Top Chef Exit Interview: Episode 9
Top Chef pulled in a political heavyweight this week — Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, but that was by far not the only highlight of last night’s episode. Down to eight chef’testants, we were given what many of us consider the best elimination challenge the show has to offer — Restaurant Wars at Bethesda’s Redwood Restaurant & Bar.
But before you see which chef’testant was sent packing (spoiler alert!), lets take a moment to discuss which pant suit was better!
ES: When you realized that someone from your team was going home, did you think the judges would have pulled a wild card and sent Alex home?
Kenny Gilbert: That would have been the correct decision based on him not completing a dish. I don’t think they wanted to follow through with the rules is what it boils down to. They thought their food was better than ours. Fine. But the rules that we signed up for, we signed up for restaurant wars which was to put out a perfectly executed restaurant. Ultimately the red team should have been disqualified, or at least Alex, because he didn’t conceptualize and make a dish. The right thing would have been to send Alex home.
At judges’ table, instead of defending your own dish and those of your teammates, you went out and attacked Alex — do you think that might have contributed to you going home?
It’s interesting, they asked if there was anything else we wanted to go over and Kevin said yeah — he pointed out that Alex didn’t prepare his own food — that’s when the explosion took place. Kelly and Amanda made their statements and I made my statement, we were all being supportive of each other and what the rules had implied. But what they showed was me defending it.
Frank Bruni compared your dish to Hamburger Helper. Was that the harshest criticism you’ve received?
You know, I felt like he was getting his Simon Cowell kind of fame on Top Chef. To me it was a very ignorant response. One of the judges couldn’t articulate what was wrong with the dish, they just said it didn’t come together. I thought the critique was terrible, especially compared to having a Chef Ripert or Jose Andres or some of the other judges that we had make fairer critiques, not just a bunch of statements that make good TV.
Was the rivalry between you and Angelo that aggressive or was it played up?
I don’t think it was really played up. In the house hanging out we were cool, it was like we were friends from high school. I was a swimmer and diver in high school. I associate it as if my arch rival were in the same hotel and we were there to compete. Yeah, we’d be sitting there having drinks but when we take it to the blocks, it’s like you don’t like me and I don’t like you — that’s what it was like in the kitchen. I think he was most intimidated by me. He told me later that he was nervous because he thought I made things look so simple.