Chef Wanted: Abigaile Update

by in Shows, August 15th, 2013

Chef Wanted AbigaileChef WantedJed Sanford, the owner of Abigaile, a gastrobrewery in Hermosa Beach, Calif., needed a chef de cuisine for the restaurant while he and his executive chef Tin Vuong open a sister restaurant. They were looking for someone who could keep pushing the restaurant’s edge. Anne Burrell and the Chef Wanted team had four candidates: Chefs Juan Pedrosa, Ben Diaz, Chris Mack and Jamil Peden. Two initial tests would narrow down the chefs to two finalists, who would each get to run the restaurant’s dinner service on separate nights. In the end, both Jed and Tin were clear in their decision, which was a surprise for both chefs.

The first challenge would test the chefs’ ability to show who they are as a chef, however there was one very particular requirement: the dish had to be vegetarian. Everyone adhered to the requirements except for Chef Chris who used chicken stock to glaze his tofu. Even so, it was Ben who was sent home for his dish of crusted potatoes, which he called faux scallops. His accompaniment of sliced pears fell flat for Tin and Jed was not a fan of the idea of faux scallops. For the second test, the chefs were asked to create a favorite fast food and turn it into an upscale dish. Juan’s decision to make his take on the fish sandwich without a bread component did not impress Tin, so he was sent home. Chefs Jamil and Chris would move onto the dinner service.


When it came to prepping for dinner service, Tin advised Jamil to change his approach to something more like fast food, but Jamil wasn’t comfortable with the idea. His duck rillettes were sent back and customers didn’t like the color of his eggplant puree. A special request for a vegetarian dish threw him off when he had to make it twice because the customer found the first one too spicy. Anne felt that Jamil wasn’t listening to his customers or the advice.


Before Chef Chris’ dinner service, Tin came in and reworked his menu and gave him soft-shell crab to serve as a special that evening. Chris’ crab sandwich sold out immediately, which left him with a predicament when a VIP requested the dish. Chris decided to make the customer his specialty “Elvis on Acid,” a banana, bacon jam and Thai peanut sauce dish he originally made in the second challenge, which was well received.

Jed and Tin had two very different chefs to choose from. Jamil showed he wasn’t very flexible, even though he put out a smooth service. Chris didn’t have the best service, but at least none of his dishes were sent back. In an unprecedented ending, Jed and Tin decided not to hire Jamil or Chris because they didn’t feel either was a good fit for Abigaile.

Watch Chef Wanted on Thursdays at 10pm/9c and keep coming back to FN Dish for updates and behind-the-scenes content.

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Comments (69)

  1. Chris Pierce says:

    I think both chefs should count their blessings that they did not get hired by those two arrogant owners of Abigaile. I never miss an episode of Chef Wanted and I have never seen a restaurant owner trash the candidate's menu before they even presented their pre-shift meal. I think these two would be a nightmare to work for!

  2. Foodie says:

    This show had such potential………..if the positions aren't real, and I believe most are not, this is just a glorified advertisement for the restaurants! I imagine it will come out eventually that $ is changing hands here for the "opportunities" presented. Sad.
    You can't really "update" make believe.

  3. Becky says:

    He has a Face Book Page- Chef Chris Mack. 10 hours ago someone asked if he took the job offer and he said that he is thinking about it.

  4. Judith says:

    I think Chris made the right decision. The owners are self absorbed arrogant nightmares. I wouldn't hire either of the owners to clean a kitchen floor. There will be a great opportunity for Chris in the future. The food network should consider him for a segment. Sure he hasn't run a large staff…only cooked great food in difficult circumstances. It doesn't take a rocket scientist to learn how to manage with a good mentor. Keep us informed on his future.

    • paperdesert says:

      Have you eaten at Abigaile's? The food is phenomenal and the wait time is non-existent. (Ok, so I do get the VIP table and have food on the table before I'm seated…). Tin is not arrogant..he's an amazing chef and an excellent teacher. He just couldn't see putting an amateur into a high pressure position.

  5. ChgoSaint says:

    Last night was the final night I will watch "Chef Wanted". I always thought it was just an ego stroke show and that Anne was awful, but Abigaile proved the show is beyond b*@*sh!t. Give us a vegetarian dish – and chicken stock is in it, but that's acceptable. Wrong – that should be an automatic DQ. It I were Ben, my last comments after being sent packing would be "I should have cooked a f*c&*ing steak since it doesn't matter what you asked for."

  6. RichardNixon says:

    That Asian head chef was a tool. Change this, now change that, just STF and let them cook.

    • paperdesert says:

      Abigaile's is a unique dining experience. The customer's expect a certain standard. If the guest chef's cannot provide that standard, they should not be there.

      • Auraenat says:

        you sure do like to make that restaurant seem like it glows golden rays out it's doors. It looks more like one of the local bars here in my home town that I could get food at than a "upscale" restaurant. If they didn't want Chris, than perhaps they felt that they could get better. I HIGHLY doubt your son knews everything and would be TOLD about private business matters. Oh and getting VIP table, you except people to believe that? Right and I'm the neice of the current Pope and can get into the Vatican Archives.

    • Ipmat says:

      I agree. The position was not for a line cook who is told what to do. Tin did not want someone to show their creativity within their restaurant guidelines. He wanted to control the menu. They need to hire someone who has no creativity but only follows recipes and can manage workflow. Says an Exec Chef with more than 30 years experience (running larger establishments than this).

    • Francis_Xavier says:

      No, I could tell Tin was a highly intelligent chef and person. He tweeked things to see how the chef would react, and willing to work with him. Tin was looking for the intangibles that most managers are too dense to even identify._I would love to work with an individual like Chef Tin, he's a real Theory Y Leader.

  7. Lynn says:

    Chef Jamil said he wished the woman who requested vegetarian and not spicy would have tried his food. I can't eat spice nor black pepper, which he put on the yogurt. HORRIBLE stomach cramps. You can see black pepper o nthe food, probably why she didn't try it. He only wanted to make food his way, not how customer who ordered the food could eat it. A lot of people have special diets nowadays.

  8. bjloup2 says:

    I can understand owner & executive chef of Abigail's not hiring either chef. Their stated goal was to have someone take Chef Ti's place and run the kitchen to the same standards immediately. Neither Chris nor Jamil were up to those standards. Not arrogance…the owners had a very specific POV for the food to fit their gastropub atmosphere…had to match in vibe, because that is what customers expect. I would expect it would take a more unique chef to fit the POV. Sad that other chefs weren't adaptable. Chris had potential, but the offer the owner made had to be worth making a move for. Chris wasn't the first chef to use chicken stock in a vegetarian dish in Chef Wanted series. Bad basic mistake, but taste of the food/success of meeting the challenge are more important.

  9. Jon says:

    The Food Network should be known as The Food Ho Hum Game Show Network. The Food Network's big guns are now nothing more than arrogant game show hosts that should have kept their day jobs as cooks.

    After watching many of these game shows it appears that The Food Network has created a stereotype chef that, if female, has low self esteem, a nose ring, and needs to be valadated. If male, he's covered with tattoos, sports a 1970's mullet, and is a recovering addict. Most seem to be motivated by the thought of making a dead relative proud of them.

    It appears that The Food Network is a low budget network. The Food Truck game show has been replaced by the Food Court game show that obviously has a lower budget and has even lower viewer appeal. Tyler Florence opens each show by inferring that owning a food court stall could make you a multi-millionaire. He refers to the contestants as aspiring food court entrepreneurs, however, most of the contestants admit that it's difficult for them to even manage a household budget much less a restaurant. That's not the profile of a potential multi-millionaire entrepreneur.

    It's time to return to quality cooking shows. Take a look at Martha Stewart's cooking school on PBS. After watching Next Food Network Star, I wouldn't give Martha Stewart one chance in 10 of winning a slot on The Food Network, but her PBS show is far better than anything tThe Food Network offers.

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