Chef Wanted: Culina Update

by in Shows, March 7th, 2013

Chef WantedCulina, Modern Italian is a restaurant located in the Four Seasons Hotel Los Angeles at Beverly Hills. General Manager Mehdi Eftekari was looking for a new executive chef because the former executive chef, Ashley James, was promoted to oversee the entire hotel. The two men were in need of someone who could cook innovative Italian food, lead a large staff and be comfortable with their customers. Anne Burrell and the Chef Wanted team were called in to help with the search. After two tests and two dinner services, an offer was extended to Chef Mette Williams.

Mette Williams is an executive chef from Los Angeles and a single mother of a 14-month-old boy. The position at Culina would give her the stability that she wants for herself and her son.

For the first test, the chefs were challenged with creating a pizza (a specialty of the restaurant), but not just any pizza — a seafood pizza. Chef Williams made a pizza with a bagna cauda sauce, shrimp and clams. Mehdi and Ashley had nothing but compliments for Chef Williams’ successful dish. The second test challenged the chefs to create a simple dish using only four ingredients. Chef Williams’ rack of lamb with fennel puree, roasted fennel, roasted garlic and olive tapenade went over very well, but Anne wasn’t happy with the raw garlic used in the tapenade, which she warned the chef about earlier. When it came to service, Chef Williams was successful at putting out flavorful food in a modern Italian style, but a few missteps gave Mehdi, Ashley and Anne some things to worry about: there wasn’t enough fresh pasta to serve everyone who ordered the dish and the chef had trouble plating consistently and uniformly. She did, however, redeem herself through her positive interactions with customers, including the hotel owners. In the end, Mehdi and Ashley were impressed overall and, instead of waiting any longer, surprised Chef Williams by announcing to the entire dining room of guests that she was the new executive chef of Culina.

FN Dish caught up with Chef Williams since the show taped. Watch the video above to find out how she’s been doing since taking the executive chef position at Culina. Mehdi recounts that Chef Williams’ first few days were all about learning the philosophy of the restaurant through observation to ease her into the new role. As the new executive chef, Mette is making it her goals to bring a more rustic flair to the Culina menu and to set the restaurant apart from the hotel so it’s more relaxed and welcoming. She wants to use produce that’s in season and cook with a focus on simplicity.

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Comments (35)

  1. sleepy says:

    yawn..i'll have the ambien medium rare please

  2. Guest says:

    Chef Mette was always in control, being cool, calm and collected under all the pressure, and was the perfect choice for Executive Chef. The surprise announcement she was the new Chef to the remaining diners at the end of the night was a class act. Congrats!

  3. T.cook says:

    Yay, finally a Lady Executive Chef. I absolutely loved this show, Chef Mette showed grace under pressure and creative talent. Congratulations to you and wish you much success… This is the way a kitchen should always be runner..

  4. Gary Vanderplow says:

    Great choice. Chef Mette did a nice job under fire. Ann,"lighten up" and give good advise,stop the yellig. Teach as you would like to be taught. Food channel pay attention or your gonna lose more audience. More fun in the kitchen you're going in the wrong direction with being to hard. Wheres all the fun gone. Thank you food channel for all the lovely shows with heart and fun. The rest you can fix just "lighten up".

    • Dawnskye says:

      Unfortunately, the majority of Chefs out there were taught as Chef Anne was..meaning being yelled at, pressured and abused. Is it right? No. But if you do not know any better, what do you expect? That being said, the position of Chef is one of being constantly under pressure, dealing with whiney customers and ignorant underlings, owners that often know nothing about food, servers who are yelling at you to move your butt and get the food out, customers complaining, etc. . . Heck if the contestants can handle Chef Anne's hollering, they can handle anything! :)

    • Krazykat says:

      I guess I don't "get it", because we're led to believe that Anne hand-picked the 4 chefs, then all she does is scream at them like they are just so ignorant. Lord help them if their opinion is different than hers. I turn the sound off when she's screaming….and that includes when she's doing her countdown. Ughhh! I know what you're thinking. Why do I watch??? Hmmm….good question. I also wonder about Anne's hair. Shouldn't that be under a hairnet when she's in the kitchen jumping up and down and screaming in their faces. Perhaps a nice crew cut.

      • Guest says:

        Her countdown drives me crazy…I mute even the ads for the show when she does her countdown that sounds like she's constipated.

  5. CBH says:

    Chef Mette welcome aboard – we are so excited to see how you will evolve the Culina vision. Lookng forward to another memorable meal at Culina! Best wishes CBH

  6. FoodieLA says:

    That other guy Giamba was Awesome! You need more passionate Chefs like him that guy deserves his own SHOW!! Where is he now?

  7. Eatting says:

    I've been watching this season and it has all been a big yawn! Finally a contestant, Giamba was entertaining but the rest zzzzzzz…..

  8. Elle says:


  9. Marla says:

    Enjoyed the show, Chef Mette was focused, organized and had the kitchen under control. Smart woman, knew how to solve problems as they arose, push the pork please, we're low on the monk fish ; ) YAY women chefs – Anne, calm down – yelling doesn't help – understand the standard of excellence as you were on point.

  10. Hollyweird says:

    This was definitely the most entertaining episode yet! Glad to see the winner actually got the job and is still there.

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