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 restaurants 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 Porters 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, Its 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.
Its weird. Its 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 doesnt bond with the people, its 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 wouldnt likely be at Coquette, which already has an executive chef. To find out how the competitive job interview went, youll have to tune in Thursday night.