Bravo's Top Chef Season 15 finalist Carrie Baird is not only known for her fancy toast but also for wowing her fellow competitors, the judges, and everyone watching at home with her ingenious approach to one Elimination Challenge.
Carrie famously baked an actual cake after crafting a makeshift oven out of snow when the chefs were tasked with creating a dish using only camping equipment while cooking in the great outdoors in Colorado. The impressive confection earned Carrie a spot in the top that challenge and became one of the most memorable dishes ever to be made in the culinary competition. In fact, Padma Lakshmi was still talking about Carrie's cake when the chef joined her to judge the Quickfire Challenge in the April 15 episode of Top Chef Season 18.
But if you asked Carrie the secret to her success with what she considers to be her "best known" Top Chef moment, she wouldn't be able to tell you. "I don't think if I had to recreate that cake, I would do it again," Carrie told BravoTV.com of her iconic dish in the above video. "I don't know what I was thinking. I was sleep deprived. But it was a fun episode."
Now Carrie gets to see all of the innovative creations of the newest batch of Top Chef contestants as one of the All Stars featured in the rotating judging panel of alumni in Season 18. Carrie told BravoTV.com that being on the other side of the Judges' Table has helped her realize that there's only one reason chefs are told to "pack your knives and go." "You know, you're always like, 'Why did I get sent home?'" Carrie said. "But now that I'm on this side of it, you get sent home for a bad dish, nothing else."
However, that doesn't make the memories of being on the chopping block any less painful. "Being a contestant and being judged is so hard. It's so stressful. And you're out there, and the lights and the cameras, and for me, being on the bottom, I just went blank," Carrie, who came in fourth place in Top Chef Season 15, recalled. "I remember my heart pounding, my hands sweating. It's a lot to take. And you feel really bad about yourself. And you're scared you're gonna get sent home."
Since she knows firsthand what it's like to be critiqued and eliminated on Top Chef, Carrie is ready to be an empathetic and comforting presence while judging Season 18's contestants. "I had my first Judges' Table last week, and I felt really bad," she shared. "It's a sensory overload, and these cute contestants, I just want to hug 'em and tell them it's gonna be OK [laughs]."
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