As told to Nuzhat Naoreen.
It’s really difficult [to cook a perfect medium-rare steak]. There were 200 people at that ball. Cooking steaks for that many people can be a disaster, and they decided to cook individual steaks for the whole thing, which was a big mistake. It would be so much easier if you just took a rib-eye and sliced it down the center and then you’d have one really long cylinder. Then you could cook that to medium-rare and slice it and turn it over. I don’t think there was any mandate on the show that it had to be individual steaks, so we were surprised to see that.
[The gazpacho] was a little on the hyper-acidic side but to start out, it was good. For all the endless yelling that Beverly took during the prep time, she did a good job getting her shrimp done. But there was a lot of time and maybe she could have worked a little bit faster. I’m not sure if the encouraging words from Heather were debilitating or not. Beverly is a really interesting character. She’s great, but she’s a little bit out there. [She's] very wispy and Heather is not. She’s bossy. They don’t mix well. They’re very oil and vinegar. I think Heather is about to have a pretty rough road. She’s not making friends very easily. Nobody seems to really want to assist her in any way and as much as it’s about individual competition you’ve got to have people who will help you out. If nobody wants to help you out you’re going to be at a severe disadvantage.
[There was a] pretty powerhouse team on the [second] course with Chris, Paul and Edward. Those guys were all doing really good work. They get along, they’re very structured. I think they had a good dish, it had a couple little flaws, but overall it was a really strong dish. It was smart, too. You have to think about how you’re going to cook for 200 people and you need to bring novelty and interest and great flavor, but setting yourself up for something really hard to deliver is not what you want to do and they thought through that.
[Edward] may have just taken a little bit of a simple road. You gotta put yourself out there. Somebody always has to land at the bottom. I think I may have voted a different way, but it falls where it may.
I thought the main course was way too flawed all around. There was way too much stuff on the plate. I mean, Nyesha did a good job with sauces but it was just a train wreck of a plate.
Ty-lor is a very mature cook. He would take ownership of the mistake, no matter who touched it or mucked it up. It’s his fault at that point. There are people on the show who would have diverted attention from their mistake at the first opportunity and Ty-lor did not do that at all. And given the fact that he cut himself, he was at the hospital all night and he was working on an hour sleep, I think he did a pretty commendable job. But there was the initial mistake he made, which was that he shouldn’t have done individual steaks and that firing of the last steaks was a pretty big mistake. At our table there was such variance in the cooking, but what are you going to do when you’ve got 8 people cooking steaks?
[The dessert course was] pretty straightforward but for a group that size it was pretty smart. I think [Heather] was lucky to be in the top. I think she designed a good dessert that was stable and got out effectively. It was really consistent and it worked. Favorite dessert ever? No.[If I knew Heather used the same recipe as the quinceanera cake] it probably would have changed the outcome of [the challenge]. It could have been a more complex dessert relatively easily. [But] that’s all in hindsight; I didn’t know it was the same recipe.
Whitney had a lot of people advising her on [the potato gratin] but at the end of day it was her decision to make that dish and the way she went forward with it was her decision. That whole plate wasn’t designed well. They didn’t think about how big the steak was, they didn’t think about the greens. Nothing really unified the plate. She just had to step up a little bit more and bring something really exciting to it and she just kind of failed in that regard.