Top Chef Exit Interview: Episode 5
Top Chef left Vegas for the desert this week, but the heat by the campfire was too much for one chef-testant. We find out why, after the jump.
Basque chef Mattin mastered the cactus but then served up some ceviche that didn’t sit right with the judges. He does, however, get props for pioneering a new exit interview strategy: throwing Whole Foods under the bus.
Mattin, one judge spit your ceviche out and another said it made him sick. What happened there?
The main thing was I really didn’t have enough time. I was really going crazy fast. An hour and a half is not that much time and I had to cook for 15 people. I had to cook a lot of fish, and apples and corn and chilies, press all the lime, cook potatoes. It was just too many things and I had to do it really fast, so maybe the fish wasn’t all evenly sized. Obviously the heat and everything in the desert, and also we bought the fish from Whole Foods, so obviously we can talk to Whole Foods about having more, like, fresher fish.
Tom said on his blog that you talked a lot about being a Basque chef but he didn’t see that in your food. What is Basque cooking? What do you serve at your restaurant?
Basque cooking involves a lot of oxtail, sweetbreads – those are a little harder to sell so I do them on special. I do things like lamb chops – Basques love lamb. We do little mini lamb burgers with reduction of shallots and balscamic vinegar. I do some seared tuna with Basque blue cheese, which people love. And I’m putting a black ink sauce ceviche on special tonight.
Sounds amazing. Why didn’t you cook any of that on the show!
Well I wanted to try out new things on the show, not just do what I’m comfortable with. And it’s harder on television, you don’t know what you’re going to cook with. You go to Whole Foods, you don’t know what they’ll have, it’s not exactly the same as being in your own restaurant.
Were you surprised to be going home?
I was in the bottom twice, in the French challenge and this one, and it’s not very comfortable to be there, so I was actually happy when Padma said to go home. I was like, thank you, I don’t want to be on the bottom anymore. I was not so into the competition part of it.
I can’t believe they cut out your sneak attack kiss on Padma! Was she mad about that?
Eh, I don’t think she was as excited about it, I think for Padma it is just another kiss. I don’t think there’s a future there.
Who do you think is the strongest chef left in the competition?
I think Bryan Voltaggio is very strong, and also Kevin.