Top Chef Exit Interview: Episode 2
Episode two of Top Chef was packed full of zingers, from Tom with his bathroom habits “It’s like someone put a big thing of turd on the table,” and Gail on her drinking “I love vodka, but not cookin’ with it,” to Padma and her, um…preferences “I like the strawberries on top.” For an episode about school meals there certainly was a lot of trash talk.
But what did the losing chef’testant have to say? Read on!
ES: What was the atmosphere like at judges’ table? The two bottom teams seemed to get combative.
Jacqueline: It was pretty crazy. I think I spent half of judges’ table being very nervous and half of it bent over laughing. It was tough, when they called Angelo’s team and ours, we thought cool, maybe we’re the top teams, and then we get to judges’ table we realized that was not the case at all. My team felt very strongly that based on the critiques given by the judges that our team, while in the bottom two was much less offensive in terms of problems with the dishes than Angelo’s team.
Eliminations always get us thinking about last meals. What would your last meal be?
I’d start with oysters on the half shell, then I’d have my lobster salad. It would probably be a clam bake but we’d have to throw in roasted marrow bone and some fois gras to round it out.
Do you regret making the dessert? Do you think it’s true that people who make dessert always go home?
I definitely think with hindsight knowledge of the show that there is a point to that statement. I didn’t want to be the one on my team doing dessert, especially having been knocked in the first elimination. It was a team effort and I was the only member of the team with pastry experience and everyone made a point of that. I would have loved to have done the chicken; I wouldn’t have taken the skin off.
Do you feel like Angelo sabotaged his team?
I really do not believe that, knowing what went in the planning process with their team and knowing what we spoke about in stew room. I think it was more that he and Tracey were really relaxed. I think the mistake they made was that because they were relaxed they didn’t give much thought or effort to the design of the meal.
What do you think is worse — the lack of nutritional quality in Kenny’s dish or Amanda’s boozy chicken?
I think the lack of nutritional quality, the fact they served a meal with carbohydrates and sugar in all four of their dishes versus our meal which had sugar in one dish — (laughing) — I’ll reemphasize, one ounce out of twenty. There was rice in the chicken burger, the sweet potatoes are sugary and starchy, the dessert had oatmeal, apples and sugar in it. There were major flaws in all four components.
What was the best place you ate in DC?
We didn’t get out much, but the last night we were there we ate at Zaytinya. They gave us an absolutely fabulous tasting menu. Mike Isabella came down to speak to us which was a very emotional experience I think for all of us. While you’re in it you don’t feel like a Top Chef, you don’t feel good about yourselves, you’re really under pressure. He gave us a hint to what life would be like after.
What’s next for you?
What’s next is what came before. Right now I’m still operating my mobile restaurant. We’ve been very busy with all the fashion markets here in New York, which wrapped up on Sunday. I’ve been over at Cafe Royal, pulling doubles there so the co-chef can have a few days off. Just continuing the dream.
Finally, do you have any advice for future contestants?
Watch the show, watch the show before you go. I can definitely say that was my biggest weakness. It wasn’t an inability to work under time, it wasn’t an inability to execute well or be organized. It was not understanding the scope of the competition and the challenges. There are certain strategies that work really well in the Top Chef kitchen which I was not aware of. If I had known about it I may have made a couple of different decisions in terms of the last elimination. It wasn’t an avoidance, I don’t have a television.