Bravotv.com: Tom Douglas is our guest judge. Can you tell us a little bit about him?
GS: Tom Douglas for President!
Tom Douglas is basically the default mayor of Seattle. He owns something like 20 restaurants, and he’s opening up a least 20 more this year... ha! Driving around town with him, he would constantly point to a random corner, and say "I’m opening a Thai place there. Oh yeah, I’m opening a pizza place there; I’m opening a donut place there." And he’s serious! He’s one of the nicest guys I’ve ever met. We spent a lot of time with him; he showed us such a great time all season long. He really was like our private ambassador to the city. And he’s beloved by all of Seattle, not just the food community. And is restaurants are fantastic, so he certainly knows a lot about food in that part of the country. Very appropriate to have him as our first guest judge.
Bravotv.com: Everyone made fish except for the Veterans, who went with the quail. Did you think that was a poor decision? Or if they had executed it well, would they have made a good decision?
GS: It was a good decision. We had no guidelines; we just wanted them to use local ingredients—we never said, "You have to use seafood.” I think it was smart of them to differentiate themselves, it wasn’t the risk of making quail that was the issue. You just have to cook it well. Quail is very small animal. You want to eat the breast medium rare, on the pink side, or else its very tough and dry because there’s very little fat in it. Stefan probably left them on the heat just 30 seconds too long, and that’s all it takes with such tiny breasts! I guess Stefan’s not so adept at handling breasts after all! Ha!
Bravotv.com: And so the winning dish was once again the Blue Team. Have you ever had anything poached in chili oil before?
GS: Sure, in Chinese cooking… I’ve certainly had tofu with chili oil in it and fish. But I thought their version was modern and really inspired, really delicious." Lingcod is a beautiful, delicate, flakey white fish, it was the first thing we tasted that day, and it was the best. It had so much flavor, and balance, the fish was beautiful. It was a very, fresh, delicate dish.
Bravotv.com: Jeffrey unfortunately goes home. What was the difference between him overcooking his fish and Stefan overcooking the quail?
GS: The difference was the degree of done-ness. Overcooking slightly is one thing. Yes, Stefan's quail was overcooked and a little dry, but Jeffrey’s halibut was pummeled, unfortunately. He had put it on way too high heat, on both sides. We kept referring in the episode to how it was hard-seared on both sides—with a fish that delicate you probably could have just seared one side, turned it over and it would have been done. And he could have monitored the heat a little better. There were pieces of it that were essentially burnt. It was really too bad.
I was so sad that Jeffrey was the first to go. He’s so cute, and I barely know the guy, but I know that it was a very difficult challenge, and overall the food was all very good. For a first episode, I would say that it’s actually the best food we’ve ever had. Of all the things we tasted that day across the six dishes, Jeffrey’s piece of fish was the most flawed element.