Wouldn’t it be cool if you could outsource your search for a stellar new chef to reality television? And, like, score a little prime-time publicity while you’re at it?
Such was likely the thinking at the Bacara Resort, when the powers that be opted not to go the usual routes in their search for an executive chef for the Bistro restaurant, but instead to call in a ringer, in the form of the Food Network’s Anne Burrell.
Burrell, host of the show Chef Wanted, lined up four chefs with killer kitchen cred, brought them (along with camera and production crews) to the Bacara’s Bistro, and then subjected them all to one hell of a job interview, which will be broadcast tonight at 10 p.m. on the Food Network.
The show was shot over a couple of days in May, and, I’m told by Bacara GM Kathleen Cochran, the winning chef has been working ever since the victory — if keeping a low profile — doing a lot of menu planning in the background and crafting a special Food Network Tasting Menu that’ll be offered once the cat’s out of the bag. And that’s something Cochran is hoping will prove a draw for locals.
For Cochran, the perks were obvious: It’s great publicity, the show wrangles top talent, and getting to work with Burrell was a treat. While she was pretty tight-lipped in terms of hints as to who ultimately emerged victorious (there was more than one ”I could tell you, but I’d have to kill you” during the course of our conversation), Cochran did offer this: ”We’re in the hospitality business, so we wanted someone who brought that into the kitchen, a great leader; we have a big staff, so we want someone who cares and could inspire, mentor, and train in the kitchen, but also come out and talk to the guests”; and this: ”Food allergies are such a thing now, we want someone who can make something on the fly that’s just as delicious.”
(My money’s on the gluten-phobe!)
Of course, nothing is perfect. I asked Cochran if we’d spot her on the show, and she wailed, ”Ohhhh, I hope not! That part I didn’t think through!”
See it all unfold tonight. And then find out what victory tastes like sometime soon at the Bistro.