Bravotv.com: So the fifth chef comes back from Last Chance Kitchen, and it’s Beverly. What was your reaction to that?
GS: I knew obviously that she was coming back, and I’m really proud of her for it. It proves that this isn’t a popularity contest -- if you cook well and your food is great, that’s all that matters. I know that this was probably difficult for our chefs, especially Lindsay and Sarah, who weren’t huge fans of Bev. Look, anyone coming back makes their lives more difficult and enhances the competition. They thought they were the final four people and then we threw someone else at them, out of nowhere. But you know what? She deserves to be there, for all the reasons you can see on Bravotv.com.
Bravotv.com: For the Elimination Challenge, the chefs mentors all come back, and all the chefs really started breaking down. Were you surprised to see like Paul crying?
GS: I was really surprised to see Paul crying, but I loved it. I think at this stage in the competition every season, our chefs are at the end of their rope. They are on edge. They are under so much stress. They’re exhausted. They miss their families. They feel alone. I think that’s why bringing back their mentors was so perfect at this moment. Firstly: because it obviously brought out so much emotion in them. It meant so much for them. It came at a time when they really needed someone who was on their team cheerleading for them, not judging them, not fighting against them. And secondly, it inspired them and reminded them why they cook in the first place. Of anyone it also just happened to be that these mentors are all pretty extraordinary. It wouldn’t have been the same if it had been five different chefs. The only chef I didn’t know personally was Sarah, but she’s super lovely and obviously accomplished. Tony, Frank, Michelle, and Tyson I know well and I’ve eaten at all their restaurants. I just couldn’t have asked for a better group to have inspired our chefs. It’s just amazing how far our chef’testants have come under their tutelage. I think this challenge was just as meaningful for the mentors in many ways, as it was for the chefs.
Bravotv.com: Going back, were you surprised at all that Sarah chose immunity over the car? There was kind of a debate over whether she should cook anyway, even though she won the Quickfire.
GS: That’s such a conundrum. Interestingly, I think if other chefs had won they would have made the same choice, when it came down to it. Either way there are pros and cons, and why we give them this amazing choice: get a car or get a free ride to the finale. I think the others chefs felt that if you take that free ride you might regret it, or you might feel like you cheated yourself out of really cooking your way into the finale. But I think they all need to lose the guilt. Stop the martyrdom. Sara deserves to be in the finale, and she has proven that many times over. So at this stage, any advantage you can get, you should take. She would be silly not to. So what if someone else just gets the car. That’s not why she is competing. She’s competing to win.