Sea Dog Steak & Ale in Northborough, Mass., is a brewpub known for its signature beers. The owners called in Anne Burrell and the Chef Wanted
team to help them find a new executive chef who would take on the task of reinventing the restaurant as a gastropub. After two grueling tests and two hectic dinner services, an offer was extended to Chef Amie Hurd.
Through the tests and dinner services, Chef Hurd showed she understood beer by incorporating it into many of her dishes. Unfortunately, her lack of experience working with a large crew showed during dinner service — she wouldn’t give up control of her dishes to her team by delegating tasks. But by the end she realized she couldn’t keep up without putting trust in her team. The owners felt she was the best person for the job and that with time she’d gain the experience required to run the restaurant, so they offered her the position.
FN Dish caught up with Chef Hurd after her win. Watch the video above to find out what it was like competing, what she learned from Anne Burrell and about the turn of events that took place since the show taped.
Although she’s now a seasoned mentor on Chef Wanted and a no-nonsense team leader to some of the Worst Cooks in America, Chef Anne Burrell wasn’t always a food-television star. In fact, she began her career working in some of New York City’s top restaurants, where she climbed the culinary ladder to become a leading executive chef. Read on below to find the most important pieces of industry know-how she’s picked up along the way.
1. Being a chef can get very emotional from time to time. Remain cool under pressure.
2. Remember that you are a teacher and a leader.
3. You can’t avoid mistakes, but you can try to prevent them and learn how to not make them again.
4. Set long-term goals for yourself and review them regularly.
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At Mirabelle restaurant in Hollywood, owners George Germanides and Justine Giannini (George’s daughter) decided they needed help after a recent failed overhaul. They asked Anne Burrell and the Chef Wanted
team to help them find a chef who could infuse new life into the aging establishment. Anne brought in four candidates, and after some grueling tests, an offer was extended to Drew Ison.
On the show, Chef Ison proved he understood what the owners wanted by creating flavorful dishes in the restaurant’s cooking style. Though he let time constraints get to him during dinner service, resulting in some dishes being sent back and worrying the owners that he wouldn’t pull through. In the end Chef Ison was offered the position because of his vision of fusing Mediterranean and California cuisines as the new concept for Mirabelle.
“Chef Ison is doing an amazing job. He truly understands Mirabelle’s customer base,” says George. Longtime customers continue to support the restaurant and there is also a steady rise in new customers because of Chef Ison’s menu changes.
FN Dish caught up with Chef Ison since the show taped. Watch the video above to find out what it was like doing the show, what winning meant and how his confidence has improved since becoming the new executive chef of Mirabelle. He also talks about how his life used to be filled with negativity and that his tattoos are a reflection of that, but this new opportunity has brought him a lot of positivity. Chef Ison is very excited about all that he can do for Mirabelle.
At Tuscan Kitchen in Salem, N.H., a recent expansion had owner Joe Faro looking for a new chef. His specific requirement: a passion for artisanal Italian cuisine. Anne and the Chef Wanted
team were called in to help. Anne found four candidates, and after some grueling tests, an offer was extended to Chef Anthony De Palma.
Chef DePalma is a veteran when it comes to running a restaurant. He owned his own highly successful restaurant in West Palm Beach, Fla., but lost it after the economy collapsed in 2008. This job interview was the perfect opportunity to turn his luck around. He impressed Anne and Joe with his incredible skills of making pasta, sauce and cheese all from scratch. He breezed through all the challenges until it came to dinner, when a few problems in the kitchen delayed service. But in the end, Chef De Palma won the admiration of Joe and his family and was offered the position of executive chef.
Owner Joe Faro is pleased to have Chef De Palma on board: “He is passionate about the concept, the food and the people. He fits in well.”
FN Dish caught up with Chef De Palma on his first day on the job. Watch the video above to find out what the experience has meant for him, the challenges that lie ahead and all that he’s looking forward to as the new executive chef of Tuscan Kitchen.
No-nonsense chef Anne Burrell is taking her passion for the culinary industry one step further in an all-new season of Food Network’s Chef Wanted, premiering tomorrow night at 10pm/9c. If the applicants want to impress Anne and the restaurant’s management, they’ll need more than just stellar food chops and a winning resume to score their dream job.
So how can you be sure that you’re going after the right job? And once you’ve secured an interview, what are some things to keep in mind? We recently sat down with Anne and she dished her top tips for finding a job that fits like a glove:
1. Go for a job that you feel that you’re equipped to love.
2. Do research on the restaurant: its clientele, its owner and the area it’s located in.
3. Find out what the staff size is. It’s important to know how much support you’ll have.
4. Ask yourself why you really want this job.
5. Remain cool under pressure.
Continue reading Anne’s tips
Anne Burrell may be known to most Food Network fans as the force behind her show, Secrets of a Restaurant Chef, or the author of the New York Times Best Seller, Cook Like a Rock Star. But did you know that Anne Burrell was once a teacher at the Institute of Culinary Education? After cooking at a Michelin one-star restaurant in Italy and New York hot spots Felidia, Savoy and Centro Vinoteca, she took the opportunity to spread her culinary knowledge and passion as a teacher and mentor to students.
On January 31 (10pm/9c), Anne Burrell will be putting her mentor hat back on as she helps top restaurants find an executive chef — the critical employee who can make or break a restaurant — on Chef Wanted. Each week, Anne Burrell will put four candidates through the toughest job interview of their lives, testing everything from their culinary mettle to business acumen. It all ends with the biggest test of all: running the restaurant.
Before it all starts, get to know Chef Anne Burrell better with these fun facts:
1. She’s helped Mario Batali (one of her own most influential mentors) compete in more than 20 Iron Chef America battles as his sous chef.
2. Chef Anne Burrell first met Mario Batali in a wine shop.
3. You’ll never catch Anne eating calves’ liver.
4. She can’t live without a food mill.
5. She would go crazy if she had to work in an office.
This week on Chef Wanted, star Chef David Burke called in Anne Burrell to help him find a new executive chef for Fromagerie in Rumson, N.J. Among Anne’s four candidates was Phil Deffina, a six-year veteran of David’s restaurants. This was Phil’s chance to prove himself to his boss and mentor and to finally make the jump from sous chef to executive chef. He did just that, serving an ambitious menu and keeping the kitchen under control during his trial night of service. “I knew coming into this that David has high expectations of me,” Phil said. We checked in three months later to see how he’s doing at Fromagerie.
David says his veteran sous chef (from David Burke Kitchen in Manhattan) has proved to be a great fit for Fromagerie: “Phil has fresh insight into cuisine for this community of affluent and discerning tastes.” He says Anne’s influence really helped Phil shine in his interview: “Anne is one of the most talented female chefs in America. Pushing the chefs motivated them to turn up the burners and perform at new levels of creativity.”
The restaurant is improving every day. Phil is working with David on new menu items and several promotions, including burger night on Tuesday, lobster night on Wednesday and steak night with special wine pairings on Thursday. Phil is also running a seafood special, focusing on local Jersey ingredients this summer. “Sales are slightly up from 2011 and we are working to make it an upward trend,” says David.
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At James Beach in Venice, Calif., owners James Evans and Daniel Samakow called in Anne Burrell to find a new executive chef for their modern comfort food spot. Anne brought in four candidates, and after two grueling challenges and exhausting nights of service, James and Daniel extended an offer to Vincent Walker.
Vincent, a three-time cancer survivor, impressed the owners and Anne with his determination and delicious food. “This kid is a fighter,” Anne said. “He’s ready to resume his dream of becoming an executive chef.” Several weeks after the show was filmed, we checked in with the owners to see how Vincent is doing in his new job.
Right after Chef Wanted was filmed, Vincent got married. “We gave him time to wed and leave his prior position,” the owners explain. “He has been meeting with us throughout, but has officially started this week.”
The owners are thrilled that James Beach is having a record year in terms of sales, and they only expect things to get better: “Summer , our busy season, is right around the corner, and with the new chef and the show, we expect it to be off the charts.”
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At Mucho Ultima in Manhattan Beach, Calif., owner Scott Linquist needed a new executive chef to help turn his business into a dining destination. Anne Burrell arrived with four candidates lined up, confident that one would be the right fit for the modern Mexican restaurant. After two tough cooking tests and an intense dinner service, Scott hired Bryon Freeze. We checked in with Scott to see how Chef Bryon and the restaurant are doing.
Six weeks after Bryon joined the team, Mucho Ultima is back on the right track. “We are ecstatic!” says Scott. “Bryon’s energy and passion are exactly what we saw from him during the show.” Scott and Bryon have both worked many long days since the taping and Bryon “comes in here pumped and ready to attack every day and never once has complained about the workload.”
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This Thursday night on Food Network (10pm/9c), Anne Burrell will be putting her mentor hat back on as she helps top restaurants find an executive chef — the critical employee who can make or break a restaurant — on Chef Wanted. Each week, Anne Burrell will put four candidates through the toughest job interview of their lives, testing everything from their culinary mettle to business acumen. It all ends with the biggest test of all: running the restaurant.
We recently chatted with Anne about being a mentor: identifying red flags on resumes, the hard questions she has to ask and even her own toughest job interview.
What is the best question to ask a potential candidate?
AB: There are a few questions I always ask. The first really important question is why do you want this job? This is to see if they’re looking for any job or if they’re actually interested in this particular job. Second, why did you get into cooking? I want to find out if this is their passion or just a job to them.
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