Getting the boot stung for Pechal, but it was still a solid overall showing for this 37-year-old chef. Pechal landed in the show's top 10 contestants, and was just one week away from reaching "The Taste's" semi-final round. Tuesday's episode focused on a "nose to tail" theme, with contestants required to whip up dishes from, shall we say, more exotic animal parts. We're talking bull testicles, sweetbreads (thymus glands), tripe (stomach lining), tongue and other ingredients that make a lot of common folk squeamish.
For the individual challenge, Pechal cooked a Thai-inspired sweetbread dish with pork rinds and squash puree. Let's just say the judges weren't blown away, especially in terms of its texture and overriding sweetness. Said judge Anthony Bourdain: "It was a generally unpleasant spoonful of food and it is not improved on the plate."
Adam was the first of three chefs sent home Tuesday night. The waiting game of finding out his fate was especially nerve racking on the set.
"I never paced so hard in my life," said Pechal on Wednesday morning. "I do have some reservations on that dish. But I tasted the dish as a whole and to me there was balance. Sure there was sweetness, but there was also fish sauce and lime juice - there was more to it."
As contestants get voted off the show, they tend to exchange hugs with the otherwise persnickety judging panel. Pechal couldn't bring himself to do that with judge Nigella Lawson, who tended to diss his dishes over the course of the show.
"I stuck my hand out and thought, 'I don't want to hug you,'" said Pechal with a laugh. "It's like I came on the show loving you and now I'm hating you. But at the cast party I did hug her."
Pechal says he's overwhelmed by the showing of support from his friends, family and fellow chefs. Tuesday night's viewing party at Restaurant Thir13en was oversold, and attended by such fellow "The Taste" contestants as Diane DiMeo, Mia Morgenstern and Micah Kasman (as pictured above). His Facebook page and Twitter feed has meanwhile been blowing up with kind words about his showing on "The Taste."
"It was a nice way to go out," said Pechal. "It was great to get some shout-outs and support from other chefs. Overall, I enjoyed the experience. I never got a gold star (representing the week's top contestants) and that's been weighing on me because I felt like I didn't do good enough. But the last 24 hours has been great. It's taken some of the sting away."
Now, it's back to work for Pechal. He's getting the menu for a Sacramento Beer Week dinner on Thursday at Thir13en, featuring brews from Drake's Brewing Co. He's also mulling the idea of writing a cookbook and plans to keep updating his blog. At the very least, his Tuesdays won't be taken up from being glued to the TV.
"It was everything I expected it to be, and it wasn't," said Pechal. "I wouldn't have traded the experience for anything."
FROM THE BEE