On tonight’s Chef Wanted, Second Home Kitchen and Bar, a restaurant in the Cherry Creek neighborhood of Denver, needed a new executive chef. Co-founder Peter Karpinski and culinary vice president Michael Carr-Turnbough had promoted the restaurant’s previous chef and were looking for a talented newcomer to fill the void as soon as possible. Anne Burrell had four candidates for the job opportunity, but only one was offered the position. FN Dish has the exclusive interview with the winning chef.
In the end, Chef Jason Brumm, originally from Boulder, Colo., was offered the position of executive chef. Jason did well with his first two tests and went on to a dinner service, which had its fair share of ups and downs. A few mishaps during service, including a spilled sauce and a collision in the dining room, put the chef behind in getting his dishes out. But in the end, both Peter and Michael saw that Jason was the best candidate for the job, so they offered him the position of executive chef at Second Home Kitchen and Bar. FN Dish caught up with Chef Jason to chat about his time on the show and his new job.
When you found out you would be going on to the dinner service, what was your plan of attack?
I was focused on getting the menu selections optimized for what was sure to be an exciting service — period. I really wanted to push myself but kept in mind that this was not going to be a typical dinner service and would need to keep the dishes unique and executable in a new kitchen with a new team.
During dinner service, you quickly fell behind, and after a few mishaps it looked as though you wouldn’t make it through, but you eventually bounced back. Looking back, what was the hardest part? And what helped you get through it?
The most difficult aspect of service was adapting to a new environment and keeping the crew focused on quality and volume. We had some beet salads that kept getting returned, and once I swung down to re-establish plating specs and organization, it fell into place. We also had some problems with the lamb temps in which Chef Anne took the opportunity to re-focus me, and from there my team really pulled through and put pressure on ourselves to maintain the standards, regardless of the volume of the service.
How was it working with Anne Burrell?
Working with Anne was really unique, since I had been watching her when she was the funky sous chef on Iron Chef with Mario. Choosing to do gnocchi with her as a judge was a bit nerve-racking, so when she said that she didn’t dislike them, I took that as a compliment.
What has the experience of doing the show taught you?
I learned that having a clearly defined point of view with your food and knowledge base that is well-thought-through is critical to success at a high level.
How is it working out for you being back home?
My family really loves Denver. The relocation and move proved difficult, but the company has been very helpful and understanding through this transition.
What was one of the first things you did at Second Home? Have you reworked the menu? Do you have a favorite or signature dish?
We have been waiting for the show to air before we did any real menu reworking. The unique hotel environment that Second Home operates in has kept me busy learning the systems, procedures and the culinary team I lead, in between filming and airing. We have been establishing the framework for a menu change, which will be coming soon.
What advice would you give to other chefs coming onto Chef Wanted?
I think if you get the opportunity to participate in the show, being able to flex your game plan and see your dishes through is critical. Also, as a chef, being able to seek and accept criticism both objectively and subjectively will serve you well.
Watch Chef Wanted on Thursdays at 10pm/9c, and keep coming back to FN Dish for updates with the chefs.