Chef Wanted: Tapenade Update

by in Shows, October 24th, 2013

Chef WantedOn tonight’s Chef Wanted, Tapenade, a recently opened Mediterranean-influenced restaurant located in Los Angeles, needed a new chef de cuisine. Chef/owner Ressul Rassalat and general manager Chuck Craig were looking for an individual who could immediately jump into the role so that Chef Ressul could take on running the restaurant in front of the house to ensure its overall success. 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 Suzanne Williams from San Diego, Calif., was offered the position of chef de cuisine. Even though her pre-shift started out shaky with issues that needed to be addressed before dinner service, Suzanne was able to go into the dinner service strong. Though she did run out of one dish during service and had trouble with the expeditor, Suzanne showed she could lead a staff and deliver strong dishes that diners loved. Ressul and Chuck offered Suzanne the position of chef de cuisine at Tapenade. FN Dish caught up with Chef Suzanne to chat about her time on the show and her future with the restaurant.

For your second test you presented a dish without the key component because you ran out of time. Were you surprised that Anne asked you to bring out the tapenade? Do you think it saved you from elimination?
I was definitely heart broken when I realized that I had left off my tapenade on the dish. I was shocked when Anne asked me to bring out my tapenade for her and the owners to try. I thought okay I might still be in this. I’m absolutely positive that it saved me from elimination.

What was going through your mind when you found out you would be going onto the dinner service?
I was extremely excited but anxious for what was about to come. Honestly I thought okay now I have to write a dinner menu!

Going into the dinner service, you had a bunch of changes to the menu to address from pre-shift, and you ran into issues with your expeditor, but by the end everything came together. What was the hardest part of service for you? And what got you through it?
The hardest part of dinner service was working with a kitchen staff that seemed as if they really didn’t want to work with me. They all worked hard but it took a minute to motivate them to do what I needed from them. I work the line every night so a fast-paced dinner service is a challenge that I face regularly, but this was different. What got me through it was knowing that no matter how slow the food might have been coming out, that ultimately the customers would be happy with the meal that I was serving them.

Anne and SuzanneHow was it working with Anne Burrell?
It was exciting working with Anne. She definitely gave me some great advice when I needed it. After my menu was torn apart during pre-service she came into the kitchen to help me with the final finishing touches, which was awesome. I would love to work with her anytime she needs me!

What has the experience of doing the show taught you?
The experience definitely taught me to be more detailed in terms of what I expect from my employees.

Can you give us an update on your job at Tapenade? What have you been doing since the episode taped?
Ultimately I did not take the position at Tapenade. As much as I wanted to and can’t wait to move up to Los Angeles to be with my family, I still have some obligations here in San Diego. I am currently Chef de Cusine of Solterra Winery and Kitchen in Encinitas, Calif., and love my crew and have creative freedom over the menu which is very gratifying.

What advice would you give to other chefs coming into Chef Wanted?
Take time to formulate a game plan. Stick with your gut and try not to let the camera throw you off your game!

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Comments (32)

  1. Nancy says:

    Has anyone taken the job? This is a fun show to watch but so predictable.

  2. Jeff says:

    I am also done with this show.. Why get excited, when most likely the winner does not take the job..Done,done, done…

  3. Antoinette Jackson says:

    Even toward the end I was saying to myself if this lady does not take this job after "winning" when the other 2nd runner up REALLY WOULD have busted his hump to do a GREAT job and learn and not only wanted it but NEEDED It; I was really angry to come in here only to find out she did not. I hope the runner up 2nd guy got the choice!

  4. Matt says:

    I am also done with the show. The chef that won didn't complete her dish in second round and Anne broke the rules to help her win. What a joke

    • Karen says:

      Matt that is not true she won because she was the best chef out of the other 3. Which one would you have picked ?? None because she was the best.

  5. David says:

    Odd that someone like Anne Burrell who has never actually owned or run a restuarant has a show about helping restuarant owners pick their next executive chef
    The concept is great – but give it to someone who knows what they are doing.
    Chef Wanted with Mario Batali
    Chef Wanted with Booby Flay
    Ratings winners

  6. I would have taken the job if I had won. The odds are definetley against you going into dinner service. Overall I think I did well. It was an amazing experience and fun to work with other talented chefs including chef Anne. and crew. Good times! – Chef Victor Tapenade episode runner up. Thank you

    • VeggieToni says:

      Chef Victor, you might have had a better chance of getting the job if you had a full understanding of the meaning of the word "VEGAN." Suggesting lamb, a panzanella (bread) salad with cheese, and fish as possible dishes for a repeat, VIP, gluten-intolerant, Vegan client are not acceptable. And you're FROM SoCal! No wonder the Exec Chef and owner were looking at you as if you were from another planet. And your lamb dishes looked horrendous. Just sayin.'

      • Fair enough. I know what Vegan and gluten free is. In the middle of all the craziness it was hard for me to say it. Panzanella no bread no burata and what i was trying to say was lamb set up, but that wouldnt have worked out too so she had a vegetable entree. Thanks for the input pal.

  7. Dah says:

    It seems a lot of these "winners" do not even end up taking the job. Why are they even there if that is so. You would think they would have thought things out even before being on this show. And that is just what it is–a show. The restaurants get publicity, Anne Burell gets a show, and the contestants get air time. What is the point otherwise. While it is entertaining to watch, the endings are a farce when the winners bail so many times.

    • Karen says:

      I'm not even sure that the job was really available. My Daughter Suzanne won she tried getting back to the owner to see what details were involved but he never got back to her. Yes mostly more important is the exposure she got. Yes you are right a very small number of people have actually taken the jobs so it makes you wonder if the jobs were actually there in the first place.

  8. Mark says:

    Has anyone take the time to determine how many winning chefs didn't take the jobs offered? Too many, I'm sure. Like so many others, I'm tiring of this trite show and will quit watching it. Actually, I'm getting tired of all of the Food Network's "reality" shows. So much for truck races, restaurant races, failing restaurants and chefs wanted. Let's get back to good quality cooking shows.

  9. Lauren says:

    Glad to see that this may have been the last episode in this series. No sight of Anne and her supposed "chef wannabes" in a few weeks. Hopefully Food Network has had the wisdom to shelve this series permanently — and is seriously re-evaluating Anne Burrell for future roles in network programming. She may be the most irritating personality on FN ever.

  10. Italian Queen says:

    What a shocker. Another Chef didn't take the job. Does anyone remember the original show – Chef Hunter. It was about the owners and the chefs and not the person who found them. It was a much better show. There wasn't Ann screaming at the chefs and taking center front. I stopped watching this show after the 1st season. I do like to check in to see if the chef's are still not taking the jobs. They aren't.

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