Top Chef Exit Interview: Episode 10

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I always knew one day there would be a Top Chef episode starring Leon Panetta. WTF! Seriously though, Padma and Co. have some good D.C. access this season. But one chef-testant had their cover blown…and they tell us what happened, after the jump.


Uh-oh, it’s this season’s most controversial chef-testant. Can Alex explain it all away?

ES: Obviously, we have to let you try to clear the air about the Great Pea Puree Debacle
Alex: You know, it’s been a lot of fun with this whole pea-gate, it brought a lot of controversy and drama to the show and it gets the viewers engaged. Let me say this — I take a lot of pride in my food, so when people accuse me of stealing something, that makes me really mad. That’s just not in my vocabulary. I don’t steal, I don’t lie, I don’t cheat. I bought the peas, I pureed the peas, I plated the peas. When you talk to the others, it will come out that Amanda saw me make the pea puree; others saw me buy the peas.

What do you think about how you were portrayed on the show?
I’m a passionate guy, and sometimes passion gets portrayed badly on these shows. In reality, I’m a really nice guy.

Some of the other chef-testants have had less than nice things to say to you. Did you feel a lot of hostility in the house?
I can’t speak about other chefs. All I can say is I’m a positive person. I always try to keep everyone in high spirits. Was there gamesmanship? Yeah, I’ll say there was a little. People wanted to win. It’s challenging, but we had a great time and I love all the chefs.

Let’s talk about last night’s dish. Did you think the judges’ critique was fair?
Let me say this — the judges’ critiques are always fair. They’re judges, and it’s entirely within their job to critique the food. As a viewer last season, I was never sure what they were basing their decisions on, but as a chef-testant I can say it’s 100 percent on the food. Last night, I made a mistake, no question. I executed the dish not to my abilities, and I definitely deserved to go home.

Which judge was the harshest?
Tom Colicchio has an incredible palate. He notices every single thing that goes into the dish. There is no fooling Tom Colicchio. For me personally, it was Jose Andres, to have to cook Spanish food for one of the best Spanish chefs in the country, I just had a hard time coming up with a concept.

Who do you think is the strongest chef left in the competition?
I don’t know if I can pick a best, they’re all great chefs. Tiffany cooks from her heart and soul, and that always shows up on her plate. If you’re talking about technique and finesse, Angleo is pretty amazing. Kevin is also an incredible chef with a lot of talent. Amanda — that girl can cook, I don’t care what anyone says.

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