Stephen Starr

Restaurant Wars' guest judge Stephen Starr tells us why he actually preferred the losing team's food. You participated in our Taste of NY event at the beginning of the season as well. What does Top Chef being in New York mean for the NY restaurant business?
It sends electricity through the kitchens and the chefs and cooks get inspired by a program like this in their city. Start with the Quickfire first: What was the key to providing a successful tasting for you?
I was looking for a unique flavor profile that wasn't just a rehash of things I've had a million times before. The presentation of the dishes came second. Which dishes stood out to you the most (for better or worse)?
Radhika's dish was the best. Fabio's dish was the worst. For Restaurant Wars, what were your first impressions when you walked into each restaurant?
As a restaurateur, I was impressed that with such short notice they pulled off something even close to a real restaurant experience. Honestly, what did you think of the names of the restaurants? (Sahana and Sunset Lounge)?

I liked Sahana but I didn't like Sunset Lounge. It sounded like you've heard it a millions times, or as the title of an Eagles song. Do you think service should be treated equally to actual food when judging a restaurant?
On a TV show like Top Chef the food is most important. They of course have no time to train staff but they should have years of training as a chef. It is about what the food tastes like more than anything. They have to have that part of the equation figured out. In life, in my business, we believe food and service are equal but if the service is slightly off but the food is great, people will come back. Are desserts as important as the rest of the meal?
Not to me. I don't believe anyone won't go back to a restaurant because a dessert was bad. What are the similarities and important differences between being an exec chef and a restaurant owner?
To use an airline analogy, the similarities are the level of responsibility you have for the airplane. The difference is that an owner owns the airline and worries about everything from food to service, to making great ambiance. Overall, how was your guest judging experience?
I enjoyed it very much and if I had to do it over, I would be more critical. I think I was too nice at times. You said at judging, that you actually preferred the losing team's restaurant better -- for what reasons?
I liked their food better.

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