The owners of the iconic Le Cirque restaurant in New York City, the Maccioni family, were looking for an executive chef to head a new addition of their Tuscan-concept Osteria del Circo, set to open in Abu Dhabi. They needed a chef who would be able to infuse Tuscan cuisine with a Middle Eastern flair. Anne Burrell and the Chef Wanted team had four candidates: chefs James Trees, Alexandre Petard, Mike Perez, and Luca Banfi.
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. Ultimately the decision would be both easy and difficult because the family could see either of the finalists filling the position. The show’s ending would prove to be an unprecedented surprise to both chefs.