We've just begun shooting Season 2 of "Top Chef" in Los Angeles, and sitting on set my mind is wandering to last season's cast and -- specifically -- what the heck is up with our Top Chef Harold Dieterle.
I called Harold to check in and find out wassup.....
YO TOP CHEF!
Yo Andy! What's up dog?
DO PEOPLE ON THE STREET YELL "TOP CHEF" WHEN THEY SEE YOU?
It's happened once or twice.
WHAT'S THE MOST SURREAL THING THAT'S HAPPENED TO YOU SINCE WINNING TOP CHEF?
Just the fact that I am following my dream and opening up a restaurant in NYC.
ANY FANS THAT YOU'VE BEEN SURPRISED BY?
Yes -- the show has a really broad audience so a lot of people you wouldn't expect to be passionate about food pull you out and say "Hi." A couple weeks ago, I was in Jersey fishing and we got pulled over in the boat and the Marine Cop recognized me. It happens everywhere.
BUT BEING ONE OF PEOPLE MAGAZINE'S SEXY ELIGIBLE BACHELORS MUST'VE BEEN KIND OF SURREAL, RIGHT?
Yeah it's silly actually. I'm just gonna be myself. I always ask my friends if I am acting differently and tell them that if I do they should smack the shit out of me. I need to remember where I came from!
HOW WAS ASPEN?
It was amazing -- a great time, great partying. There were so many people who were passionate about the show and passionate about food who were so great to me. It's amazing to meet people you've inspired.
WHAT WAS THE HIGHLIGHT?
It was definately the cookoff with me and Tom vs. Jacques Pepin. We didn't win but just to be onstage with those three guys was amazing and such an honor. No one tasted the food so it seemed like more of a popularity contest. Once the Frenchies started talking I knew we were screwed!
HOW ARE YOUR PLANS FOR YOUR OWN NYC RESTAURANT COMING?
Great! We're hoping to open in early winter in Greenwich Village. The restaurant will be called Perilla, the American name for the shiso leaf which is a southeast asian ingredient.
I GUESS WE KNOW WHAT THAT SHISO LEAF LOGO IS GONNA LOOK LIKE HUH?
Ha ha. Yeah!
DID YOU SPEND YOUR HUNDRED GRAND ON ANYTHING EXTRAVAGANT?
Not yet. Just signing the lease on my space on August 1st. I'm going to dump it all into the restaurant.
YOU'RE NOT BUYING ONE IOTA OF BLING WITH YOUR CASH???
OK, I am planning on buying myself a Rolex though! I always said I wanted to buy one before I was 30 so that will be the one thing I'll splurge on.
WHICH KIND OF ROLEX DO YOU WANT?
A Sub Mariner.
WHO DO YOU KEEP IN TOUCH WITH FROM THE SHOW?
Lee Anne, Dave, Miguel, Andrea, Cynthia, Candace, Stephen... pretty much everyone. The only people I don't talk to are Ken, Brian, and Tiffani. Just one of those things -- you lose touch with people.
YOU COMPLAINED SO MUCH DURING THE SHOW ABOUT THE CHALLENGES.... IN RETROSPECT, WHAT DID YOU LEARN FROM THE EXPERIENCE?
Nine times out of 10 things won't play out how you think they're going to and you need to play the hand you're dealt. Being open minded is very important -- as is being quick on your feet.
OK DAWG. GO BACK TO BEING TOP CHEF! GREAT TO TALK TO YOU.