The second season of Chef Wanted with Anne Burrell gives those who are new to the show a chance to love it for any or all of the following reasons.
1) Chef Wanted condenses a competition for a chef position into one episode.
It's a program made for those that want results and want them NOW, sort of like the host Chef Burrell. Rather than dragging the competition through an entire season with dozens of candidates, Chef Wanted gets down to work with four and in one hour a new executive chef is born.
2) There is a job at the end of the process.
Each week, Chef Anne Burrell acts as a traffic cop for owners of the restaurant who will put the chef candidates through their paces and hire only one of them. It is a more realistic and street level look at the hiring process. The winner doesn't get a magazine spread or a cash award. He or she ends up with a plum job at a good restaurant.
3) There are no celebrity chefs sitting in judgement
While Chef Anne Burrell's opinion counts for something, the winner is chosen based on the judgement of real live customers along with the owners. For diners its all about the food, its presentation and their experience at the restaurant waiting for it to get to their tables.
The owners are watching for the chef's temperament as he or she is given the keys to the place for a one night dinner service, at the helm of the restaurant's kitchen.
4) It's really all about the food.
While handing pressure and sociability are important to the success of a restaurant's creator of signature dishes, it doesn't override the necessity of the "yum factor". If the customers leave happy and grade the taste and presentation high, a chef's quirks can be ignored as long as they don't sabotage the operation.
5) Chef candidates need the job.
During this week's episode at the Mirabelle restaurant on Hollywood's Sunset Strip, the final two contestants knew this was their moment. Chef Drew Ison has begun a new life as a sober man of one year. While he was employed at the time of the episode's taping, he risked losing the job when his employers learned about his participation in the show. Recently married with a stepson to care for, he is looking to complete his life's turnaround. The plum job at Mirabelle would do that.
Jeff Williams arrived as a man on a mission. He made his name as an executive chef at some of the country's great hotels, but was getting pigeon-holed as "hotel guy", not fit for a standalone fine dining establishment. Getting the job at Mirabelle would confirm what he believes about himself. "I'm a chef and I'm a damn good one," he declared. With his wedding right around the corner, he was in dire need of a job that would define him and his future.
After getting past the two quick food prep challenges, Drew and Jeff were given the responsibility to create the menu for one night's dinner service at Mirabelle and execute on it. While Jeff was the cooler head under pressure, it was Drew's menu items that best reflected what Mirabelle owners wanted as their new vision for their restaurant.
The Food Network airs new episodes of Chef Wanted with Anne Burrell each week. Check out the show's website for the schedule. Image: Food Network/Anne Burrell