Bravotv.com: Before the Quickfire, you could tell that you sensed the tension between you and the other chefs. What was it like in the house at that point?
Surviving the reality of living in the house in some ways was the greatest challenge! At this point forward everyone wants me gone. They are either ugly to my face (the majority) or the few that did play nice but clearly were part of the pack of Mike I. and his followers. I am not, nor ever will be a follower — a point I made clear by how I wore my red scarf that day.... Because I chose to express myself as an individual I was seen in a negative manner. I am not afraid to address conflict but unfortunately, conflict resolution was not in the cards for me here. As I see it, integrity is all we have at the end of the day.
Bravotv.com: You win the Quickfire, and it seems like the resentment only got worse. Did it take away from your win at all?
Au contraire, I was very satisfied that I could demonstrate the validity of still being there. Revolution is not my objective, however, there was an inner moment of glee that felt very vindicated in my win.
Bravotv.com: Can you talk a little more about the inspiration behind your dish? Why did you decide to go so simple?
I cook from the heart and this dish was inspired by a very emotional period in my life.
I am comfort food-driven, and during treatment I was re-examining how to embrace a healthier way of living in hopes to survive my diagnosis indefinitely! I cherish life and want to maximize every moment that I am here. I also believe balance is everything and some sacrifices are potentially more harmful. Denial is not the key, moderation is. My inspiration was the mental challenge of these two sides: raw food diet vs. allowing myself the pleasure and absolute comfort of eating an apple crisp, my all-time favorite dessert! I chose my ingredients both for their symbolism and medicinal properties, apples and ginger, and used them on both dishes. We all know what the apple represents, and I DO want all the knowledge I can gather in this life, so I did bite into that apple when the snake offered it to me. But others may not be aware of ginger and its profound medicinal healing qualities. It is a significant player in all over body health, and since my cancers are lymphomas, this is directly related to my circulatory and immune system. It is a stimulant and anti-inflammatory herb, and is probably best known as a digestive aid. Ginger inhibits the same blood-thickening enzyme as aspirin, but does this naturally without the side effect of aspirin. This “wonder drug” herb has an additional benefit to the circulatory system and is remarkable, even transcending the potential of many modern cardiovascular drugs. Environmental exposure is believed to be responsible for as many as 80% of all cancers. Ginger contains at least two other properties that could positively influence the outcome of the patient’s cancer: stimulation of immunity and inhibition of platelet aggregation. Studies in Montreal and Tokyo in 1955 and 1979 concluded that ginger does indeed enhance immunity (http://www.herballegacy.com/Whitney_Medicinal.html)
Bravotv.com: Eli makes a comment that you mentioned that you had cancer to win — what was your reaction to that?
As for Eli dismissing my win as pure pity from the judges, it was a whole bag of dysfunction coming out of his mouth. Eli was my biggest challenge in Vegas, not in the culinary competitions, but in the living realm! I wanted so bad to find peace with him, yet the more I tried to find resolution, the more he hated me. I found out early on that we shared the same birthday, which immediately made me feel a sense of camaraderie. Ironically, it had the opposite effect on him.