Burning Questions

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

Apr 16, 2008

Bravotv.com: Are you familiar with Chef Kahan -- what did you think of him as judge for this challenge? It was really cool. One thing I found out coming to Chicago was the people I was expecting was the Trotters and definitely Paul Kahans. So, when I saw him, I was stoked. ... Basically what I did was and what I feel was important in my culinary career is an apprenticeship. When you go to school to be a doctor, you do seven years of internship. I had an opportunity to travel, so what I thought was, "I'm going to go knock on all these chefs' doors whom I've always wanted to work for and spend two or three days to week with them, or however long they'll let me have." There were so many restaurants I got a chance to stop at, even Rick Bayless's, and I also met Paul Kahan. When I met Paul, I'd never met a nicer or more humble chef. He opened my eyes to a whole different genre of culinary artistry. Paul never raises his voice, he's really casual with his chefs, and he tells everybody to call him Paul. He basically set the stage for me to know there are great chefs out there who don't have to have the old school mentality, and I was honored. He took me under his wing, and took me to do a fund-raiser up in Chicago, and was just an all-around great guy. He showed me you don't have to do things the old, classic way. You know, when people think of what chefs are, they think they're all like Gordon Ramsay. He's the anti that, in clothes, and he actually made me want to keep cooking, because he made me realize you can reach success and still stay humble.

Bravotv.com: What did you think of the other dishes? Were you surprised that you went home over say Mark (messy grill) and Nikki (ran out of food)? What that comes down to is that it was definitely their choice. They said Mark was messy with his grill, and I think they said Nikki ran out of stuff, and they chose me, but really, any three of us could have gone home that night. Honestly, I think that was the first time in the show that all the bottom three had a viable possibility of going home. I took a totally different route, Nikki ran out of stuff, and I went home. You know, It happens.

Bravotv.com: Would you have done anything differently? If so, what? I would have done a f*ckin' burger! I would have done what Antonia said! I was cooking next to Antonia, and Tom comes up and says, "Who are you cooking for?" And Antonia says, "I'm cooking for fat guys." If I had known a burger could have slid me through to another episode, well, actually, you know what? That wouldn't have been me. This is me, and America can think of me whatever they want to think of me, but you know what? I'm a California boy. I cook quick, I cook simple, and I cook clean. I don't think it was very off the wall, compared to any other dishes, it just wasn't Chicago tailgate.