Bravotv.com: Going into this final challenge, what were your assumptions about what the challenge or "twists" would be? How did you prepare for them?
I assumed that there had to be some kind of twist, but it's hard to say. I hoped that it wouldn't make completing the dinner too difficult.
Bravotv.com: What went through your mind when you saw what the mystery box was?
I’m pretty much thinking that I don’t know what to do with matsutake mushrooms. I think that it's rockfish, but frankly it doesn’t look very fresh. The whole box seems like it could use some condensing.
Bravotv.com: What was your immediate reaction when your mom came out?
I am happy to see my mom, but also it is a little distracting.
Bravotv.com: Who did you want/not want as your sous-chefs? What was your reaction
when you drew knives?
I obviously would have wanted Jennifer or Eli, as they are the people that I am closest to in the competition. Any help is better than no help.
Bravotv.com: What was the inspiration for each dish?
The amuse was based on my childhood. I wanted to make a single bite of traditional southern supper. The first course was a bit confusing. I was a little out of my element trying to piece all of those foreign elements together in one dish. The main course was based on showing a different texture of pork belly than you often have. Mostly belly is braised (soft) or crispy and I wanted to accentuate its texture if roasted whole, similar to a pork rib. My dessert was meant to be fun and a playful. I have this pork stigma all season and so I just wanted to go out with one more round of it.
Bravotv.com: What was your reaction to seeing who would judge you?
It was a bit stressing. I just hope that they understood that we are not in our restaurants, or in our element even. I wanted them to understand the pressure that we each faced, and not be too critical.
Bravotv.com: How did your sous-chefs work out?
Fine — I certainly couldn’t have done it by myself.
Bravotv.com: What was your immediate reaction to the final win?
A little confused. I truly didn’t believe that I would win, but I did think that Bryan had the better day.
Bravotv.com: You were harsher maybe than we've ever seen you about Preeti. What was
your reaction to working with her?
I think that if I projected any negativity on her or about her then it was simply me coping with my own level of personal disappointment.
Bravotv.com: You predicted that Bryan won — why did you think that?
It seemed to me that he had the only flawless dish of the night. They said some pretty harsh stuff, to me especially, but also to Michael. It was surprising, I thought.