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? Conquering the beer challenge is perfect for me. I love wine, and always drink wine with dinner, but tend to drink beer while relaxing. The gastro pub seen has brought in more cooking with beer, I agree with Koren: Mussels and beer are a great match, and obviously fried food and beer.
Bravotv.com: How familiar are you with Koren Grieveson, the guest judge?
I never met her before but I had heard of Avec and was attracted to the concept of the restaurant. Avec has a wood oven and so does COCO5OO. our styles are similar.
Bravotv.com: What was your inspiration for your dish?
My inspiration on the prawn scallop fritters came from the Caribbean beer for sure. I didn't give it a second thought. Fried food, rich, spicy sauce -- perfect.
Bravotv.com: You said that Zoi's elimination kind of gave you a push -- can you describe how you were feeling after she left?
After Zoi left I felt angry -- she is such a talent it just felt wrong. At first I thought Spike should of gone, but now Richard with fish scales and mushy fish over needing more sea salt. Come on!
Bravotv.com: How did you feel after winning the Quickfire?
After winning the challenge, I was exhilarated. It was my first win. I was thrilled and felt much deserved. Bravotv.com: Onto the Elimination Challenge -- what was your thought process for creating your dish?
Tailgating is about big flavors. Get the crowd pumped. I wanted to do that, but also put a Greek spin on my dish, for Zoi. Also Chicago is such a Greek town!
Bravotv.com: Have you ever been to a tailgate? What would you want to see at one?
I have been to many tailgate parties with my Friends and family, burgers, ribs, and always have to have something on a stick. I had alligator on a stick at a Saints game in New Orleans!
Bravotv.com: Did you ever consider using the charcoal grill like Mark did?
No. I am actually not a grill master; Zoi always grills. I went for gas because I was under the gun. I love the flavor over gas for sure. That Weber is a sick grilling monster. Bravotv.com:
Are you familiar with Chef Kahan -- what did you think of him as judge for this challenge?
I think he was perfect for this challenge -- he is the chef of two of the best restaurants in Chicago, in my eye. And he seems like a total football fan, a real guy!
Bravotv.com: What did you think of the other dishes?
I thought Dale's ribs looked great. He had none to spare, and Andrew was having a great time of it! Didn't get to see mush else.