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Burgers Or Bust

Carlos Fernandez talks Restaurant Wars!


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I love burgers! All types -- beef burgers stuffed with cheese; ground turkey burgers mixed with chopped Shiitake mushrooms; Buffalo burgers topped with caramelized onions; shredded braised short ribs and the ultimate topping -- foie gras! Did I mention that I love burgers? While there were some interesting variations, my favorites actually used meat. By definition a hamburger is made with ground beef. You can find a thousand variations on that theme to enhance the flavors, but there is a reason burgers are so popular -- when they are cooked right, they just taste so darn good. That been said, congrats to CJ on his scallop burger, I'm sure it was delicious! Even though this didn't get him immunity, getting to choose his team for the restaurant wars was a huge advantage.

Wow! The restaurant wars are always one of my favorite episodes. When I opened up Hi-Life Cafe 12 years ago, we had to be up and running in less than a month due to financial constraints. We got it done yet there was still so much tweaking to do. I cannot imagine doing it in 24 hours -- concept to completion -- and to be judged on those 24 hours ... next to impossible. Restaurateurs usually do what is known as a soft opening where they invite friends so they can 'test drive' the concept. This gives both the kitchen and dining staff a feel for the operation and a chance for trial and error. No one gets it perfect the first time. It is quite a challenge asking chefs to work the front of the house. While I think it is important for them to understand the challenges that front of house staff encounter, it's obvious that most of these chefs have not had that kind of experience. I suppose the best example of this was when Dale and Hung chose to use scented candles in the dining room of the Garage. As soon as I saw them pick those out I knew they were in trouble. Think about it guys. When you walk into a restaurant the only thing you want to smell is the food!

On the plus side, it seems as though Hung has finally had an attitude adjustment. He has obviously been reading my blog ... wait. Oh yeah, I forgot this has already been filmed! LOL! Had he been a better sport earlier on, CJ would probably have chosen him for his team. Did you hear the patron in Restaurant April proclaim, "If these are vegetables, then I'm a monkey?" Hung good news -- we found your monkey!! HA Now the food: I agree with Tom that risotto doesn't need the addition of cream. Arborio rice gets naturally creamy when cooked correctly. This having been said, I have become intimately familiar with the winning recipes since I prepare them every week on Telemundo's "Cada Dia" morning show. Tre used cream in the risotto he prepared on the first episode and the judges raved over it. Go figure.

This time, I think that Tre made a tactical error leaving the potatoes on the plate when he knew they were too aggressively flavored and overcooked. 'When in doubt, throw it out!' Watching this episode, however, I kept thinking, "Is this 'Top Chef' or 'Top Host'?" And where were the servers? Obviously lots of mistakes were made and I didn't see how the judges could eliminate one of the hosts from a cooking competition. Scandalicious! No one goes home. I know the feeling - HA! Do over ... next time there will be no excuses. Stay tuned and as always ... break an egg!

PS. Check out my Miami Spice episode this week and watch as I prepare Arroz con Pollo. It is simple and delicious!

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