Friday, April 3, 2009

Episode #4 - Get a Room

If you haven't found it yet, new episodes of The Chopping Block will air at the regular time Wednesdays at 8:00pm on As always behind the scenes and confessionals are on

This weeks episode was all about aphrodisiacs, romance and sex (finally something our team could relate too) I mean come on people, our restaurant is full of a bunch of fun loving west coast California liberals who love to indulge, aphrodisiacs were right up our alley. 

The Great White Challenge was for the chefs to prepare a sexual meal for a romantic dinner. The Black Team ended up serving Marco rice pudding, not well thought out. As I mentioned in my confessional their dish looked like the ocean had thrown up on their plate, pretty much the last thing I would want to consume before a serious make-out session. So of course the Red Team won, Lisa and Kels rocked the house and brought home the best prize yet a wine tasting with Adam Fisher a world renowned Sommelier from Astor Wines. Not only did we sit down and taste amazing fine wines with him, he taught us about food and wine pairing, then we all sauntered down to his store to pick out a few wines to serve in our restaurant for date night. To give you an idea of what shopping in Astor Wine is like, think about being a kid in a candy store except everything is expensive and your mommy is NBC so you can basically get anything you want (and we totally did). 

Getting ready for date night was a blast. We decided to get red roses and give a red rose to every woman that came through the door (and I kept saying sorry to all of the guys for one-upping them but seriously its not my fault chivalry is dead) I also wanted to put something fun and sassy on the menu so I wrote up a quick introduction to sort of break the ice for everyone. It went something like this, "Ladies & Gentlemen! Like all great duos (Ricky & Lucy, Bonnie & Clyde) one beautiful thing compliments the other. Tonight Crimson would like to showcase our house duos of wine and food for your romantic dates" The real one was far catchier, but you get the idea. I wanted to make this as welcoming as possible, and I love being cute and clever so the roses and the menu were right up my alley. And it paid off, having these things helped us to break the ice with the guests who were seated alone and still waiting for their dates. 

The night rocked! I knew we were going to win we had special wine, flowers, and Kelsey and Lisa in the kitchen. Let me touch on the kitchen for a second as well. As much as Lisa wanted to knock Kelsey for being inexperienced and slow in the kitchen there tends to be a strong pattern of the critics liking her dishes the best, so take that!!! Kelsey is like the tortoise of the kitchen, slow and steady, she doesn't yell she doesn't push or shove, she just gets her job done and feeds the people, and that is what running a restaurant is all about. 

On that same note running a restaurant is also all about schmoozing, so I quickly picked up the skill of being a professional schmoozer. I learned right away that in order to make people happy you just have to keep bringing them things. At one point I stopped taking dessert orders all together and just started bringing out a dessert sampler. In the restaurant business there are a few catch phrases that can really save the day, the one that I adopted was "compliments of the chef" You can bring bread and butter out and say "compliments of the chef" and your table will think they are the only people in the restaurant. I was eating out the other day and that happened and I seriously thought the restaurant thought I was someone else. Running a restaurant is about creating an experience for people, and how you approach your table is key. 

This leads me into dinner service and the critic. Marco had lectured FOH about keeping our cool and not acting crazy even though we were totally insane. He had particularly lectured Anapol about being a little friendlier, and this issue came up again when the critic came in this episode. She felt rushed, over looked and anxious because thats how Anapol felt. Once again, I saved the day by clearing her plates and rushing her out dessert so she and her faux date could make it over to the other restaurant (check out the critics review online for the full scoop). I'm sorry, I may have zero experience as a server, and you could tell me to 86 and 95 things all day long and it wouldn't mean jack to me, but I can schmooze, booze and peruse and those are the real skills behind serving people. 

Moral of the story: You are what you eat! And the Red Team came out of this challenge sexy and seductive. We wined and dined our blind daters with aphrodisiac foods that had one couple needing to get a room, another playing footsie, and a few others tipping me to join in on their action. 

Next up on the Chopping Block, we head to Little Italy to taste sweet balsamic and get ready to serve up a restaurant full some of the finest people around...Italians!

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