So this morning I was anxious to hear from our Redeye's Virtual Kitchen Stadium Judge, Chef Rick Bayless. He would be reviewing all four creative submissions using the secret ingredient - cherries - to determine which two cheftestants will move onto Round 2. Gah... when will my fate be decided?!
Finally an announcement was made that Chef Bayless would have the results at 12 noon... merely minutes away. When the time came, I was pleased to find out I made it to Round 2!! Our dishes were to be judged by presentation, creativity and explanation. Perhaps for this round Chef Bayless focused on only one of those elements, the presentation. Next week may be a whole different focus but here is Chef Bayless's critique of the submissions for the Cherry Challenge:
ROUND 1 WINNERS: JOELEN AND JOEY
MATCHUP NO. 1: JOELEN VS. DARIUS
Joelen's Savory Triple Cherry Jubilee - A 3-compartment dish always says: eat everything together and I wasn't sure that the scone was a good third part. Also, salad was in the center, usually indicating centrality. Simple too dominant in the picture. Chicken is central, yet was kind of dark with puree not very evident. I would have chosen another plate, emphasized the chicken (&mouthwatering glaze), put the salad in a secondary role in the back and put the scone separately unbroken.
Darius's Mexican Cherry Trio - Darius struggled with visual communication, too. Why is the rice in front of the chicken? The chicken sounds really good but I couldn't see it well enough to get my mouth watering. And a margarita in a water glass with what looked to be the consistency of Welch's? Visuals are all these contestants have to sell their dishes, and I couldn't get hungry or thirsty from Darius' photo.
Winner: Joelen, even in spite of the plating choices.
MATCHUP NO. 2: AMY VS. JOEY
Amy's GrubHub's Spicy Meatball Sub - My first thought upon viewing Amy's photo is the food stylist's truism: well done ground meat is hard to photograph, especially if there's no sauce covering it. Reading the recipe made me hungry, a lot more than looking at the photo. The garnish seemed self-conscious.
Joey's Red, White & Blue Bonanza - Joey offered a photo that made my mouth water--great looking burger, but why so far away? Why with the overexposed bun? Why with the precarious "I'm shooting a food shot" stack? I wanted an even more mouthwatering intimate view of Joey's burger, my vote has to go to him.