Top Chef Exit Interview: Episode 7

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Sorry Top Chef fans, it wasn’t a bad dream. They really did replace Gail Simmons with this very unfunny Simon Cowell wannabe. But don’t worry, Endless Simmer is here to help you understand what the eff this guy was talking about. Our interview with the chefs kicked off in last night’s double-elimination Top Chef smorgasbord…after the jump.

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Oh no! It’s Bangs McGee and the Tattooed Wonder! At least ES fav Carla Hootie Hoo Pizzaz gets to stay. We caught up with Gene in Vegas and Mel in Boulder, Colorado. Here’s what these two big personalities had to get off their chests.

Seriously. How much of a dick is this new guy?
Melissa: I think Toby was hired to be dramatic and to say harsh things.
Gene: I think it adds another dimension. People like to see controversy and criticism, and you know, as a chef you got to be able to take criticism.

But does he know his food?
Melissa: I really don’t know. I never heard of him before the show, so I can’t judge him on his credentials. I’m sure they wouldn’t have just brought in some Joe Shmo off the street, but I still think he was there for drama. Honestly I care more about the criticism from Tom than from Toby.

That seemed to really upset you.
Melissa: I’ve gotten over it, but at the same time it sits with me. It’s something I’ve been know for in my career, being creative and imaginative, so it really stings to hear that criticism, to have someone say your food isn’t imaginative, so I’d like to talk with him more and see what he meant.

Gene you said last night that you thought the show was rigged – do you really think that?
G: Well we all knew going in that it was a television show as well as being a cooking contest. From watching the early episodes, I do think that, yeah. Look, if someone spits out you’re food, you gotta go. That just seems obvious to me. But it is what it is, we got voted off, that’s the way the ball rolled and there’s not use crying over spilled milk.

Melissa do you agree?
M: I’m not saying it’s rigged, but yeah, I agree, if someone spits out a dish, that person has got to g.

Gene, what the hell was the deal with your dish?
G: Well as far as the fish goes I agree with them. To their palettes and taste buds it tasted overcooked. As far as the daikon, I think they just weren’t used to eating daikon warm. The general public is used to seeing daikon cold in sushi, but in a lot of Asian cuisine, it is served warm in soups and stews. I’ve eaten it warm a lot, but i’s an acquired taste to eat it warm.

Gene, you worked your way up from a dishwasher to a chef to Top Chef, so what’s next?
G: The world! Just kidding. To be honest, I’m really happy because I feel like I opened doors for people. The restaurant industry is very corporate and employers look for culinary degrees, but if you bust your ass and work hard, you can make it, and I think it’s important that people see that.

And where are you now?
G: I recently developed a menu for a casino out here in Vegas and if all goes well I should be opening a restaurant at a high-end resort here. I can’t say the name yet but I just met with them and I think it all went well and I should be getting a call tomorrow hopefully. It’s going to be a tapas-style restaurant.

What about you, Mel?
M: I’m opening a new restaurant in February called Happy Noodle House in Boulder. I’m the  sous chef, James van Dyke is the executive chef. He’s done a lot of restaurants around here, and this one’s really his baby so I’m really excited to be working on it.

Were you happy with the way you were portrayed on TV?
G: I have no complaints, as long as they didn’t make me look like an  asshole, and I’m pretty sure someone else took on that role.
M: Yeah, I just wish I had won.

 (Photos: Bravo)

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