It was very touching for production to see Antonia get emotional at the sight of the kids. Antonia's a pretty cool lady from what I can tell and I marvel at the fact that she can run a kitchen and still have a young child. (It's something that strikes fear deep into the heart of me). She knew right off the bat how to interact with her kid, and like in the Quickfire, she went with what she knew, cooking a dish that she had prepared so many times before with her daughter. It's a simple, colorful, and tasty dish, and it has a lot of versatility, especially if you don't want to use a heavy-sweet teriyaki sauce. Having recreated the stir fry for "Wong Way," it's a dish I would make for myself any night of the week, as I'm a huge fan of whole wheat pasta and edamame.
I think Stephanie struggled with this challenge a bit. Watching behind a window, she was one of the ones who looked a little uncomfortable working side by side with someone who was a whole foot shorter than her. It's hard to remember to have a good time when at the end of the day someone is still going to go home. Her choice of chicken and tomatoes in peanut sauce over couscous was bizarre and very unlike any of the food I had seen from her in previous challenges. The apple thing was pretty good, but you can't feed a family of four with dessert.
Mark was dead set on making his curry from the start. This reminds me of Micah, from last season. I love curry. However, most kids in this country are not raised eating curry. I understand the risk in trying to give them something new to eat, but when elimination is at stake, curry in a hurry is not so good. There is a similar curry on the menu at Public that I do back flips for, but Mark's curry was a tad rich and complex for this particular situation. Kids can be your toughest critics and one of the most important things for a chef is to recognize is who their audience is. I tasted the curry. It wasn't bad. It wasn't great either though. In the end, it was the least favorite of all of the dishes for the kids, and the judges agreed the same. I happen to know Mark from here in NYC. He is doing very well at Public, which by the way, if you haven't eaten there yet, go. Run, actually. It's sexy space with equally sexy food to match. On most nights you can find Mark in the kitchen, and he is such a talented chef with a sweet disposition. I'd wish him the best, but I'll probably see him in a few weeks anyways.