Lee Anne Wong

Lee Anne Wong on Hawaii and the challenge that sealed the deal for winner Ilan Hall.

on Jan 31, 2007

After the teams were chosen, I read the rules and then had to sprint to the other end of the property to make sure the farmer's market was set up. We had worked very closely with Michael Ni, of McNeil Wilson, representing the Hawaii Visitor's Bureau, and Matthew Loke, from the Department of Agriculture, in setting up the market. Once it was ready to go, it was a sight to behold. The fresh produce and local agriculture was all that a chef could ask for and more, and the farmers were wonderful to work with. Each team had two hours to decide on their menu and go shopping. My general observation at the time was that each team grabbed a plethora of ingredients, but much of it never made it onto either menu. (Ilan's protein-heavy menu with a severe lack of vegetables, for instance.)

The two teams crammed into the Water's Edge kitchen to begin their prep for the next day. Rules stated that they had to have everything wrapped, ready and packed for transport the next day. The five minutes to collect everything was an allowance we had made for both teams once Jeff, Sarah, and I had discovered Marcel's fish not packed up with the rest of his stuff the morning of the final challenge. It gave both teams the opportunity to take a last look in the walk-in and grab anything they might have forgotten. Alas, he still forgot the fish. On to dinner, the judges were an array of well regarded professionals. I eat at WD-50 often and have known Wylie for several years. It was also great to see chefs like Scott Conant, Michelle Bernstein, and Roy Yamaguchi at the table, too. It is always a pleasure to see Chef Hubert, who had cooked for us when we were in Vegas last year. Again, I had the opportunity to sample each dish.