Stephanie was not familiar with the movie Top Secret either (I have vague memories of Val Kilmer, but I forgot the cow scene). It was creative and the salty caramel worked well with the steak and apple short rib dumpling.
I hope you all paid close attention to the gorgeous dining room, which was created by our Art and Lighting Departments. The marquis started as an idea in a notebook between Sam and Willy and two days later it was built and back lit. I helped put the letters on it.
Service went smoothly. The pear and celery soda was a nice touch with the smoked salmon. It was this sweet, smoky, salty, buttery, fruity vegetal combination. Completely weird, absolutely delicious, totally Willy Wonka. It was a winning dish that impressed Daniel Boulud and that's all that counts.
Next came the fishy summer roll with the undercooked buckwheat soba. Then the delicious tortellini. There I am in the elevator helping bring plates to the dining room. And the juicy quail. Tasty lamb chops and candied steak. All in all I thought they did really well -- the summer roll clearly the weakest dish of the bunch. Each team had a $150 to spend which worked out to $12 a head, an ample budget. At the end of the day they sent Manuel home for being too nice of a guy. Many would think it's Spike's fault for his misguidance and I would tend to agree, but you gotta have a little backbone to win this competition. I have enjoyed Manuel's food for several years, and I look forward to the next time I get sample his cuisine.