Bravotv.com: First let's talk Quickfire -- what was the most important part of conquering the beer challenge? How important is beer pairing in today's culinary world?
For me the most important part of conquering the beer challenge was my massive hangover from the night before. At that point the last thing i wanted to do was drink beer, but like at work you got to man up and get the job done. In the culinary world it's very important to know how to pair beer with food -- love love drinking a good beer with complex food.
Bravotv.com:You had a bit of trouble with your pretzel crust -- how did you try to salvage it. Is this something you've tried to do in the past?
The pretzel crust just wasn't happening. I think i had a good idea but a horrible execution. I'm sure sweating out the two bottle of champagne and case of beer had nothing to do with my performance, but no excuses -- just like at work. There really was no salvaging the crust, but like most of my dishes to this point that idea was spur of the moment.
Bravotv.com: How familiar are you with Koren Grieveson, the guest judge?
I don't know Koren personally but I've eaten at Avec a bunch of times and love what they are doing there.
Bravotv.com: Onto the Elimination Challenge -- what made you go with ribs?
I originally wanted to do chicken wings but Spike beat me to the meat counter, so i thought about it and I love ribs on the grill and watching a game, so i ran with it.
Bravotv.com: You said you're a Bears fan -- Do you tailgate? What do you usually see/eat there?
Of course I'm a Bears fan -- still remember watching the '85 Bears dominate the Pats. I BBQ but if you've ever been to Chicago in the winter you know it's nasty, so tailgating on the lake front is a bit much for me, but i love eating brats, or any pork product for that matter.
Bravotv.com: What was your inspiration for the flavors on your ribs?
The inspiration for my ribs came from this great marinade I had that was based on hot sauce and yogurt.
Bravotv.com: What was the experience like of having so many fans coming to try your food?
It was the first time I felt back home with all those Bears fans talking to you. It was really cool to hear them talk -- you can really hear the City of the Big Shoulders vernacular.
Bravotv.com: Were you concerned at all that ribs might be messy?
Mess is good. Messy is football. I wasn't going to make pumpkin risotto and stuff it in a hollowed out pumpkin so some suit could come and eat it with a spoon and down it with a California Chardonnay. That's not Chicago and that's not Bears football.
Bravotv.com: Did you ever consider using the charcoal grill like Mark did?
Hell no -- I never thought of using that. This is a competition. I don't think the judges give a f*** what you're cooking on, just what tastes good.
Bravotv.com: Was winning this challenge especially important to you because you are a Chicago native/fan?
Of course it's important for me -- I love fine dining food, but i also love everyday approachable food, and winning this gives me confidence that i can do that.Bravotv.com: What did you think of the other dishes?
I thought Rich's burger was good but hard to execute, same with Antonia's, didn't really taste anyone else's. Heard from a disgruntled Bears fan that he waited 30 mins for a pear, but don't know who made that.
Bravotv.com: Were you surprised that Ryan got sent home?
Kind of -- I know he can cook he just made a mistake.
Bravotv.com: Going back a moment to your apology to Lisa -- did you feel like she really accepted it? What was your relationship like with her after that point?
You know, I apologized because I know how drunk I was from the night before and my rant at the camera was very totally uncalled for, but people don't deserve to be talked to that way. I'm pretty sure she didn't accept it , and at that point I knew we disliked each other.