After two episodes and nearly three hours of prime time TV, the anticipation is over. Congrats all around to Sacramento's Adam Pechal, who not only passed the audition phase on ABC's "The Taste" on Tuesday night, but wowed the entire judging panel. This new cooking show, which features such culinary luminaries as Anthony Bourdain and Nigella Lawson as judges/mentors, debuted on Jan. 22 but with about zero air time for Pechal that first week. But that all changed Tuesday, when in the last 10 minutes of the show, Pechal whipped up some seared scallops with sweet corn hash and props went all around for the chef and co-owner of Tuli Bistro and Restaurant Thir13en.
Pechal, who's already known around Sacramento as a veritable quote machine, also delivered the most memorable line of the night:
"If food's your drug of choice, you have to figure out a way to become the dealer."
That's to say, Pechal emerged as the Rick Ross of scallops.
These first two episodes of "The Taste" were about the judges tasting an item blind, considering each contestant after noshing just a single spoonful of their food. Would-bes were sent packing, while others were chosen for teams which will be mentored by one of the judges. A proud Pechal was selected for Team Brian Malarkey, a restaurateur and rising celebrity chef who once landed in the Final Four on Bravo's "Top Chef."
Our Sacramento chef seemed a little more subdued than usual on camera. In terms of his usual hijinks and boisterous persona, he rated about a "6" on the Pechal-meter last night. But expect that to get amped up as the season moves along.
"It was so nerve racking to be one of the last to go taste for the judges," said Pechal, in a phone call this morning. "I tried to keep it pretty tight and wanted to represent well for Sacramento. Once the stress of the show gets out there, you'll see the real deal I'm sure."
From here, Team Malarkey and all the other teams will duke it out culinary style in a set of weekly challenges. The mentors will then turn to judges again, and taste dishes blind and then determine everyone's fate. The last chef standing nabs a cool $100,000 and a Ford C-Max Hybrid that will no doubt be seen umpteen times over the season via product placement.
As for the scallops Pechal made for the judges, he says the salsa verde comes from a recipe he's used often over the years but did some last minute improvising with ingredients for the final dish. Once corn comes back in season, Pechal plans on serving these seared scallops with sweet corn hash during the summer at Restaurant Thir13en.
And that restaurant is where Pechal will be spending the bulk of today. He's helping prepare a feast for 350 in the adjacent ballroom at the Sterling Hotel, which is hosting a number of attendees from this week's Unified Wine & Grape Symposium.
Tune in next Tuesday to "The Taste" on ABC to see how Pechal fares in the next round.
FROM THE BEE: