Chef Wanted: Mucho Ultima Update

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At Mucho Ultima in Manhattan Beach, Calif., owner Scott Linquist needed a new executive chef to help turn his business into a dining destination. Anne Burrell arrived with four candidates lined up, confident that one would be the right fit for the modern Mexican restaurant. After two tough cooking tests and an intense dinner service, Scott hired Bryon Freeze. We checked in with Scott to see how Chef Bryon and the restaurant are doing.

Six weeks after Bryon joined the team, Mucho Ultima is back on the right track. “We are ecstatic!” says Scott. “Bryon’s energy and passion are exactly what we saw from him during the show.” Scott and Bryon have both worked many long days since the taping and Bryon “comes in here pumped and ready to attack every day and never once has complained about the workload.”

Sales are up at the restaurant, but “not quite where we want them yet,” Scott says. “It’s still early in the game.” Mucho just opened for weekend brunch and will open for lunch next month, so Scott hopes this will contribute to his goal of ultimately doubling sales.

Bryon created the new brunch menu and has changed the dinner menu to include items like his “famous” charred octopus taco and lamb barbacoa. On the show, these dishes gave him a little trouble, but since then they’ve been a success. “He knows how to make a tortilla perfectly now,” Scott assures.

The good rapport that Bryon established with the staff during his trial run has continued in his new executive chef role. Scott says his new hire fit in right away: “We have a great team here who all love this place, and Bryon was immediately one of the family.”

Scott has been pleased with the feedback from diners since Bryon’s arrival at Mucho: “Guests are always apprehensive about change, but we wowed them with the food and our genuine hospitality. They are loving it!”

Tune in for another new episode of Chef Wanted this Sunday at 10pm/9c after Food Network Star.

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