Bravotv.com: Let's start with the Quickfire, what inspired your original dish choice and the soup that followed?
Well, the original dish was the vegetarian chile rellenos, which sounded yummy, but i didn't think i could replicate in the time allowed, so i was going to do a "free form" version of them ... but I had a feeling we were gonna get a curveball -- why would the producers want us to just re-make a recipe from the TC cookbook? The soup was an idea I got from our sister restaurant here in SD, La Puerta. I had helped the owners work on some of the dishes in the beginning, and the flavors that we had put together were all in front of me during the QF. I figured, roll with it ... just wish I had grabbed those limes!!!
Bravotv.com: How difficult was it to spring back from the soup curveball?
Honestly, not that hard. It was just a matter of shifting gears and deciding how I wanted to tackle it. As soon as I had the ideas in my mind, it was just trying to haul a$$ to get it all done in time!
Bravotv.com: What was it like to cook for Chef Achatz?
I kinda felt a little silly, because I didn't have much knowledge about him before the show. I had heard the name, and the fact that he does a lot of Molecular Gastronomy from Hosea the night before (he was talking about dining at Alinea), so I was more scared the curve was gonna be to get molecular ... whew! The hardest thing for me was to try to win him back after he critiqued my soup, but since he said one of my dishes was his LEAST favorite, i guess it didn't work!
Bravotv.com: Onto the Elim, are you a Foo Fighters fan? What went through your mind when you saw them?
So, my boyfriend, Steve, makes fun of me becaus I can never remember who sings what songs ... so it took me a second, but then it started to click. "There Goes My Hero" and "Learn to Fly" are two of their songs I really like (though I'm not even sure if those are the titles, ha). But, the biggest thing going through my mind was that they liked the show, and we were gonna get to meet them!Bravotv.com: Did you ever second-guess the S'more idea?
I second guessed it a LOT after I packed my knives, ha. At the time, I was OK with the idea, but not super excited. Since I had already done a dessert, I wasn't looking to do another, as they can usually be the kiss of death. But, when we got to the Blue Cross Arena and saw our "kitchen" (AGHHHHHHHHHHH!!!!!!), we knew we had to change up our menu. I also figured that my sweet potatoes were a SOLID dish, so they would help me out if I got called out on my S'mores.
Bravotv.com: Have you ever made the S'mores before? What would you have done differently?
I hadn't made them before. In hindsight, I should've crushed them up and made a banana S'mores trifle or something like that - putting a spin on it more than just making it a Banana S'more. Who knows, maybe I'll rework it and put it on my menu here at Confidential!
Bravotv.com: What did you think of the rest of the dishes made?
For my dishes, I know I nailed my Spicy Sweet Ginger Sweet Potatoes (even though THEY didn't make it on the show). I had even gotten some positive feedback from the judges about them -- the combination of flavors was a take on a Thanksgiving classic that I stepped up (and make EVERY YEAR for my family). Also, I think my caprese was a lil bit off the mark -- I really read too much into the rider on that one. But, as has happened in many a Wedding Wars Challenge, you have to meet your client's demands first, as they pick the winning and losing teams. As for the other dishes my team put out: Cougs nailed the turkey (wait, that sounded wrong, ha); Gene had the best idea to make the grill, and his pork was BOMB!; Alex did a great job with his mac 'n' cheese; Carla had the best dessert of all of us, and really stepped it up to help with the salad bar stuff; Jeff took on a lot by becoming (not acting like or choosing to be) the team leader. He admitted that he did take on a little bit too much -- I didn't get to try the parfait, but the stuffing of his that I tried was pretty yummy - I think the judges just got a batch that was overcooked; Danny's potatoes lacked seasoning, and some were undercooked, also, his vegetarian mushroom dish was not cooked all the way, so he said that he meant to serve it cold (...but you can hear ALL about that in my exit interview online.) Bravotv.com: How surprised were you that you were eliminated?
WOW does not even begin to express it. I was blind-sided. We had left Judges' Table after I had just all of our dishes had been critiqued, except for my sweet potatoes. When I asked about them, the judges lit up and told me they enjoyed them. So, when we went back into the stew room, I knew I'd be on the bottom 3, but never thought that I'd be going home. I kept thinking about Tom's comments during last season's reunion - that all bad and no good sends you home, but if you have something of value on the table, that can save ur ass (loosly paraphrased...). I KNEW that the judges liked my sweet potatoes, so, even if they dislike my other two dishes, I had a mark in the "good" column. Danny and Jeff both got slammed for their dishes, but Jeff had the fact that he stepped up to lead in his favor (Tom even commented in his blog that THAT was part of what saved Jeff). Danny didn't seem to get anything positive from the judges, so I (along with many of the other chefs) thought that he was going home.
Bravotv.com: You were pretty upset about going home. Looking back, do you think it was someone else's time to go?
I totally think that it was Danny's time to go. I love Danny as a person -- he's a great guy, and reminds me of all the guys I played football with in high school, but that doesn't mean that I think he should have been kept. He made more mistakes during the challenge, but somehow skated away unscathed. It sucks when that happens, but I also know that I had the opportunity to "play" the game and throw Danny under the bus. I had told myself from the beginning that I wanted to take the high road, but now realize that the nice guy does finish last ... OK, well, fourth from last.
Bravotv.com: Is Team Rainbow still going strong?
Team Rainbow is still living on. Pat and I are totally cheering for Jamie to kick ass! And now we're all trying to use our gay superpowers for good to raise some money for great organizations, so keep an eye out for that!Bravotv.com: You were pretty vocal about your affinity for Chef Tom -- did that wane at all?
I'll never get away from that, will I? LOL. I still have a man-crush on Tom ... I think that it was edited to look like more than a crush, though! And yes, I'd still buy him a drink (or three) if he ever ventures down to my bar in SD, or my restaurant!
Bravotv.com: Where can your fans catch up with you?
Other than Tues-Sat at Confidential or Sundays at Pecs? Well, Facebook and MySpace are the socializing meccas of the Internet, and I have gotten to meet a lot of fans through the fan group for me on there "Rich Sweeney: You will scream his name and slap your mama watching Top Chef." I also try to put up posting on that group about what's going on at my restaurant. And I invite everyone to visit me at Confidential Restaurant + Loft (and Pecs bar) whenever they are in San Diego. You can get more info at www.ConfidentialSD.com and www.PecsBar.com. Oh, also working on a new Web site (with my BF, since he knows how to do those things) called WannaBChef.com It's not up yet, but it will have recipes, party ideas, fun kitchen gadgets, and even a Q&A area, plus more. So, that's some of the many pans I have in the fire right now ... that, and figuring out how to get on Season 6 so I can redeem myself!