world to buy fresh food. The diversity of food is astounding. At the same time, it has one of the most diverse ethnic populations in the country -- Korean and Thai populations, Japanese -- the best sushi in the country is by far in Los Angeles -- and the best Mexican. There’s also so much iconic Americana that comes out of Los Angeles. There are more burger shops per square foot than any other city I’ve ever visited. Things like the sundae, the Cobb salad… there’s so much interesting food history from the ‘20s, ‘30s, ‘40s, ‘50s, and all these amazing old Hollywood places that invented some of the great food that this whole country knows and loves. The challenge this epiosde was genius. Clearly Busy Philipps knows her food and appreciates all that Los Angeles has to offer.
Bravotv.com: Let’s start with the winning team? It was 72 & Sunny with David, Sang, Douglas, and Sue, and they actually didn’t have the help of their sous chefs, which was interesting.
GS: The sous chefs were helpful -- it was just result we didn’t like as much. The ideas were already established by the time the sous chefs got in. All the more reason to be as impressed with the amount of work and the quality of the food that we ate at 72 & Sunny, which by the way is a great name for a Los Angeles restaurant.
I love that Douglas started us off with a nod to Los Angeles’ Japanese sushi culture. He was thoughtful enough to cook it so that Busy could eat it because she was pregnant at the time. Sue did a very simple salad. It certainly wasn’t the best salad that I’ve ever had, but it was fresh and light, and I think it was the perfect middle course. Then Douglas and David did the snapper together, which had a lot of ethnic influences and flavor, using corn and chorizo. The snapper was beautiful. It was a lovely collaboration, and it was something we were all happy to eat. Then came Sang’s strip loin with broccoli two ways, which was the star of the night. Maybe he’s not too nice to work with in the kitchen, maybe he’s selfish in the way he deals with his teammates, but the truth is that they’re not just teammates, they’re still competing against each other. And you can’t blame Sang for wanting to work really hard on his own dish. That dish was outrageous. It was so savory and creative – it really took ideas to a whole other level. Such fresh, bright broccoli. The steak was beefy – not all steak tastes deeply like beef – it had great umami flavor, and I think that was enhanced by the black bean ghee which is by far the sauce of this century. And I hate black beans! I couldn’t believe it, I wanted to sop up this stuff. It all tasted nostalgic, but it also tasted so modern and innovative. That’s what separates the chefs from the cooks.
Bravotv.com: And David’s panna cotta?
GS: It was very well done. Again, with David, there were 17 different flavors: strawberry, tangerine, honey, whipped cream, merengue…. But it was really tasty, and it was creamy which is what a panna cotta should be. The fact that he made that dessert and then did such a great job at front of the house made me fall in love with David that night. You can see why he’s such a great restaurateur.
Sue’s dessert was excellent, too. She did the salad and dessert, and she helped so much along the way. This was a great semiffredo. It was rich, and the marshmallow had the perfect toasted taste.