Chef Wanted: Victor’s Cafe Update

by in Shows, April 18th, 2013

Chef Wanted Family-run Cuban restaurant Victor’s Cafe, in the heart of New York City’s theater district, has been around for 50 years and has never had an executive chef. Then the owners decided to change that. Sonia Zaldivar and her daughter Monica were looking for a chef who could put a fresh spin on the cuisine and advance the restaurant’s menu. Anne Burrell and the Chef Wanted team were brought in to help with the search. After two grueling tests and dinner services, an offer was extended to Chef Ted Torres.

Originally from New York, Ted grew up in the South Bronx and saw his share of hard times. But after moving to Philadelphia, he found his calling, enrolled in culinary school and became the chef he is today. It has been a dream of his to go back to New York and show everyone what he’s made of himself.

For the first cooking test, the chefs were asked to show their personal take on adobo, the famous Cuban marinade. Chef Torres made an adobo-rubbed rack of lamb with sweet plantains and shiitake mushrooms. The owners thought his adobo was the most flavorful. The second test was about presenting both the old and new. The chefs were tasked with creating a classic Cuban dish and a “nuevo” version of that dish. For his classic dish, Chef Torres made palomilla (top round steak) with rice, pigeon peas and green beans. For his modern twist, he made filet mignon with a spicy crab salad and grilled asparagus. Ted’s only issue was getting the grill hot enough to sear the meat; he ended up resorting to using the flat griddle to finish the steaks. Sonia and Monica felt his dishes were very flavorful, and Chef Torres moved onto dinner service.

Dinner prep went very well for Chef Torres and so did the actual service, to the surprise of Chef Anne. Except for some plating mishaps, Chef Torres made it through the entire dinner service without having a dish sent back. After a difficult deliberation, owners Sonia and Monica decided to hire Chef Torres because they felt he showed excellent leadership skills and served flavorful food.

FN Dish caught up with Chef Torres after the show taped. Watch the video above to find out what he’s currently doing. Chef Torres didn’t end up taking the job at Victor’s Cafe because he didn’t want to leave behind the career he had established in Philadelphia, and the move would have been tough on him financially. But he’s thankful for the experience of doing the show and all the insight he learned from Chef Anne.

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Comments (65)

  1. chefD says:

    Well, that's it. To all blogging here, understand a few things. I am a former Food Network staff member (post-production) and all of the posts here are right on target. This show is, as everyone suspects, rehearsed and totally "fake", or produced and written for entertainment purposes. Understand that with every piece of footage you watch there is at least three cameras and a production crew of 8-10 people. A table complains about their food? they do it in front of the cameras and crew….and it is rehearsed. All contestants are either from various shows on Food Network or Cooking Channel and they are not, they move on to other shows for money, fame, whatever. They are paid for their time on Chef Wanted and all have agents and representation. Why don't they take the job? It's not really what the show is about. The show is, in reality, an avenue to bring business into a restaurant that the Food Network has used in the past for some other reason. As far as Ann Burrell goes, well, she is about as dishonest in this show as she is in others. Remember folks, right now she is not really a chef, but an entertainer.

  2. Mick says:

    Anne needs to go back w/ Mario and get cookin again. I love her recipes the other FN theatrics are so not worth the watch. Anne do a meaningful cooking show you have lots to share…..

  3. 5chevin5 says:

    I have been a chef for 26 years, all over the world, first questions I ask….pay scale, relocation, benefits. I already have done my homework and would not apply at a place that I don't want to work. Once we are on to tastings or working interviews, we (both parties) are onto business talks, cameras or not. In the past decade a ton of really bad "food focused" television has been made under the guise of how a real life kitchen is…..mostly bollocks!

  4. TVC says:

    I agree with all the people who say this show is not real. Why does Chef Anne bring people from the east coast to work on the west coast. Come on Any Chef would be crazy to lose all that time and money to relocate. And besides I am sure the owners want the Chefs to start right away. Ann get your act together. Get local chefs for local jobs and stop being so bossy.

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