Bravotv.com: First for the Quickfire - what do you think the most important part was to be successful in the beer challenge?
I think it was actually using beer in the challenge. Some people weren't using it and my main component was [the beer.] I think using beer was the biggest thing.
Bravotv.com: Wine pairing is obviously very traditional. Is beer pairing becoming more important?
I think it's key especially with ... beers are beginning to be, not [complex], but they're really balanced, and they really have a lot of things going on. ... For instance you can do fish and chips and put beer in your batter. I think it's great to pair it with the same beer. I think pairing beer is not even up and coming, it's probably out there full force. It's just that we don't see it.
Bravotv.com: How familiar were you with Koren Grieveson, the guest judge?
I actually was. When I was in Chicago I staged all around, which means I basically interned for free at about five or six restaurants and Avec and Blackbird, and her restaurant, which is Avec. I had the opportunity to stop by and actually -- I spent most of my time at Blackbird -- but I did have the opportunity to know who she was. Anyone in Chicago who doesn't know who she is, is crazy. That woman is so talented. As soon as I walked in, I saw beer and I saw her, I thought "Blackbird." Sweetheart too by the way, really nice.
Bravotv.com: Onto the Elimination Challenge -- what was your inspiration or thought process for creating your dish?
Apparently it was California tailgate .... I think the emphasis, if I can remember what I said well enough, was I wanted to take aspects of a burger and do different dishes with that. There's the bun and the protein and so on. So I wanted to actually take the bread aspect and do a salad out of it. And then I wanted to take the meat alone instead and have it stand alone as a protein. So, I think that was my emphasis -- not deconstructing -- [actually,] deconstructing what a burger was and do it in two different forms -- a salad and a protein. As funny as it sounds, people were going apes*** over it, and apparently they weren't.