I've eaten at a couple of Daniel Boloud's restaurants and he's really a special chef. He's a good operator, and a good guy. He's smart, articulate, and just cool. The thing about the Quickfire is that the term technique is very subjective. To me, I didn't think there was great technique this week. I think there were great knife skills, and sure, that's a form of technique, but I was looking for cooking technique. I was looking for someone to do something a little different, not everybody showing off how great their knife skills are. It should be a given that you have spectacular knife skills, in my opinion.
Zoi poached an egg, and it was the proper technique for poaching an egg. When you see that the meal has to be vegetarian and you're just going all out on knife skills, what difference does it make whether it's vegetarian or not? It's just about knife skills. I'd rather see you put some vegetable flavors together. One of my investors as my restaurant is a vegetarian, so I always have a strictly vegetarian entree on my menu at all times. And it gets ordered a lot. Right now it's organic quinoa and roasted white elf mushrooms, which looks almost like a white abalone.
Dale won the Quickfire, and I was very impressed with his knife skills. I thought it all looked nice, but I don't know if it necessarily made me hungry. I'd much rather sit down and eat Zoi's poached eggs. In the Elimination, I thought A Christmas Story was a brilliant choice -- I love that movie. I could sit down in front of the TV and watch it back to back a couple times. I thought it was a really great challenge. It was interesting that Dale had immunity and decided to work with Richard and crazy Andrew. Those are two of the strongest cooks, and I would have expected him to pick a couple people who are a little weaker. I don't know if it's too early in the game to say who's weak and who's strong, but if you're coming off winning the Quickfire Challenge you should put more of yourself into the challenge. I didn't get any part of him in that dish. It felt like it was totally Richard and Andrew driving the bus. But to be honest, I'm already tired of the faux caviar and I'm tired of the torch. It's like, OK -- we've seen it, we know you know how to use it. Is he going to use it for every single dish? I don't know. If I were the judges I'd be kind of tired of it by now.
But, I thought the dish was great. Wasabi and white chocolate go great together. I'm not a salmon fan; I've been hating on salmon forever, but it looked nice. It looked like got really nice texture on the skin, and the flesh was obviously really red. I've never seen Top Secret, but Stephanie can obviously cook really well. Their dish looked nice, and the beef looked really, really good. I thought getting the caramel involved was really interesting. I look forward to seeing what she comes up with over the next couple weeks. I don't really know anyone whose favorite movie is Good Morning, Vietnam, and the competition is obviously really strong, so you can't be one-dimensional. The judges are just going to get bored with it. I don't think you can just sit there and make pasta every time or say "I've been cooking Vietnamese food for two years" -- you need to show how deep your repertoire is. The judges need to be able to see that you can cook on many different levels.
Manuel hasn't really done anything. Saying he wants to learn from Spike, it's like, dude, if you're going to say that then show me something new. Don't just show me a summer roll. I love simple food; I get where Spike's coming from, but if you're going to make the summer roll it better be the best summer roll I've ever had.