WHAT WAS IT LIKE WATCHING YOURSELF?
Watching myself on the show is a very humbling experience for me. Not many people get to see their personalities on national television. I think what I've learned is a lot about myself. There are a lot of changes I'll make because of Top Chef. I am intense and I need to know when to turn it down and when to turn it up. This will come with age and maturity. I've never been able to step outside myself like that. People have said I am intense in an overwhelming way and I couldn't understand -- now I do!
DO YOU THINK YOU COME OFF ARROGANT?
I come off as an elitist. I definitely have an elitist take in my personality but that's from a professional standpoint. I don't think I'm better than my neighbor because of how I dress or the car I drive. It's because of my passion and attention to detail and how much I care about the experience of my guests. I know things can always be better. I criticize my competitors or other restaurants because we're in the hospitality industry -- it's about the guest. The best in our field have proven to be beyond critical. I am just analyzing things that I should keep to myself at times because it comes off as abrasive and is misconstrued as arrogance.
ANDREA TOLD ME YOUR OYSTER DISH THAT TED ALLEN CHOSE AS THE QUICKFIRE WINNER ACTUALLY STUNK. REACTION?
I stand behind that dish 100 percent. I never make excuses for my food. I love that dish. That dish had shock value. It was all about a few bites that are gonna make your eyes roll to the back of your head -- that's what I delivered and that's why I won. Andrea's vegetable slaw, oh my god. Amazing.
OK BEFORE I LET YOU GO, CAN YOU RECOMMEND AN INEXPENSIVE SUMMER WINE?
Yes! Hmmm... let's see. Summer is the time for Rosé.... Chateau d'Aqueria which is a Tavel Rosé from 2004. This is a beautiful simple wine to sip outside during the summertime for under $20.
YUM, I LOVE ROSÉ IN THE SUMMER!
Yes -- it's nice dry, light and fruitful. One of the best-kept secrets of the summertime!
ANYTHING ELSE YOU WANT TO SAY ABOUT TOP CHEF OR ANYTHING?
It was a great learning experience -- the best in my career to date. I got to learn so much about myself. It was great for me. I stand by myself. I sacrificed my spot in the competition on behalf of my integrity so I hope that comes across....
THANKS STEPHEN. GOOD LUCK!