We were thrilled to have Chef Hubert Keller back at the Judges Table too. Not only was he a favorite of everyone on the set from the first episode we filmed in San Francisco, but for such an unassuming, understated chef he also happens to be a Las Vegas legend, with two excellent restaurants (Fleur de Lys and Burger Bar) and a secret talent for hitting the turntables when you least expect it (yes, he is an amazing DJ!).
The Room Service Challenge was a concept I initially loved. A hotel and casino like the MGM Grand operates not unlike a small city, with tens of thousands of people playing, working, eating and demanding everything and anything under the hot desert sun, all at once. It is also a huge maze of intricate underground pathways and long corridors that connect the cavernous kitchens to the world upstairs, making this challenge not only about meeting a client's desires, but also about transportation and efficiency.
One flaw in the execution of this challenge was that we as Judges did not have an opportunity to taste each contestant's food. On the other hand, it ensured that the people tasting the food had no preconceived notions of who was cooking. Each dish was judged on taste alone and not on its creator's personality or cooking history. It also allowed Tom, Hubert and I to experience what it might be like watching the show as a viewer and having to rely on someone else (i.e. us judges) to make the best, most educated choices without knowing first-hand what the food is really like.