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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