Chef Wanted: The Bistro Update

by in Shows, August 1st, 2013

Anne and chefs
Chef WantedBacara Resort & Spa in Santa Barbara, Calif., needed a new chef for The Bistro, one of its four restaurants. Executive Chef David Reardon and general manager Kathleen Cochran were looking for an executive chef worthy of cooking in the gourmet restaurant for high-end clientele. Anne Burrell and the Chef Wanted team brought in four candidates: Chefs Diana Hernandez, Earl Anthony Morris, Chris Turano and Jared Case. 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, the decision for David and Kathleen would be a difficult one because both chefs had their share of ups and downs during dinner, but it came down to food and flavor.

The first test required the chefs to create a dish featuring Santa Barbara’s finest local foods from both land and sea. Chef Earl chose to cook with stinging nettles from the land and sea urchin from the sea, but unfortunately his combination with lobster and pineapple masked the flavors of the two local ingredients, so he was sent home. For the second challenge, the chefs had to create a breakfast dish and an entree, both using eggs. Chef Diana’s ostrich egg white frittata and her pork chop topped with a fried egg were both overcooked so she was sent home. It would be Chefs Chris and Jared who would make it to dinner service.

Jared and Chris

During Jared’s dinner service, two things complicated matters. First, his fresh pasta came out too thin and it easily overcooked. Second was cooking an off-menu dish for VIP guest Cat Cora. After getting backed up with the returned pasta dishes, Jared finally switched to dried pasta and eventually found time to cook the VIP dish. Whereas Jared had a great line of communication with his cooks, Chef Chris did not. During his service he kept trying to do everything himself instead of delegating tasks. At one point he even started peeling a cucumber and ended up slicing into his thumb, which required emergency medical attention. With some persistence from Anne, Chris finally made efforts to communicate with his staff and completed service. In the end, Chef David and Kathleen were most impressed with Chris’ flavors and he was awarded the new executive chef position at The Bistro, an opportunity which meant he’d finally have the chance to start a family with his wife, Mindy.


FN Dish caught up with Chef Chris to chat about his experience on the show and what he’s been doing since winning the executive chef position. Read his interview below.

During dinner service, you got into the weeds almost right away because you seemed to be trying to do too much yourself instead of delegating to the staff. What was the turning point that got you through service?
Chris Turano: It is impossible to properly train multiple cooks in just a few hours. I don’t know if there was a turning point; I think it was mainly just working hard and doing the best you can in a real tough situation.

At any point did you feel you wouldn’t get offered the job? How did you feel when Kathleen announced it was you?
CT: When Anne came in the kitchen and told me that I had to change my menu, the octopus to ridge back shrimp, the scallops to black cod and ostrich to lamb, I didn’t think I was going to be able to finish. That was the hardest part. I felt great when Kathleen announced that I was chosen.

What was your mentality going into the show?
CT: I kept on telling myself that the job was mine to lose. If I did what I knew I could do, I would come out on top. And I did that — tried not to overextend myself in the kitchen.

How was it working with Anne Burrell?
CT: Anne was tough to work with, but she was very fair. It was a great experience.

What has the experience of doing the show taught you?
CT: Being on Chef Wanted kind of validated that I can do just about anything and wind up better than before.

How are you settling into California life? What do you find most different from working in Santa Barbara vs. Chicago?
CT: California is crazy: People talk about how it is not that nice outside on some days, and it’s, like, 70 with a little overcast! In Chicago, that’s a great day! Workwise, once you get settled in a kitchen, they are the same, more or less, everywhere.

What was one of the first things you did at The Bistro? What kind of menu have you created?
CT: The menu is “Italian Riviera,” so it is Italian but trying to focus and highlight the great local produce and seafood.

Do you have a favorite or signature dish?
CT: We have a really nice halibut with fregola and a celery root salsa verde that is based off the halibut that I did for my dinner service.

What advice would you give to other chefs competing on Chef Wanted?
CT: Keep your head up, don’t try to be Superman, do what you know, keep your ego out of it.

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 (13)

  1. tracy says:

    Finally, one chef actually took the job. It's only the first episode so we'll see. Last season most of the chefs that got thevjob didn't actually take the job.

    • @richguanga says:

      I think that the restaurants only do it for free advertising. The person wins then the restaurant tells them that the salary is some ridiculously low amount so they can't take it as many would have to relocate.

  2. Mona says:

    Finally! So glad to see the winning chef from the first episode of the season actually took the position. I have a feeling that FN execs read the comments and probably made sure that the chef's who were interviewing actually plan to take the position if they win. I noticed that both of the finalists made it a point to say they couldn't wait to MOVE to California. I think the network got the picture. If it were up to me, I would have found a way to work it into the contract for being on the show. That way the network doesn't end up looking like morons.

  3. Olive Oil says:

    My thoughts echo Mona and Tracy's. . . Finally! The chef that won took the job! I thought Chef Case was going to win, but I'm happy that Chef Chris did win. I think his food won them over and was more focused on highlighting Italy. I loved Chef Anne's heels – much improvement over her flip-flops although personally I love flip-flops. It was good to see Chef Cat Cora. I miss her competing on Iron Chef. Hopefully, the chefs that win will continue to take the position they have fought so hard to win!

  4. FNGossip says:

    They usually take the job the first few episodes of the season. The real test are the later episodes

  5. 18 wheeler says:

    Again, hit the mute button when Anne starts yelling and doing the count down. Thankfully she cut the count down to five!!

  6. Sunshine says:

    You never know what happening after they got they're job as a chef's .. Do they still working…… On the restaurants …

  7. Uni Lover says:

    Anne Burrell lost some respect from me in this episode. The chef was clearly cleaning the fresh uni properly by rinsing it under cold water. Would she prefer it swimming in its own blood and guts and excrement? Did someone put her comment on a cue card to make her look foolish? Unacceptable for a network focused on food.

    • Antoinette says:

      I watched another cooking show recently called Master Chef the chef also said that Uni is NOT supposed to be washed prior to eating when out of the shell. So this is correct what Anne Burrell said. Do some research on this you will see it is so.

  8. kathy says:

    Watching Masterchef UK The Professionals on BBC the past few weeks, What a show! But I know one thing from watching since they had uni on the skills test and that is you never—ever–wash uni under running water from the tap. You should pull it out with tweezers so the "blood guts etc" are minimized and, at most, you can carefull rinse–breifly–in a small bowl of water

  9. M Kuznik says:

    My favorite Food Network program is Chef Robert's Restaurant Impossible. In fact, it's the only program on Food Network we now watch. Please, can we see more of Chef Robert?

  10. Jersey says:

    I think it is terrible that the chefs who win do not take/keep the jobs. What is their agenda for coming on the show? Not gracious at all! The restaurant owners and staff are being taken advantage of. Shocking! Clearly these people are not seriously seeking employment.

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