Bravotv.com: Let's start with the Quickfire, what did you think the key to the rice challenge was?
The key to winning the Quickfire was to be familiar with the 90-second rice, something I have never used and I doubt I'll ever use again. Also it took me about five minutes to get the microwave up and running. Let's just say it's not my favorite piece of kitchen equipment!
Bravotv.com: Were you familiar with Chef Art Smith before? Were you excited/intimidated to see him?
Nope -- never met the guy.
Bravotv.com: Onto the Elimination -- it didn't seem like you had to worry too much about the price issue, but how much thought went into the health/kid-friendliness of the curry?
Are you kidding me? 10 dollars for four people shopping at Whole Foods is crazy talk. They should rename that place "Whole Paycheck." The challenge was to cook a meal for a family of four; it wasn't about making a kid-friendly meal.
Bravotv.com: How important is it to introduce kids to new flavors/foods? Is this what you were trying to do?
I think it's important to show the kids new foods, but it wasn't intentional. Padma stated that we would be cooking for a family of four when she introduced the challenge. That changed when they instructed us to serve it to children after we finished cooking. Also, had I known my demographic I would have made something a little closer to home as kids can be tough customers.
Bravotv.com: When the judges told you the dish needed more protein, it seemed like you thought they meant meat, but they meant vegetables. Can you expand on that at all?
I felt the vegetables I selected with the rice presented a full and complete meal.
Bravotv.com: What did you think of the other dishes?
I think Andy's was a good dish and I believe we all had a hard time with this challenge.
Bravotv.com: Did you think anyone else deserved to go home instead?
Listening to the judges at the chopping block tonight, it could have been easily been Lisa or Stephanie. But it was me and I'm not bitter about that at all.
Bravotv.com: Did you really think Tom didn't like you? Did you feel that way all season?
Are you kidding me?! This was total banter with Tom. Absolutely no hard feelings; he did mention he would have a beer with me one of these days ... I've been checking the mailbox everyday for the invite and it hasn't arrived yet.
Bravotv.com: Any predictions on who will be the last one standing?
I think that Blaise and Dale are looking good; Stephanie looks good but she is a little shaky at times. Bravotv.com: How has Top Chef airing changed life in NYC for you?
Not a great deal actually. I didn't win the 100 grand so it's back to my favourite kitchen appliance ... the stove.
Bravotv.com: What have you been up to since leaving the show? Where can your fans find you?
I still cook at Public in NYC; soon these guys are planning to open another restaurant which I am hoping to help them with. You can keep track of me at www.chefmarksimmons.com.