Bravotv.com: Let's start with the Quickfire. Were you intimidated at all when you saw that Daniel Boulud was the guest judge?
Intimidated no, but honored to have a chef of his caliber judging us. A true "rock star," somebody I've looked up to for a very long time.
Bravotv.com: How important is technique in the kitchen? At all levels?
Technique is the foundation in which our trade is built on; if you have a solid technique then you are able to express yourself at creative level.
Bravotv.com:How psyched were you to have won? What did it mean?
Very excited -- I mean Daniel was the judge. To this point, to me he was the dopest chef to have blessed us with his presence. It means for the Elimination I live another day -- that's it. Does it mean I've got the best technique? Not necessarily -- it was kind of a confusing challenge.
Bravotv.com: Onto the Elimination: Why did you choose to work with Richard and Andrew?
On the Elimination, I chose to work with Rich and Andrew because I really wanted to put together a dominating team, like the bulls with Jordan, Pippen, and Rodman. But seriously, Rich and I talked, and I knew that his views on food were very similar.
Bravotv.com: Were you happy with the choice of Willy Wonka?
Yes -- very happy with the choice of Willy Wonka. I really took a backseat to Richard's vision, because you could really tell that he was passionate about the movie, besides my favorite movies are gangster films like The Godfather and Goodfellas, and Italian is not really what i do.
Bravotv.com: Did the flavor combinations concern you at all? Or you knew they would work together?
Never once did i think the flavor combinations were not going to be successful. I worked at Morimoto NYC. We take big risks with flavor combinations, so when we hashed out the menu I already tasted on my palate and knew it was going to be good.
Bravotv.com: In the stew room, Zoi and some of the other chefs questioned the flavor of your dish without tasting it -- do you have a response?
In response to the others questioning our food, it's cool. I mean it might not be for everybody, but they are not judging it -- Tom, Padma, Gail, and Daniel motherf***ing Boulud are. I mean I love Zoi and the others, but really I mean I'm not one of those chefs that gets carrots from some organic farmer ... farms fifty miles away, and sings to his carrots in the morning and gives them a massage ... then sells them to you for 15 dollars a pound -- that's not me. Bravotv.com: Did you get to try any of the other dishes? What did you think of them?
i tasted Spike's dish and though that it wasn't a very good spring roll. I ate Jenn's and though they won. I ate Lisa and Steph's dish and thought they fired their dumpling too early, and their meat was under-done. Didn't taste Ryan's, but really didn't want to. Ate Zoi's and Antonia's -- thought it was cooked perfectly.
Bravotv.com: How has life been for you since the show started airing?
Life is good. Really weird to see myself on TV , but really kind of the same still working at Buddakan.
Bravotv.com: There have been a few viewer comments to the cursing on the show, do you have anything to say about it?
What i have to say to those people is that they should try working in a f***ing goddamn kitchen for one f***ing day. See how polite it is when there's 18 other hardcore cooks and chefs trying to get out over a thousand meals in a hot, ruthless kitchen. These are probably the same people who come to a Chinese restaurant and tell their waiter they have a "soy sauce " allergy, and that raw fruit gives them gas.
Bravotv.com: Were you a Top Chef fan before? Who were your favorites to watch?
Yes -- I was a big fan since the beginning. Love to watch the first host -- what was her name -- she's now married to Billy Joel. She was as exciting as watching paint dry.