He can do this. He has put in the time and effort, the practice. Of course, for me, there is never enough practice, as he realizes everyday that he comes in to work on this one dish. He learns one new thing a day, and he moves towards perfecting this one dish. Besides learning different techniques to use, how to look at it differently, he is learning how to become a tweaker in a new way.

I admire anyone who enters this kind of arena. To subject yourself to this sort of thing is not an easy commitment. I did a tallow sculpture, and I knew that in order to get a gold medal worthy piece, I would need to put in at least one hundred hours.

From the first day to the last practice, up until the last day of departure, he has taken this as serious as can be. Hats off to him. He really has the desire. On the morning of leaving, we took his last hero shot to send to Kurt Osaki (our branding consultant), so that he could finish the menu. We took the shot, then we sat for a while. I told him, "You can do this Sonny. You have a chance, a really good chance." He told me, "Thank you. This is surreal for me. My mom wanted me to go into the medical field and not in the kitchen, and it has always been a dream to go to the CIA (Culinary Institute of America). I want this chance to prove to my mom and family that this was a good choice for me."

As I go over each component on his dish -- quenelles, sauce, carrots, pate brisee -- if he focuses on each component and makes them taste good, he just needs to nail the presentation and execution of the cuisson of the chicken and sauce. His last attempt at the chicken is what made me smile, and I knew then that he really had a chance. It was almost perfect.

I am in SF on the layover going to NY. I cannot stop thinking about his chances.

- AW