Bravotv.com: Going into this final challenge, what were your assumptions about what the challenge or "twists" would be? How did you prepare for them?
I assumed that there had to be some kind of twist, but it's hard to say. I hoped that it wouldn't make completing the dinner too difficult.
Bravotv.com: What went through your mind when you saw what the mystery box was?
I’m pretty much thinking that I don’t know what to do with matsutake mushrooms. I think that it's rockfish, but frankly it doesn’t look very fresh. The whole box seems like it could use some condensing.
Bravotv.com: What was your immediate reaction when your mom came out?
I am happy to see my mom, but also it is a little distracting.
Bravotv.com: Who did you want/not want as your sous-chefs? What was your reaction
when you drew knives?
I obviously would have wanted Jennifer or Eli, as they are the people that I am closest to in the competition. Any help is better than no help.
Bravotv.com: What was the inspiration for each dish?
The amuse was based on my childhood. I wanted to make a single bite of traditional southern supper. The first course was a bit confusing. I was a little out of my element trying to piece all of those foreign elements together in one dish. The main course was based on showing a different texture of pork belly than you often have. Mostly belly is braised (soft) or crispy and I wanted to accentuate its texture if roasted whole, similar to a pork rib. My dessert was meant to be fun and a playful. I have this pork stigma all season and so I just wanted to go out with one more round of it.
Bravotv.com: What was your reaction to seeing who would judge you?
It was a bit stressing. I just hope that they understood that we are not in our restaurants, or in our element even. I wanted them to understand the pressure that we each faced, and not be too critical.
Bravotv.com: How did your sous-chefs work out?
Fine — I certainly couldn’t have done it by myself.