Burning Questions

The self-professed non-tailgater answers our questions about getting eliminated in the tailgating challenge.

Apr 16, 2008

Bravotv.com: California tailgate -- do you go often? No. No I don't go often. I'm the least sport fan you're ever going to meet. Honestly, it's really funny, a lot of my friends they'll ask me, "Who are 'Refrigerator Perry' or 'Lenny Dykstra?'" I mean I know I know a lot about sports -- you're not going to find me on a Sunday sitting down going to a tailgate. I got Giants tickets last Thursday and I gave them away .... Unless there's a lot of beer, you're not going to get me there. I am a sports fan -- I find it great what they do. I think it's phenomenal .... I just wanted to do my flair. And I think what Top Chef is about is putting your own interpretation and your own spin on the food. But apparently my own interpretation which was bringing a different aspect and trying to, I think what I tried to do was give them a whole meal at my station, which was a protein, a starch, which was my salad, and a dessert. And to top it off, I tried to give a drink. And it was going big. Sometimes going big will shoot you in the ass. All in all, I was extremely happy with it. I think what I remember well enough was, what they were saying was it wasn't tailgate food. They weren't killing the food .... I didn't go tailgate -- I went high-end tailgate.

Bravotv.com: What was the experience like of having so many fans coming to try your food? You seemed to try to want to entertain them -- is that part of being a chef to you?
I think so. A key ingredient of my restaurant that now has closed was the fact that people did eat at my restaurant for the food, but if they can say "Hi" or you can come out and shake a hand with somebody, that's part of the game. Especially being out in the open like that, it's part of the deal. Chefs are rock stars these days and people want to say "Hi" to them and want to meet them. And if you can bring somebody over and tantalize them by saying "Hi," ... then that's quite the deal. I'm all about front of the house, back of the house and a chef that works a restaurant, I love. And I love going to a place -- I still remember when I was a kid the chef used to come out and said "Hi" to the table, and I still remember that years and years and years later. And that was a huge impact on my life. I think that's great. I think that's definitely a part of being a chef these days is working the dining room.

Bravotv.com: Did you ever consider using the charcoal grill like Mark did? There's no way in hell I was using that charcoal grill. Mark was just like, "I'm gonna do it, mate." I was three-quarters done with my mise en place and having everything ready and he was just getting his flame up. It was completely ballsy and I respect and adore Mark and I think he's a great chef. There's no way Mark could've gone home just for that. I think that was great. I'm all about gas. I'm all about what can turn up really quick, turn over with, and have a nice day. I'm not lazy -- I'm just not going to sit there and light charcoal. That's just not my thing. I live in San Francisco, so gas is easy.