Stephanie Izard

Stephanie Izard breaks down the Le Bernardin challenge, and explains why she was surprised by the outcome.

on Feb 5, 2009

This week’s episode was right up my alley. I had hoped we would have a couple of challenges based around fish since my last restaurant was primarily seafood, and I just love working with fish. I was also excited to see my old sous-chef (from Puerto Rico) Eric Ripert. He is such a sweet guy and of course a very talented chef. I think he was slightly offended when I gave him pointers on cleaning snapper when we worked together, but you never know; a lot of big chefs do a lot more schmoozing than cooking though I think Chef Ripert is far from rusty in the kitchen.

I thought it was a nice selection of fish that they chose for the chefs to break down. Those little sardines are just so delicate that I am sure they would be hard to work with if you were a bit shaky having Ripert watching you. I appreciate Carla and Jamie’s honesty … they both knew they did not do the best job and just came right out and admitted it. I bet both of them have reattempted cleaning these little fish a number of times since filming. 

Arctic Char is one of my favorite fish. It has some similarity to salmon of course but without that overpowering flavor. It is simply delicate both in flavor and in texture. Quite delicate actually when you are filleting it and removing the small pin bones. I am not sure why Leah just sort of gave up.  t seems like she lacks confidence from time to time in her abilities. Either that or she is just not a very hard worker and does not like to try her best; I am going to give her the benefit of the doubt and say that she just needs to  believe in herself a bit more.

Not surprisingly it comes down to Hosea and Stefan, who seem to be the strongest chefs still standing. I am sure there are many chefs out there who have not worked with fresh eel. I know that I have seen the technique of nailing down the squirming creature many times, but I cannot say I have tried it. Of course it is on my list of things to do as soon as I get back home. Stefan just killed it. Seems like he grew up hammering down eels and ripping off their skin while some of us were off playing Legos.

The Elimination Challenge of course took place at Chef Ripert’s famed restaurant, Le Bernardin. When you think of great seafood, this place is sure to enter your mind. I have never had the pleasure of dining there but am sure that the food is simple, delicious, and perfectly-prepared.