Food Network show 'Chef Wanted' comes to Raleigh's Coquette

aweigl@newsobserver.comApril 2, 2013 

Tune in to the Food Network at 10 p.m. Thursday to see Raleigh's Coquette restaurant featured on "Chef Wanted," with host Anne Burrell. Four chefs compete for a position at Coquette restaurant. The restaurant owners, Kevin and Stacey Jennings, far left, pick the winner.

COURTESY OF FOOD NETWORK

  • Want to Watch?

    Tune in to the Food Network at 10 p.m. Thursday to see Raleigh’s Coquette restaurant featured on “Chef Wanted,” with host Anne Burrell. Four chefs compete for a position at Coquette restaurant. The restaurant owners, Kevin and Stacey Jennings, pick the winner. The competitors include Pippa Suzanne Calland of Lancaster, Pa.; Michael Romain Pedranti of New Orleans; Michael C. Bryant of Los Angeles; and Mark Allen Catrambone of Boston.

Urban Food Group owners Kevin and Stacey Jennings netted much more than they expected with a want ad seeking a new executive chef.

The ad attracted the attention of a television production crew shooting a new culinary competition show, “Chef Wanted,” with celebrity chef Anne Burrell. The couple and their restaurant, Coquette, are featured in an episode scheduled to show at 10 p.m. Thursday on the Food Network.

The premise of the show is that four chefs compete to become a restaurant’s executive chef. Two of the four contestants are eliminated after a series of cooking challenges. In this case, they had to first cook sweet and savory crepes and then cook with rabbit. The final two chefs took over the restaurant for a dinner service, created a menu, oversaw service for 75 guests and then found out whose food prompted a job offer.

Beyond Coquette, the Jenningses own Porter’s and Chow in Raleigh and Vivace, which has locations in Raleigh and Charlotte. They are also considering opening another Vivace in Tampa, Fla. This is the first time one of their restaurants has appeared on the Food Network.

About the experience, Kevin Jennings said, “It’s a crash course in being an actor.”

For three days in January, the television crew took over the French restaurant at North Hills mall. The producers commandeered a large back room to monitor everything that was being filmed. Microphones were placed on the hostess stand, on a couple of waiters, on the Jenningses and on Burrell.

“It’s weird. It’s sort of scripted but also not,” Jennings said.

Burrell, Jennings said, was key to helping him, his wife and the staff become comfortable on camera. “Anne is integral to that process. If she doesn’t bond with the people, it’s going to be obvious,” he said. “She encouraged us to be our normal selves.”

The winner has been offered a job with Urban Food Group, though it wouldn’t likely be at Coquette, which already has an executive chef. To find out how the competitive job interview went, you’ll have to tune in Thursday night.

Weigl: 919-829-4848

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