I was glad we got to execute this challenge. The contestants had been looking forward to Restaurant Wars for the entire season, and I'll be honest, it's a damn good challenge that has grown in both scope and budget since Season One. Who better to judge than Jose Andres, who has opened up a slew of restaurants in DC and Spain. As one of the world's foremost Spanish chefs, he is a leader in concepts for both food and restaurant, with successes of his own that include the popular tapas menu at Jaleo to the intellectual dining opera that is Minibar.
Antonia made a smart decision by choosing Stephanie and Richard. In my opinion, the three of them are clearly a bit more level-headed than the others. Their idea for a gastropub was a smart one: underpromise, overdeliver. That's what we like to say in the restaurant industry, and it's a formula that never gets stale. They went with a simple and familiar menu, adding their own special twists such as the ras al hanout for the beets and the sausage and horseradish cream for the linguine and clams. It would ensure that the diners could feel comfortable ordering the dishes and then be pleasantly surprised with the dish that was actually presented to them. And at the end of the day, Antonia and Richard executed the dishes flawlessly, while Stephanie vigilantly took care of the customers. The decor for their space was low-key and understated, which allowed for the food and service to shine.