Burning Questions

The winning chef talks about competing against his brother and the inspiration behind his crowd-pleasing dish.

Aug 26, 2009

Bravotv.com: First, it’s the second episode, but what is your impression of the other chefs at this point?
I am very excited about the caliber of chefs this season. Even though I did not compete in past seasons, the resumes this year say a lot, so I am confident in saying that this year is different. We have several chef’s who have worked for some of the best chefs in the country as well as some who have achieved their fair share of accolades. After meeting everyone at the house and getting a sense of who’s who I still am very confident that I can hang with all of them.

Who do you think your biggest competition are after the first challenge?
The first challenge means a lot in retrospect — once the last plate is served and you finally catch a breath, you size yourself up against the rest of the group, if you're still there. The relay showed who had solid fundamentals, and or who has confidence in themselves. The Elimination Challenge demanded creativity and I saw a few embrace the challenge and some who did not even get it. I think at this time it still is too early to tell who to watch out for. All of the remaining chefs have their own talents and some are very well-rounded. This means the challenges themselves could pose problems and or help some prevail even if I believe they are not a threat.

Bravotv.com: Your brother makes a comment in the episode that you’ve already accomplished what he hopes to — owning your own restaurant. Is there anything you would say that you still want to accomplish that you haven’t that your brother has?
In Episode 1, Michael mentions that he is my biggest fan when we are not competing against one another. I have to say I feel the same way. Michael has accomplished a lot of great things as well. He can claim a Michelin Star, and was part of the opening of the Bazaar that earned Jose Andres four stars — some great accolades. I know that Michael with patience will also open a place on his own.

Bravotv.com:  OK — the Quickfire. It was all about the ingredients in this one, based on pure luck. What was the inspiration behind your dish?
It was a very quick decision. I simply took a classic yet familiar flavor combination and built the dish from that. I chose peas and carrots. Knowing that if I rolled a 10-12, I could add ginger, lemongrass, and many other complimenting flavors. Simple — if I rolled a lower number, peas and carrots are good on their own.