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‘Restaurant Redemption’ helps Session Bistro in Maywood, N.J.

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Tonight's Cooking Channel episode of Restaurant Redemption brings chef Ching-He Huang to Maywood, N.J. to help revive a failing restaurant.

Ching visited Session Bistro and met with Joe, who left his job in human resources nearly three years ago to fulfill his lifelong dream of opening a restaurant. Joe grew up in Hawaii where fusion food was a mixture of American and Asian. After investing $200,000 of his own money, he is barely breaking even.

Joe claims to have good food, but it seems to have no identity. So Ching checked out the restaurant and patio as his staff was preparing dishes for her to try. The patio that he claimed to have just renovated was uninspiring and the interior needed an overhaul too. A wall of clocks was not a welcoming sight, because clocks represent death in Chinese culture.

The menu, as Joe stated was fusion, but with samplings from just about every world culture, it was more confusion than fusion. Ching was served; Korean Steak Tacos which were not Korean at all, and Pork Tempura, which had too thick a batter, was mushy and way too oily. The Malaysian Flirtation contained chicken that was overcooked and tough, with a sweet sauce that made her shudder. Joe claimed that the reviews about the food were good and disagreed with Ching’s conclusion. She told him that with nobody in the restaurant; they cannot be that popular with his customers.

With an inexperienced chef in the kitchen, Joe has not tasted the food in a while, and Ching advised him to taste it daily. The new chef has potential, but needs guidance. When she reminded him how much he had invested in the restaurant, and how little return, he swallowed his pride and agreed to let her do what she does best.

Ching then went into the kitchen to guide the new chef, who had no culinary experience. She had to discard ingredients because there was no way of telling how old they were. With flies all over, they had to disinfect the entire kitchen. She trimmed down the menu and gave them the basics. Joe liked the first dish she made, but continued to defend his food. Finally, Ching put her foot down and Joe agreed with her.

When she made pork belly, something that brought his Hawaiian roots to the forefront, he liked her ideas. So Ching went with Joe to the streets and told them about the restaurant re-opening.

The décor was refurbished and when Joe came in, he liked what he saw. The new fresh decor was inviting and the bamboo around symbolized wealth, instead of death. For the grand re-opening, the place was busy with customers who loved the food, décor and were happy to come back again thanks to Ching and her crew of Restaurant Redemption.

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