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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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 calf’s 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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