Top Chef Exit Interview: Episode 11


Wow, I thought Top Chef: Las Vegas couldn’t become any more of a foodie fantasy than Natalie Portman telling dirty jokes in a steakhouse, but then they go and top themselves this week by serving Padma and Nigella breakfast in bed. Total head explosion.

Speaking of Padma, look out for her making an “exotic and robotic” guest appearance on 30 Rock tonight! Is this NBC testing out Padma’s potential as a sitcom star?!

Oh right, they cooked some stuff last night too. On with the (spoiler!) exit interview…

Well, no one is too surprised with this week’s elimination, are they? Here’s the dirt…

ES: Obviously, we gotta ask about the drama. Were the attitudes from the other chef-testants towards you as bad in person as they seemed on TV?
Robyn: It was really as ugly as it looked, unfortunately. It was a disappointment that they didn’t respect me. I did everything in my power to not let it frustrate me, but it was difficult. There were times when I just had to remove myself and say, OK screw you guys, I’m gonna take care of myself. But in the end it doesn’t matter because really, who are they? They’re not judging me, the judges are.

Was it tough to watch on TV?
I’m a hypercritical person so it’s difficult anyway — I’m watching and thinking, oh are the bags under my eyes really that big, or oh, did I really do that badly? But actually I think who I am as a person came through, and I appreciate that they gave me a chance to show that.

The judges seemed to think your biggest mistake was getting intimidated and trying to cook more like the other chefs. Was that a fair critique?
I did at times get away from my comfort food cooking, which was a mistake. I don’t have that molecular gastronomy experience. I’m still as good a chef as Mike Voltaggio, but we are very different chefs. I have plenty of fans who love my food too, but my style didn’t feel as dynamic as his. That’s where I sabotaged myself, trying to do things that were not my style, instead of what I know I can do well.

Speaking of Mike, he really seemed to get under your skin in the last few episodes. Did you leave pissed off at him?
No, I didn’t want to have anger in me. Mike and I made up immediately after the serving. It’s just a reflection of the intensity of competition and the intensity of serving. Usually it’s not personal — I think in this case there was a little personal stuff — but we hugged and made up immediately afterward.

Who did you have the most friction with?
Eli was a disappointment. He had it out for me from the beginning. Every episode I tried to make amends, and he just had no interest.

Who are you rooting for?
Kevin. He’s my hero, I want him to win. He’s just a genuine, kind person, and an incredibly talented chef. He was so gracious throughout and never let any of the drama become his drama.

What’s up with Jen? She’s kind of falling apart, huh?
Yeah, we were all kind of falling apart at this point. It’s hard, and it really is about longevity and the endurance factor. We had been there for four, five weeks; it’s non-stop and it catches up with you. She is hyper-intensely hard on herself and really beats herself up.

Would you do TV again?
I would do maybe local TV or PBS. Reality TV? Maybe not so much. Of course I have no fear in front of the camera, but I don’t think I need to be subjected to that again.

Can’t get enough Robin? Head over to I’m Not Here To Make Friends (starting Friday), for an extended podcast interview.

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