Nikki Beach is a high-profile restaurant and resort concept with 10 international locations that cater to the wealthy. Jack and Lucia Penrod, who opened their first location in Miami Beach in 1998, were looking for an executive chef for their new location in Ibiza, Spain. Anne Burrell and the Chef Wanted
team were called in to help with the search. After two grueling tests and dinner services, an offer was extended to Chef Jouvens Jean.
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Family-run Cuban restaurant Victor’s Cafe, in the heart of New York City’s theater district, has been around for 50 years and has never had an executive chef. Then the owners decided to change that. Sonia Zaldivar and her daughter Monica were looking for a chef who could put a fresh spin on the cuisine and advance the restaurant’s menu. Anne Burrell and the Chef Wanted
team were brought in to help with the search. After two grueling tests and dinner services, an offer was extended to Chef Ted Torres.
Originally from New York, Ted grew up in the South Bronx and saw his share of hard times. But after moving to Philadelphia, he found his calling, enrolled in culinary school and became the chef he is today. It has been a dream of his to go back to New York and show everyone what he’s made of himself.
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Blaue Gans, German for “blue goose,” is a Wirtshaus-style restaurant in New York City serving modern Austro-German cuisine. It is one of five establishments owned by esteemed chef and published cookbook author Kurt Gutenbrunner. After promoting the restaurant’s current chef to oversee all operations, Kurt needed a new chef for Blaue Gans, so he turned to Anne Burrell and the Chef Wanted
team for help. Four candidates were brought in, and after two rigorous cooking tests and two dinner services, an offer was extended to Chef Carsten Vollrath.
Originally from Germany, Chef Vollrath has been living and working in the United States for the past 10 years. He has wanted to become a chef since the age of 17, and he’s always dreamed of coming to New York City. He thinks Blaue Gans will become his new home away from home.
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Coquette, a French brasserie in Raleigh, N.C., run by husband-and-wife team Kevin and Stacey Jennings, needed a new chef with French flair. Anne Burrell and the Chef Wanted
team were called in to help with the search. After testing four candidates, an offer was extended to Chef Michael Bryant.
Chef Bryant has been waiting for the right opportunity to move to the East Coast from Los Angeles so he can be closer to his daughter. Classically trained in French cuisine, Chef Bryant knows this opportunity is perfect for him.
For the first test, the chefs were instructed to make one sweet crepe and one savory crepe, incorporating the same ingredient in the filling of each. Chef Bryant ambitiously chose to use pink peppercorns and kumquats in both. For his savory dish, he made a crepe au fromage with salmon and pink peppercorn and kumquat salsa. His sweet crepe suzette featured a kumquat curd filling and a blueberry and peppercorn reduction. Anne and the owners appreciated his ambition and felt his dish was very creative.
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The Precinct in Cincinnati is a former police station from the early 1900s that was converted into a steakhouse by owner Jeff Ruby in 1981. Jeff, with the help of his daughter Britney, was looking for a new chef who could meet three criteria. They wanted a chef with tremendous culinary depth, who knew beef as well or better than Jeff himself and could make everyone in the kitchen better at their jobs. Anne Burrell and the Chef Wanted
team were called in to help with the search. After two tests and two dinner services, an offer was extended to Chef Rahman “Rock” Harper.
Rock left the restaurant business about three years ago to work for D.C. Central Kitchen, a nonprofit in Washington, D.C., that helps rehabilitate homeless people and gives them the skills to enter the culinary field. Rock wants to re-enter the professional kitchen and sees Precinct as the perfect opportunity.
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Ola restaurant is located at Turtle Bay Resort on the north shore of Oahu, Hawaii. Chef/owner Fred DeAngelo opened the restaurant eight years ago with his wife, Cheryl. Fred was looking for an executive chef who could relieve some of the pressure from his workload, as he has a new restaurant to run. His hope was to find a chef who could expertly work with the local island ingredients and who shares his philosophy for the restaurant, which is reflected in the name Ola, meaning “life.” Anne Burrell and the Chef Wanted
team were called in to help with the search. After two tests and two dinner services, an offer was extended to Chef Casey Barnes.
Casey is an unemployed chef from Los Angeles — he actually quit his job with a Michelin-rated chef just to interview at Ola. He recently got engaged to his girlfriend and is ready to move to Hawaii to start fresh with this new job.
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Culina, Modern Italian is a restaurant located in the Four Seasons Hotel Los Angeles at Beverly Hills. General Manager Mehdi Eftekari was looking for a new executive chef because the former executive chef, Ashley James, was promoted to oversee the entire hotel. The two men were in need of someone who could cook innovative Italian food, lead a large staff and be comfortable with their customers. Anne Burrell and the Chef Wanted
team were called in to help with the search. After two tests and two dinner services, an offer was extended to Chef Mette Williams.
Mette Williams is an executive chef from Los Angeles and a single mother of a 14-month-old boy. The position at Culina would give her the stability that she wants for herself and her son.
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Zengo is a high-volume restaurant located in New York City that’s famous for blending Latin and Asian cuisines. Restaurateur Richard Sandoval is looking for a new executive chef who can meet three criteria: understand Latin and Asian cuisines, command respect from a demanding kitchen and keep consistency in every dish. Anne Burrell and the Chef Wanted
team were called in to help with the search. After two tests and two dinner services, an offer was extended to Chef David Sears.
David Sears lives in Orlando, Fla., with his Peruvian-Chinese wife, two sons and is expecting a baby on the way. Growing up in the Bahamas as the son of a parliament member, David was expected to behave a certain way but ended up rebelling and turned to a life of crime. His turning point came when he found a passion for food and cooking. He recently was going to be the executive chef of a restaurant venture, but the project fell through. Chef Sears sees the opportunity at Zengo as a way to rebound his career and be able to provide again for his family.
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Abel’s on the Lake is a popular open-air restaurant in Austin, Texas. Owner Ellis Winstanley was looking for an executive chef who shares his vision for the restaurant and can keep up with the demands of the busy establishment. Anne Burrell and the Chef Wanted
team were called in to help with the search. After two tests and two dinner services, an offer was extended to Chef Jon Gaboric.
Chef Gaboric was born in Seoul, South Korea, was left on the doorstep of a police station and ended up in an orphanage. At 5 years old he was adopted by an American family and grew up in New England. As a kid he fell in love with food. He’s been cooking professionally for 20 years but was looking for a new job with the potential to grow so that he can give his son the life his adoptive family gave him.
Chef Gaboric was successful at creating a dish for the first test, which challenged the chefs to work with blue crab. Unfortunately, for the second test, Chef Gaboric didn’t create a dish that Ellis was happy with — the grilled swordfish with fennel salad was not the right style for Abel’s and the fish was sliced and cooked inconsistently. When it came to dinner service things looked promising during prep, but once service began, everything started to go downhill fast. Ticket times were extremely long and Chef Gaboric found himself out of his element in cooking for a large volume. He tried to take shortcuts but Ellis reprimanded him. In the end, Chef Gaboric was able to turn out a successful dinner service with food that everyone loved. Ellis offered Chef Gaboric the job of executive chef, believing he embodied the future of Abel’s on the Lake.
is a restaurant and nightclub located right on the beach in Puerto Rico. Owner Todd Berman was looking for an executive chef who could match the elegance of the restaurant with a culturally charged menu. Anne Burrell and the Chef Wanted
team were brought in to help with the search. After two difficult tests and two very different dinner services, an offer was extended to Chef Austin Henry.
Chef Henry considers himself the James Bond of the kitchen. He’s traveled the world and is familiar with many different cuisines and languages. Oceano is the perfect opportunity for Chef Henry to move up in his culinary career.
At first Chef Henry had a rough start. He almost served his mofongo dish with undercooked pork, but rectified the issue just in time. For his second “sexy” dish, he had to change course from scallops to shrimp when he realized the scallops wouldn’t sear properly. When it came to dinner service, he succeeded at rallying support from the restaurant staff, and except for getting frustrated over frozen pork and some expediting problems, the service was successful. Despite his lack of experience with Puerto Rican cuisine, his menu incorporated characteristic island flavors and got rave reviews from the guests. In the end, Chef Henry was offered the executive chef position because of his great food and natural leadership in the kitchen.
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