Thursday, April 30, 2009

Episode #8 - V is for Victory

Kelsey and I made it through all the blandness, dropped tacos, spilt wine, over and under cooked meals, lost forks and knives, and everyone and everything in between. We prevailed and came out on top, and would not have had it any other way. 
Now back to the show....

Upon return from winning the museum challenge Kelsey and I were under the impression we were headed back to Crimson, a red restaurant ready for service. We could not have been more surprised when we walked through those doors. Everything was white, there was no furniture, no decor, new tables and glassware, new kitchen supplies it was amazing. Then it got better...on the counter was a binder with a note telling us that we had 3 days, $5k cash and $10k at Pier1 to create the restaurant of our dreams. OMG!!!!

We got straight to work. Kels and I had already talked about our design ideas and what we wanted, so we got our sign up, started the painting and hit the streets to get the goods we needed to make our restaurant dreams come true. 

Side-bar: We ran into Anapol and Lisa at Pier1 and we were joking around trying to see what they were getting, we had no idea Lisa had eaten a serious sandwich for breakfast. She should have named their restaurant "The No Fun Zone" because after we kicked their butts Lisa became the mayor of No Fun City. 

Back to the restaurant, because the show didn't fully communicate our theme below is a break down so you can get a better idea of what we were going for:

Name: "Restaurant C" which comes from our family name, our mother's name and to represent that we are from California (Nor-Cal Hella cool)
Colors: Chocolate brown, Tiffany blue, cream and silver
Decor: We did half the walls striped, half solid and then hung different types of "C's" on the walls so they weren't bland (like Marco thinks Kelsey is ;) We had killer water glasses, centerpieces and had "Restaurant C" spelt out in wooden/metal letters over the bar. It was to die for in there. Oh and I forgot to mention the silver and white leather flowers all the waitresses had in their hair, so cute!
Menu: We originally wanted tapas, but Marco talked us out of it with the legit idea that less is more. Since the walls were sort of candy shop-ish we themed the menu to go along with that and the California side of things. We had lamb lollipops and make your own mini ice cream sandwiches. Along with fish tacos (which originated in San Diego) and seared ahi with a tomato and avocado salsa. We brought back the lamb from the museum since it was such a hit, and had the cherries off the menu, but brought them to every table "compliments of the chef."

Three days of prepping for a restaurant is a lot of footage so you missed out on a lot of the hard work that went into the show. Particularly building those tables ourselves. We had to unwrap and build like 30 or 40 tables, it was insane. How Anapol did that on his own I will never know. Kelsey and I opened up some beers and went at it, by the end we were laying on our backs trying to get the last few screws in cracking up from exhaustion. I also had to carry every single one of our chairs up from the basement (30 stairs) it was a scene. 

Then we started unwrapping packages to get our decor out and ready to go. We basically purchased everything in our color pattern that we could from Pier1 and then just started playing with things. This is when we discovered the Foo Dogs and decided to bring one over to the other restaurant. As Kelsey and I watched the show it could not have been more hilarious. To first of all see know-it-all Lisa come out of the kitchen and get all spiritual like she totally knew everything was entertaining, but then the footage of her actually meditating with the thing put us way over the edge. Just amazing!

Cut to dinner service. We hired our peeps (Kelsey didn't get Mary, hellooo...didn't she see our family emergency!?) and got to it. Before the doors opened we were given guest books of who would be dining in our restaurants that night. I read through mine and recognized a lot of critics names which helped me to set up special tables for them, etc. Apparently this was not the case in the other restaurant. Rumor has it that Anapol didn't recognize one name in his book, which might have lead to why Marco didn't have a table. But definitely had nothing to do with how their dinner service went. Kelsey and I took Marco's advice "less is more" and "simplify" Kelsey prepared dishes she was comfortable with and knew were solid as to not stretch herself too far since she was already being the head chef in her own restaurant. There are a million other things to worry about, complicating your food is a poor choice. We did have a few issues with expediting and tickets getting moved around, but all in all everyone was fed, the night was a blast, and the restaurant was sexy as hell. The best part for me in front of house was that I was able to walk around and talk with every guest, check in on them to make sure they were happy, and catch up with the critics. At this point we have no idea how we are being judged so everyone is a critic, meaning everyone needed special attention. This is part of why we decided to not put the cherries on the menu. By leaving them off we could bring them out to every table as a special treat making our guests feel like we took the extra step to make our restaurant a success. 

Hands down the funniest part of the episode: When a guest asks Anapol for another glass of chardonnay and his response is, "yeah yeah, we're kicking you out of here in 5 minutes anyways" Who says that?! Did Anapol forget that he was running a restaurant in NYC on national TV? To have been a waiter your entire life and think that A: its okay to tell someone that and then B: when Marco Pierre White arrives at your door with Pierce Morgan to not have a table and to rudely let them know that is beyond me. When a celeb walks into your restaurant you get them a table especially if there is room enough for them to grab their own chairs. LOL! Reminding me of the second funniest part of the show, Marco spitting out Lisa's food. Amazing! Seeing those things gave us a hunch we might have this one in the bag...but it was still a close race. Lisa cooks amazing food and is definitely talented behind the stove so we were nervous that her food might be more impressive then ours and that we would only be judged on those things, like previous episodes. 

When Marco walked into our restaurant the mood changed. Everyone was silent (minus the phone ringing) I mean you could really sense the nerves in the room. Like I said, if he was going to announce us loosing in front of all those people we would have died. And we totally kept our cool because the last time we reacted we were super embarrassed because we thought we had won and we didn't. But once Marco finally let us in on the big news it was on!!! We could not have been more excited!!! To win something like this on your own is amazing, but to be able to share it with your sister and really make our family proud was out of this world. I'd break it down like this: painters: $700, water glasses $300, being able to win a restaurant and a trip to London with your little sister on national TV: priceless. 

Soooo.....Kelsey and I did it, we went to NYC, we were on a national reality cooking show and we won!!!! In case you think that Kelsey and I happen to be some stupid chicks in LA that have everything handed to them and want to be a hater...then shame on you. Kelsey and I have worked for every single thing that we have, we have been up against some pretty steep obstacles, we are fighters and we are a team and we deserve to win this competition just as much as anyone else on the block. And thank you to everyone who has supported us through out the show, and through out our lives, it means the world to us both!!!

Kelsey and I both would do this again in a second. We loved the challenges, we loved the crew and all the people we met (minus a few people who we'd rather have our finger nails torn off before we had to see again) and we became closer as sisters. Restaurant or not, the experience was enough for Kelsey and I to be richer people. Although a grand prize of $250K, restaurant equipment and a trip to London helps us be a little richer too ;) 



  1. So what's in store for you two and the restaurant? Name? Theme? Kudos and best of luck.

  2. I'm glad that you two won ~!

    I liked Dean & Shari too, seemed like they also were good people.

    As I was watching the episode, when Lisa said that she deserved to win, it brought to mind that you can't appreciate a gift when you believe you deserve it.

    Thankfulness and appreciation through out the whole show its key to you and your sisters success.

    I'm looking forward to hearing your successes in the restaurant business.


  3. I was very happy you two won; I was hoping. Congrats!

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  5. I'm from San Diego and although it's often said that fish tacos started here, the idea most probably came from Baja. Congrats on the win.

  6. Just foudn this after watching the last four episodes online after the show disappeared a few weeks ago. I was pulling for you guys all through the series. You have a gift for what you do, Vanessa and it was also great to see your sister, Kelsey grow in confidence as the weeks went on. Obviously we only got a small synopsis of what happened during you time in NY but it seemed like you were the couple willing to learn and adapt more than the more experienced couples.
    Also, I was very impressed with your selfless attitude towards your competitors, if at times it wasn't reciprocated!
    You both will do fantastic in LA. I live in the sticks (in Idaho) but would love to visit your restaurant one day. So please, drop me a note to let me know when you are planning on opening up and the name and location of your restaurant.

  7. Thank you to everyone who followed the show and read my blog! You all rock! Stay tuned as The Chopping Block is coming back to NBC starting Friday, June 19th at 8:00. So hit up your happy hours early and get home to watch it all over again on the big screen or set your TIVO and watch it all go down on your own time. YAY! Go Sisters!