Burning Questions

The winning chef shares why he knew his down-home cooking would win the day.

Jul 22, 2009

Bravotv.com: What was your first reaction when you saw who your competitors were?
When I found out about who I was up against? I was like OK, these chefs have years of fancy food experience, being my career has been private for families. Well, my secret weapon is the homeliness of my food. My simple flavors are always well-received.

Bravotv.com: The Quickfire — were you happy with the aisle you got?
Love the aisle I got! Grains, rice, etc. Why? Because you can create a main dish with those foods and it's common knowledge that grains are the wonder food.

Bravotv.com: Why did you decide to go with a risotto?
Everybody loves gooey pudding-like foods, nursery food, sticky delicious, and making that sticky grains salad was an idea that I borrowed from a salad I had at Lotus Star in Las Vegas. The acid in the salad refreshes your palate from the buttery gooey sticky risotto.

Bravotv.com: Now the Elimination: Did sabotage ever cross your mind?
No, because you don't mess with a chef ever. We may make comments, but it's a general well-known rule — don't touch a chef's food or his knives without asking.

Bravotv.com: Why did you decide to make a complete meal on a plate? (i.e. Include a dessert)
Why? Well, I figured it would take the servers time to walk so far between sets and I wanted it easy, and also, to demonstrate that I put a lot of effort into it. OK, was it too much? Well, who doesn't like fried chicken leg, next to some mashed sweet potatoes, and the thigh tastes more polite when it's braised, and one lesson I learn from competing on another popular show, dessert always wins! My peach pie, that I made at Ms. Winfrey's Gospel Brunch, that Barbara Streisand flipped out over surely made them see heaven.