I like people to be strident and confident, but you have to be prepared for it to bite you in the backside, and the first episode may not be the place to pee on your territory. Micah comes out of the gate saying that he’s going to smash everyone in his path. Now he’s no standard chef… oh wait -- he is. He’s the chef at the Standard Hotel.
The Craft L.A. kitchen is about 20 times as big as mine. I remind myself that it’s not size that counts, but how you use it. This makes me feel a bit better. Lizzie begins the walk of the Craft kitchen by making tortellinis, with good skills. Anthony is wandering through the kitchen but wondering whether anyone will notice that he’s there. Apparently he is not being very strident at all. It’s a fine line between showing up with gusto and not showing up at all. He’s given ducks and pulls out his paring knife. Tom thinks the knife choice is ridiculous. Anthony’s inner voice says, “It’s not size that counts but how you use it.” I have a strange déjà vu. For the record, and this is completely innuendo-free, I also butcher with a small paring knife, but it’s really sharp. Simple tools for clean, pristine results.
John Tesar is “Yes, Chef” all the way and is making a good case for being “misunderstood.” He wants to show his new nice-guy side to the world. Micah is hacking the bass. Not the prettiest work ever. Micah went from being a dishwasher to being an executive chef in one week. No stops in between. This is not recommended. Maybe it was his stridency.
Meanwhile, the chef from the Rocky Mountain butchery restaurant is flailing on, well, butchery. Jorel says he butchers blindfolded but doesn’t tell us that the blind results are horrible. I picture a hanging chicken, stuffed like a piñata, and Jorel swinging a dull machete at it, like a Richard Rodriguez scene that never made the cut. Love the moustache though. Very hipster. He would be loved in Seattle but yearn for Portland. Then he gets strike two on a salt-laden buerre montee. Jorel is on the fence.
Emeril has his troop make soup. He seems to have gotten the beautiful chefs club. Josh is freaking out. Simple but complicated this soup challenge is. They rush the Table 10 stoves as Emeril wanders around making them really uncomfortable, but in the nicest way that a chef ever could. I will go on record right here and now: I like Emeril a lot. He’s just a sincerely honest man who has made our lives as chefs easier in every way. When I opened up my first restaurant in 2000 the path had been paved by years of Emeril. He, amongst others, had taught America about ingredients and techniques in a way that made it stick. He is an ebullient jester of food who instead of letting his ego run amok, has only become completely modest, compassionate, and more genuine as he ages. Now I get to pick his brain and learn about how he does all he does, and I am very thankful for that. OK, back to bombastic reviewing.
The soups begin to take shape:
Jeffrey - Busy busy gazpacho. Winner winner chicken dinner
Josh - Roasted corn soup with mussels
Stephanie - Good job with lobster, cauliflower
Tina - Seafood and chorizo soup. Garlicky. Balanced.
Kristen - Pea soup with lemon, tendrils
Stephanie and Tina are cut. Never easy words to hear, but two chefs cannot fit into one blue jacket. Emeril was very impressed with Jeffrey, the winner, and Kristen and Josh push on through as well.