Top Chef Masters Exit Interview: Episode 9

Those Magical Elves really know how to pull our heart strings. In perhaps one of the more somber and emotional episodes the remaining four chefs had to create a buffet menu for a member of the U.S. Military returning from duty.

Check out which chef didn’t quite make it to the finale.

In the Quickfire challenge, was it really that difficult for you to make out that it was your father’s voice as your partner?
Naomi Pomeroy: You can’t hear anything because your heart is beating so loudly in your eardrums that your head is going to explode. It is a really stressful situation, so I think that has everything to do with nobody recognizing. It’s the last thing from your mind, trying to figure out who your partner is.

You gave your father a pretty hard time — did he give you a verbal bashing once the cameras were off?
Not at all, I think I spent a while apologizing. My dad is a really cool guy and he thought it was hilarious. He just thought it was all part of the fun. He doesn’t know what it’s like to be a chef and he has a lot of respect for me.

It was an emotional episode — what was it like serving the Armed Forces?
It was pretty amazing, I think everyone talked about this. Floyd got some really nice airtime with his exchanging of the coin with his person. It’s a pretty big honor to be asked to serve people who serve us. I think ultimately, as cooks we’re real caretakers to the point of it being kind of a disease at times. We’re obsessive and we want everyone to be happy. It was fun to be a caretaker to those who take care of us.

You’ve been consistently good throughout, was it a surprise for you to not make it to the finale?
Yeah, I think so. I really maintained, and I feel so strongly that I went in not knowing if I’d get kicked off on the first or the last episode. I’m not a super competitive person with other people, just myself. I felt like I did myself right, the food that I served I was proud of, except not making it to the plate on the first challenge. Everything else I felt like I could stand by what I was doing.

Your final challenge was to cook a Hawaiian menu for your Air Force guest. Have you practiced that cuisine since leaving the show?
No (laughing), it’s funny, I’ve certainly eaten plenty of Hawaiian food. There are some great restaurants here in Portland. All the dishes I made I had never made before, and I think for me that’s where I walk away feeling really proud. I made four things I’ve never made before, I don’t feel that was crazy or too far out there or too adventurous. I felt like my family was happy so I was happy.

Naomi’s charity was Seed Savors Exchange

(Photos: Bravo TV)

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