Top Chef Exit Interview: Episode 6

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The Top Chef’testants served up cold food this week, but the drama was still hot. One disbelieving chef was told to pack ’em and leave. Their exit thoughts, a the j…


Even though she made guest judge Michelle Bernstein feel like she had two tongues in her mouth, DC-based chef Tamesha sure didn’t see this one coming from her confident vantage point in the stew room. Here’s what she has to say for herself.

ES: It looked there was a whole lot of gamesmanship going down in this episode, especially with several people hoping to put Kenny on the bottom. But didn’t anyone point out that putting a strong chef like Kenny on the chopping block was the worst thing your team could do?
Tamesha: No, not at all. Most people were actually saying they wanted Amanda to go, not Kenny, but he just served the worst dish. We were judging it on the plates, not the personality, and I think we would have done it the same way even if we hadn’t known who made each dish.

Speaking of wanting Amanda to go, several chefs in this episode said she didn’t deserve to get this far. Do you think she deserves to still be there?
Uh………….not really (laughs). But you know, it is what it is.

You said you were just about ready to strangle her. What about her bothers you so much?
Just her personality and the way that she works. I’m very cool, calm and collected and I can pretty much get along with anybody. I don’t know what it is – there’s just something about her that rubs me the wrong way.

You said last night you saw Angelo as a mentor but also that you shouldn’t have trusted him so much. Which is it?
My words weren’t put together the way they should have been. I see him as a mentor for young cooks — not for myself. I knew of him prior to this, but I didn’t mean that he’s my mentor because I hardly know him. He had no hand in seasoning my dish at all. I am 100-percent confident in my skills and in preparing what I need to prepare. He asked to taste the dish because he wanted to taste it, but that had no effect on what I did.

You seemed pretty confident in the stew room that you weren’t gonna get kicked off — how come?
This is a pretty hard question for me. I was very surprised to hear my name. I went in with a lot of confidence. I didn’t think it was a bad dish. I know there were some problems, but I just don’t think it was bad enough to get me sent home.

Tell us about long pepper — many of us had never even heard of that ingredient.
Long pepper is an Asian spice, very peppery, similar to Szechuan pepper. It has a numbing effect on your tongue when used in large quantities, but a sweet and spicy taste when used in smaller quantities. I was honestly surprised that they didn’t like it because it’s not the first time I’ve used that ingredient or that flavor combination.

You used a lot of ingredients and flavors we haven’t seen before — even on Top Chef. What’s your culinary background?
I worked at Jean-Georges in New York for two-and-a-half years, straight out of culinary school, and I was introduced to a lot of different flavor profiles and flavor combinations there. Here at The Oval Room, where I’m a sous chef, we try to do different things like that, where you look at the menu and go, ‘huh?’ But then you eat it and say, “oh my god.” As a chef, I think that’s the whole point, putting together flavors that people might not expect.

Can you give us an example of something people should definitely try at The Oval Room?
Right now on the menu we have a jerk foie gras with ginger gelee.

Where else do you like to eat in DC?
I like to go to Palena — anything he makes is good. 2 Amys for pizza. I’ve had a really good burger at Central; also a really good burger at The Source.

(Photos: Bravo)

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