Bravotv.com: You have appeared on Top Chef a few times, but are you a fan of the show? Do you watch regularly? If so, who have been your favorite contestants of all seasons?
Im afraid I don't really ever watch TV, especially if I am at all involved. I literally watch three programs ever! I hate to say, two of them are news shows. All I can tell you about the contestants I am a fan of -- because I have met them and tried their food-- is Harold From Season 1 and Sam from Season 2.
Bravotv.com: What do you think the key to being successful in this challenge was? To cater for such a large group of people?
I think a lot of these younger people forget that you need to keep things simple. If your ego is in check, you realize you are not there to "impress" as much as just being there to satisfy people's true need to eat and enjoy. Its not about us the chefs, it's always about the guest.
Bravotv.com: Which dishes left the biggest impression on you (for better or worse)?
I truly didnt really enjoy any of the dishes on this last show. I think I chose the best of the worst. I guess if I had to mention what was really awful, it was the poisson cru -- wow -- I felt so bad for him. He just didn't realize what that dish did to all of us!
Bravotv.com: What were your expectations? Did the chefs fall short?
I never ever expect anything when eating other than hoping things are executed properly. This was just a bunch of young chefs trying to show off and do things they obviously weren't comfortable doing.
Bravotv.com: It got a little heated at Judges' Table between you and Gene -- can you elaborate a little on that? Is a chef's primary responsibility to please the customer before himself?
ALWAYS; no matter how strongly you feel about your dish, if the customer doesn't like it, fix it and swallow the blame. It's good training for the future. I never "lose it" as a judge -- this was a first for me. I just couldn't believe he didn't taste the sweet awful flavors all of us tasted. Bravotv.com: You've tasted a few seasons' (if not every) season's chefs' food by now-- how does this season stack up?
I am not impressed so far. Hopefully the food will somehow get better later on in this season.
Bravotv.com: Can you tell us a little bit about your book? Why did you finally decide to write one?
It's basically my life in recipes thus far -- some of mom's, most of mine. Pretty simple food that is great for home, strong flavors and lots of love. so many people asked me for my white gazpacho and short rib recipe ... I had to write them down and I guess I just didn't stop writing.