Top Chef Exit Interview: Episode 12


It’s really getting down to the wire on Top Chef: Las Vegas, with the remaining chef-testants having to endure a culinary Olympics this week. Of course, one unlucky cooker didn’t make it to the finish line. Our (spoiler) chat with them is after the jump.

ES: All five of you seemed to struggle last night – what happened in that challenge?
Eli: I think it was just that the challenge itself was so immense. It would have been a great challenge to do over two days, or to bring back the other contestants as sous chefs. That type of challenge was one where we just really suffered because of the time component, and if they expanded it I think all of our dishes would have been exponentially better.

The judges were just as critical, if not more critical, of both Bryan and Mike’s dishes as yours. Do you think they had already made the decision not to send either of those two home?
Both of their dishes were better than mine, without question. The judges were hyper-critical of everyone, but I think that’s just the nature of the game when you’ve got all those talented chefs sitting down together.

So you think the judging was fair?
Totally fair. It was the fairest thing I could possibly imagine. They deliberate dish by dish, course by course, challenge by challenge. Whoever’s dish was the worst went home, period.

The way the show has been produced made it seem like the four chefs remaining were really a notch above everyone else from the beginning. Did you and the other chefs see it that way?
I feel like they were stronger competitors up front, but I don’t think that was because of producing. We saw what really happened — when Jen started folding a bit we saw that. So sure, I knew from the beginning they were all really talented, but at least I started out strong in the fauxhawk competition.

When we talked to Robyn last week, she painted you as unwilling to get along with her or ever move past your differences. Why was she so hard for you to deal with?
The thing about it is that I just don’t care for the kind of person she is. We just did not get along. It was nothing professional or more serious than that, but I just didn’t care for her as a person.

What was the best thing you ate cooked by another chef-testant?
Eating Michael Voltaggio’s polenta with banana was a pretty existential experience.

What’s next for you?
I’ve got about 15,000 things going on, and of course I’m keeping my ears open. If anyone happens to be looking around to open a restaurant somewhere down South, I’m always open to it.

For even more of Eli’s interview, check out I’m Not Here To Make Friends starting Friday.

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