The Dining Dish blog is Dara Bunjon's take on anything food, both national and in her hometown of Baltimore. Warning: this food blog can be harmful to your waistline.

Thursday, November 06, 2008

Behind the scenes of Hell’s Kitchen

What questions would you ask Season 3’s winner of Hell’s Kitchen, Rock Harper, if you could have lunch with him? That was the question put forth in Downtown Diane’s weekly Baltimore E-Newsletter. The person submitting the best questions and most compelling reason to have lunch with Chef Harper would enjoy dining with the reality TV star at Roy’s Restaurant in the East Harbor.

I already filmed Chef Michael Midgley and Chef Ilan Hall, both of Season 2 of Top Chef, on video discussing their audition process. I felt it was my responsibility to you, my readers, to send a convincing note to Downtown Diane so I could get Chef Rock on video for your review.

I captured the prize seat at the table, ate a wonderful lunch (menu and pictures below) and had an intense conversation with Chef Rock and his beautiful wife Tamara. Below are the my questions, Rock's answers and the promised video.

Q & A with Chef Rock

Q: What about reality TV were you unprepared for?

A: I thought it would me more TV-ish and wasn’t going to be as kitchen related. They kept it so true to what went on in the kitchen.

We weren’t manipulated with the exception of our down time when we were asked to remain focused and chatting about wanting to win the job and what it would mean to us. We were to avoid sports or arts discussions.

Q. The quality of the contestants seems very diverse. I got the feeling that some of the contestants were chosen for more amusement value as opposed to talent. What do you think?

A: Chef Ramsey asked that this year the chefs brought to the competition truly have a higher culinary skill level.

Q: If you could take back one moment on film, what would it be?

A: The scene on the show where I was snoring I could do without. I would like to edit out the couple of times where my temper flared, which is a natural occurrence in any restaurant kitchen.

Q: Do you think working in Hell’s Kitchen was a real portrayal of what actually happens in a restaurant kitchen?

A: In some ways yes, it showed the intensity of a real restaurant kitchen.

What wasn’t realistic is the seating of all the guests at once. In a real restaurant all the guests are not seated at once, all orders don’t come to the kitchen at once. In Hell’s Kitchen, 50 guests were seated per team. The first order ticket arrives and if anything on that ticket went wrong (undercooked, overcooked) we would have to throw out everything for that course at the table and start over. So the other orders would wait until we finished, we would run out of food, it created a trickle down effect of continuing errors and problems throughout service.

Q. Are you keen to watch the 2009 reality food show Chopping Block with Chef Marco Pierre White? Chef Ramsey worked for Chef White, who is known for throwing pots, pans and even breaking Chef Ramsey down to tears as told in Devil in the Kitchen. Have you ever thrown anything in the kitchen?

A. Yes, I’m looking forward to the show. The same production company that does Hell’s Kitchen will be working on Chopping Block. It will be on NBC. I must admit that I have thrown things in the kitchen, not often, rarely – but it happened.

Lunch at Roy’s

Chef/Partner Rey Eugenio of Roy’s gave everyone a tour of his kitchen, which is stadium-style, similar to Hell’s Kitchen. Grab a seat at the counter on Saturday night to really see how a real restaurant kitchen works. Chef Eugenio and Chef Harper were discussing the prejudices and obstacles that women chefs face in the kitchen. Both are proponents for women chefs, in fact, chef Rey employs 5 women in his kitchen. As a member of Women Chefs and Restaurateurs, I was thrilled to hear and know that they support women in the restaurant industry.

We had luncheon in one of Roy's private rooms. There were 13 of us and everyone enjoyed Chef Eugenio's delicious and generous buffet.

Buffet Menu

Pad Thai
Green Curry Beef
Grilled Atlantic Salmon
Korean BBQ Chicken
Grilled Romaine with Caesar Dressing
Roy’s Organic Blackened Tuna
Golden Lobster Pot Stickers
Lakanilau Roll with crab tempura and Kobe beef
Baby Back Ribs
Jasmine Rice

Dessert: Chocolate Molten Cake with Vanilla Ice Cream

Rey Eugenio, chef/partner
Bryson Keens, managing partner
Roy's Restaurant
720 B Aliceanna Street
Baltimore, MD 21202

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I envy you! That must have all been very fun.


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