The personalities of this season's Top Chef contestants are as rich and flavorful as their cooking. We would love more than anything to be a fly on the wall of the Top Chef house.
Luckily, Chef Sheldon Simeon gave us the dirt on what it was like living, sleeping, and eating with his competitors in Charleston for Top Chef Season 14. "Living in the house with all of these different Top Chefs was so fun, so many different personalities. Everyone's out of their comfort zone, and here we are living together," Sheldon told The Daily Dish. "Katsuji [Tanabe], in the morning, you could smell all his cologne. Sam [Talbot] has crazy nightmares that [made me] squeeze my pillow at night. John [Tesar] has these morning rituals where he talks to himself and stares out into the yonder. Shirley [Chung] wakes up super quiet, but once she has her coffee, you're not gonna let her stop talking from there on."
Sheldon roomed with his fellow Top Chef veteran, Sam. "We had a good time. Too bad we didn't get to hang out longer all season," he said. "Sam was the best roommate. It was hilarious seeing a six-foot-seven guy sleep on a twin bed."
Sheldon said the cheftestants treated the house like their "sanctuary" because "of all the craziness" of the competition. So what did the cheftestants do to unwind after a long day of Quickfire and Elimination Challenges? "What we did for fun — well, we thought it was fun — was watch The Notebook, just because we were in Charleston. But by the end of it, man, those tears," Sheldon shared. "That was the first time that I'd seen The Notebook, this season. We literally stayed in and like, what the hell is going on? Jim [Smith] was crying. I've never seen a handsome man like that cry. It made me cry, not because of The Notebook, because he was crying."
Other than being in "a room full of cheftestants bawling to The Notebook," as Sheldon put it, the Top Chef hopefuls also chilled by the pool and ate a lot of gummy fruit snacks. But they ate some real meals, too. The cheftestants took turns cooking dinner, and when it came time for Sheldon to prepare a meal, he made SPAM and rice for his fellow competitors. "Everyone was talking about that," he said with a smile.
But just because the house was filled with some of the best chefs in the world doesn't mean every dish was delicious. "There were some bad meals, believe me, because we kind of put it on the stove and [didn't] worry about it," Sheldon said. "We were happy to eat anything. Chefs are not that picky. A lot of times, we always had the options of salads, so we'd always go to eating salad."
You've got to make sure your culinary talents really shine when the likes of Padma Lakshmi and Tom Colicchio are tasting your food, after all. "And you don't want to have your belly busting the next day by eating something crazy the night before," Sheldon joked.
But the cheftestants definitely had an amazing home cooked meal when Padma stopped by their pad. Relive this season's special moment, below.