Gail Simmons

What's a judge gotta do to taste some berry?

on Dec 19, 2012

Bravotv.com: Micah’s dish sounded so great.
GS: Micah’s is another example of an amazing idea: strawberry short cake fried chicken, with strawberries! That sounds amazing! Bring it on. He just didn’t pull it off. There were freeze-dried strawberries in the shortcake! You have mountains of fresh strawberries in the peak of their season. BAKE the fresh strawberries; give me some strawberries! The chicken was good; but although he put some strawberries into the chicken batter, I didn’t taste any strawberry there either.  The dish could have been good if this wasn’t a strawberry challenge.  But it was—it was first and foremost a strawberry challenge.  

Bravotv.com: If he had put fresh strawberries in the biscuit it wouldn’t have been dry.
GS: Correct, correct! But anyway, Sheldon made a wonderful, beautiful, fresh, ahi poke roll. It was actually interesting to compare this poke roll to Josie’s roll, which we’ll talk about later. Concept was very similar; he did it right, she did it wrong. He had this fresh, bright, strawberry sauce.  He had the sweet chilis and the fresh beautiful roll that had great crunch on a hot day—it was delicious.

Bravotv.com: Next up we have Josie and Lizzie.
GS: Here was some crazy business. The Rock ‘n’ Raspberry Roll -- It was not good. I’m so sorry, but there were so many issues we all had. First, she tried to overcompensate because she clearly wasn’t ready, she was sloppy, her work place was a mess, she had 50 components but wasn’t ready to serve them, and because of that, there was literally a 40-person deep line all day for her food, not because it was great, not because people were coming back for seconds, but because you couldn’t get firsts. So that right there was a major strike against her. And then, this Josie Show, laughing trying to teach people—I don’t care. I want my food, I don’t care if you can juggle and tap-dance, unfortunately. That kind of drove of us all crazy. I guess when she’s nervous, she talks a lot, and I get that, but it was really distracting. Which was why I thought she was smoking something (which by the way would have been completely legal in the state of Washington, as of now. No judgment! I’m just judging the food!

But the actual food itself was bad—it was messy, and sloppy, and falling apart. She made this rollthat wasn’t seasoned, and she made these two mayonnaise-y sauces with the raspberry. BUT, we got no raspberry, no brightness, just a kind of creamy richness that sort of missed the point as a counter balance to the roll. Lizzie, on the other hand, did a great jobDo not underestimate your opponent, that’s the name of the game here. Lizzie made a creative dish that was totally out of left field. A cabbage roll with pork and bacon and raspberries? Who would have ever thought of that?  And it worked perfectly -- it was the right size, seasoned well. I thought it was great, inspired, different, and I really enjoyed it.