... OK, OK -- I used to be a New Kids fan. So shoot me. Anyways, I was so happy to hear that Rick Bayless would be the judge for our third episode. I have worked with Chef Bayless several times here at The French Culinary and we always have so much to talk about since I visit Mexico every year. He is not only incredibly polished and professional, but the passion he has for the culture and cuisine of Mexico is inspiring for a young chef such as myself. When he was here filming Chef's Story with us, he was being interviewed on his love of cooking and Mexico and I was listening with headphones on a monitor in the back. Talk about wisdom. It makes me smile when I think about what he had said and how motivating it was for me. In other words, I heart Rick Bayless and those of you who still give him shit for the Burger King commercial need to let up because you probably don't know the whole story.
Again, simple challenges are often the best. Create a upscale gourmet taco. Shannon and I had a ball stocking the pantry for this Quickfire for 2 reasons: 1. We both love Mexican cuisine, and have traveled across the border several times together. 2. We couldn't wait to use the leftover raw ingredients for a fiesta of our own.
We bought some standard ingredients and some not-so-standard ingredients. What I found challenging, and I probably would've made the same mistakes as the contestants had this been a challenge during my season several years ago, was what actually defines an upscale taco. Is it the quality of the ingredients? Is it how one uses the ingredients given? Is just plating and no paper and lots of fancy colorful sauces? While I agree with Spike that tacos are generally considered street food (Taco Bell is NOT Mexican food. Go find the nearest bodega), Erik needed to loosen up altogether and be a little more flexible with the challenge. So what if it bugs you, do you want to win $100K? And if you're gonna badmouth a chef of Rick Bayless' stature, don't do it on national TV. At least Richard and Mark got the point.