Chef Wanted: The Pear Southern Bistro Update

by in Shows, September 5th, 2013

Chef Wanted chefsOn tonight’s Chef Wanted, chef/owner Rodney Worth was looking for an executive chef for his restaurant The Pear Southern Bistro in Napa, Calif. He and his wife, Natalie, own and operate six restaurants in Northern California, and handing over the reins of The Pear to another chef would allow Rodney to spend more time with their kids. Anne Burrell brought in four viable candidates for the job opportunity, but only one got the position. FN Dish has the exclusive interview with the winning chef.

Ashurina YounanIn the end, Chef Ashurina Younan, from Napa, Calif., was offered the position of executive chef. Rodney and Natalie felt that she would be the best fit for the job. Through both initial tests, Ashurina showed a deft grasp of combining Napa style with Southern cooking, which the restaurant specializes in. Although she had many challenges testing her resolve during dinner, Ashurina came out of dinner service better for it.

During pre-shift you got really emotional when Chef Anne called out the presentation of the pea soup. What was going through your mind then?
I’m a perfectionist when it comes to my food. I take great pride in serving not only flavorful food but food that is visually appealing. The pressure of creating a menu and executing it, with the limited time, unfamiliar kitchen and staff that isn’t clear on my expectations, really got to me. I don’t cry when I’m sad; I cry when I am frustrated with myself. I knew what Chef Anne was saying was true, because I had already thought it myself before presenting it, but with the time crunch there was no other option but to get it plated and worry about fixing it later, which was precisely what I did.

During dinner the risotto kept coming back due to inconsistencies. You ended up getting frustrated with the cook, and took him off the line, which Rodney wasn’t too pleased with. In hindsight, what do you think you would have done differently in that moment?
When it comes to being in the kitchen, I am very passionate. I expect nothing but excellence, not only from my cooks but from myself as well. When the risottos started coming back because they weren’t consistent, of course I needed to fix that. I addressed it several times with Caesar before deciding to kick him off the line. This is when you could say my passion got the best of me. In hindsight, I think there was a better way of handling that situation. As a leader you have to look at yourself first when things aren’t going right. If anything, I could have just put him on a different station and took over risottos myself. I’m glad to say Caesar and I have managed to get along great now, and kicking him off the line has become nothing more than a joke that we both remember and laugh about.

What was your mentality going into the show? You seemed determined to win.
My mentality going into the show was to prove to myself and anyone that has doubted me that I am ready for the executive chef title. I worked at a resort for over two years doing the job of an executive chef, but never got the title because I was told by my boss that I wasn’t ready for it. This was my chance to prove him wrong and show the world what I’m made of. I also wanted to win for my mom. She worked very hard to raise our family, especially after losing my dad at a young age. Losing wasn’t an option, and it never crossed my mind. This win was just as much for my mom as it was for me!

How was it working with Anne Burrell?
Chef Anne is tough, because she expects only the best. She is straightforward and is truly there to help you be better. She helps you develop yourself and your food, by hearing out your ideas and using her experience and knowledge to help you perfect them. She has a great sense of humor, as well, and when she is happy with your performance and food, she makes sure you know that as well.

Ashurina YounanWhat has the experience of doing the show taught you?
Doing the show has reminded me of something my parents taught me as a child: that if you want something bad enough, and if you are willing to work hard enough, then you are capable of achieving any goal that you set for yourself. There was a poem that my dad taught me when I was growing up, and the last part of it said: “If you think you’re outclassed, you are. You’ve got to think high to rise. You’ve got to be sure of yourself before you can ever win a prize. Life’s battles don’t always go to the stronger or faster man, but soon or late, the man who wins is the one who thinks he can.” The show retaught me just that, and I know when I put my mind to something, I can succeed.

How is it working out for you being closer to home and your mom?
My mom is very proud of me! She and I are best of friends, and having had the opportunity to show her that my hard work is paying off has really made her proud! It is very nice to be close to her — and to work in Napa. There is so much going on in Napa, from the daily farmers markets to the Chefs’ night every week in downtown. There are local gardens that I get to pick fresh produce from and fun food and wine events that close down the main street. People dining in Napa are looking for an experience and excellent food; it is fun to showcase the food and wine and all that Napa has to offer! It’s amazing to be able to immerse myself in the culture and to experience the wine country from the perspective of a chef.

What was one of the first things you did at The Pear? Have you reworked the menu? Do you have a favorite or signature dish?
Besides trying all the delicious food, one of the first things I did at The Pear was get to know the staff and build a rapport with them. I want them to know that I am ready and excited about being their leader, and I wanted to make sure I got familiar with them before I started making changes. Right now, Chef Rodney and I are working on the fall menu. We are looking forward to the weather getting cooler, because Southern food is all about cooking comforting food. One of my signature dishes that will be going on the fall menu is the Country Cassoulet: Liberty Farms confit duck leg, slow-roasted pork belly, thyme and fennel sausage, Rancho Gordo black-eyed peas and herbed breadcrumbs.

What advice would you give to other chefs coming onto Chef Wanted?
Be prepared, be yourself, leave your ego at home and take Chef Anne’s advice because if you have watched the show, you know that not taking her advice usually has the chef packing his knives and going home. This is a tough competition that is meant to find the best person for the job. If you don’t bring your best, and come mentally prepared to win, you might as well stay home.

Watch Chef Wanted on Thursdays at 10pm/9c and keep coming back to FN Dish for updates with the chefs.

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Comments (46)

  1. Mike Simon says:

    I will never watch this show again. What a joke! The jerk of a host was completely bias. She is a punk and I would never allow her to come in my home via the TV again. I told my wife what the agenda was and it played out just like I thought. If I was hiring (and I am a chef) I would not have allowed that girl to get 100 yards near my business. She was not emotionally well. She has some real issues and I do not think she will last one year at the Pear. I really do not care about the sob back story about doing it for mommy. You either can do the job or not. I dare the Network to do a follow up about this sorry chef a year from now. This show has absolutely no creditability, just an agenda.

    • Jay F. says:

      I agree it is questionable to hire a person that acted emotional during a job interview. However, cooking seafood risotto demonstrates a high level of culinary skill. Cook Cesar showed a lot of class by not verbalizing the hurt of unfair criticism. He was thrown to the wolves by being expected to master a dish with multiple components and temperamental handling that requires exact experience to master.

      • GiantsFan24 says:

        I don't know the first thing about cooking, so your points about the complexities of cooking seafood risotto are interesting points. That said, her threats after one mistake and then her decision to fire the guy show a deep lack of understanding how to get the best out of diligent, hard-working people. Accordingly, I'm hoping the owners told her that behavior should never come into play. She was completely unfair to Caesar, and also completely out of line. I can only imagine the pressure that she was under, but I've not seen that in any of the chefs on any of the other episodes.

    • Greg says:

      I don't hear you complaining about the back story from each of the other chefs. Obviously they were all asked by the producers to share their motivations for wanting the job, and they were probably asked to share a family related or personal story to make the show more heart-felt. Additionally, all shows like this take an enormous amount of footage during the three or four days and then cut it together to make a good, dramatic story. We don't actually know if Cesar made a mistake once, was warned and then removed from the line, or if he made a mistake several times, was mentored in the proper procedure, failed, and then finally removed. You don't say what agenda you told your wife about at the beginning of the show, about which you were proven correct. Want to share? I'm curious.

  2. LLeo says:

    My wife and I cried when she won. Not only because she won, but it was cause she is driven by the fact that she has a mother that she wants to have proud of her, and the other fact that it meant more to her in her personal Journey. Even though she had crossed that line between being Boss and being Bossy, she managed to go beyond that, correct the situation, and to me, that makes her a great chef. Good luck and be blessed Chef Ashurina.

  3. LPC says:

    This show is highly annoying to me. I watch it and complain while watching it every week. Anne is the worst. If Anne is so great why doesnt she open her own restaurant. She was supposed to open one in 2010. But that never materialized. She cut off the chef speaking in the first round. That's beyond rude. Give the guy a little respect and let him finish his sentence. If someone cut you off. You would flip out. Then in round 2. The owner complimented the corn cake. What does Anne say? I don't get the corn cake and he got eliminated. Seemed like she had her own agenda this episode. The last chef got a minute to cry and collect herself. Yet the first chef couldnt get out a sentence. Oh and the crocodile tears at the end Anne. No one is buying your fake crying.

    • islandantoinett says:

      You are so silly! If you watch it every week and complain while watching it. Don't watch it!
      Highly doubt you are making anywhere near the money Chef Anne is. Nor do I think she cares.
      She has a job to do and obviously gets the job done. People get hired, people have jobs, and Restaurants are the ones who make the ultimate decision! Not Anne! Who are YOU to dictate what she is "supposed" to do with her life! Don't see her dictating your life! Get your own life and stop complaining about hers.

      • LPC says:

        Thank you. Im so silly. I like to watch the show. Why? Because I like watching a train wreck. Which is what this show has become. It's a joke. I love seeing at the end of the show – so and so didnt take the job. SHOCKER. Ummm. ISLAND. Anne is in the public eye. So if she cant take people complainign. SHe should get out of the public eye.

        • Dr. Lipshits says:

          For a show you complain about you sure devote a lot of your own precious time to it. First by watching the show second by going to the web page and read about the show and interview of the winner. Third reading comments about the show. Fourth by writing a comment yourself. And lastly, you comment on the comment that someone wrote about your comment…..wow when I don't like a show I don't watch it again and I definitely do not go to their web page. Maybe I'm wrong and your time isn't valuable like I figured it is. Hmmmm

  4. Dissapointed says:

    Really?! This chef breaks down not once but twice. "That isn't me" crap when she sent the line cook off the line are absolute lies! That's the chef they hired… Good luck keeping your staff and good luck keeping a chemically balanced chef. The mommy story won't matter to you when your "best cook" quits.

    • islandantoinett says:

      You are a Dissapointed Person in life and it shows. Very negative person indeed – these people including the owners are not which is why they are ALL doing so well and will continue to do so. You need to get a life.

  5. Leticia Cervantes says:

    Can't wait to visit during my next trip to Napa, my girlfriend lives in Vallejo and we rarely visit these uppity/fufu restaurants that our overpriced, our local OxBow suffices for us and when we take our family visiting from out of town. I have to admit that I was truly inspired when I saw these owners taking a chance on a young confident chef and that is what I like to see, yes others above would not agree but hopefully Ms. Ashurina Younan will flourish at this great restaurant. Just a little tidbit to those who wrote some negative comments above, I do believe Chef/owner Worth consulted with his line staff about his decision and that is why she won, even Caesar am sure had his input on who he felt would fit well at their restaurant in order to be successful not Anne Burrell.

    • Candie-TheTomatoLady says:

      I live in Napa and highly recommend eating at The Pear during your next visit. I am a frequent patron and love this place. It's one of my go-to restaurants in town. Chef Rina is fantastic!

  6. margo says:

    I can not believe she sent the cook off the line, and still got the job. This is telling me the show is fake. She was a little off. The guy Brandon should have gotten it.

    • m. mcclain says:

      sometimes you have to do drastic decisions on the drop of a dime. this was her only oppurtunity to impress the owners… all her food was not coming out of the line how she wanted it ..because of
      the line cooks.. i would have done the same thing and busted my ass to the finish line…. congrats chef ashurina… now its time to prove everyone wrong… you deserve this… good luck!

    • Jenny says:

      I agree with m. mclain I have been in the industry for 30 yrs…passions and emotions run high in the back of the house…it is common…but she recognized it which is what usually happens and then we are all good..congrats Chef Ashurina

  7. Conroy says:

    Are you serious? Why would anyone hire an executive chef that has to take time out to cry after two dishes are criticized? Thats not caused by being passionate just a mental case. Throwing a cook off the line when in the weeds? Stupid! & the i have to do it for Mommy? Realy lame. Good luck w/her!! On the other hand I think the other chef could legitimately be dismissed for simply making the decision to precook steaks. Bush league. What was he thinking? The line cook that followed his direction to precook 13 steaks should have pulled him aside to say "DUDE we don't do that Sizzler Shit here!"

  8. Ninka says:

    This certainly was not a reality show. There was a plan from the very beginning. It's unfortunate but the worst candidate won the position! She was completely inexperienced, her dishes were terrible and she had no skills to run the kitchen! Her salad? Are you kidding me? How do you even serve something like that?! The guy in the first round Carl should have stayed, it was very rude of the host to not let him finish his sentence. They didn't even taste his dish. What a joke! Horrible show, the worst host ever! I will never waste my time again and watch this BS.

    • GUEST says:

      I agree this was a fake set up show..i wonder why she got the job???? something was up from the start and to dismiss carl so quickly looked fake in itself! anne is really going overboard to show her influence over the chefs, talking the one guy into changing his duck..seriously, so fake and getting worse with each show..the chick was gonna get if from the first minute,,too many writers and making things FAKE!

  9. GiantsFan24 says:

    I've become a fan of this show over the past several months, although I do find Anne to be annoying at times. This episode was really disappointing for several reasons. First, my sense has always been that Anne really favors female chefs. That's her prerogative, but it really comes across during the show, and it shouldn't. She should be completely impartial. Second, while I don't joke about mental illness (no one should), the chef they chose–based on what we saw–is a trainwreck waiting to happen. Breaking down because of mild critiques during the initial presentation to the staff? Threatening and later firing the restaurant's best line cook? You could see on his face that he's not going to trust her. I wish her the best, but they should have chosen the guy from Arizona.

    • JustAThought says:

      The cook wasn't fired. I doubt she broke down just because of the mild critiques. It's more likely it was a combination of the stresses of the whole thing.

    • islandantoinett says:

      You are not a person who can "judge" a person to have a mental illness or not. I am an RN and would not even to that. Shame on you! If you were in Chef Ashurina's shoes (which you would not be) how do you know your own "Mental Balance". You don't. This lady showed she has feelings, emotions and a heart and has the best interests of herself and the job at stake. Both excellent mental disciplines to have in this life. Being cold, calculated and heartless may be SOME peoples ways but it is NOT the right way! I am sorry for you and your bitterness and bad attitude towards life But your handle says it all doesn't it?

      • GiantsFan24 says:

        Wow, you certainly jump to a lot of conclusions without knowing the first thing about a person. I do hope you don't do that as an RN. First and foremost, this is a discussion board, where everyone is entitled to express their opinions. Apparently, you've decided that yours is the only one that matters. Seriously, get over yourself (a grown-up using the word "haters"–seriously?). I wish only the best for this woman, but she comes across as truly unstable. Did you actually WATCH the show? If so, how could you conclude anything but that? Sorry, but in a senior management position like executive chef of a big-time establishment, the leader needs to be in complete control. Sorry, she didn't exhibit that. And guess what, those are my opinions. Sorry if you don't like it, but no one asked you to judge me or anyone else here.

  10. Candie-TheTomatoLady says:

    Congrats Rina!!!!! You rock!

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