Comfort foods were the theme of Tuesday night's episode of "The Taste," and Sacramento's own Adam Pechal made the cut and advanced to the next round. Still, this latest competition was a little too close for comfort. Pechal, who made fried chicken with slaw to impress the panel, was knocked slightly by judge Brian Malarkey - who also happens to be the mentor for Pechal's cooking team on "The Taste." Malarkey, while judging Pechal's dish blind, thought the slaw wasn't balanced well enough.
"I'm not super confident right now," said Pechal on the episode. "Hopefully, I will not be in the bottom."
In the end, Pechal didn't land among the top performers, but didn't face the chopping block either. Landing somewhere in the middle was good enough to move on. What viewers didn't know is Pechal faced a mishap while cooking the fried chicken.
"It was pretty nerve racking," said Pechal in a phone call this morning. "I loaded my chicken in the fryer and the oil came dangerously close to boiling over. I didn't want to be the first one to light my station on fire. It got down to the wire on that one."
Still, fried chicken remains one of Pechal's fortes. He's known to include a "bucket of fried chicken" at his Tuli Bistro, and used a bright vinaigrette styled slaw on "The Taste" to add some acidity to the dish. Look for Pechal's recipe to be posted soon on the web site for "The Taste." Note: the recipe for Pechal's seared scallops, which first scored him a spot on "The Taste," can be found here.
Tuesday's episode was also marked by Pechal taking an initial dig at fellow Team Malarkey teammate Jeff Mahin before bro-ing down with the fellow chef and becoming pals. ("When I first met Jeff, I didn't like the guy whatsoever," said Pechal on the show).
"He had this hipster thing going on, but then he started telling me about his pizza dough," said Pechal, with a chuckle. "I was then like, 'Wow dude, I really respect you.' We have a great flow."
Meanwhile, Pechal and crew kept to the show's theme and served fried chicken at Tuli's sister restaurant, Restaurant Thir13en, for a viewing party on Tuesday night. Also in the house was fellow contestant Mia Morgenstern, who represents for Team Anthony Bourdain on "The Taste."
Perhaps the numerology of "13" did Pechal lucky on Tuesday's episode. Not only is it the name of one of Pechal's restaurants, but he was the 13th contestant (out of 16) to present his dish to the judges in Battle Comfort Food. Coming next week on "The Taste," a theme of "daring pairings" with food and wine.
"We really have a good team camaraderie," said Pechal. "We're three really strong cooks."
Tune into ABC next Tuesday at 8 p.m. to see how Pechal fares in the next round.
FROM THE BEE