Mmmmm, sandwiches - or "sandos," as Adam Pechal likes to call them. The chef and co-owner of Tuli Bistro and Restaurant Thir13en was required to whip up two rounds of sandwiches for Tuesday night's episode of "The Taste." It turned out to be the most frustrating episode for Pechal thus far.
"The hard part of this challenge is I love sandos, and I could make a million of them," said Pechal, in a phone call before lunch rush this morning. "All of a sudden it's, 'Boom! Go!' Now what the hell do I do? I wanted to do something out of the box."
Pechal (pictured above on the set of "The Taste") whipped up a gyro-like sandwich with ground lamb for the first challenge. But that turned into a mini-disaster when Brian Malarkey, a judge and mentor of Pechal's team on "The Taste," took a bite and something cracked against his tooth. Yow!
"The flavors were so awesome and I was happy with it," said Pechal. "As soon as that happened, it was just so frustrating."
Pechal opted for a more familiar "Cubano" sandwich in the elimination challenge, a sandwich that's been a staple both at Tuli and Thir13en. What the cameras didn't show was Pechal dealing with a faulty meat slicer, rushing to get it fixed, and ultimately getting help from another competitor to get his pork properly sliced. When it came time to taste the sandwich, the judges weren't sure what to make of it. Judge Nigella Lawson mistook the pork loin for chicken or turkey. Cue: a tight shot of Pechal wincing and then mimicking Lawson's British accent: "I think there's a bit of tomaaaahto."
"There was no tomato anywhere near that," said Pechal. "I was so happy with this dish but it went all over their heads. Someone called it a panini. They just frickin' missed it."
(For some choice screen grabs and quotes from the show, visit our friends at Cowtown Eats).
Ultimately, Pechal landed in the middle of the pack again - not in the top three, but not risking elimination either. That means Pechal will return next week for a "nose to tail" challenge.
By the way, if you want to rub elbows with some of Pechal's competitors on "The Taste," reserve a table next Tuesday at Restaurant Thir13en's viewing party. $35 gets you a multi-course meal and spot to watch "The Taste" on a large projection screen. Some of the contestants from "The Taste" will be in the house next week including chef Diane DiMeo, who's emerged as one of show's top competitors and larger-than-life personalities. For info: (916) 594-7669 or thir13en.com.
FROM THE BEE: